I don’t know why I even bother with devotions. Almost without fail, something disastrous happens. Family devotions are never peaceful and reverent. We have at least one child complaining about doing them in the first place, another who is interrupting, another who wanders away, and one who obviously isn’t listening to a thing. Inevitably, either Mom or Dad gets mad and yells at them to listen. Not exactly how I envisioned our “quiet time.”
My personal devotions are seldom better. Take the post I wrote a month ago, Life on the Plain, in which I relate the story of my first attempt at a devotion after returning from a retreat. And sadly, that’s not unique. With five kids, quiet time for a devotion is limited. And there are so many distractions that take my mind off my Bible reading that I sometimes wonder if it’s even worth it or if I’m getting anything out of it at all.
And what of church? Does anyone else find that their children tend to be on their worst behavior while they’re sitting in church? Whining, complaining, pouting, refusing to sing or follow along with the service, whispering to each other, trying to make their siblings laugh… It’s enough to drive a parent crazy. Why is this?
C.F.W. Walther says it best. “When we think we are furthest from Satan—for example, when we are praying, reading or hearing God’s Word, or when we are in the midst of upright Christians—there Satan is next to us, seeking to remove the seed of the Word from our heart and to annihilate the blessing of the communion. He does not attack us where we are strong, but where we are weak. Wherever he finds an opening in the wall of our heart, there he comes in.”
You see, the devil doesn’t want us to be in church. He doesn’t want us to hear the Good News that Jesus died and rose for our sins. Satan doesn’t want us to read the Bible on our own time or grow in our faith. And he certainly doesn’t want us to pass that faith along to our children. Wherever God’s Word is being read or taught in its purity, there Satan is as well, seeking to snatch away that precious seed of faith. Scary thought, isn’t it?
In and of our own accord, yes, that is a terrifying thought. We could never be strong enough to resist Satan on our own. But we don’t have to. Jesus has already defeated him for us. And Jesus gives us the means to do so as well. Look at the battle armor He’s given us as recorded in Ephesians 6:13-17. He gives us the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. But there’s one last thing He gives us, and it’s unique. All the other things listed are defensive weapons, but we have one offensive weapon—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Jesus showed us how to use that when He combatted the devil when He was tempted. Each time, Jesus replied with the words, “It is written…” Jesus used the Scripture to fight back against the devil, and it worked. That’s why it’s so important to be in the Word. The more we know it, the better we, by God’s grace, can fight against the devil and his temptations.
Here’s a secret—the devil is incredibly weak. Martin Luther says of the devil in the hymn A Mighty Fortress that “one little Word can fell him.” Note the capital in Word. That would be Jesus. The name of Jesus makes the devil cower in fear, for he knows Jesus has already defeated him. So when the devil comes lurking at devotions, prayer time, or church, tell him, “You have no power over me. I am secure in the arms of Jesus. You may win a battle on occasion, but Jesus has already won the war. He holds the field forever.”