We've been having regular family devotions for about two years now and I was contemplating that fact just last night as I watched my little (more so young!) family kneeling by my son's bed and praying. I was nursing so I couldn't make the trip to kneel down with them so it was a perfect time to forever capture this precious time!
In the beginning with our kids I probably wouldn't have called it family devotions. It was more like prayer time. But we've learned a few things along the way and we're still learning as our children grow. We started out by teaching our children to pray.
We do not encourage praying the same thing every night. While its cute and easier to teach a child to say the same cute prayer every night, it does nothing to teach your children how to talk to the God who loves them.
We started out by prompting them and we still prompt them occasionally (usually when they are really tired). For example if I'm helping Cody pray (he's 2 years old), I would help him say something like this "Dear Lord, thank you for mommy and daddy and Aimee and Cody and Emily. Thank you for (something that happened to Cody that day). In Jesus name, Amen." After he learns a little bit how to pray we let him pray his own prayers however he wants to as long as he does it. Sometimes his prayers are loooooong and sometimes they are REALLY short.
You have no idea how many times my hubbie and I look at each other and almost bust laughing but that's what is so wonderful about teaching your children to pray! For about 2 weeks Aimee prayed "thank you that I got to scoop out the Macaroni and cheese with Grammy." SERIOUSLY!!! It was HILARIOUS!! But oh so sweet! It was important to her and she was thankful for it so she thanked God for it!
After our kids pray, both mommy and daddy pray. I usually pray for the kids or thank God for something that the kids did that day that was exceptionally good or just thanking God for them. My husband prays like he always does but he always prays that they will one day believe on Jesus as their Savior. I think praying alongside your kids is really important because they need to hear you talk to God and know that it's a real thing and not just something that we DO.
One time Aimee really REALLY wanted it to snow and I watched the weather until I knew that it would probably snow within a few days and I told her that she should ask God to bring the snow. So that night we prayed and lo and behold it snowed! She woke up and was praising God for the snow by jumping up and down and telling me "Mom! I prayed and God made it snow!!!" Trust me it was worth the slight manipulation of watching the weather! Now of course the next night she prayed for more snow and it didn't come but we were able to talk to her the next morning about how sometimes God says no and sometimes wait.
Eventually my kids were praying and asking God to help their owies, praising God for every single toy they own or petitioning that tomorrow we might go to McDonalds. It may seem funny and adorable but its my prayer that someday they will truly understand prayer by having a personal relationship with God of their own choosing and prayer will be something they won't have to learn, it will just come naturally.
Now if I can just teach my kids how to brush their teeth before bed!
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