Starting to lead my family in daily devotions. Help needed for resources

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Darryl Le Roux

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey all.

So I have been extremely slack in bringing up my family in Christ. We used to go to a reformed church a few years ago, but unfortunately we left it due to issues arising that is not important with this matter. Needless to say, it has been well over a year since we stepped into a church - which will be rectified once COVID and our lockdown is softened. We still cannot attend church (Technically we can, but no churches are opening due to the fact that our government requires only 50 people at a time. To add, the churches in our area do not wish to have an outbreak as our numbers are skyrocketing - despite the fact we had one of the strictest lockdowns in the world).

In the interim, as well as to continue when we go back to church, the Lord has truly placed it on my heart that I have failed in shepherding my family.

I looked at a few resources already mentioned on the forum but would like to know if there is anything more recent. I have Family Worship by Dr Joel Beeke. However, I find the questions he suggests are rather in-depth for my 9 year old. Oh, to add, it is my wife and myself, and my son.

Any suggestions out there for resources that we can try?
 

Jo_Was

Puritan Board Freshman
I really appreciate a catechism like the Heidelberg Catechism because it's very pastoral in nature and a good introduction to catechism formats for those who are not as familiar with catechisms. Before COVID, I was teaching a middle school Sunday School class utilizing (with some modifications for our own distinctives/confessions in my congregation) the Heidelberg lesson series found on the PRCA website (free). I like going through something simple like the Heidelberg with young people (even in the 9/10/11/12 year old age range), where you have set readings (they are split to Lord's Days but can certainly be studied on more than just those days), accompanying Scripture proof passages, and a workbook like the PRCA workbook can be used as a general guide for questions/discussion that can be asked. You don't have to necessarily use it like a workbook and be so formal, but I do appreciate the breadth and depth of questions that they ask. I have had success with 11 year olds having discussion with it. You can always cater/alter to the understanding of your son's knowledge, but I find that it really is a good basis to talk over some of the basics and hit at the "hard" questions. It was very profitable for the group of 11/12 year olds that I taught through with to go through the section on Misery and really understand sin and the nature and duty of Christ, etc. So while I used the material for the older group, you could try some of the other material they do have on their catechism page: http://www.prca.org/resources/catechism-material Again, one of my favorite things about the Heidelberg is that it is made "like a devotional" so that it feels like daily devotions to read the questions for the day, accompanying Scripture, and discuss.

I think catechisms in general are a great resource to start with people of any age, but are especially helpful for children. It can also help to not only learn the catechism in their order, but to also read the accompanying Scripture proofs to get a grounding. This website has the Westminster Confession of Faith (also worth reading), and accompanying catechisms: http://www.doyouconfess.com/ Another catechism worth looking into to supplement with something like the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms would be Fischer's Catechism.

In general, I also think it's important to simply read (and then talk) together. My husband and I read scripture together, and also will often have a running book of Christian witness, theology, or history that we are also reading at a time. With youwife, you may read some things that are perhaps "headier" but I think there are Christian biographies, accounts of Christian missions, etc that are great stories to read with a whole family and these can often root our theology in how people have lived out the Christian life in the past. These have helped me immensely to grow in the faith (I did not grow up Reformed), and has also greatly deepened and strengthened the relationship and faith shared with me and my husband as we "journey" through these books together and talk through them on Lord's Day afternoons or through our weekday evening walks. Some books to consider:

  • The Cloud of Witnesses for the Royal prerogative of Jesus Christ (Free on Google Play, I believe. Excerpts of martyrs during the Killing Times and the Scottish 2nd Reformation...around page 496 there is an account of famous Margarets, and one from a family with a young brother and sister who were also persecuted for their faith even though they were around 12, 16, 14 years of age...): https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=N4UaAAAAMAAJ&rdid=book-N4UaAAAAMAAJ&rdot=1
  • Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves (Famous story excerpts of martyrs)
  • Foxe's Book of Martyrs by John Foxe

