When I envisioned family devotions in my head, it was always a picture of my kids hanging onto every word I say as I opened up the scriptures for them. I pictured my son interacting with me about the Bible story. I pictured my daughter quietly sitting in bed next to us and occasionally pointing and babbling. And I pictured my wife happily watching on as her super husband leads family devotions.

Reality isn’t anything like that.

We try to make reading the Bible a part of our nightly bedtime routine. We’ll also often mix in some Bible songs, a family prayer, and I’ll usually sing the Doxology to my kids when I put them in their beds.  But if I just shared that, it sounds pretty picture perfect.

But when we do our bedtime routine, we usually have a meltdown when we transition from the iPad to “Bible Time.”  It’s usually not until my son realizes he has no other options besides bed that he’ll give in and do a bedtime bible story.  He usually wants to just use the Bible app, which is a fun way to read the Bible. But he also has a sneaky way about him when he tries to get one more game of “Baymax video” in before we read a Bible story.

My favorite Bible to use is the Jesus Storybook Bible. When I read this, I usually end up having my son sitting on my chest or covering my eyes with his hands so I cannot see the pages and properly read the story.  And my daughter is climbing and trying to get a view (or to rip off a piece) of the pages herself or she is already in bed, likely crying.  Once we manage to make it through the story, which is almost always the same one (how many times can we read Noah), we have a prayer time.

And my son happens to have the spiritual gift of prayer gymnastics.  We pray for our family and our friends and our health and our toys… all while my son does somersaults on the bed. Eventually we make it through the prayer and we’ll have a memorized prayer that we end with, either one I learned as a kid or the Lord’s Prayer.

Once that’s done, there is usually another freak out when I say it’s time for bed. He pulls out all the tricks like wanting more Bible stories, “just one more.”

All this to say, family devotions are really important but it’s always chaotic, messy, and difficult.  But it’s worth it.   I want my kids to love the scripture and to be formed by it. I want them to love Jesus and to know that in our family we love Jesus.

But it’s also crazy trying to do that with little kids. I’m going to keep doing it. And a lot of days it is going to feel like nothing is working.

Some days my kids will be screaming. Or doing somersaults. And some days the phone will keep ringing. Or we’ll nee more Apple Juice. Or my wife will decide to finally take a shower since it’s her first chance to have a break from the kids.

But it’s worth it.

Because even in the midst of the chaos, God’s word does it’s work. In the repetition, day after day, I know that my kids are being shaped by the scriptures. They are learning and hearing and growing. And they are learning the kind of family that we are.