The Importance and Implementation of Family Worship

The more I pray and study the Word of God, the more I realize how much we have to learn as a people, and how much I have to learn as a child of God.  Modern day Christianity has been stripped of its original meaning and replaced with something all together different.

Throughout the scriptures there is an urgency in the men and women of God to make Christ known. But today, urgency has been replaced with complacency.  In the Bible, the faithful of God had a passion to know Him. But today, passion has been replaced with boredom. In the Word of God, there was a longing within God’s elect to begin to look more like their savior.

However today, many professing Christians are offended by the God of the Bible, and instead, would rather have God do and act more like them. Christianity in the Old Testament and the Gospels consisted of an intimate relationship with God. Today’s concept of Christianity is based more on external morality, but is almost void of a daily relationship of seeking God.

Relationship defines Christianity. Think about the closest relationships you have in your life. I think about my family in every aspect of my life. Those closest to us are one of the primary driving forces behind our daily actions. They are in our minds constantly. This is a relationship. Its more than just knowing some things about a person. A true relationship is to know someone deeply.

Do you know God in a relationship? Do you feel an urgency to make His name known? Do you have a passion to know Him intimately? Do you long to look more like Jesus? Or are you satisfied to walk through the motions of religion and moral behavior? If the last statement defined your idea of Christianity, that is not Biblical salvation, that is religious legalism.

Doctor Martyn Lloyd Jones once said, ““Christianity is knowing God, not just believing a few things about God and living a nice little life. That is not Christianity. That is often nothing but morality or mere religion.”

Passionless, routine, religious obedience is not Christianity. And yet this is a type of false Christianity that has been passed down from generation to generation for decades. And this mistake begins not in the pulpit, but in individual families. It is the ministers duty before the Lord to equip and shepherd the saints by expounding the Word of God weekly. But it is the family’s job to disciple and seek after the Lord within the confines of the home. Husbands and wives will not be allowed to wallow in ignorance before the Lord and say to Him, “We didn’t know that we were to seek you daily!! The Pastor never told us!” That will not matter. Every man and woman will stand accountable for themselves, without excuse.

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.

There are people in other nations who do not even have a Bible that will be held accountable before God, with no excuse for not knowing Him! How much more accountable are we who live in what has been labeled a “Christian Nation” with a Bible easily accessable?

This sets the stage for a topic that I’m ashamed to say I neglected for many of the first years of our marriage. Family worship. This idea of gathering our family around daily to pray, sing praises to God, and read scripture seems totally foreign many faithful modern day Christians. People seem to think that this concept of family worship is reserved for the super spiritual Christians. When in reality, family worship is basic Christianity!! Any brief walk through the Old Testament would attest to this! Family worship was never meant to be an option for Christians. It was a command, and an identifying mark of the true children of God. Consider these examples from the Bible.

Think back to father Abraham. It was Abraham’s commitment and discipline in leading his family after the Lord that he received blessing from God. See below God’s commendation of Abraham.

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Genesis 18:19.

Abraham is commended for instructing his children and servants in the most important of all duties, “the way of the Lord”. This is God’s high requirement of us, to know Him and to lead our families daily to know Him. Notice the words “he will command them.” That is, he would use the authority God had given him as father and head of his house to enforce the practice of family worship. Along side instructing them in the ways of the Lord, Abraham also prayed regularly with his family. Abraham and his family moved around quite a bit, but everywhere they settled, he built an altar for the family to worship.

“So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7

Arthur Pink said this regarding family worship in examining the commitment of Abraham; “We may well ask ourselves, “Are we Abraham’s seed if we do not the works of Abraham and neglect the weighty duty of family worship?”

Throughout the scriptures, true believers are referred to as the offspring or seed of Abraham. It stands to reason that an offspring looks similar to the one who brought it forth. The most important aspect of Abraham’s life was knowing God, and that his family know God. To Ryle’s point, do we dare to call ourselves Christians if we look totally different from our spiritual fathers?

Consider Joshua, a military general who led Israel into the promise land after Moses. We tend to use our busy lives as an excuse as to why we do not practice family worship. But Joshua was the man in charge of a nation!! His responsibilities far outweighed ours! Yet neither his exalted station or his pressing everyday duties in tending to the nation crowded out his attention to the spiritual well being of his family.

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15.

In 2 Samuel, when David brought back the ark of God to Jerusalem with joy and excitement, after discharging his public duties, he “returned to bless his household.” (2 Samuel 6:20).

Read chapter one of Job, where you will see Job sacrificing daily on behalf of his household that they would know Him. Or Daniel Chapter six, where we see Daniel returning to his home three times a day in order to commune with God.

Even in the New Testament we see this in the example of Timothy. Paul writes to his young disciple, reminding him of his strong family background in the faith;

“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5.

