The Priority of Family Worship
Family Worship and Parenting
The Bible contains everything we need to know about how to live life this side of eternity for God’s glory (2 Peter 1:3) but doesn’t go into specifics for many of the details of our lives. This is the case with our job as parents – God has not given us many specifics about what’s involved in raising children such as what their education in the world is to look like, what standard of living we should seek to give them, what kinds of skills they should learn, or what kind of schedule infants should be on. So when He does give specifics we should take great care to seek to be obedient in these areas. Deuteronomy 6 :4-9 is one of those passages:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
God commanded His people to believe that God is one, to love Him, and to teach the knowledge of and love for God to their children. The goal in this teaching is that our children will treasure God, not just know a list of Bible facts or be able to recite the books of the Bible or memory verses. Your children need to see the relevance of the knowledge of God to your family’s circumstances and that can only happen through YOUR teaching in YOUR home. Notice that God says we should teach our children about God in various circumstances. While we may not be called to implement the specific cultural practices of Deuteronomy (tying Scripture to scrolls and attaching it to your body), the command to get God’s Word into our lives throughout the day remains the same. This passage shows us that we should not only be gathering for explicit reading or teaching from God’s Word but we should also talk about the Lord throughout the week in a more organic way. Neither setting makes the other unnecessary. Listen to what Don Whitney says in the book Family Worship in the Bible, in History & in Your Home, commenting on the command in Ephesians 6:4 to “bring up [your children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”:
When do you do this? Yes, you do it when you bring your children to church. Yes, you do it when you converse with them about the things of God from time to time. Yes, you even do it some by example. But binging children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is not accomplished unintentionally and incidentally. Yes, it should and will happen throughout the day at unplanned, serendipitous occasions, but it should also happen purposefully. Without some regularity and structure and purpose, it is one of those things that we assume we are doing but never actually do. Consistent, father-led family worship is one of the best, steadiest, and most easily measurable ways to bring up children in the Lord’s discipline and instruction.
Family Worship and the Christian Life
There’s yet another reason that family worship should be a priority in our lives, even if we don’t have children or we live with friends or extended relatives. The Christian life is not meant be lived in isolation from other Christians. Consider the command in Hebrews 10:24-25: “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” And in Hebrews 3:12-13: “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Our best allies in fighting against our sin are those who are the closest to us. People that live with us or work with us see us more often than anyone else and know the intimate details of our habits, our attitudes, how we handle money, food, etc. If they know the Lord and have the Holy Spirit, these people are those best equipped to restore us when we are caught in a trespass. (Galatians 6:1) And very often we are so blinded by sin that we don’t even know we’re caught in a trespass! Additionally, those who live with us are uniquely able to pray for us and can help us obey God’s command to “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another” (James 5:16).
If you had a stranger stay in your home for a week would it be obvious that you were a Christian family? Let me challenge you to make gathering together around God’s Word a priority. I won’t give you a specific schedule or frequency because God doesn’t; I will, however, suggest that a goal for us to work towards would be to gather once daily. Even if the Father can’t lead worship much during the week because of travel or work scheduling, he can have his wife or older son lead. But perhaps your first goal can be to meet once weekly, on a certain day of the week. Over the years our daily practice of family worship has waxed and waned but we have always, by God’s grace, been able to remain faithful to gather for a family worship service on Saturday nights to help us prepare for Sunday. Since the world sees Saturday night as the primary social time of the week, it has meant saying no to lots of party invitation or other special events, but as I look back over the years this “sacrifice” was well worth it. All of us look forward to Saturday night worship and it is built into the Ward routine now. So consider making family worship a priority in your home. Not only does God command that we gather to help one another remember and cherish Him, but there are immense practical and spiritual blessings to be found in this practice!
Next week we will examine the practice of family worship by giving guidance for how to structure the time, what materials to use, and tips on when to do it.