Canned peaches. Frozen peas. Hamburgers with zero fixins’. The food was plain, just like the small house it was cooked in. But oh, how I loved dinnertime at my high school friend Cheryl’s house.
I was always invited to stay for dinner, just like all the other neighborhood kids. Crammed around a small table with folding chairs, we would eat. I never minded the tight space, and I was never picky about the food. I loved dinner at Cheryl’s house because there was something different about her family. They had devotions.
Even though I was raised in the Christian church, family devotions were new to me. It felt really strange the first few times it happened. I wasn’t sure what to do or what to say, and I was afraid that if I didn’t say anything, they would think that I wasn’t very spiritual.
But gradually, it became more comfortable, and my heart began to open up. Their devotions consisted of a few questions. What’s something going on for you right now that you’d like to share—either good or bad? How can we pray for you? Then we would pray for each other. Sometimes they would read a verse or two from the Bible.
Years later, I realize how powerful those brief moments were in shaping my self-esteem and my faith. Cheryl’s parents weren’t pastors, and they weren’t even super religious. They were just people who loved other people. They cared about my day-to-day, even my teenage angst about boys and school and failing my driver’s test. Trivial things to an adult, but things that were oh so important to me then. Their value of me as a person, pimples and all, taught me that I was loved and accepted, and that I belonged. Even more significant, they taught me the value of connection—connection with each other, and connection with God.
You see, their family devotions weren’t about religion. Their family devotions were all about relationship.
Mama, you’ve got dinners to make, a house to clean, and laundry to fold. You might even have a boss and an inbox full of work problems to solve. Family devotions might seem like one more thing you’ve got to serve up on your plate. But at the end of the day, I know that all you want is for your kids to feel loved, important, and secure.
What if family devotions could be simple, that is, simply about facilitating relationship? What might that look like in your home? It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to take a long time. All you need are brief moments of eye contact, sharing, listening, and a connection to God.
Connection with each other and connection with God = relationship. That’s what family devotions are all about.
Jesus, I pray for the mama reading these words right now. Fill her with your presence and your Holy Spirit. Help her to see how special she is in your eyes, and how much you value your relationship with her. Teach her all about relationship, so that she can facilitate relationship and connection in her home. Amen.