Home devotions and prayers are hard. Part of the struggle is having a reliable routine. Only the individual can control this. We naturally form routines in our life, some good and productive, others may be bad and unproductive. If we don’t plan our routines, more often they are unproductive. It’s worth the effort to set aside even just 10 minutes every day for prayer and devotions. Be intentional about making it a routine, whether it’s first thing in the morning, before or after a meal, or at the end of the day.
But routine is only part of the problem. The other main issue is what to pray and what to read. Few people find it easy to simply pick up your Bible and start reading. It can be incredibly daunting. It’s hard to understand all of the context and history. It might be even more difficult for you parents wanting to lead your children through it. It’s not that God’s Word is unclear of itself, but we are the ones who are unclear on it’s history, context, and language. That’s why we have pastors to help teach and guide our people at church. But your pastor can’t be there every time you do a home devotion.
There are good devotional resources out there. Portals of Prayer is common, and writers like Max Lucado are quite popular. But I have a far better and simpler resource to suggest: The Psalms. The Psalms are a unique book in that they are entirely made up of prayers. Though all of the Bible is God’s Inspired Word, and it all points to Jesus in some way or another, it doesn’t mean that every chapter and verse makes for good devotional and prayer material. There are many parts of the Old Testament that can be difficult and detailed to trudge through.
Not so with the Psalms. Every single word in the Psalms is prayerful and devotional. They may still at times be a challenge to understand fully. But even at those times, trust that they are God’s Words for us as his Church to pray with. Jesus especially mentioned the Psalms in Luke’s Gospel as being about and pointing towards him (Luke 22:44). If these prayers and words are about Jesus, then they are also about us who are in Christ Jesus.
Make reading them a routine. The easiest way is to start at the beginning. Try reading one Psalm a day. Keep a bookmark where you left off. Some are shorter, so it may make sense to read two. Others are very long, so you may need to break it up over several days. If you are interested, you can try looking up different Psalm reading plans online.
The more you read the Psalms, the more the language will become familiar, and you’ll notice connections within the Psalms and with other parts of scripture. Ask how the words might point you to Jesus, and if they point to Jesus, how do they then apply to you as someone who Jesus died to save? Sometimes it may be difficult to do, and that’s fine. At least you will be familiar with the words, and maybe when you come across it again it will be easier to make sense of. It might be worth sending your Pastor an email with questions or checking a resource like the Lutheran Study Bible.
Whether all of the words make sense or not, don’t just study the words, pray them. They are God’s word given to us to pray. Parents, teach your children to regard the words as prayer to God, even if they (or even you as an adult!) don’t fully understand them. This is how we all learn.
All Christians could do with more prayer and reading of the scriptures. But even a little bit goes a long way. If prayer and devotions are difficult for you, and if you desire to do better, set aside 10 minutes, and open up to the richness of the Psalms. It will take some intentional effort, but the prayers God gives us there will greatly strengthen your faith. You will find a full range of human emotion: happiness and joy, fear and crying to God for help, satisfaction in God’s salvation, and even a “righteous anger” or frustration towards wickedness and evil in this world. The Holy Spirit will be at work within as you and your family read them.