Salem members are to have “a family altar and daily devotions in the home” and give “careful attention to the religious training of youth” (Salem Bylaws I.B.).
The beginning of a New Year is always an opportune time to reflect on our priorities and make adjustments as necessary. As noted above, the Salem bylaws highlight what should be a priority for all Christians, personal spiritual development. In addition, heads of families are called to lead their families as the spiritual leaders of their homes. It’s our privilege and responsibility to lead our families to Christ.
By a family altar, our bylaws mean a time of family prayer. A very natural time to do this is at meals but also at bedtime, especially with young children. They appreciate a bedtime story and prayer (and any chance they get to stay up longer). My favorite children’s devotionals for young children are Little Visits with God and Little Visits with Jesus. They have everything you need for a complete devotion, and it takes all of 5 to 10 minutes. They include a Scripture verse, a story, questions, and a closing prayer.
Older children and adults can both get something out of the devotionals we offer here at church: Our Daily Bread and The Upper Room. Our Daily Bread even has an app for your phone which will read the devotional to you. Personally, I listen to a devotion from WhatAboutJesus.com on my smart speaker. It’s a very brief daily devotional put out by the Wisconsin Synod Lutherans that follows the church year scripture lessons. I also read from several other devotional sources. There’s so much to choose from!
The key is to get started. That’s the way to form any habit, and this is a habit you want to pass on to your children. It’s no secret that the biggest impact on a child’s faith is the example they receive at home. The commitment by parents to daily prayer and devotions and regular church attendance, along with expressions of outgoing love towards others, will deeply impact their children for eternity.
Of course, we’re saved by grace through faith and not of ourselves. It is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). But we can put ourselves and our families in the place where such faith is given! Every day we can bring our families to Christ that they may hear once more of God’s love and grow in the trust that comes from exposure to the one who is ultimately trustworthy.
If you’re not doing it already, why not commit to a practice of family devotions? You’ll be glad you did!
Praying God’s very best for all of you in this New Year!