Family Devotions

THE WIFE’S PART!

Our family evening meal, followed by Family Devotions, is the crowning moment of my day. When we culminate the meal with the reading of the Word, prayer and singing praises it makes all the effort of preparing a meal and gathering the family together worthwhile.

Family Devotions does not happen easily. You have to make it happen. Although it is wonderful when the husband, the priest of the home, takes his responsibility and leads his family in this daily habit, it does not totally rely on the husband. Many wives complain to me that their husband doesn’t take the lead in this area, but I want to let you in on a secret. A lot depends on the wife too! In fact, it hinges on us!

The following are ten points for your consideration as we contemplate how to make this “blessing” happen in our home.

1) Ask your Husband.

Are you are waiting for your husband to get the idea? I am sorry to inform you that you may wait until the Lord comes. He may never think about it! I don’t believe you have to wait until your husband gets the idea, but when you get the vision, you can share it with him.

God gave to the woman the task of managing her home and watching over the needs of her household. God put home in the heart of the woman and He wants home to be in her heart. The picture of the family that is blessed by the Lord is of the wife in the very heart of her home, with all the children sitting around the table. (Psalm 128:3) Because her heart is wrapped up in her home, she is always thinking about how she can make the atmosphere in her home better; how she can make her home run more efficiently and how she can make her home a place where her husband and children feel the presence of God.

The father of the home wants this too, but he doesn’t spend the same amount of time thinking about it. He usually goes out of the home to fulfill his job and works hard to provide for his family. He often has much on his mind relating to his business and is not thinking about the little day-to-day things of running the home. It is not his job; it belongs to the wife. (Proverbs 31:27 and 1 Timothy 5:14)

Therefore, you are going to be thinking about these things more than your husband. There are many things we do in our home because I thought of them. When I feel strongly about something we should do that would bless the family, I share it with my husband. Most times, he is happy for us to go along with it. He is happy for
anything that will bless our home and build up the spiritual lives of our children.

You can freely go to your husband and say something like, “Darling, I have been thinking it would be such a blessing to have Family Devotions together as a family after our evening meal. Would you be happy for us to do this?”

“Yeah, but how would we do it?” he may reply.

Now it’s no use coming up with an idea unless you know how you are going to go about it. Here is an answer for you, although God may give you your own idea that will be special for your family. In our home we use THE DAILY LIGHT for our devotion time. It has selected Bible readings on a specific theme for every morning and every evening. We find it a great blessing.

For husbands who have never conducted Family Devotions, who feel inadequate, or don’t know what to do, THE DAILY LIGHT is the perfect answer. It takes all the sweat out of wondering how to go about it. All the husband has to do is pick up the book and read the Scriptures. (1)

If you would like to do this, you could say, “I’ve found a really neat book that makes it so easy. It has all the Scriptures selected and all we have t do is read it!”

2) Set the stage.

To enjoy Family Devotions at your evening meal, you have to prepare the evening meal. This is a basic responsibility of every wife—to prepare a nutritious and inviting meal for her husband and family (of course, her children will help her with this as they grow older).

Do more than cook the meal. Make the table attractive and use a table cloth. “Help,” you may cry out as a mother with little ones, “I haven’t got time to wash tablecloths every day.” I know you haven’t. However, you can purchase some clear plastic and place a pretty tablecloth underneath which you can change from time to time. All you have to do is wipe the plastic that covers the tablecloth. I don’t do this now, but have at different times in my life. You can also use candles or add a centerpiece. (2)

Some young mothers have told me to me they feel so overwhelmed they have regressed to using paper plates. I hate paper plates myself and love to use matching china to help make the table attractive. However, my children have now grown! Life consists of seasons and there are some seasons (especially when you have lots of little children) where paper plates are the only way to survive! Just don’t use them for the rest of your life!

Another important point to remember is to have the meal ready for the time when your husband gets home. If you postpone preparing the meal too long and it is not ready when he gets home, he is liable to go to the TV. A man feels like relaxing when he comes home from working hard and many men use this as their relaxation. Unfortunately, it can then be hard to get him to the table once heis seated in front of the TV. The secret is to have the meal ready when he comes in the door.

As you and your children greet your husband with excitement you’ll be able to say, “Honey, the meal is ready. You’ll just have time to wash while I put it on the table.” Your husband can come straight to the table, drawn by the wonderful smells that waft from the food you have prepared. Eating produces oxytocin, which calms us. This is why eating and fellowshipping together is the greatest way to relax, better preparing us to listen to the Word of God being read after the meal.

3) Clean up before Supper.

It’s hard to enjoy a meal in the midst of shambles. How disappointing for a father to come home to a mess and junk everywhere. Set a time to clean up, including all your children (young and old) before your husband comes home. It is impossible to keep a home perfect during the day with homeschooling and the activities of younger and older children. You have to live and be able to do things, which often entail making a mess, but you have to clean up, too.

About half an hour before the evening meal, I would say, “Okay, children, let’s have a 1, 2, 3.” Everyone rushed around putting everything away. It is good if you can put everything in its proper place (that’s the plan!) but if you are particularly busy, have a place where you can throw everything out of sight so it looks clean and wonderful when your husband walks in! This helps to make everyone feel more excited about sitting down to dinner and enjoying Family Devotions together. And it makes your husband want to come home!

4) Make it a Priority.

Don’t allow other things, even legitimate and good ones, to cheat you of this most important duty of all. Sadly, most sports and extra-curricular activates are held at the same time as the daily evening meal. Many families miss out on eating together, and having Family Devotions, because they are not even home! They are fighting the traffic or still on the sports field.

