And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. 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, ESV
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4, ESVHere we see that the task of “discipling” children falls on the shoulders of the parents (Deuteronomy 6) and, specifically, fathers (Ephesians 6:4). Others can help. Churches can assist. Ministries within the church can aid. But the responsibility is on the dads. God calls on men to lead their families in worship and teach the word to their children – this is our most important task after knowing and enjoying God personally. This comes before our responsibilities in the workplace or in the community. Making sure we are leading our families in worship even comes before our ministries in the church (although some use this as an excuse to neglect church gatherings to hang out with the family – that’s not what I’m talking about). We must lead our families to God and teach our children. It is our job to see that it is getting done. This is not something we leave to our wife (although she can and should teach our children); this is not something we leave to the church (although the church can and should help us, equip us, assist us). This rests on us.
Family worship used to be a normal part of life for the Christian household (In 1647 the head of the house was barred from the Lord’s Supper if he neglected leading his family in worship, until he corrected his error). Sadly, many today do not even know what it is. We are talking about the man calling his family together to read and teach the Bible, pray together, and sing to God – all done joyfully, in Spirit and in truth. If we feel inadequate in our Bible knowledge, our pastors, elders and other men in the church can help equip us. Books and bible studies and catechisms can be used as tools. But no greater solution than to dig deep into God’s word and share with our family what God shows us. If we feel inadequate in prayer – again – others in the church can help equip us; but the best solution is to fan the flames of our private prayer times. Learn to pray by praying privately, and by praying with others in the church. Finally, if we feel inadequate in singing songs and hymns, we can receive help from those in the church (song suggestions, etc); there are tools we can use (song books, singing along with cd’s or worship songs on youtube, etc). But the point is not to begin a family musical act that will one day perform at a nightly show in Branson! The point is to sing to Jesus with joy!
These days most Christians have a common struggle in this area of maintaining a consistent family worship time. There’s hope! The Spirit of God will help us (he wants us to do this!). If you struggle with this:
Identify that neglecting to lead our families and teach our children is a sin against God and our families and our local church (if our family is growing, the church will be blessed).
Repent before God and trust in the grace of God given in Christ crucified!
Ask God to reveal the distractions that need to go (you are doing SOMETHING instead of family worship – that something needs to be trimmed back or cut out altogether as the Lord leads you).
Make a plan. What time will be good for your family? What tools or age-appropriate resources do you need?
Discuss, humbly, with your family, realizing that they may not be with you at first, especially if you’ve not led in this consistently until now. Be patient and prayerful towards your wife and children. But lovingly lead them.
Meet with other men for prayer and fellowship and talk about the struggles, ask them to pray for you in this area, give testimonies and praises with the assembled church.
Persevere in lovingly leading your family with the grace of Christ!
What if you are an unmarried parent?
If you can’t do the whole routine every night, do what you can! Pray and worship the Lord privately, and let that overflow to your children when you can. Look for opportunities to teach and read the Bible and pray together.
http://familyworshipguide.net/ a website that gives many good resources for family worship, including a guide for each day (suggested readings, songs, Scriptures to memorize, etc)
How Much Time Should Be Spent in our Family Worship Gathering? “But some, in excuse for the neglect of this duty, urge the want of time: – their families are too large – their business presses them – it is of such a nature that they cannot control their hours. This they plead that they have not time for a duty which they confess to be all-important. On this point permit me to remark, that good people do sometimes err in spending an unreasonable length of time in the performance of this service. We may be so long as to become tedious in our prayers; and whenever this is the case, it creates a weariness, especially in the minds of the young, that is too apt to end in disgust or aversion. But when we urge the duty of allowing no day, in ordinary circumstances, to pass by without, as a family, spending ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes, in the solemn worship of our Maker, and when the objection made against it is the want of time, we ask, Can men be serious when they say so?” From “The Family Altar,” a compilation of the writings of Doddridge, Bickersteth, Watts, Hamilton, and Barnes; (http://www.joethorn.net/2007/03/28/family-worship/)
I agree with Matthew Henry when he says, “They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but they that pray, and read, and sing do best of all.” C.H. Spurgeon The Happy Duty of Daily Praise.
Here is a quote from Pastor John Piper, from a sermon:
John Piper on Men Leading in the Home
"As the head the husband should take the lead in gathering the family for prayer and Scripture reading and worship. When a husband fails here and the wife has to constantly remind him or call the kids by herself, the soul of the marriage is in jeopardy. I would go so far as to say that this one act of leadership is so important that if you men would take the initiative here, almost all other leadership issues would fall into proper place.
I close every series of pre-marital counseling sessions with these words: Your devotional life together as a couple is the soul and heartbeat of your marriage. If it weakens, disease will occur in a dozen other areas with no apparent connection to the heart. You cannot be growing spiritually as a couple or a family without daily prayer and meditation together. And if you are not growing, you are dying. And, men, it is your responsibility. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and God came to call them to account, it didn't matter that Eve had eaten first; God said, "Adam, where are you?" That's God's word to your family this morning: Adam, husband, father, where are you? He will seek an accounting from you first, not your wife, if the family has neglected prayer and put TV before the living God.
Here's how to get started again. Humble yourselves and admit your failure. Confess to your wife your sin. Go apart with God and plan a week of devotions with her and the family. Announce to them that a new day is dawning on the home front. Then lead them to God. This is so threatening to some of you it makes you tense to think of it. You will have to swallow so much pride. But be courageous. Fear is a scrawny enemy. Do not let him conquer you. I promise you that once you have gotten over the first hill, a new world will open before you. The ugly guilt will be gone. The sense of failure will be gone. The uncertainty of your love for God and the family will be gone. And a dozen areas of tension in your marriage will be healed which you did not know had anything to do with family devotions."
Finally, here is an article from The Resurgence written by a pastor, describing his nightly routine with his family. You may find it extremely helpful. Click Here.
May Jesus bring revival to his church by touching men and parents, and reviving our homes!