Family Dinner & Devotions
by Ted Cunningham
Believe it or not, frequent family dinners can help your children resist temptation.
According to a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teens who eat with their families between 5 and 7 times a week are four times less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana, than teens who dined fewer than three times per week with their families.10
Creating opportunities to connect as a family will help drive your child’s spiritual journey. Breakfast and dinner are important meals in the Cunningham home. Our kids rise early, get dressed, and meet me at the breakfast table before heading off to school. We discuss a wide range of topics like kind words, hard work, respect for authority, world missions, and God’s plan for each one of us.
Last year, Amy and I decided to step it up on our family devotional times. Instead of choosing another children’s Bible to read, we decided to customize our own family time. We took the letters of the alphabet and matched them with an animal or something from nature in the Bible. For example, A is for Ant, B is for Bee, C is for Camel, D is for Dog, and so on. We went online and downloaded images to match all 26 letters of the Alphabet. We assigned a Scripture verse and two-word main point for each letter. The A is for Ant and stands for Hard Work because of Proverbs 6:6, which says: “Go to the ant you sluggard, consider his ways and be wise.”
Our excitement grew each night as we watched our kids memorize verses and grasp more and more teachings of the Bible. It turned into more of a Deuteronomy 6 discipline than we’d originally planned. Now we find ourselves talking about these creatures all day long.
Traveling across the Taneycomo Bridge near our home in Branson, I asked Carson, “Check out those eagles circling above us buddy. What does the eagle teach us?”
Like a karate-kicking Power Ranger he yelled out: “Unlimited Power!” Then we talked about Isaiah 40:31 and the power God gives to those who rest in Him.
Walking through the zoo, I noticed a bird handler holding an owl on her glove. So I asked Corynn, “What does the owl teach us?”
“Never Alone,” she replies. We then talked about the owl as a solitary bird and how the psalmist felt alone, but through a confession of trust rested in God’s presence.
I believe in family devotional time with every ounce of my being. So much so, that I want you to see one of these simple devotionals that we created for our kids. Below is A for Ant, an example of one of our devotional discussions (I share all 26 are in my new book Trophy Child).
Start the conversation tonight!
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.” Proverbs 6:6
Main Point: Hard Work
Talk Time: The ant is a very busy insect. He works long hours. He also works as part of a team for the benefit of the whole community. We have much to learn from the ant’s work ethic.
A sluggard is someone who is lazy and is often found sleeping on the job. They also tend to be complainers when assigned a task. When you are asked to do a job around the house that you don’t want to do, do you act like a sluggard or an ant?
Make some facial expressions and noises that would represent a sluggard or an ant. Name a few things we can do around the house that would show we are considering the ways of the ant.
This article was excerpted from Trophy Child: Saving Parents from Performance, Preparing Children for Something Greater Than Themselves, © 2012 by Ted Cunningham. Published by David C. Cook. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Pastor Ted Cunningham founded Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri, where he lives with his wife and two children. A graduate of Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary, he is the author of Young and In Love and has coauthored several books with Dr. Gary Smalley, including Great Parents, Lousy Lovers.