In creating a strong family life centered on God, there must be shared time together. Moses commanded Israel: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut 6:5-8).
Moses’ timeless advice is the foundation for Biblical spirituality in the home. Time together is the bonding mortar that brings us together before God in love. You never know when you are making a memory.
For God to be first in our lives, His will must be regularly discussed and applied in our daily home life. With this, we must spend time together. The daily “family hour” needs to be kept in homes. Family traditions and shared activities need to be instituted and kept. Working at such togetherness can be memorable and enjoyable!
“When you lie down” refers to bedtime. Kiss your children goodnight. Read to them or listen to them read from the Bible or a Bible devotional. Ask them, “How did things go today?”
“When you rise up” is beginning the day with God. Besides giving thanks at breakfast, give your child a Bible verse for the day, like from Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10).
The family meal time is a good way to be together “when you sit in your house.” We thank God for our blessings (1 Tim 4:4-5). We pray for our needs and cares (Phil 4:6). By family prayer, it affirms that God is most important in our lives and central to our family’s purpose. Turn the TV off! We can read the Bible together and discuss its meaning and application to our lives. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge Hear my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck” (Prov 1:7-9). Proverbs are pithy and memorable sound bits that children can remember.
Despite Americans’ hectic schedules, a recent article, “The Importance of Family Dinners,” reports: “The number of teens who have regular family dinners drops by 50 percent as their substance abuse risk increases sevenfold, according to a survey of 12 to 17 year olds released by Columbia University.
“The survey finds that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., President of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia. “It is a tragedy that family dinners decline as teens get older.”
“It is vital that frequent family dinners become a permanent fixture for children, not only when they are young, but throughout their teenage years,” said Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The frequency of family dinners decreases significantly as children enter and go through high school- and that’s just when the benefits of family dinners may be needed most.” A survey showed: Compared to teens that have family dinners twice a week or less, teens that have dinner with their families five or more nights in a week are:
· 32 percent likelier never to have tried cigarettes.
· 45 percent likelier never to have tried alcohol.
· 24 percent likelier never to have smoked pot.
Parents will wisely invest time to be with their children to positively influence them. “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways” (Prov 23:26). So, it is important for children to know that the family has to spend some time together. If they know this is required to enjoy other privileges, they can grow to accept it and even like it.
W. Frank Walton