There are so many more other books that you could add and think about, things that are history, things that are commenting on the Scripture, specific books on different doctrines, explaining theology. There's a great variety of things you could explore. I understand the need to be organized and have something pre-made (and that's where I think Catechisms offer that helpful supplemental structure), but I do think that the simple act of reading together and talking together on the regular can go a long way.
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have heard it suggested to have a prayer, scripture reading & discussion, and a Psalm as parts of family worship. I have organized our family worship around the supper table, since everyone is already there. Prayer, we already do before supper. Scripture/discussion is the constant. Others, we have had mixed success with. Below is our current structure:
  1. We have been reading through books of the bible (currently in Exodus). I read the passage the night before, paired with Matthew Henry*. It functions as both my regular study and for the family. I usually focus on one big idea of the passage to discuss at supper.
  2. This past December, we added Psalm singing. This was sidelined recently for details I won't get into, but we sang the Psalm each day for 3 weeks straight. There's various ways you could do this, but we ended up giving family member laminated sheet music. (Kids 3, 6, 8 so can't necessarily read the music, but they like to participate.)
  3. With coronavirus, I added catechisms. We just got finished the Westminster shorter catechism (yay!), so for something different, we have started the Heidelberg.
* You can freely access great commentaries freely online or through eSword, assuming, that type of thing is of interest.

I echo @Jo_Was, that just "doing something" is great and you can always tweak or build as you get familiar with it
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Fischer's Catechism.

This is the version that I published a few years back. I will give you the Amazon link rather than just my store. The shipping to South Africa would be costly since my store is in the USA. I'm hoping there is an Amazon store locally where you could pick this up inexpensively.


Here's the link to my store where you can download the first 56 some pages to get a feeling for the nature of the work.


This 638-page treasure is a work for a lifetime. Containing many simple questions that can easily be adapted for children yet enough depth for the theologically astute.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Darryl,

Based on the information you provided (you are just getting started with family devotions after neglecting both it and church, and your nine-year-old finds Beeke too deep), I think you should look for something simple and super-easy so that your family is able to start a new habit and keep it up without feeling like it is a new burden. So my recommendation is that you consider the family devotional time books by Marty Machowski. There are four of them: Long Story Short, Old Story New, Listen Up, and Wise Up. These are made for families in your exact situation. They are designed to help you get started, easily, in a lifelong habit that will build over time.

Marty doesn't quite have the thoroughly-Reformed pedigree of some of the other resources mentioned here, but he is solidly biblical and Calvinistic. Most importantly, he is accessible for a family that is just starting to do daily devotions.

After getting started with one (or two) of Marty's books, you may well find that, having established a good and enjoyable habit, your family is now ready to move on to meatier material. That's when you might consider one of the catechisms mentioned here, or think about adding a few more worship elements.

The other option, if the published guides you are using seem too dense, is simply to read through narrative parts of the Bible, a chapter or less at a time, and briefly discuss the story afterwards. Not all parents are comfortable with this (they may worry about not being able to answer their kids' questions), but it is simple and effective if you are up for it. I'd start either with Genesis or with the gospel of Luke. Most nine-year-olds will be interested enough in the story to engage with this kind of straight-up Bible reading.
 

Darryl Le Roux

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you all for taking the time and replying. There is a treasure trove of resources here that will certainly assist us.

Again, thank you.

And may you all pray for us as we take on the endeavor. I am excited to finally bring the word to them daily.
 

Andrew Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
I've enjoyed using Marian Schooland's book Leading Little Ones to God. It is a very devotional, easy to read book that has a truth about God or Christians illustrated in a Bible story, with a memory verse and prayer (and obscure hymn) at the end. I did this two years ago, and as my kids are older now (8, 5, 1) I'm going to go back and read the actual Scripture texts the next time we go through this book.

We've started reading the whole gospel of Mark together in tiny chunks, where I focus on one main application for my kids but not shying away from anything, memorizing some Bible verses, and learning a hymn and praying. I've found that I've had to be flexible, moving from dinner to lunch (kids are less squirrelly), and we usually can't sing a whole hymn. So to learn it we usually just sing 1-2 verses every other day and repeat those for a week or more to learn them.

