Family, Motherhood, Resources

4 Things I Learned from Creating a Family Devotions Routine

“This is the perfect time for us to start doing family devotions!” I announced to my husband while pouring over my laptop. I typed, scrolled, and clicked—adding resource after resource to my Amazon cart. We were a month into the 2020 quarantine, and I had nothing but time and second-trimester energy. I decided this would be the moment I would perfect our family devotional routine for our family of three. Two days later, I sanitized a large cardboard box and unpacked the ingredients to guaranteed family discipleship.

Or so I thought.

Our time around the kitchen table doing family devotions began in fits and starts. My two-year-old daughter often cried through my repetitions of her Scripture memory and ignored me when I read from the devotion book. She would rather listen to the Frozen soundtrack than my curated kids worship playlist. She couldn’t care less about the beautiful Lent cards hanging from the window. I slowly lost energy as my pregnancy progressed, and by the time we welcomed our son into the world, I had given up all hope in family devotions.

Several months later, two children now sat at my kitchen table and my husband was back in the office. The postpartum fog was lifting as were the quarantine restrictions. I decided to try family devotions once more. Having made many mistakes before, I considered these four lessons I had learned before beginning again.

1.   Pick a time and place.

I assumed if I bought all the “right” tools, then family devotions would organically slip into the rhythms of our day. Instead, I often remembered our devotion book right before our daughter fell asleep. I would try to force reading into those waning minutes, her overtired body crying in protest.

The second time around, my husband and I picked a time and place we knew that my children would sit still and be content—the breakfast table. They expected each morning after I served up their pancakes or oatmeal that mommy would read them a Bible story. Once we knew when and where family devotions were happening, our hearts and minds were prepared (well, most mornings at least).

The time and place may look different for you. Maybe it’s in the car on the way to school. Maybe it’s at the dinner table or before bed at night. Whatever you choose, keep your Bible and whatever other resources readily available in that spot so you’re ready when the time comes.

2.   Start slowly.

Initially, I’d imagined family devotions filled with reading, singing, memorizing, and every other spiritual discipline. The first time my husband and I sat down to do it, our two-year-old barely made it through five minutes (much less the thirty minutes it would take to get through everything). I was discouraged that our family couldn’t use every resource I had seen other families use.

I realized we couldn’t go from nothing to everything overnight. After our son was born, I didn’t have the capacity to keep both children at the breakfast table for thirty minutes. Instead, I focused on reading one (short) Bible story each morning as they took their last bites. It wasn’t much, but it was something to help us start the process.

You may be tempted to do all the things as you prepare to lead your family in devotion time. Rather than go for all or nothing, start slowly. First introduce one foundational discipline (like prayer or Scripture reading). As your family adjusts to this new rhythm, you can begin adding more parts like memorization, catechism, or singing.

3.   Choose age-appropriate resources.

Six months prior to the pandemic, my husband and I went on a mission trip together. One night, we babysat the church planter’s three elementary-aged children, and I was astonished at their biblical literacy. I picked the mom’s brain about what resources they used. I believed these tools would ensure my kids turned out like hers.

Yet when we pulled out the thick, picture-less devotion book, my daughter didn’t pay attention at all. She couldn’t answer any of the questions. Most days I wondered if anything was landing in her brain and heart. When we began again, I realized that while this devotion book was a solid resource, it was too advanced for my toddler. I needed to make our family devotion time more age appropriate.

Just because a resource worked for another family in a certain season doesn’t mean it’s right for you in yours. There is no “magic tool” that’s going to ensure you disciple your kids well. Other than the Bible itself, all other resources are optional and should be chosen with discernment on its quality and its suitability for your family. 

4.   Show grace to yourself and your children.

I don’t believe those early months of family discipleship were wasted. While my husband and I may have been a bit too ambitious for our season of life, we trust that God used even those imperfect moments to sow seeds of Gospel truth in our daughter’s heart.

Now, rather than putting pressure on my kids to perform perfectly during our family devotion time—listening attentively, speaking their verses flawlessly, and singing loudly—I’ve come to accept that our time is going to be limited and imperfect. That’s okay, because God’s grace is enough in those moments of weaknesses. When I lose my temper or my children are disrespectful, it’s an opportunity for us to run together to Jesus.

If you visited my home at 7:30am on a weekday morning, you would find my infant daughter splattering yogurt on the wall while I ask my daughter to repeat her catechism answers over the yell of her younger brother. Sometimes we make it through all I had planned.  Other times we end early with a prayer for extra grace that day. Bit by bit we have grown our discipleship routine until now it’s something my kids and I look forward to (most days that is).

However, I’ve learned discipleship isn’t limited to the dedicated fifteen minutes in the morning and night. Discipleship occurs when my daughter asks a hard spiritual question in the car, when my son must be disciplined after disobedience, when I sing a hymn over my teething infant, and in other everyday moments of life.

My hope is not in the perfect resource (though I’m always on the lookout for another great children’s book). No, as a mother, I put my hope in God’s promise to complete the work he began in me and in my children (Philippians 1:6). Whatever I do (or don’t do) in our family devotions grows out of my trust that God is moving in and through our family.

Recommended resources

I hesitated to add a list of resources at the end of this blog post, because I still struggle with believing that if I just had the right tools then discipleship would be easy and fool-proof. However, no resource could ever replace a parent who loves the Lord and is seeking to be discipled themselves. Before clicking through this list, remember that you have everything you need through God’s Spirit in you and God’s Word before you. Take what is helpful; leave what isn’t. I pray these resources would bless your family like they have mine.

Bible Story Books (ages 2-5)


Scripture Memory



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