By gathering the family for shared devotions we display the priority and necessity of hearing from God and speaking to God. And I think we also declare something about our priorities when we show that we are unintimidated to miss a day here and there as circumstances dictate—we show that devotions are not the means through which we gain the favor of God but through which we grow in relationship with the God who has already extended his favor to us.
What’s the purpose of family devotions? Probably no habit or discipline is so lauded, recommended, or even commanded among Christian families than this. But what’s the point of it? What is it meant to accomplish? Over many years of leading family devotions, I have been surprised to learn that it’s both more and less than I had expected.
As Aileen and I began building the habit of family devotions, first as something that followed dinner and later as something that preceded breakfast, we assumed that family devotions would primarily be a means through which we would teach our children the Bible. When they were young we would focus on its stories and, as they grew older, we would focus on its doctrines. And, indeed, that is exactly what we have done. Where we first concentrated on the great characters and events of biblical narrative, we later adjusted our focus to Proverbs and epistles and living out the Christian life. This has, I think, proven beneficial, especially when we supplemented with helpful resources like Big Beliefs or Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. And while such things are undoubtedly impossible to accurately qualify or quantify, I’m not convinced this has proven to be the greatest benefit of all. Family devotions has proven to offer far more than the mere acquisition of knowledge.