And we don't do it every night (for example, we usually don't do it Sunday nights because we've already worshiped together as a family on that day), and occasionally we miss a night, but more nights than not, this is what you'd find if you peeked into our home, just before bedtime:
- Have a short Bible story time. (We shoot for no more than 10 minutes, at the ages our kids are--currently 5, 3, and 1!) Sometimes that's from the adult Bible (sometimes a simple-to-understand version like the NLT, sometimes from the ESV so that they get used to hearing the actual accurate Word of God), sometimes from the kids' version, sometimes from a devotion book. Doug reads it, sometimes with intermittent questions, then does a little application or explanation as necessary. (Sometimes it's just a story focus, oftentimes a character-quality focus, and occasionally a specific attitude/behavior focus-- if we're trying to target a particular undesirable/desirable behavior.)
- Occasionally sing a song or act out the story we talked about.
- Scripture Memorization, if we're learning something together as a family. So far, we've memorized Psalm 1 and the Beatitudes together. Sometimes we take a break, but we try to be either reviewing or learning something new.
Specifically, when we're learning something new, we work on one new phrase every night. We take one phrase, sentence or thought, and repeat it about 10 different times (we do this in different voices to make it fun-- say it in cowboy voice, now in a deep MAN's voice, now in a little bitty lady's voice, now in a child's voice, now in a really happy voice, now VERY LOUD, now very soft, etc.). Then we all say it together (with the rest of the passage if it's adding on to something we've already learned).
- Prayer time. We each pick someone/thing to pray about (sometimes the kids don't select something, and that's OK- we don't force them to pray)... with a different focus each night of the week, so we're learning to pray for different things:
- Sunday: SAINTS (other Christians)
- Monday: MISSIONARIES (by name, we have friends in various countries with kids, so we encourage the kids to pray for their MK friends in other countries)
- Tuesday: TEACHERS (which, in our house, means I get prayed for a lot!)
- Wednesday: WISDOM (in our decisions/lives), WIDOWS (that we know, by name), and WITNESS (for us and people around us)
- Thursday: THOSE IN AUTHORITY (could be Daddy, Daddy's boss, Pastor Dan, President Bush, Presidential elections, the person making the decision about ____ that will affect our family, etc.)
- Friday: FRIENDS & FAMILY
- Saturday: SINNERS (people we know that need to become disciples of Jesus)
That's how we structure ours-- and it's usually less than 15 minutes. I could definitely see how as they get older it could get longer, with discussions about what passages mean, memorizing longer things, and praying more intensely together as a family... but for right now it is really GREAT for us, and it's just the right length of time to keep little ones engaged and learning about the Word, and getting to know God.
Perhaps this will help someone else looking for more "definition" about what a family Bible time would look like. Blessings!