What is a devotional? We view this as a book that takes us through a daily reading and teaching about God's word. While this is true, real devotion is much more than sitting down to read a daily passage and a few notes to go with it. The very word devotion means profound dedication. To break this down further, profound dedication means the deep penetration of one's thoughts and actions to be wholly committed to something.
Your devotion isn't found in doing a devotion. It's found in your dedication to the Lord. The devotional is simply a tool to help you understand how to live out God's Word.
So what does this mean for your children? Where do devotions fit in here?
First let's look at what it means to live a life of devotion.
Your children need to see you living a devoted life for Christ. They will see your example and mimic it--whether you're living for Christ or not. However, children also need some formal instruction and devoted time to be in the Word and learning about what it means. Just as we need to be in the Word and learn what it means, so do our children.
Something I have learned about doing devotions with my children is that when they learn about something, they are more apt to apply it.
For example, when we talk about obedience, my children are more likely to obey and remember to obey, when we have talked about it, therefore, it is in the forefront of their mind. When we talk about why it's important to obey and who their authorities are, they begin to see reason for living out this attribute. They begin to understand the role God has given them.
I want to share 5 elements of a devotional life with you. I have found them to be necessary aspects to living out a life of devotion and they will help you as you teach your children the same. They are not exhaustive.
- Perspective - when it comes to devotion we need a perspective shift. Devotion is not something we merely try to squeeze into our lives and hope there will be room. When we live a devoted life, what we are devoted to will get the most attention. Our words are not enough of us to be considered devoted. We can say we're devoted, but if our lives don't mirror that, our words render useless. God wants us: heart, soul, and mind.
- Prayer - there are so many things that seek to derail us, this is a crucial part of a devoted life. Satan seeks to debunk that in any way he can. He uses distractions, life circumstances, fatigue, excuse after excuse. Anything can stand in the way of simply sitting down to train our children. We must pray for a clear path and to resist temptation.
- Patience - As our children learn and grow, they will make mistakes. They will give in to temptation and "forget" what we have taught them. Training children requires heaps of patience. Anger and frustrations will not help us here. If anything, they hurt what we are trying to accomplish. This is a good time for us to remember that a gentle answer is more productive than a harsh word.
- Persistence - There will be times we will want to give up because it gets hard. It is so easy to find excuses on why we didn't get around to it today. Our excuses run endless. But isn't this also training our children? It teaches them we are inconsistent. Do not give up making this time to train in devotion. Be persistent. Do not give up when it gets hard. Push through.
- Practice - We need to practice what we are teaching and remind our children to do the same. When moments arise that allow for training, most often, it will be something you have taught them about. Now is the time to help them put what they learned into action. Practice living a devoted life. Good behavior and good character are not the only ways to practice devoted living. Sing praises! Pray together. Serve one another and others outside your family. Practice love.
It is not merely the acts that make us devoted. It's a heart of devotion to Christ that makes us devoted. When our hearts are turned toward Him, we will want to devote our time and efforts to Him. But, even those wants can be stifled by excuses and hardships. Don't allow yourself to become complacent. Be active and intentional about living for Christ and training your children in the same.
For His Glory,