Sunday, June 16, 2013

Family Devotions

We have family devotions every night. Luther gives some great guidelines for morning and evening prayer, and considering since we've been married we've both been Lutheran, you'd think we would have always followed said guidelines.

Not so!

We started "Family Prayers" (as my family has been calling it for generations) when Tiger was tiny. It can be awkward to start up, learning to pray together as a couple, and teaching the little ones to stop and listen. But hardest of all is making the time...daily...no matter what!

My grandfather, Donald Campbell used to say: "No Bible, No breakfast!"

How that used to work when my Dad and his sisters were little, waking up starving for food, truly I can't imagine! It would nigh on impossible in our house.

When we were kids we had Family Prayers before school. Most mums who send their children to school will say that the mornings are a rush to get everyone dressed, lunches made, breakfast eaten and then off to school on time. To that routine my folks added Family Prayers. I remember many stressed out mornings, but mostly I remember that we were regularly not on time for school. What it taught me was that my parents firmly believed that Family Prayers, time with God as a family, was more important that anything else, including christian school. Great lesson that!

In our family, we started our Family Prayers in the evening, as our bedtime routine for Tiger. It started out with reading the Bible and praying together. Then teaching our children to pray as they were learning to talk, simple prayers like: "Dear Jesus, thank you for Daddy, Amen." 

I think learning to talk to their Heavenly Father at the same time as they learn to talk to their earthly Daddy has given them great confidence in prayer. Many adults think they need special, religious words to talk to God our Father. But really, I don't know anyone who talks to their earthly Dad in formal speak: "My dearest Father, would you be pleased to grace us with your presence at the dinner table?" Prayer is one of those times where we are to be like children. Children just blurt it out and tell their loving Daddy all they have to say, troubles, needs, dreams and ideas. No special words or complete proper, grammatically correct sentences required.

Around the time that Tiger turned two we added The Lord's Prayer to the end of our Family Prayers time because Tiger started saying it of his own accord. He had picked it up in our Sunday services at the Lutheran Church, so we figured it was time to teach it, and reinforce it.

Since then we have also included music in our Family Prayers, because the children started it. For us this means singing and percussion instruments, and now guitars. We now start with the Invocation [In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit], and close with a blessing. After this we put a hand on each child's head and bless them [Jesus bless you] and they do the same to us. Joybug was able to bless her siblings, parents and grandparents long before she could talk. My not-Lutheran father has now included this into our family tradition of praying together when we part.

Since becoming a pastor, Christian also has us learning Luther's Small Catechism. Bit by bit, of course. So far we have learnt the Ten Commandments and responses in song, and we are onto learning about the Creed.

My Grandfather had it right. Teaching our children the faith is more important than anything else we do. It's not a part time, when-we-get-around-to-it, when-it's-not-a-struggle, task. This is the reason for our weekly "come Hell or high-water" attendance at church. Not only do we want to be with God's people (and the angels)  in worship, but we want our children to know that the number 1, most important thing there is in this life is our relationship with God our Father, through Jesus Christ.

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