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.
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)

Lord, 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)

  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Prayers for others and ourselves
  • Concluding collect:
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.  (Adapted from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism)
  • Threefold Amen.
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.

Below is a rather woodenly literal translation of Psalm 1 I came up with a couple of years ago; and beneath that is a file containing the annotated version which explains the reasoning for various grammatical and lexical choices.  

Additionally, for anyone wishing to become better acquainted with the Psalter ('God's hymnbook') I would recommend this little volume published by Concordia Publishing House.  This book has a number of features to commend it: the translation is ESV which will be familiar and/or preferred by a growing number in Reformed and Lutheran circles; each Psalm is preceded by a short reflection from Luther's Summaries of the Psalms, 1531 and followed by a prayer; appendices include a division of the Psalms by category, a two week schedule for reading/singing the Psalms following the Daily Office, and another (four week during Ordinary Time) schedule for reading/singing the Psalms in conjunction with the Morning and Evening Prayer; but perhaps the most singularly commendable feature of this book is that the texts are pointed for singing/chanting and eight tunes (five major and three minor key) are provided at the front, any one of which may be used with any Psalm.  While there are quibbles to be had with the pointing, most notably that divisions are done by verse rather than by line meaning that occasionally you get an unnaturally long note which is hard to sing vigorously, overall it is still a great resource for those wishing to get in the habit of singing the Psalter.  It combines the resources needed to sing the Psalms (which they were intended to be) in a good translation with some really great brief devotional material in a slim, well bound volume that is easy to toss in a book bag, stick in the glove box, etc.  And while singing/chanting may seem unnatural and difficult at first it really is worth the time and energy investment.  It's the best way to learn the Psalms, and it is much closer to how they were meant to be experienced than simply reading them.  

"The Psalter ought to be a dear and beloved book, if only because it promises Christ's death and resurrection so clearly and so depicts his kingdom and the condition of all Christendom that we may call it a little Bible.  Most beautifully and briefly it embraces everything in the entire Bible; it is made into a fine enchiridion, or handbook.  Therefore it seems to me that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble of compiling a short Bible and a book of examples of all Christendom or of all saints, with the purpose in mind that whoever could not read the whole Bible would here have practically an entire summary of it, comprised in one booklet...

The Psalter is the book of all saints, and everyone, whatever his situation may be, finds psalms and words in it that fit his situation and apply to his case so exactly that it seems they were put in this way only for his sake..."

--Martin Luther (Reading the Psalms with Luther, pg. 7)

(1) O how happy is the man
         who walks not in the counsel of the wicked 
         and in the way of sinners does not stand 
         and in the seat of scorners does not sit.

(2) But rather in the teaching of Yahweh is his delight
        and in his teaching he murmurs, day and night.

(3) He is like a tree planted beside streams of water 
       which its fruit it gives in its time
       and its leaf does not wither.
       And all that he does prospers.

(4) Not so the wicked
      but rather (they are) like chaff that the wind drives away.

(5) Just so the wicked will not stand in the judgment, 
      and sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

(6) Because Yahweh knows the way of the of the righteous,
      and the way of the wicked will perish.

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