How to Really Have a Family Devotion

We aren’t experts. We are actually quite amateur. No two devotion times are the same and the best ones are also the worst ones.

But we try.

We have our family devotion time at the dinner table, after we’ve finished eating because that’s what works best for us. It’s usually only about 15 minutes and it goes like this:

  • pray over our meal
  • eat
  • spill
  • complain about the “new dish”
  • ask for dessert seven times
  • clear the table
  • practice our weekly verse
  • insert laughter and crazy motions and a arguments over who goes first
  • open our Bibles, take turns reading a chapter OR a story from the Jesus Bible Story Book
  • read a chapter from a “devotion” book. I use that term loosely because it’s not always a formal devotional book. Right now we are reading and LOVING a book I will tell you about tomorrow (giving 3 away, too!)
  • Q&A time: We ask our kids questions about their day, feelings, things that are going on at school, etc
  • finish in a quick prayer, sometimes taking turns, each of us praying for our Compassion kids.

Bottom line: it’s messy, but it’s ours.

And it’s my favorite time of the day.

How to really have a family devotion:

  1. Be flexible-it will not always happen. Sometimes our youngest cries through the whole thing and we hurry through the process or just choose two of the four on the list above. And sometimes (last night) we eat on the floor and have a special family movie night!
  2. Forget perfection-it’s just not ever going to go exactly like you want.
  3. Choose a time that works best for your family…it doesn’t have to look like someone else’s to be right.
  4. Don’t give up- your kids will learn to love this time, even through the rough spots. Don’t give up!

Do you have a family devotion time?


  1. 2

    Becky says

    We do our family devotion time at night before bed. I like the idea of doing it after dinner, it might allow more time, but I’m afraid that we would skip it too much because of things going on in the evening. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I like the idea of having a weekly family verse and practicing it at this time. We too use the Jesus Storybook Bible, which I love. But I’ve been looking for a devotional book to use with my daughter at breakfast time..looking forward to tomorrows post and giveaway. Also, during our prayer time, we pray through Christmas and birthday cards that we receive through the year…my daughter loves it.

  2. 4


    Loved your detailed list :). I have 3 SILLY little boys and doing a family devotion time was just not working. I am hoping as they mature into teenagers we can all sit down and do a devotion. In the meantime we read a Bible story everynight with our 4 year old and then pray over him. As I am driving my 9&10 year old boys to school (little guy already at preschool) I have them take turns reading out of a devotion book and then have a prayer time. We also occasionally share with them what we are reading in our own personal devotion time. It is working well for now.

  3. 5


    Such brilliant advice!
    My blog is all about how we share Jesus with our preschoolers and with our son who has Downs Syndrome. We do it at mealtime too. I write stories and we make it very interactive to keep their interest. We just do one story a week, repeated everyday. I then think of play ideas and we play related games through the week to create natural times to talk about Jesus.

    Currently doing Easter stuff – it’s Lazarus this week, what a story! Xxxx

  4. 6


    Love this. Love your “messy” family devotion time. The older my kids get, the more I realize the importance of being real…no hypocrisy. Teenagers can smell a hint of hypocrisy a mile away!!

    So, real is good…

    Messy is good…

    Meeting them where they are is good….

    Taking advantage of the teachable moments is good…

    Sometimes less is more with boys…word pictures…barely any words other times.

    Life with my oldest son has taught me to listen more than I speak and choose the words I say carefully.

    Sometimes our devotions have even been as quick as a nugget…a verse read in the car before leaving the driveway and prayer lifted up as we drive. Sometimes our devotions are squeezed into the day to day happenings of life as issues arise.

    And, sometimes we sit and intentionally discuss and read from the bible or devotional….often at bedtime.

    Love the verses in Deut. 6 about talking about His word when we sit down and rise up, and walk along the way. His Word should be written on our hearts….carried in our minds…spoken of in our conversation…and part of our lives, as we live them.

    Great post…thanks again for sharing this. And, for being real…

  5. 7


    We are not at all consistent with family devotions. I wish we were. Thanks for the reminder that messy is okay. With 5 kids under 8, things are very messy here. :)

    On another note, saw you were going to the Orphan Summit in Louisville in May. We are too, and are so looking forward to the event!!

  6. 10

    Crystal says

    As soon as my son gets a little older, we are definitely implementing this practice! Right now, we read Bible storybooks before bed, and he’s definitely soaking those up like a sponge.

  7. 11


    Yours sounds like ours only it is at the beginning of the meal. I also try and do an individual devotion with the children before bed, but the family one occurs more often.

  8. 12


    Thanks for the encouragement. I can’t seem to get into the swing of devotions, but I guess the solution to that is don’t wait for the swing….just do it!

    I appreciated and needed this post!

  9. 14


    I do individual devotions with each girl at bedtime…as time allows. Each girl has a devotion book they chose that is age appropriate. After the devotion, I pray the five finger prayer with them: praise, thanksgiving, silent confession, intercession, petition. Sometimes, the girls just grab their Bible and ask me questions. I did it more often when they were little — trying to be better now that they are bigger.

  10. 15


    We LOVE the Jesus Story Book Bible too! My husband is never home for dinner, and by that time of the day I’m pretty pooped. Sometimes I read and we discuss while they are eating just because it works better. And then there is my youngest who just turned 3 and I really struggle with her. I know from my older kids it will get better, but I appreciate your encouraging words. It is so important and interestingly my kids often ask if I’m not getting the books out fast enough so I know they are learning and enjoying it.

  11. 17


    With two under two, we haven’t started this in our family yet. However, some of my best memories from growing up were during “Special Night,” our family’s devotion time. It was every Sunday or Monday night, and after dinner (and normal chatting about the day), we gathered in the living room and piled onto the couch. We read through a devotion book together and answered questions at the end. When we were little, we each got a turn to “present” our Sunday School papers from the day before. We got to tell what we had learned. Then we piled back onto the couch and each took turns praying; one of us would have the Sunday bulletin and we prayed for all of the names listed specifically in there. Then, we moved over to the piano (I played once I could) and we sang all of the hymns from that Sunday. Then, we gathered back in the kitchen for dessert- the only night of the week we HAD dessert. Truly a “special night!”

  12. 18

    Tricia says

    Thank you Kristen! I really needed to hear the don’t give up part. We have been trying to go through Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson. Some nights my children (2 boys ages 5 and 6) are really engaged with me and I think they are getting it and then other nights I get so frustrated b/c I want to scream “THIS IS GOD’S WORD! PAY ATTENTION!” And I will admit I have given up. We haven’t done it for about a week now and I really miss it b/c when we did engage and connect it was beautiful and the nights we didn’t, well it was just like any other night – you know? No worse, no better, just another night.

    Thank you for the kick start Kristen!

  13. 19


    we do it before bed and have a 3/night a week goal – which is lofty during baseball season, let me tell you!
    We’re reading Amon’s adventure during lent, but also found a great hsort dinner table devotions book – I think you recommended it. Ordering max lucado today…

  14. 20


    We do, but it’s not as regular as we would like it to be.

    After two months on-the-road, we’re finally starting to find our groove. We’ve been gathering in the mornings to pray, read a chapter from the Read & Share Bible, and to talk about our day. It’s SO good to start the day off like that – fresh and positive and reliant on Christ.

  15. 22


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