“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” —Deuteronomy 6:6-7
It was the perfect evening for a walk.
My three little ones alternately ran ahead and then stopped to wait for me. Our black lab pulled at her leash, anxious to run and explore. Within minutes, the last rays of the day’s sun disappeared behind the mountains, turning the sky into a dramatic canvas of pink, orange and purple. I called the littles to me, reached for their hands.
“Look at that sunset! Isn’t it beautiful?”
They looked with round eyes into the western sky, pointing out the shaped clouds with shining pink underbellies. I marveled out loud, hoping to help them connect the sunset with the God who created it.
“You know, He gives us little gifts like this because he loves us.”
We resumed walking, but I didn’t want the moment to pass without some other acknowledgement of what we’d experienced. It seemed sacred, special. So I decided to pray. Outloud. While we walked.
“Thank you, God, for this beautiful night. We love how you painted the sky!”
That’s it. Not exactly a seminary prayer course. But it caught their attention. The window of opportunity wide open, I went on to explain God’s accessibility, how we can talk to him anytime, anywhere. Not just at the dinner table or at bedtime. Not only when our hands are folded or eyes are closed. In all, our conversation lasted a moment. But they got the message.
I’ve been a mother for almost 20 years. More than anything, I want my children—all six of them—to know that God is real, active, and present in the ordinary, unscheduled moments of every day. This is the anchor I hope will secure them, regardless of life’s many unknowns.
But I have a confession: We don’t do family devotions. At times, we have. We kept the devotional and Bible next to the kitchen table and read for 30 minutes after dinner. But then homework, church activities and ball practice interfered. No more family devotions. Instead, guilt. Truckloads of it. I can’t be a good mom without doing organized family devotions every day, right?
Daily family devotions are certainly a good discipline. No doubt about it. If you’re one of those families, I applaud you. But I’ve learned talking about the reality of God on a sunset walk can change a child’s life, too. So can praying in the school parking lot or sharing Bible verses on a playground.
If you’re letting guilt beat you down about what you’re not doing, how about redirecting that energy into something you can do? A family devotion after dinner isn’t the only way to teach your children about God. If you need some fresh, simple ideas for a vibrant spiritual family life, try one or two of these ideas:
- Talk about God’s unique creation during a nature walk.
- Share Psalm 139 while helping little ones get ready in the morning. (“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ps. 139:14)
- Pray for the needs of others while running errands. (i.e. When passing car accidents, nursing homes, local churches, etc.).
- Keep a few small index cards with Bible verses in the bathroom and car dash.
- Talk about God’s promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20) when dealing with hurt feelings, challenging homework or a difficult friendship.
- Keep a basket with individual verses on slips of paper near the kitchen table. Pull one out and read it during breakfast or dinner and briefly talk about what it means.
- Choose a family verse. Print it out, frame it and hang it in a prominent place in your home. Look for ways to talk about it as often as possible. (i.e. Proverbs 3:5-6)
Leave a comment!
What’s one simple way you can include God in the ordinary parts of each day?
Read more about helping your children see God in the day-to-day busyness of life: