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I tell myself it is worth the trouble

This year we are attempting to do some Lent devotions as a family when possible. It is a somewhat stumbling effort, but the kids do seem to like it and even our three-year-old is getting the idea, or at least he likes the candles!

For us the best time to do a ‘God talk’ in this format is immediately after dinner while everyone is still at the table and the kids have not yet switched into jungle hour mode (totally hyped, loud, disobedient and cranky). Some evenings the meal doesn’t end neatly however, and bringing everyone back to the table and settled becomes quite a challenge.

To plan my devotions I use the reliable and scientifically proven organisational approach called last minute rush. In this case flicking through the gospels in my Bible looking for a Jesus story that isn’t too long, can be explained to a six-year-old and I haven’t used in the last couple of weeks. Tonight my background accompaniment was middle child having a melt-down over a lost homework book, with boisterous boy playing melody and strains of tired ten-year-old on strings.

Then I couldn’t get the first candle to light and little boy decided he needed to help me. He was most indignant when I refused to give him a lit match! He was correct in assuming I needed help.

By the time I said ‘amen’ we had everyone together around the table.

Our carefully chosen (ahem!) passage for this evening was Matthew 21:18–22, leading to discussions of how large a splash mountains would make on landing in the sea, the meanness of Jesus in killing a fig tree, and how cool it is that God can make impossible stuff happen.

With a young family and me doing shift work, our attempts at devotions are erratic at best. Yet even when it seems the kids are not paying any attention and we are all tired, I convince myself it is worth the hassle. I just pray my children find good churches when they are older with pastors who can straighten out their bizzare theology!

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
(Matthew 21:18–22 ESV)


  1. Devotion time around here is Satan’s party time. We never have more disruption in this house than we do when we try to sit together for a devotion. It is amazing. it IS worth it. I cling to that, regardless of the chaos that ensues when we try to spend time in the Word together. The foundation is being laid and God will water and sustain the seeds. We are called to faithfully train them up in it, and so despite lost books and freak-outs over various things, we continue on. You are giving them a gift, and leading by example. What a blessing for your family. Blessings to you, Mike. Keep fighting the good fight 😉


  2. I am impressed at how much our oldest is learning, also as I am too tired at the end of a the day, this is so important for you to do with all of us. And I have noticed a growth in us all. The kids do look forward to it. However simple, our kids need your prayers, they love that time, and love prayer. It is a gift, however crazy our evenings get! Hxx


  3. I sympathise Mike, but I’m with you – it is worth the trouble! Our lenten prep. with the girls has been haphazard and shambolic at best but it was last year too and they remember bits of that! You guys are brilliant and your faithfulness in desiring to pass your faith on to your children is a great example. M x


  4. Thanks for the comments. Trying to live our faith in the real world is certainly a challenge! It is good to be reminded that even my stumbling efforts have some value. Despite it not often working according to plan I’m glad to make the effort.


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