“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NKJV)
“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 NKJV)
Several years ago, my pastor suggested that I read Donald S. Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life
(Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1991). This is a book that I regularly return to, with God using it to challenge and enrich my devotional life, particularly in regard to Bible intake and prayer. Not long afterward, I also had the opportunity to take the author’s seminary class on that very subject and have found it to be the best class I have had so far.
Dr. Whitney, who teaches Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky has also written a very helpful 32-page booklet (including study/discussion guide) entitled Family Worship: in the Bible, in History, & in Your Home.
As the title suggests, the author presents the Scriptures relevant to family worship and shows us its importance in church history. Then he tells us how we can implement family worship in our own homes, answering objections (such as single parent homes, variety of ages of children, homes where dad is not a believer, etc.), and pressing upon us the urgency of the delightful duty of family worship.
So, what is family worship? According to Whitney, all you need to do is 3 things: read, pray, and sing. You could read a chapter of the Bible, spend time in prayer, and praise God with song. The time need not be long, but it should be regular. It need not be burdensome, and can often be incorporated into a family meal time. If time permits, you could also use a catechism (question & answers to help children learn the teaching of the Bible), memorize Scripture, and read other good Christian books. Family worship is a great way to emphasize the priority of God in your home.
Now, let me be very open with you and admit my own struggles for consistency in this area. I have four young children and a very busy life with the different responsibilities I juggle. But that does not excuse me. I am accountable to God for the training of my children and for the spiritual aroma of my home. I have implemented (and slacked from…and returned to, etc.) these principles of family worship, and, with the help of God, desire to establish this as a distinctive part of my family life for all my days.
I know I am not alone in this struggle. I recall hearing of a visiting preacher who asked a church how many had family worship regularly at their home. No one said they did. Is this not a sad commentary? Should this not be a joyful, daily part of the lives of the people of God? I strongly urge you to consider yourself in this matter. Do you have family worship? If not, why not? Will you start now?
Whitney’s book should be a help to you as you begin or reexamine your family worship. It would also be a helpful resource to teach a Sunday School class (or series of classes) on this subject.
If you are a pastor or other church leader, you may be interested to know that the Center for Biblical Spirituality offers discounts for multiple copies, including a Father’s Day special.
Another helpful article by the same author is “Simplifying Family Worship,” available at www.biblicalspirituality.org/fworship.html. (If you want to get a little more taste of his material, you might also check out the following free .mp3 downloads: “Family Worship” at SermonAudio.com, requires registration; “Family Worship” Part 1 and “Family Worship” Part 2 at Countryside Bible Church, direct links.)
For the glory of God and the sake of your family, take Whitney’s advice: begin or renew family worship today!
Doug Smith, CAPS Graduate and Tri-Cities Area CAPS Representative