We did not practice family worship in the house in which I was reared. My parents were good people, Christian people, and church–going people. Yet regular family devotions were not a feature of our home. We didn’t pray together, or read Scripture together, or sing praises together.
Consequently, when first exposed to family worship it came to me as a new idea. I had practiced personal devotions for some time. I had been committed to public worship since childhood. Yet the practice of family worship had not occurred to me. Nevertheless, when once introduced to the concept it had a “well of course” quality to it. It made sense. Families as families should worship God. Public prayer is for public things, private prayer is for private things, and family prayer is for family things. The family as a family has sins to confess, benefits for which to give thanks, and needs for which to make requests. Family worship is logical, sensible, and practical.
Most importantly, family worship is biblical. Before there was a church, the family itself was a “little church.” The true religion was passed from father to son, from Adam to Seth to Enosh to Noah, as families “called upon the name of the Lord” and “walked with God” (Gen. 4:25, 26; 5:24). As the people of God began formally to be organized, it was Abraham as covenant head who was instructed to “command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him” (Gen. 18:19). Parents are commanded under Moses to teach their children God’s words “diligently,” to do so “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:7). Joshua commits his whole family to God saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). So on it continues from Job (1:5) to David (2 Sam. 6:20), to Daniel (Dan. 6:10), to the Proverbs (1:8; 2:1; 3:1–2; 22:6) to the Psalms (Ps. 78:5–7; 101:1–4).
The New Testament assumes the same as it urges families to “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2), to beware lest family prayers be “hindered” (1 Pet. 3:1–7), and to bring up children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
Perhaps the greatest single concern which parents have in this world is that of passing on to their children their faith in Christ. They wish above all to see their children saved. Daily family worship is perhaps the single most effective weapon which parents have in their spiritual arsenal.
Perhaps the greatest single concern which parents have in this world is that of passing on to their children their faith in Christ. They wish above all to see their children saved. Daily family worship is perhaps the single most effective weapon which parents have in their spiritual arsenal. Previous generations of Christians understood this, all across the theological and ecclesiastical spectrum. All the major Protestant denominations encouraged family worship in their periodicals until well into the 20th century. The “family altar” was a common feature of devout homes. Children who mature in a home in which the Bible systematically is read, the best of Christian devotional lyrics are sung, divine protection and provision are sought through prayer, and most importantly, in which daily they hear their parents pleading for their souls; such children will not quickly or easily turn away from the God so beloved by their parents.