Key #2: Family Devotions and Prayer

Does the idea of doing “devotions” with your kids make you grown, or quickly scroll away? You’re not alone – the idea of sitting down with children for formal devotions sounds about as fun as….formal devotions. However, we know that parents who practice the “Four Keys” with their children have a spiritual home, which leads to spiritual kids who become spiritual adults. We encourage you to look for activities that are “organic” but also routine – such as bedtime. Weave Bible stories into your nightly reading, or take turns praying at dinner time.

This fall we are embarking on a new worship series called “Walking Wet,” examining the role that water plays in the stories of scripture. We begin with the chaotic waters of creation, to the River of Life in Revelation, where chaos is no more.  Sometimes there is too much water (think Noah); sometimes there is not enough (i.e., the desert.)

As we strive to fulfill our promise to put resources in parents’ hands to grow faith at home, we offer some ways to “take faith home” by extending what we’re hearing and learning at church, helping you to find ways to make these stories come alive with your children. Below are several books that you can find at the library (or online), along with some creative ways to connect them to the themes we’re learning in scripture. Many of these ideas come from  Storypath, a website out of Union Seminary that connects children’s literature to scripture.

The Birthing Waters of Creation: Revisit the creation story with your children, reading the text of Genesis 1 from a children’s bible.  Or better yet, get your hands on a copy of “The Story of Creation: A Spark Bible Story.” The Storypath team chose this book to illustrate Genesis 1 because it brings the creation story into the present tense. (Yes, God CREATED -but God is also CREATOR. And still CREATING.)  This is a wonderful retelling of the whole creation narrative with some much-needed action verbs: WHISH! CRACKLE! BANG!

Rather than reading Genesis 1 through a passive lens, have some fun with the story and insert the loud sounds you might imagine come when God is active and at work and alive in our midst. Maybe even a few actions, too!  (And even if you can’t get the book, read  any version of the Creation story through an active lens.)

The Life Giving Waters of Baptism: Get the book A River, by Marc Martin. Last week we revisited and reclaimed both the Baptism of Jesus, and our own baptisms. The children read about John the Baptist, who comes to the river Jordan and begins baptizing people, and encourages them to  head to something new, rather than what they’ve been doing. Jesus also comes to be baptized, and though he is free from sin, he still wants to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness, which is also something new. The River shows us that , “Just like a river will flow forward, going on to something new, the people John baptizes, and Jesus, in his baptism, are heading toward something new. In our story, a girl sees the river which flows through her city from the window. She imagines being able to sail along the river in a boat to all of the places it goes. She wonders of the river, “Where will it take me?” We can wonder the same thing about the waters of our baptism: where will this water take us? The waters of baptism, like a river, will bring us to something new—new people and places and things, repenting of old ways and fulfilling all righteousness.”

Absence of Water: Thirst and Longing:  Read The Water Hole by Graeme Base. On Sunday, September 22, we hear the Israelites launching their “back to Egypt” campaign, as they cry “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” The Water Hole “allows readers to witness the way life depends on the very real presence of water. Plants grow and animals gather around the water hole. When the water hole dries up, little remains. Plants wither, the air is full of dust, and the animals all go away. The scene of the dried watering hole is hopeless, as hopeless as Rephidim must have appeared to the Israelites. Yet if you look closely at the illustration, you will see life in the rocks and stumps of the dried water hole. The promise of God’s presence, the promise of hope, is in the rocks. Moses strikes the rock, a drop of rain falls to the water hole. Water flows, and with it, is the promise of continued life.”

Dangerous Waters: God’s Deliverance. Read Joshua 3 with your children. This story tells of two acts of bravery that every single man, woman and child had to do– they had to walk the dried up path across the middle of the Jordan River and they had to leave the wilderness where they had lived all their lives to enter the Promised Land.  They had heard and loved the story about their grandparents walking through the divided sea to leave Egypt. But, now they had to do the pretty much the same thing. Together, “wonder about” the fear they must have felt. Talk about what it must have taken for them to get the courage to cross.

Check back in a couple of weeks for more ways to extend the “Walking Wet” series! And click here for more ways to grow faith at home.