From Kay Meyer's column in the St. Louis Metro Voice newspaper from 1994 to 2013.
It’s tough, isn’t it? Even in Christian families tempers sometimes flare. Christians sometimes find themselves irritated by insignificant events.
Then, too, we don’t talk with one another about our faith or about our Savior as often as we might like. Family devotions scare many Christians. We all know we should worship and pray together as a family, but sometimes we don’t because we just don’t know how!
The following fun family devotions can be done at home. They will help you share your faith with your children and grandchildren. As you begin, you may want to try to spend time together once each week rather than every night. Plan to use one of the ideas in your weekly family fun night each week.
BIBLE TICK-TACK TOE
If you know how to play regular tick-tack-toe, you will enjoy this adapted version. Use it to review Bible stories, Bible characters, books of the Bible, or places in Scripture.
To begin, draw a large tick-tack-toe grid on a piece of paper. Inside each square of the grid write the name of a Bible character or a question about God’s Word. Then split the family into two teams. The first team chooses a character from the grid and tells something about that person. If the team chooses a square with Moses, they might say, “Moses led God’s people through the desert.”
If the team makes a correct statement, they may place their mark (an X or O) over Moses on the grid. If the statement is incorrect, the other team may challenge them. Then they may not mark the grid.
Take turns as in regular tick-tac-toe. The team with three X’s or three O’s in a row wins.
To begin a new game, make a new grid with names, places, Bible books, or bible stories.
You can adapt this game for younger children by placing pictures in the grid instead of words. Cut these from the Sunday school leaflets your children bring home. For example, use a cross, a Bible, a picture of Jesus, or a dove.
As a closing prayer, use something like this: “Heavenly Father we praise you for loving us even when we were sinners. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us. Thank you for giving us each other in this family. Help us to love You and one another better each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
In this version of an old favorite, Mom or Dad chooses a familiar Bible story for one or more of the children to act out. The others in the group try to guess the story. You may want to prepare by looking through the Bible for ideas. Write these on small slips of paper. The let older children pick a slip. Talk about the stories as you do them. Remember to stress God’s love and patient forgiveness for His people despite their frequent faithlessness.
Here are some stories you may wish to include: Noah and the Ark (Gen. 6:14-22), Moses brings the Ten Commandments down from Sinai (Exodus 20:1-18), Joseph and the coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3), Jonah runs away from God’s call (Jonah 1:3), Jesus feeds 5000 (Matt. 14:17), Jesus’ arrest (John 18:3-12), Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19), or Jesus appears to Thomas (John 20:28).
Of course, once you begin, you and your children will think of many other examples.
If you have a larger or extended family gathering, you might even divide into teams and award points for correct answers.
Conclude the evening with family prayer time. Make up your prayers together. You may want to write it down and read it when you have finished it. Remember to thank God for His unending love and forgiveness in Jesus. Also remember to thank Him for your family and for the good times you have had together.
BIBLE MEMORY FUN
God has promised many blessings to those who treasure His Word in their hearts. Yet, many children find it hard to memorize Scripture versus. Many adults have not taken the time or effort to learn a new verse since their own childhood. Why not try learning one new verse a week—as a family? Playing games may be the key.
For Instance, choose a verse, write it on a large piece of paper, and then cut it apart word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase. Hide these word cards around the house before devotion time. (Make sure you have at least one word for each family member.)
Tell the family how many words cards you have hidden, and the give them the “GO” signal. At this point, everyone searches the house for the word cards. When all the word cards have been found, everyone should hurry back to the living room or kitchen to assemble the Bible verse. Find the verse in the Bible to check your answer.
Talk together about what the verse means and how it might apply to specific problems or situations your family faces right now. Read the words together several times. Then let the youngest family member take away one of the word cards. Read the verse again, adding the missing words. Continue taking away the cards and saying the verse until you have removed the whole verse from the table and you can recite the verse from memory.
Save your word cards for review next time you play Bible Memory Fun. End the evening by praying together. You might sit or stand in a circle and hold hands. Then take turns around the circle thanking God for something about your family. If it seems awkward at first, keep trying. After some practice you will begin to feel more comfortable.
by Kay L. Meyer