Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for kids by Sarah Young, adapted by Tama Fortner is an excellent resource for family devotions. Each page has: the date (no year so it can be used over and over); a heading that is short and to the point; a short verse that is the theme; then words written as if Jesus was speaking to you about the theme, often 2 short paragraphs; and the bottom has a “Read it on your own” section with 1-3 verses to look up.
The language is clear and to the point, easy for children and adults at all spiritual levels to understand. It is written lovingly and with growth in mind.
The following is the story of a family discovering the value of having a devotional time using this resource.
So you think you may want to try being a family that does “devotions” with your kids? Here is how it went down for us: A few short months ago, my husband, who loves to buy books, came to me with his latest purchase. Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for kids, by Sarah Young, adapted by Tama Fortner. He had a grand plan of adding one more thing to our evening routine. I was skeptical. How were we going to get our high energy 2 year old to sit still through a time of reflection? How was I going to get him to remember to lead this? What approach would we take to involve our 8 year old? Is he nuts?
Turns out, he meant it! We gathered in Mom and Dad’s room (too many toys in the kids’ rooms) and sat anywhere while Daddy explained what was going to happen. We were about to begin a time of devotion to God every night, together. When he was finished explaining, he opened the book he had selected to the date and read. Then he looked up the scriptures listed at the bottom of the page and read. Did it go well? Not really. The words he read were wonderful, but the kids probably don’t know that because this was new. They were moving and picking on each other. They were sighing and talking. I was gritting my teeth trying to make up my mind about whether to discipline or sit quietly so as to be an example. Our pre-bed routine carried on much like this the first week, until I lost it! I had a fit on my children about respecting God, and Daddy (or whoever is reading or praying) and how important it is to give God “2 good minutes”. I do not recommend this! My approach was over the top; however, it sank in. We have created some rules for devotion time. We do not climb around on the bed or play with pillows anymore. All four of us sit on the floor with nothing in our hands. If we need to fidget, it is with our own fingers; not the person next to us. In addition to these rules, we are now sharing the reading. We have not set a schedule for this so it is never forced, but if someone wants to participate, it is welcome. Even our 2 year old wants to “read” by repeating after Daddy. What a joy to hear our children sharing God’s word with us!! Is every night golden? Not even close. But the kids are getting used to the routine and I am so glad my husband didn’t give up in those first, crazy weeks. He is still the one that keeps us on track and I must say it is very refreshing for me to not be on the “Mommy schedule.”