(Read the previous parts of the series here.) What if a dad wants desperately to have personal and family devotions, but does not know where to begin? Since there are few things more important than this in a Christian home, it warrants making the subject as practical as possible.
Due to the critical nature of consistent, quality devotions, I recommend that a dad find another man to hold him accountable if he has difficulty in having a daily, quality time with the Lord. First, pray about whom God would have you ask. He should be someone who cares about your soul and would take the request for an accountability partner very seriously. It can be discouraging to have someone agree to help and then stop asking how you are doing. I suggest that you not ask your wife. This arrangement may work occasionally, but I believe it is more likely to not be successful.
It might be good if your accountability partner would ask you the following questions each week:
- How many days did you have devotions last week?
- How long were they?
- Where are you reading?
- Did God reveal any new truths?
- Did God show any areas of struggle that I could pray for you on?
I suggest that you don’t try to do anything else while you have your devotion, such as exercising, driving, or bathing. Would you be pleased if on a date with your wife, she spent her time reading a book? There have been times when I was late for an early morning appointment and decided to have my prayer time in the car, while driving. I can assure you that driving and praying may allow one to check off prayer time technically, but it is not the way to build a relationship! Should we ever give the Lord less than our best?
Here are some suggestions for implementing a personal time with the Lord:
- Have a set time each day. The days you are off work may require a different time, but pick one that will work for each day.
- Find someplace where you can be alone. Remember this is time for just you and the Lord.
- May I encourage you not to use some of the little devotional booklets that are someone else’s thoughts, a touching story, and a few verses. Rather, make it just you, your Lord, and His Word.
- Concentrate on the application of His Word to your life. Ask yourself how you can apply to your life what you are reading. Learn from the mistakes made by people in the Bible. God recorded those events for our teaching.
- Ask yourself many questions about the passage. Why did he do that? What should he have done? What priorities are shown in this person’s life? Did he seek God’s direction before making this decision? What are the consequences encountered in a wrong choice? And so on.
- Don’t try to tackle difficult sections until God leads. Read the four Gospels, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings.
Many of these same points are applicable for family devotion. Have no distractions, a set time, accountability, and the Bible as the source. Ask tons of questions of the family and don’t worry about having the answers beforehand. One of the most exciting things I do is to ask the family a very difficult question about a passage. I may have wondered about this question for a long time and then have it answered by one of the children, or by God. God gives new insight on the spot! I could not begin to tell you of all the incredible things God has revealed to us during our family altar time. Other books are fine for additional reading, but this is a time to be focused on God and His Word.
It is okay to feel weak and inadequate. God will give His grace and enable you to lead your family. Your children will respect you, and your wife will be thrilled. I have yet to meet a Christian mom who did not yearn to have her husband be the spiritual leader of the home. Dads, do we truly desire to be the head of a Christian home?