About a year ago – Geneva was turning one and Adeline was fast approaching three – Josh and I decided family devotions were something we wanted to start loosely structuring around meal times. Plenty has been written about family devotions, mostly for older children. I looked at family devotion books at resale shops and even online, but most either revolved around stories irrelevant to our girls (due to age or the fact they are homeschooled, and the stories have a school setting) or were too complicated to sustain.
After doing Tony Evans’ Kingdom Man study with our church, Josh was further convicted that some kind of structured worship time was ideal, even if it was only 2-3 times a week. I already go over verses and basic theology for kids during preschool (we use Memoria Press), so this would be a time for the girls to hear from us both and confirm what they learn in school and church.
Since little has been written about doing devotions with children this small, here is our basic structure:
- After dinner, read a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible.
- Go over catechism from Training Hearts, Teaching Minds.
- Recite verses learned in preschool.
- Pray together and ask for requests.
- Sing a song or doxology to conclude.
Sometimes we do only a few of these pieces, sometimes all of them; if all of them it takes no more than 15 minutes. Occasionally dinner is too hectic and we do the gathering afterwards or before bedtime. As when I teach productivity, flexibility is key to consistency – and consistency is what matters!There are a few books we have used for this practice. Though we generally use the JSB and Training Minds, we will switch these out for other kid-friendly books like The-Ology, The Biggest Story, or the Covenant Kids graphic series. I have linked these below.
- Covenant Kids Series
- Training Minds Training Hearts
- A note on this book: It comes from a Calvinistic perspective. Josh and I do not hold to Calvinist theology so we change the answer to be consistent with our theological perspective. The differences are minimal enough that this is easy. Be aware, however, you will have to do this when using Training Hearts if your theology is not Reformed.
- Jesus Storybook Bible
- Baby Believer Series
- Prayers for Children
For those interested, Covenant Kids is doing a giveaway which you can enter here.
Even though our devotional time is rarely every day of the week, it is consistent enough the girls know what to expect, look forward to the reading, and have successful memorized four verses (at this writing, Adeline is almost four and Eva is almost two; Eva has memorized one verse, though she can’t say all the words yet!). Consistency and flexibility are key in making this kind of practice work for your family. When you become too rigid or legalistic about it, you take the joy out of learning God’s Word!
For more book recommendations for young children, see this post.