I've been working on coming up with a good model for family devotions for some time, and after much experimenting and many failures this is something that we have found works quite well, especially with small children. It's almost directly taken from Concordia Publishing House's The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism, with only slight changes here and there. Many of the other models we've tried, while good, have just proven to burdensome and at times bordered on violating the command not to exasperate one's children. I like this because it is fairly short and simple, yet incorporates a number of things I value and wish to teach my children including call and response, some simple prayers to be memorized, Biblical collects, sung or chanted Psalms, Bible reading, and a time of prayer for specific needs and thanksgivings. Further, it allows for growth as children mature, having a place for more singing through moving from the simple Song of Simeon to working through the Psalms, and allowing for longer Scripture readings or the addition of readings from a Bible study book or devotional work. It's not perfect and I'd appreciate feedback or suggestions as I continue to work on it, but we've been more faithful to do devotions somewhat regularly with this model than any other we've tried.
--------------------------------------------------------The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their baptism. (1, 2)
In the name of the Father, and of the ☩ Son, and of the Holy Spirit.Amen.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,to sing praise to Your name, O Most High;
To herald Your love in the morning,Your truth at the close of the day.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
Other readings: Micah 7:18-20; Matthew 18:15-35; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 11:1-13; Luke 12:13-34; Romans 8: 31-39; II Corinthians 4:16-18; Revelation 21:22-22:5
Alternatively, a longer passage may be worked through night by night, one or two short section(s) at a time. Examples include, the Creation account, the Ten Commandments, selections from the Wisdom Literature of Solomon, the Sermon on the Mount, the Crucifixion (particularly during Lent or Holy Week), or even an entire book of Scripture such as one of the epistles.
Depending on the age of the children this may be followed (or preceded) by a reading from a devotional or Bible study book and/or discussion. (3)CANTICLELord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word,
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
a light to lighten the Gentiles
and the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. (Luke 2: 29-32, The Song of Simeon or Nunc Dimittis) (4)
Alternatively, here may be sung or chanted another canticle such as the Magnificat (Song of Mary), or a Psalm. (5)
We thank You, our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ , Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept us this day; and we pray that you would forgive us all our sins where we have done wrong, and graciously keep us this night. For into your hands we commend ourselves, our bodies and souls, and all things. Let Your holy angels be with us, that the evil foe may have no power over us. Amen.
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Prayers for others and ourselves
- Concluding collect:
(Adapted from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism)Then go to sleep in good cheer!
1. Bold type indicates read by all, Regular type indicates read by one, Italicized type indicates instructions.
2. Adapted from the Close of the Day prayer (p. 474) in The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism published by Concordia Publishing House.
3. E.g. "A House for My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament," Peter J. Leithart.
4. A good tune for this canticle is that used by the Lutheran Church, a sample of which may be seen here.
5. Concordia Publishing House has also provided the Church with an excellent resource for chanting the Psalter using the ESV translation in their small volume, "Reading the Psalms with Luther," which includes among other helpful things a set of chant tones and the Psalter pointed for chanting. It is available here.
This is more or less the prayer that I pray with my little girl every night. She's just over a year old now. I put my hand on her head and speak these words. Often, not always, it seems to soothe and calm her. She squirms a little less and chirps a little softer and submits to this strange ritual, as if she somehow knows that to be prayed over is a blessing and for her good. Whatever she knows or doesn't about what is happening, this act is a consistent reminder to me of the power of words, and the power of speaking to God. I am reminded each time I pray this prayer that she is not mine but his, and that I am utterly dependent on him to guard and keep her. He gave her to her mother and me and, in baptism, we gave her back to him so that she could bear the name Christian and become not only our daughter but our sister in the Kingdom which knows no favoritism. Now she is simply entrusted to us so that we can teach her what it means to be a child of the King, and to serve well in his Kingdom of creation. And yet, each night I put her to bed with a kiss and a prayer and trust that Jesus will give her back to me smiling and screeching the next morning. And he does. What a wonder.
Father in Heaven please hear our prayer.
I pray for Noelle that you would protect her tonight.
Let no harm come to her.
Keep her from all danger.
Drive the evil one far from her.
I pray Father that you would forgive her sins and mine.
Please let her always know and love you,
and let her always know your love.
Please grow her faith even now,
and let her grow up into a faithful Christian woman.
Help her mother and me to lead her in this.
Father I pray that you would give her good rest now,
and help her to sleep well.
I pray these things in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.