"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

The Restoration Of Family Worship (Part 2)

By Kim Butts

    "What is the condition of your family altar? If it is broken down, take the initiative and reestablish it. If you are currently conducting a regular family worship, think how you can improve it. Prayers ascending to God from sincere Christian families are pleasing to God. ‘Prayer is communion with God, the Fountain of wisdom, the Source of strength, and peace and happiness…The Lord has a special interest in the families of His children here below…Morning and evening the heavenly universe takes notice of every praying household.’" (Adapted from How to Teach the Bible With Power, by Charles H. Betz.)

    After setting the stage for why I feel family worship should be restored, it is the focus of this second article to give practical help on how to take steps toward becoming a worshiping family. Many times we know that we should do something; however, we aren’t sure how to go about it! I pray that you will find some valuable guidance in living a lifestyle that gives Jesus the highest place of honor in your home so that through you and your family, the kingdom of God will be strengthened and advanced!

Be Convinced That Family Worship Is Important

    Of course, there are many reasons why worshiping together as a family is important; however, here are just a few examples:

    1. Family worship helps to build family solidarity. In this age of busyness, we need family togetherness. A genuine closeness of heart is difficult to achieve without intentionality.

   2. Regular family worship helps to "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…" (Malachi 4:6).

    3. According to Charles Betz, "Family devotions will build a wall of protection around your children. We live in a world that is seductive, corrupt, and sinful. ‘The youth in this age must be fitted by the grace of Christ to meet and overcome evils which have been introduced into society…There should be a living, growing interest in storing the mind with Bible truth. The precious knowledge thus gained will build a barrier about the soul’" (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 36).

    4. Children learn to pray from example and opportunity. They will begin to recognize the power of prayer as they see family prayers answered.

    5. Family worship provides many opportunities to draw your children into a solid personal relationship with Jesus.

Determine What or Who Controls Your Family

    Before you can do anything significant for Jesus as a family, you must first give Him control over your lives. It is imperative that you determine to become a household that serves the Lord only. You must become true worshipers (those who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth – John 4:24). You must be willing to sit at His beautiful feet, as Mary did in Luke 10:38-42. Seeking His face in prayer and listening to His voice must become the most important activity in your home. Doing this will take a radical change in the lives of most families. If you truly desire to place Jesus first and at the center of your home, you must decide if you are willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary.

    The lives of most families today have almost become choked with activities. When did your lifestyle take over your lives? Take time to step back and evaluate what activities you are engaged in as a family and as individuals. Look at how you spend your time each day. Your schedules and calendars will show you what is given the most importance. Here is a chilling statement someone has made: "If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy." What does busyness lead to? Sin. Our enemy is crafty and evil! He desires to take our focus off of the Lord Jesus and place it upon what is entertaining rather than what is eternal. We begin to be desensitized to the things of this world and to allow small bits of worldliness to become absorbed into the culture of our family. We no longer look through the lenses of Christ to determine whether or not the things we welcome so readily into our lives are pleasing to Him. I often wonder if the Lord looks at us with a heavy heart as He must have with the children of Israel when they became engrossed with their idolatry and sinful entertainment. The only difference between us is technology. The integrity of our hearts is being compromised little by little. The basic equation is: the busier we become as a family, the easier it is to become entangled in sinful behaviors, no matter how "slight."

    My practical suggestion here is a plan for making family worship a higher, if not the highest priority in your home. The plan has several parts:

    Write a family mission statement. Any company or organization that writes a mission statement attempts to keep its activities in line with its mission. Ask the question, "What does God want our family to focus on so that He receives honor and glory and so that His kingdom on earth is advanced?" Here is a sample mission statement that a family might choose to write: "We desire to bring honor and glory to God in everything that is said, thought, or done in our home. Our priorities are prayer and worship and seeking His will through His Word and by listening to His voice. Our goal is to join with Him in what He desires to accomplish in and through us for the advancement of His kingdom on this earth." With such a mission statement, perhaps families would be more careful when choosing activities to engage in.

    Determine how your time as individuals and as a family is spent. Pretend that the statement written above is your family’s mission statement. Now write down all of the activities that take place during the week, including the amount of time they take. Include all meetings, sports events, lessons, classes, etc. Don’t forget the time spent watching television, playing video games, etc.

    Ask these questions about every activity you are engaged in: Does this activity bring honor and glory to God? Am I joining with God in this activity to advance His kingdom on this earth? Perhaps if we ask the question, "Is this activity important to Jesus?" before we decide to add something into our schedule(s), it would help us to determine our focus as individuals and as a family. Please note that activities like soccer, for example, can sometimes be very spiritual. It gives many opportunities to share the love of Christ with unsaved friends in meaningful ways. It may connect us to the very people that the Lord intends us to reach. Good sportsmanship, generosity, hospitality, etc. can all be a part of demonstrating the presence of the living God in our lives. We can, however, justify all of our activities and busyness, if we are not careful to measure them by our mission statement.

    Evaluate how much time is actually spent in prayer, worship, reading and meditating on God’s word as individuals and as a family. If all of our activities are crowding out the "one thing that is needed" (Luke 10:38-42) in our lives, then we must begin to reprioritize our activities. We will spend time doing those things that are most important to us. It may shock you to see how small a percentage of time, both individually and as a family, you spend in pursuit of knowing Jesus. Spiritual activity may not even be on some of the lists your family members make. If this is so, it’s time to take a fresh look at how time is spent.

    Is your family life controlled by the Holy Spirit, or has the enemy been able to make you so busy that you have little time left to focus on worshiping the Lord together?

Sanctify Your Home

    Purposefully set apart your home for Jesus so that family worship will not be hindered by ungodly influences. You may do this in many different ways; however, here are some practical suggestions:

    Study and take to heart Joshua 24:15, "…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Talk about what it truly means to serve the Lord as a family. Do the same by reading the Shema (Hebrew for "Hear") in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It has become the Jewish confession of faith, and is still recited daily by many families.

    Consecrate (set apart) your home by going room by room and asking the Lord to show you anything that displeases Him. Even if it is difficult, determine to remove anything that could compromise the spiritual well-being of those living in your home. There may be some spirited discussions, so be prepared…especially if you have teenagers who are tempted to keep one foot in the world. Do this together lovingly and in a right spirit. Don’t be legalistic and unkind. If there is something that a family member disagrees is displeasing to God, pray together that He will allow you all to be in complete agreement and that He will guide and direct you to make wise decisions. As you complete this task, prayerfully repent of anything that may have given Satan a foothold. Renounce those things, and then anoint each room with oil, setting it apart for activities that will bring glory to the Father. Pray for the Lord’s blessing to cover your home, and each one who enters it.

    "Those who honor me I will honor…" (1 Samuel 2:30). Talk with your family about what it means to honor God as a family. Lead your family into an agreement that worshiping Him together is a significant way to show Him honor! Next, discuss what you think it means when God says He will honor us if we honor Him.

The Simple Beginnings of Family Worship

    There are many ways to develop the practice of family worship in your home. Please don’t think that my suggestions are necessarily the best, or the ones that will work well for your family. Feel free to determine a pattern of worship that fits your family’s lifestyle.

    1. Begin with a manageable amount of time. It may be difficult to fit more than five or ten minutes into your schedules at first, so begin there. As you draw closer to Jesus, and He comes closer to you in return, you will long for lengthier times of worship together in His presence. The important thing is to have a time of spiritual significance together in which every family member is actively engaged and aware of the presence of Jesus in your midst. When family altars were a part of life in Christian families, worship generally happened twice a day – first thing in the morning, and again at night. I realize this is like asking the impossible for many families today; however, we have a God who can help to make this possible. My suggestion is to begin with one time a day, setting a goal of eventually worshipping twice a day. The Lord will be pleased with every effort. Can you imagine developing a habit of family worship that will carry over from generation to generation?

    2. Keep it simple. You do not want to be defeated before you begin. All you really need is a Bible. There are also many good materials on family devotions in Christian bookstores to help you. Steven Turley said, "It is my hope that we will appreciate the importance of daily gathering and soaking our households in prayer, praise, and the proclamation of the Word." Praying the Psalms out loud to the Lord covers all three of those. There is no right or wrong way to conduct family worship.

    3. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. It is much easier for a young family to begin good habits of family worship. When children are older, and haven’t been used to the "discipline" of daily family worship, there is more likelihood for resistance. It will be important to help them to see an eternal perspective. What you do in times of family worship will have an effect on their Christian character, their world view and their future marriage and family lives. To be a family that follows Jesus is only possible when you spend time together in prayer, in praise and in studying God’s Word. The time you spend together can be very short – but it will be eternally significant in its result. The key is faithfulness!

    4. Some basic elements: Try to include these things in your times of family worship: prayer (begin with prayer for one another); praise – sing a chorus or hymn, or read a Psalm out loud to the Lord; the Word – read a short passage, discuss what it means, and how it applies to your lives today. Begin to select short passages to memorize together. Determine to know what you believe and why you believe it.

    Family worship can become a natural part of every day. Persevere and the rewards will be great. Even those who are reluctant to participate will reap the benefits of time well spent together as a family honoring the Lord. Remember His promise in return: "Those who honor me I will honor…" (1 Samuel 2:30). Imagine the spiritual impact and influence that worshiping families could have on the Church and on our culture!   

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