Notice two things about Timothy. First, notice when he began learning the scriptures. Not from adulthood or even teenage years. Paul says he began learning God’s Word in His childhood. Secondly, notice that Paul did not commend the First Baptist Church of Ephesus for instilling the scriptures in young Timothy. Paul commends Timothy’s mother and grandmother for instilling in him the strong faith that they first possessed. Without a doubt, Timothy grew up in a family that practiced family worship.

God wants to know His children in a personal relationship. And those who truly loved God in the scriptures desired to know God as well, so much so that they made family worship the center piece to their lives. Our modern day Christian society has somehow missed this, despite even the most stern warnings within scripture. Our excuse before the Lord will not be that we didn’t know, but rather, we didn’t care enough to know His word for ourselves.

“However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner. So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.” 2 Kings 17:40-41.

This verse explains the problem we face today. As a whole, family worship in our world today is all but neglected even among those who profess Jesus as Lord. Even the thought of it may seem burdensome and dutiful. Family worship is a beautiful practice instilled by the patriarchs, the apostles, and even the early Puritan church. But somewhere along the generational timeline, this was lost. And this practice ceased to be passed on to the children. And so, the children followed the examples of their fathers in the neglect of family worship.

They claimed to serve God through religious activities, but in their hearts served carved images. Carved images refers to anything that captivates our affections that is not God.

Parents have neglected family worship and replaced it with sports.

Parents have neglected family worship and replaced it with video games.

Parents have neglected family worship and replaced it with weekend road trips.

And the children pass the same traditions as their fathers taught them to their children.

As parents, we desire to give our kids things that will make them happy. But earthly happiness fades. But the joys of knowing the Lord are inexhaustible! God doesn’t demand relationship from us to burden us. He demands relationship because he designed His people to find their deepest joys in knowing Him! God is not trying to take from you in relationship, He desires to give abundant life to you! It is ironic that parents will strive to instill in their children practices that will keep them physically safe.

“Look both ways before crossing the road.

“Don’t touch the hot stove.” 

But when it comes to eternal security and knowing the God who created them, many times we pass the responsibility on to the church. If your family does not see a desire in you to know the Lord daily, they will not naturally seek it out for themselves apart from a supernatural moving of God.

“Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You, And on the families that do not call Your name;” Jeremiah 10:25.

What a wake up call it is to see that God places families that do not pray together in the same category as the lost nations who abide under His wrath! This may seem harsh, but it stands to perfect reason. What if I told you that I loved my wife, but I never spent time with her daily, I never sought to know her intimately, and I rarely delighted in her company? It would not take a brain scientist to see that I had no real relationship with her at all!!

Do you see how so many people will in the same way profess to love God, yet have all the outward qualities of a horrible relationship with Him? If by human standards we would say a vibrant, intimate relationship requires a daily practice, then why do we lower relationship standards when it comes to God? God placing prayerless families in the same category as the lost nations is not overly harsh, because it stands to reason.

If we have no communion with God in our lives, then we have no relationship. Think for yourself, is it possible to know God intimately without a relationship with Him?

So in closing, how does this work? For someone who wants to change the trajectory of their family and begin family worship, how does one go about implementing this?  Begin with picking a time you know the family will be home. It may be first thing in the morning around the breakfast table before work and school. Or it may be right before you tuck the kids in bed at night. But just as any new practice, make this a mandatory time with your family. Sacrifice television time, video games, even hobbies if it comes down to it. But begin to make this a staple in your home.

As for how to do this, A.W. Pink gives the best prototype for family worship;

“Family worship should begin with a few words of prayer invoking God’s presence and blessing. A short passage reading of His word should follow, with brief comments thereon. Then two or three verses from a Psalm may be sung. Close with a prayer of committal into the hands of God. Though we may not be able to pray eloquently, we should pray earnestly. Prevailing prayer are usually brief ones.”

For our family, right before bed is most convenient. Our worship time goes as follows. We gather the kids around and open in prayer. Then we usually do a weekly catechism (teaching about God) which consists of one question. For example, the first catechism is “What is the chief end of man (Or why did God create man)? The answer according to the Westminster Catechism is “To Glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

Then we will have a short scripture reading to enforce what we just learned. For example, a verse that would fit with the teaching above would be 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “No matter if we eat or drink or whatever, do all things for the glory of God.” We then explain to the kids in terms they can relate to, like pointing them to the fact that God made all the things they enjoy such as food and even toys! And teaching them that in all things we are to think on God and be thankful to Him!

Before closing we will sing a praise song to God with them. Even make it fun with hand motions if you like. Here is one of the songs we love to sing at this link “MY GOD IS SO BIG SONG.” And then we will close in a word of prayer, each of us praying. Sometimes this takes a few minutes, and sometimes there is so much excitement that it takes longer. Family worship is not a burdensome duty. It is a God given gift that brings the joy of truly knowing Him to His children!

Here are some other great resources to use in family worship. You can view and order by click on the links below.

Family Devotions Based on the Westminster Catechism 

The Jesus Story Book For Young Children

Big Truths For Little Kids

Pilgrims Progress

Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catachism

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