The modern parent is always busy, trying to juggle work, family and even ministry. Yet, to help our children grow up in the ways of God, we need to teach them to pray. Educators Tan Boon Leng and Goh Chwee Suan share the importance of family devotion and provide some tips on how to start.
The world we live in today is vastly different from the world we grew up in. Christian parents may start to wonder how their children would ever learn to follow God’s truth amidst the voices of the world.
At a virtual missions conference organised by City Harvest Church’s The Harvest Network in November last year, Tan Boon Leng, 45, and Goh Chwee Suan, 42, both educators and members of City Harvest Church’s Chinese Service, taught a workshop on establishing a routine of family devotion. In the workshop, the parents of five children shared their views on how Christian parents can set the path right for their children while they are young so that they will be able to continue their journey in the pursuit of God.
Instead of worrying about the future of our children, the couple suggests that Christian parents first need to realise that God has not made a mistake. He created these children at the exact moment in time that He wants them to be.
Just like the heroes of faith in the Bible, God has called our children to serve their generation. He knew Daniel could handle the lion’s den. He knew David could handle Goliath. He knew Esther could outwit Haman. He knew Peter could withstand persecution. Similarly, He knows that our children have the ability to deal with all the challenges they would face in their lives. After all, He created them specifically for those challenges! God is raising up His army to drive back the darkness and we have the honour of partnering with Him to play a part in raising the next generation.
Our children may be our sweet little babies whom we want to protect but we must recognise that they were born for such a time as this. As parents, we need to raise them to know the power they walk in as children of God and train them to understand the authority of His Word. Instead of complaining about the state of the world, we need to teach them to walk in faith knowing that God is in control and empower them to know they can do something about it.
The key is to teach them to stay connected to God. John 15:5 reads, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” A Christian cannot bear fruit if they’re not connected to God.
WHY FAMILY DEVOTION IS IMPORTANT
Firstly, actively praying with our children shows them that prayer is real, and it is powerful. Prayer is the greatest privilege of a Christian and we must pass it down to our children.
Praying together as a family also helps our children to learn gratefulness. Philippians 4:6 instructs Christians to make our requests to God with thankful hearts. We can teach our children to thank God for at least three things before asking Him for something. This way, we are not only teaching our kids to pray but also to identify the blessings in their lives.
Next, praying together as a family creates a unique opportunity for deeper bonds and building up faith in the family. At the same time, our children will also strengthen their individual connections and relationship with God. By listening to each other’s prayers, we can learn from each other as well as encourage one another.
Studies have shown that praying has physical benefits. It’s been proven that people with faith have the ability to better cope with stress, heal more quickly from illness, and fare better in their overall well-being. Intellectually, having faith gives them the understanding that they can’t control all things on their own. When one feels that he are part of a greater whole, he understands that he is not responsible for everything that happens in life.
Connecting with God through prayer opens our children’s hearts, teaching them to forgive others and to tolerate each other’s differences. When a family prays together, they open ourselves up to each other in honesty. In this way, they develop a deeper level of grace and forgiveness for each other.
Finally, praying together gives a family the opportunity to see each other’s prayers answered, which builds their faith. If a Christian parent wants his children to believe in the power of prayer, he need to show them that it really works.
Boon Leng and Chwee Suan suggested starting a family prayer journal and writing down prayer requests. Watching each prayer being answered is a great way to reflect on God’s faithfulness as a family.
TIPS ON STARTING A FAMILY DEVOTION
There are different types of devotional books available in the market. Having a devotional book will help facilitate the time of family devotion.
Boon Leng and Chwee Suan gave some tips on setting up a family devotion.
1. Make a plan and stick to it
It is important to pick a time of day that works best for your family. Don’t pick one when everyone is too tired or barely awake. Once you set a time, be consistent and gather the family at the same time each day to pray and read God’s Word.
Also, find a conducive place where there are no distractions. Begin and end the time of devotion with prayer. This time of prayer gives us the opportunity to teach our children to pray. It can also serve as a time where we share our prayer requests and intercede for one another.
2. Include everyone, even the little ones
While it may seem easier to have devotional time with the older ones who can sit still and listen, it is important to include the younger ones. It may take some time to teach them to sit quietly and listen, but they will eventually learn. It’s also important to manage expectations. Two-year-olds will act like two-year-olds—they are unlikely to be attentive for more than a few minutes. As they grow and mature, they will learn that they are expected to sit quietly during family devotions.
During the devotion, get everyone to read from the Bible or devotional materials. Even the toddlers can try to repeat after the adults.
3. Don’t be afraid to start small
If your children are young, it might be a good idea to start with a short devotion of just 10 minutes. By starting small, you can teach them to sit in short increments and begin to set a routine. You can lengthen the time as they grow older.
They say, “the only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen”. Similarly, the messiest family devotion is a good time of devotion. If praying together as a family has been on your mind, take a step of faith and start today.
FAMILY DEVOTIONALS YOU CAN TRY OUT