Other resources I'd recommend are books by Susan Hunt, the Children Desiring God series, and Starr Meade's family devotionals on the Shorter and Heidelberg Catechisms. The latter are very brief and accessible but will provide robust theology geared toward elementary/middle age kids.

God bless you and your family!
 

Jonathco

Puritan Board Freshman
If you are looking for a highly accessible devotional that is easy to understand and yet rich in content for the entire family, I can't recommend enough the 3 book series "The Lord's Garden" by Diana Kleyn (available from RHB). Our family has been thoroughly blessed in reading these, and we just convinced our pastor to begin going through it with his family; so far, they've enjoyed it as well.

If I may echo what others have said here already, Darryl, get your family into the scriptures, family prayer, and devotions, no matter how basic; simply start doing something. Father's leading their families to seek the Lord is vitally important and it's never too late to begin.

As parents, specifically fathers, our call is clear:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
We publish the Family Worship Bible Guide. It contains short devotions on every chapter of the Bible. There are questions that are meant to encourage a discussion between the family. I highly commend it to you.
 

James Marr

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello

As a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland communicant we are required to gather as a family twice daily to worship the Lord.

My wife does this in the morning with our 3 kids mon to friday, we then do a phone call in the evenings and then over the weekend and Sabbath we are all together in the home. All depends on my work pattern im a truck driver who works away but that does change.

The structure is as follows..
1. Pray
2. One child reads the metrical psalm to be sung.
3. We sing.
4. Read scripture - 1 chapter. Read a book from OT and when finished that book then a book from NT and continue to alternate.
5. We use Beeke's notes for discussion, sometimes questions are asked they get answered and maybe discuss. Sometimes we read and then continue to onto prayer to finish alls depends..
6. Kneel to pray, head of home prays.
7. End..
This takes on average 15 mins.

I have just started with the two boys getting them to repeat my prayer when we ask God for a blessing before we eat. That was from a suggestion by JC Ryle. Obviously i alternate who repeats my prayer one boy one dinner the other the next. Again only when im home.
Hope this helps
 

James Marr

Puritan Board Freshman
Oh btw this is the structure done by most FPs im not sure about getting the kids to read the Psalm but the actual format is fairly standard.
 

James Marr

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry i forgot a couple of points.

The head of the home should pray, start and finish when possible.

For the most part it goes ok however I have noticed that just prior to family worship it is a time when conflict can arise between family members and then I have to pray feeling rubbush for telling someone off etc.
We are in a spiritual battle and if i were a demonic spirit intent on bringing dishonor to Gods name then i would be seeking out those families who are trying to worship Him. Even if you feel like shutting the Bible and saying lets just do it tomorrow then dont but press on and do not succumb to the flesh.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Make sure you have a framework in place to go through as much of the scriptures as possible. That is a weakness I see in using devotionals and children's "story" Bibles.

God has given us so much between the parting of the Red Sea and Daniel in the lions' den. You'd be amazed at how much ground you'll cover even with just a chapter a day -- especially if you can incorporate it into school as well.

(With my two youngest now in high school, I have us split off for personal reading after our school reading so they develop their own habits.)

The catachisms give a solid grounding too.

Keeping it simple and consistent.

Join a live stream service!
 

Rome2Geneva

Puritan Board Freshman
My family and I base our evening prayers/devotions on the Book of Common Prayer:
-Confession of sin
-Lord's Prayer
-The selected Psalms for that day. The BCP divides them up based on a 30 day schedule. My oldest sons and I take turns reading the Psalms
-The Gloria in Excelsis Deo
-Apostles Creed

We select a book of the Bible and read a section after prayer. All told this takes 10 to 15 minutes. The key is consistency. My 4 year old son knows the Apostle's Creed simply from hearing it recited every evening.

I would also suggest purchasing a set of flashcards for the Westminster Shorter catechism. They typically have Scripture proofs on the back which can be discussed as it pertains to the question.
 
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