As the new year gets underway, many of us have new resolutions. I pray that the Lord will bless the resolutions and use them to glorify himself in your life and others’. As you look at your resolutions, I would like to ask, especially Christian fathers and husbands, to consider family worship if you have not been practicing it in the last year. If it is not featured on your new year resolutions list, I appeal to you to include it.
Where family worship languishes, error and worldliness make inroads into the church.
Sadly, family worship is one of the most neglected practices among Christians today. Whatever the causes of this spiritually unhealthy state, we should all be reminded as the English Puritan Thomas Manton once observed: “The family is the seminary [theological institution] of the Church and State.” We cannot expect to see many godly and faithful churches and societies where the family devotions are not consistent and regular. The 19th century American pastor James Waddel Alexander made a similar observation. He said that where family worship languishes and goes into decay, error and worldliness make inroads into the church.
Gather Your Family for Worship
So, what am I talking about? We are all familiar with the public worship that takes place in our churches when we meet on Sundays. There ought also to be another worship, similar to the one in church, which takes place in our homes. Parents, especially fathers, should gather their children, and teach them the word of God, pray, and sing hymns and psalms with them. These are some of the means that God uses to bless his people and build strong families as well as churches.
Parents should gather their children, and teach them, pray, and sing.
In the ideal situation, fathers are to lead their families in worship. However, in cases of homes that are headed by single mothers, the responsibility falls squarely on their shoulders. Let them not despair but trust the Lord to bless their faithfulness in leading their children.
God Appoints Parents as Worship Leaders
Just like public worship, family worship is also commanded and encouraged by God in Scripture. In Deuteronomy we see family worship commanded in the light of the greatest command to love God with all our heart, soul and might. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
Family worship is commanded and encouraged by God in Scripture.
In the New Testament we see the practice exemplified in Cornelius. “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:1-2). In his love for God and pursuit for godliness, Cornelius did not leave his household behind. He almost certainly studied the word of God and prayed with his family.
Practical Tips for Parents
Thinking of leading one’s family in worship can be overwhelming, more especially, if you have never done it before. However, I would like to encourage you to start small and improve on it as you go along. Before the worship, take some time to prepare what you are going to share from God’s word. To make it easier for yourself, plan to go through one book of the Bible at a time. You can use John Calvin or Matthew Henry’s commentaries in your preparation.
Keep on doing this until it becomes an irremovable part of your family’s week.
After your preparation, pray for God’s blessing upon your family worship. Then gather your family. Pray together that God would speak to you through his word, and then read the Scriptures. Explain the passage and give a chance to your children to ask questions regarding the passage. After that sing at least one or two hymns or psalms or biblical songs. Then pray that God will apply the truth you have read to your hearts. You can also pray for the needs of your family, local church, and neighbours. Keep on doing this at established times until it becomes an irremovable part of your family’s week.
The new year of our Lord is upon us. One of the opportunities that the year gives us is to establish or continue the practice of family worship in our homes. I pray that the Lord will grant you a fruitful year of family worship.