In this routine, I made sure there was ample time for: a sit down dinner, homework, free play, teeth brushing and flossing, etc. Then it occurred to me, nowhere in this daily itinerary was there any room for prayer or devotion. I'm a firm believer that prayer should be never-ending; it should be this constant on-going conversation we have with God where we may set the receiver down for a little while, but we know the line is always hot. That being said, I think it's important that we make sure that in our busy lives, "time with God" has as much a line in our date books as basketball practice, cub scouts, and yoga.
Every morning, my son and I share a devotion together out of his book Jesus Calling. (The children's version). Then we pray together for our day. This takes us a solid 10 minutes to do it right and not feel like we're rushing. At dinner, we pray over
our meal, talk about our day, and discuss a short devotional thought. This doesn't dominate our entire mealtime, but creates a great space for personal interaction that is spiritually focused. At the end of the day, my son takes his last 15 minutes before bed to read scripture on his own in his room. This disconnects him from the glowing screens of the TV and games systems (which studies have proven are causes of problems with sleep) and connects him with God...all the while tiring his eyes. He chooses which scripture he wants to read. Then when he's done, we take a minute or two to discuss what he read, pray together, and off to sleep he goes.
My son has entered 2nd grade this year, which I think places him at a great age to start practicing spiritual disciplines. If we're going to be attentive to developing healthy children in terms of eating habits, exercise routines, positive self-esteem - then we also need to nurture them spiritually. As parents, we have been commissioned with the task to raise up our children in ways that honor and glorify God. We're not always going to be successful at this and not everything we teach will stick. Our children have their own journey's to trek and discoveries to make. That being said, I believe that if we instill in them moral and spiritual compasses, they'll have a strong core and center for years to come.
In order to lead this kind of household, you must also respond with conviction to living a devotional life as well. John Wesley, theologian and general founder of Methodism, had three simple rules:
1. Do all the good that you can
2. Do no harm
3. Tend to the ordinances of God (spiritual disciplines)
We are called to raise up our children in ways that open them to as much beauty in this life as possible. The disciplines teach them patience, kindness, integrity, honesty, devotion, humility, love of neighbor, peace/stillness..Ex.just to name a few. We can't be successful with this task unless we too are seeking to live such lives.
So far, my son and I are on day 2, and though its been a little challenging to kick-start, it's already reaping tremendous rewards...for both a 7 year old and a 32 year old.
I challenge you...pencil the Holy into your family calendar and dare to see what God will do.