When raising our children I decided that we would not get involved with activities that coincided with our evening meal. Of course, there were often special events from time to time that we would be part of, but I would not let a regular activity, though healthy and good, to rob us of the best and most important!

5) Turn off the TV.

Make sure the TV is turned off before your husband arrives home; hopefully it hasn’t been turned on at all. We don’t have TV as I think it spoils the atmosphereof a home. (We do have lots of wholesome DVDs which the girls play on the weekends.) Turn on some peaceful music. Good music changes the atmosphere as you prepare the meal and it gives an ambience of peace and joy when your husband walks in. (3)

6) Pass the Bible.

Here is another secret role for you as a wife. After enjoying the meal and fellowshipping together, place the Bible, THE DAILY LIGHT or the devotional youhave chosen to use, beside your husband’s plate. You don’t have to remind him; without saying a word this will give him the cue to pick it up and begin to read.

Without your doing this, he may forget and you will feel disappointed in him. Please understand that your husband may have his mind on other things and may not be thinking about it like you are. You, as his helpmeet, can jog his memory without even nagging!

I did this in our home for years, and still often do, even though Family Devotions is now a burning conviction in my husband’s heart too.

After the reading of the Word, we all pray together and also sing a hymn. (4) Psalm 92:1-2 says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and sing praises unto Thy name, O might High. To show forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.”

7) Include the Young Children.

When do you commence devotions with your children at the table? I suggest you start while they are in the womb, and unless your baby or little ones have fallen asleep and have already been put to bed, don’t exclude them from this time. It is important for them to hear the Word from the earliest age.

Of course, it is hard for very little ones to keep sitting straight in the chair but you can put a toddler on your knee and cuddle and rock him while the Word is read. Your husband can also have another little one on his knee while the older ones, by this time, are learning to sit still and listen.

This is marvelous training. Children should be taught to listen from an early age, yet too many children today are distracted easily never having learned to sit still and listen. That’s why most children cannot even sit in a church service--they have never learned to sit through a mealtime and devotions.

I know it’s not easy. This is training time and some meal times will be hair-raising! I know because I’ve experienced it! But don’t give in; keep training while they are very young and you will reap amazing benefits.

The testimony of Timothy was “that from childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” ( 2 Timothy 3:15) The earlier children hear the Scriptures the sooner they will come to salvation.

I love what Norman Williams says in his book, How to Have a Family Altar. (5) “It is your duty to exhort your child daily with the blessed Word of God. If you dothat, you will be amazed to see what the Holy Spirit will do in that little heart…Before the child is three and one-half, he should be saved and know that Christ made him and loves him. The child should learn to lovingly speak the name of Jesus right along with the name of Daddy and Mother.”

8) Wait to Clear the Table.

Don’t clear the table before you have devotions. I have found through experience that the moment everyone gets up and takes plates and dishes to the counter that it cuts the atmosphere making it nearly impossible to get everyone back to the table again. I pass THE DAILY LIGHT to my husband as the meal is coming to a close before anyone gets up from the table.

Isn’t that nice? You don’t have to be Martha yet. You have a little more time to be Mary and “sit at Jesus’ feet, and hear His Word.” Jesus said that this is the “good part” and we must not let it be taken away from us. (Luke 10:38-42)

9) Husband’s Absence.

What if your husband doesn’t get home in time for the evening meal? You can lead the family in devotions in his absence, or, if you have older children, your oldest son can lead. What a wonderful opportunity for him to learn how to lead his future family.

10) Morning Devotions.

In our home we adhere to the Morning and Evening principle, which God has established in His Word. (6) To have devotions together as a family in the morning, you also have to make it happen. Everybody in the home must be up in time. I don’t allow anyone to sleep in (except on weekends).

In our home, breakfast is between 7.30 am and 8.00 am. Everyone must finish breakfast by 8.00 am and be ready for our morning devotions. Once again, you have seasons in your life and breakfast and devotions will be at different times according to your season, the age of your children and your husband’s work pattern. If your husband has to leave for work early, you may need to lead the children in morning devotions.

This is also good training time. I believe in the old adage, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I believe children should be trained to get up at a certain hour. I certainly don’t believe in teenagers sleeping in (except on a weekend day of rest). They need to establish healthy habits and learn that
the day is for living, working and learning. Having morning devotions together as a family helps train your family to be organized and ready for the day.

May God lead you and direct you as you seek to do your part to make the Family Altar a priority in your home.

NANCY CAMPBELL

Above Rubies Editress, www.aboverubies.org

Read more articles under BIBLE IN THE HOME and PRAYER IN THE HOME. Plus, husbands can check for FAMILY DEVOTIONS, THE HUSBAND’S PART.

Check for HOW DO WE USE THE DAILY LIGHT? This will give you ideas of how to get the children involved and keep them interested.

To receive inspiration and find out more practical ideas about your family meal table, purchase the 200-plus page manual, THE FAMILY MEAL TABLE AND HOSPITALITY. You will also be inspired by the DVD, THE FAMILY MEAL TABLE IN ACTION Go to the Book Store.

Serene and Pearl’s beautiful harmonies and anointed songs for mothers and wives will bless you when you feel overwhelmed at this hectic time of the day. Many mothers say that cannot get through this time without putting on one oftheir CDs. Go to Music Store to order.

To read more about the power of praying together as a family read ENEMY CHASERS under PRAYER IN THE HOME which includes many other inspiring articles about prayer.

You can order this delightful and inspiring book, How to have a Family Altar from amazon.com or the whole book is available online at: http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/Book/HowtoHaveAFamilyAltarbyNormanVWilliams/tabid/198/Default.aspx

To find out about the Scriptural basis for The Morning and Evening principle, go BIBLE IN THE HOME and then click on THE MORNING AND EVENING PRINCIPLE

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