WHAT WE DO
ALMOST every night, our family gathers just before bedtime for 15 minutes of (one of the following: a Bible story, word study, or time spent discussing qualities of God/theology), and prayer together. We try to wrap it up with one or two songs.
This isn't a legalistic time, but it does have to be intentional. With three little ones four and under, we spend the majority of the talking/discussing time with our oldest son. But the younger ones join in for prayers and song time.
WHAT THE PARENTS DO
It takes work on my husband's part, to be studied or prepared to lead it each night. And it takes my commitment to keeping the younger ones quiet so that we can all walk away having learned something new.
WHAT THE CHILDREN DO
They usually break into song when we tell them it's Bible time. Really! This may date me, but the first few times we had "Bible Time", I kept hearing the chorus to one of M.C. Hammer's songs in my head-- "Hammer-Time, Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-Stop! Hammer Time". So we just inserted the word Bible instead of Hammer, and the boys love it. They dance around like M.C. Hammer did too. It's precious!
Our oldest sits closer to Daddy, and I sit further away with the two younger children (sometimes on the floor) to allow our oldest son to focus better on what Daddy is teaching. Sometimes things get out of whack, but I try to keep the little ones quiet and focus their attention on Daddy when he's teaching the basic things. As things get more detailed, I know their littles minds will wander and they will want to fiddle with something, but when things get back to the basics, I try to help him listen to his daddy. As for the baby, I let her crawl around on the floor and just be a part of this time, even though she doesn't yet understand what she's listening in on.
Again, this isn't legalistic, but we do try to do this at least 5 nights a week. Some nights, we miss it... you get home late, you are at someone else's home, etc. But the kids enjoy this time, it settles them down for bed, and we have had some VERY wonderful conversations during these times. I'm amazed at the keen questions our oldest son asks. Right now, we are continuing to work through a family devotion book called Teaching Hearts, Training Minds.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you are the wife, you can pray and ask your husband to consider doing this. Don't nag, but tell him how much you'd enjoy for him to teach/lead your family in this way. Then be willing to help make it happen- have the kids rounded up, ready for bed. Help the younger ones to sit still and be quiet. And encourage him as time goes on, thanking him for leading your family in God's ways.
If you are the husband, you can lead your family in this time. Starting out, you'll want to keep it short. Keep it interesting. And keep it on their level. These things insure that it will be easier to continue, to develop the habit. Over time, it can be more lengthy, as they can discuss and take in more information. Some nights, it's closer to 20 minutes. Sometimes it's 8.
Taking this time together reminds us of our purpose as a family to be a light in a dark world.