“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” – Genesis 18:19
One of the wonderful purposes God had in His relationship with Abraham had his family in view. Of course, we find the great covenantal promise in context of Genesis 18:19 that God would make Abraham a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth would be blessed in him. With his family in view, what was Abraham to do? He was to lead his household. He was to instruct his children and all in his household in the way of the Lord, so that they would keep it, doing righteousness and justice. Leading and teaching our families has a bigger purpose that just passing on knowledge for knowledge sake. We greatly desire that our families would know the Lord, His Word, His way. We also greatly desire to see the fruit of that knowledge present and active. We long to see our children loving God and walking rightly with Him. Notice what God would do through Abraham. God would bring what He promised to him. The nations truly would be blessed in him and in his seed- ultimately through Jesus Christ.
So, one of the ways such leading and instruction should be done is in family worship. Family worship is a practice that is vital today in instilling both old and young with a consciousness of the Lord, His Word, and our call to worship. Our Confession speaks to the practice of daily family worship, when it says:
“Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.” (WCF 21.6)
You can find more of my thoughts on the importance of family worship here. However, today we will consider seven practical “How-Tos” to help you do it.
• Set a Regular Time – It’s helpful to set a regular time of day to meet, or a regular weekly schedule (if times on certain days need to be predictably different), so that the members of your family can know and expect to gather at that time. If you try to “wing it” every day, it’s easier for the time to be forgotten or skipped. Some families do well in meeting during or around a meal time.
• Make that Time a Priority – Whatever time you set, keep it a priority so that you’re more consistent in doing it. Soon it will become part of the family’s mindset. Sure, the time may need to change out of necessity, but your family will be in the groove. Keep in mind, if you have young or younger children- they will often try to push the boundary, maybe complain. Teach them through those moments to better understand the wonderful reasons and blessings in family worship.
• Keep the Time Reasonable – Some of us can wax eloquent. In family worship, keep the time reasonable so it’s effective for your family’s ages and stages. For some 20 minutes or so may be the max. Others may go longer.
• Make the Lesson Digestible – Along with prayer and singing, bring the Word to your family. That portion of the time is well spent working through the catechism and reading of Scripture. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is great to work through regularly. For young children, the First Catechism is also helpful. Whatever the message or lesson is for what you are reading, make that message digestible and engaging for your family in the ages and stages they are in. Understandably, this may take a little prep for the lesson, but doing so will be edifying for you and them.
• Welcome Questions and Discussion – Make the time interactive, as appropriate, after the lesson. Encourage questions and discussion about the particular subject.
• Use the Time as Training – Time in family worship is a good opportunity, especially for children, to practice sitting still, singing, praying, listening, answering questions, etc. This not only has benefit for their growth in knowledge and interaction in that time, but also builds skills that will be helpful in other settings, including corporate worship amongst the body.
• A Word to Couples – If you’re empty nesters, or married without children, family worship is still important. Husbands, make sure you lead your wife in prayer, song, and Word together.
I pray that the Lord blesses you and your family as you worship together through out the week!