Series - Family Worship

Some Practical Guidelines for Family Worship (Part 2)

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Be creative and thoughtful

Speaking of the element of prayer in family worship, Alexander writes, “Family prayer should be varied, otherwise the inevitable result will be formalism and tediousness. Indeed the snare into which we are most prone to fall, in this service, is that of sameness and routine.”4 I fear that the form of family worship practiced in some Reformed circles has degenerated into mere outward formalism. After dinner, the father reaches over to the hutch, grabs the Bible, and turns it to the next chapter to be read. He reads the chapter in a monotone voice, puts down the Bible, and says a brief prayer. Family devotions over.

We don’t want our family altar to degenerate into a mindless ritual. One way to guard against that is to bring variety into our family worship. And, by the way, variety for variety’s sake is not necessarily a bad thing. If you look at the world around you, you soon discover that God delights in variety. Therefore, provided that we maintain the general framework of what constitutes true worship, variety can be a good and useful thing. But in order to keep a measure of variety in our family worship, we need to be creative. At this point, I’d like to offer you several suggestions:

1) Read through the Bible

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Some Practical Guidelines for Family Worship (Part 1)

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Having considered the decline of family worship, as well as some biblical principles and positive benefits to support its practice, I’d now like to offer several basic guidelines that should govern our thinking and practice as we endeavor to implement family worship in our homes.

Be Consistent and Persistent

To achieve consistency, we need to plan a time for family devotions—especially if we have children. We can’t just approach family worship in a completely laissez-faire fashion. It requires that we sit the entire family down, compare each member’s daily routine, and then try to determine a time that would be good for the family as a whole. Depending on the size of your family, that may require some members to readjust and re-prioritize their own daily routine. Do whatever it takes to achieve a good degree of consistency.

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Some Positive Benefits of Family Worship

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Having considered the decline of family worship and some biblical support for its practice, we look now at some positive benefits, which in turn supply another argument for its restoration. As Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether we eat, drink, or whatever we do, we’re to do all to the glory of God.” However, we need not view God’s glory and our benefit as mutually exclusive. I believe there are a number of benefits and blessings that result from the practice of family worship. Even if there were no passages of Scripture to support the practice directly or indirectly, the potential of these blessings would certainly commend it.

The Eternal Good of Each Family Member

When the apostle Paul wants Christians to know that he’s concerned for their eternal welfare, he often uses the analogy of a parent’s love for a child.

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The Biblical Basis for Family Worship (Part 3)

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“Listen to Your Father and Mother”

In 2 Samuel 6, David and the Israelites successfully relocate the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-edom’s house to Jerusalem. It’s a time of great celebration and rejoicing. We read in verses 14 and 15:

And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet.

Once the ark is brought to its assigned place, David offers a burnt offering, a peace offering, and then, “he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.” (v. 18). Now it’s important for us to realize that David’s “blessing” was not just a casual “I wish you well.” Rather, this blessing, along with the offering of the sacrifices, was a formal religious function. In other words, David playing a role in leading God’s people in corporate worship.

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The Biblical Basis for Family Worship (Part 2)

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To the Heads-of-Households in Israel

There are a number of passages in the book of Deuteronomy that give parents, especially fathers, the responsibility to teach their children the ways of God. We will confine ourselves to the primary passage in 6:4-9. Verse 4 begins with an imperative: “Hear, O Israel.” That’s not a command to passively allow the sound waves to vibrate the ear drums. That’s a command to believe!  Moses is calling upon the Israelites to hear and to believe and to confess the following truth: “Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one [the idea is, ‘Yahweh is the only one’].” This great truth was to be the very heart of the Israelite’s faith. And how would their commitment to the one true God manifest itself in their lives? Note the next verse: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (v. 5). In Galatians 5:16, Paul tells us that genuine faith works through love. Where did Paul get that idea? He got if from Moses. “Hear, O Israel! Confess Yahweh to be your God, and let your faith manifest itself in whole-hearted devotion to Him.”

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The Biblical Basis for Family Worship (Part 1)

In the previous essay, we defined family worship as “the occasion in which the members of a given family gather together in order to participate in special acts of worship, such as the singing of praise, the reading and hearing of Scripture, and the offering of prayer to God.” In this segment of our study, we’ll attempt to provide some biblical support for the practice of family worship.

We must acknowledge at the outset that there is no single proof text which explicitly commands family worship as I have defined it. J. A. Alexander seems to recognize this point as well.

There are some duties so plain, that they are rather assumed, than commanded, in the word of God; and the number of such is greater than might be supposed on a superficial examination… . We are not to wonder, therefore, if we find, even in the New Testament, no separate and explicit injunction to worship God in the family.1

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Whatever Became of Family Worship?

I attended a Christian university along with approximately five-thousand other students, most of whom came from Christian homes. Although I never conducted an official survey, my general impression was that very few of my fellow Christian students had grown up in homes where family worship had been regularly practiced. It seemed to be a foreign concept to most of them. I believe the general ignorance concerning family worship demonstrates just how far Christian families have departed from their Christian heritage.

Family Worship: A Household Word

There was a time in the early days of this nation when family worship was a “household word” (no pun intended). Generally speaking, Christian families understood it to be their duty to conduct in family worship in the home. For example, in 1677 the congregational church of Dorchester, Massachusetts, composed and signed a written covenant in which they pledged to faithfully carry out their Christian duties. Included among their resolutions, they promised

To reform our families, engaging ourselves to a conscientious care to set up and maintain the worship of God in them and to walk in our houses with perfect hearts in a faithful discharge of all domestic duties: educating, instructing, and charging our children and our households to keep the ways of the Lord.1

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