Giving God the Intentional and Unintentional Moments

by Jeff Gissing November 7, 2023
“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NLT)

I’d like to say my wife and I mastered family devotions with our kids from the start. But truthfully, it was a struggle.

We felt we tried everything! We did devotions at dinnertime. We tried shortly before bed and right after school. But it was hard to make the time “stick.”

Early on, it was easy for us to feel ashamed. After all, I’m a pastor, and my wife is a Bible scholar. Shouldn’t we be better at this? What’s wrong with us? we thought.

Over time, it seemed every rebuffed attempt to read the Bible together became a referendum on our holiness. It was depressing and spiritually paralyzing. It became about us, not about God.

Because we were so focused on how we were “failing,” we didn’t notice that our kids were opening up and talking about God. Sometimes it would happen while walking the dog. Or our son would talk about the sermon while we were driving home from church. We’d be on the way to youth group when our daughter would talk about a conflict at school. It was happening, just not as we expected.

It wasn’t that our intentional time together in God’s Word wasn’t important or that we should have abandoned it. It was that we needed to take our eyes off of ourselves and see God moving whether we planned the moment or not. The Holy Spirit was speaking to our kids. It just sometimes came out in unintentional spaces.

My wife and I realized that what needed to become more intentional was our own prayer time for our kids and our relationships. We knew we needed to stay connected to God by daily reading His Word so we could be open and ready for important conversations — no matter where we were. We needed to make sure we were always available to go deeper when God opened a door — not in our timing but in His.

In our desire to be good Christian parents, we had focused on the imperatives at the beginning of Deuteronomy 6:5-7: “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands …” (emphasis added).

We wanted to love God wholly and commit ourselves and our kids wholeheartedly to Him. But were we willing to do it God’s way? Were we willing to let the Holy Spirit be in control?

Our lives are full of God-driven moments. Some of them are intentional times of deep reflection and prayer as a family. And other times seem more unintentional, such as trips to the office, to sports practice, to school or to a playdate. They all can be opportunities to grow together in Him.

Let’s do as the writer of Deuteronomy advises us: “Talk about [God] when you are at home and when you are on the road” (Deuteronomy 6:7b) — when you’re shooting hoops in the driveway or driving home from school, when you’re on your way to church or coming home from violin lessons.

All our time on this earth — every moment — is part of the canvas on which God creates a life dedicated to Him.

Father, thank You that Your grace is sufficient for every botched quiet time or missed family devotion. Thank You that every moment of my life is an opportunity for fellowship with You and growth as Your disciple. Help me to seize these moments with my kids so our faith can grow deeper. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Created in partnership with Focus on the Family, The One Year Pray for the Family Bible invites us to deepen our relationships with God and the families He has given us. Daily prayer prompts focus on some of the most pressing issues facing families today. Each day’s Scripture reading helps us discover answers and guidance in God’s Word. You can read through the entire Bible in a year while spending focused time praying for your family and the broader family of God. The One Year Pray for the Family Bible helps us apply the principles of God’s unchanging Word to an effective prayer life in support of the family. Learn more here.


Jeff Gissing is the Director of Acquisitions for Tyndale Bibles. You can read his personal blog at

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Colossians 2:7, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (NLT).

What are some inconveniences in your life that can be redeemed by turning them into opportunities for spiritual growth?

What encouraging words could you share with others who struggle with this issue?

© 2023 by Jeff Gissing. All rights reserved.

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