“You shall teach them diligently to your sons”
“Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
One of the best (though surely not the only!) way to do the above is to build into your life a regular, daily habit of family worship. What is family worship? It’s simply a time when your entire household gathers together to do, in brief, many of the same things that we do as a church family on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. It’s a time for the head of the household to gather those under his care to worship the Lord together. And not just when the children are small, or when there are kids in the house. This is a habit that can and should be taken up by single people living together as roommates; by couples with no children; by empty nesters; and by any other collection of people living together!
You may do it in the morning, to start the day; or around the dinner table, once the evening meal is complete; or just before bed; or any other time of day when everyone is available and alert. But whenever you do it, I suggest that we are exceedingly wise if we make this an everyday routine … such that both parents, and children, and other household members as well, can’t imagine going through the daily routine without it. Get going for a month, and you’ll soon find that you no longer have to remind yourself to worship God together as a family, but that it will become as natural to you as eating dinner, or taking a morning shower, or brushing your teeth!
But what to actually do during these 10-15 minutes or so per day (or more, if you wish)? Well, let me just introduce you to the four items that we include in our nightly routine:
Scripture. Depending on whether there are children in the house (and their ages), the portion may be shorter or longer. You might read more of the narrative portions of scripture (gospels, Acts, OT history) when the kids are small. They’ll follow these more easily than they will Galatians or Leviticus! But whatever you read, create a plan whereby you are going to read through a particular book or portion of the Bible for several days or weeks (rather than hunting up something new every night), and then take the book or portion in bite-sized chunks, a little each day … reading aloud, and then (crucially) talking about what you read. If you’re reading longer portions, maybe stop for discussion at several appropriate points throughout the reading, rather than trying to discuss 10-15 verses or more all at once. And if you’re just getting started, may I suggest the gospel of Mark as a very good place to begin? But wherever you read … read the scriptures together as a family!
Praise. After reading and discussing the Scripture portion (and before prayer), offer a moment for any family member who wishes to share a praise concerning the Lord’s work in or for them. The praises could be as simple as God helping someone find their lost keys, or as profound as thanking the Lord for what you’ve been learning about justification and the gospel in the book of Galatians, or about the Trinity in your own reading. But, whatever the praises, it is important that we give voice to our gratitude for who God is, and for all He has done for us.
Prayer. After Scripture and praise, spend a few moments in prayer. When the children are younger, this time might be primarily led by an adult. As they get older, the prayer might be disbursed among different members of the family. But pray! Offer prayers of praise for the items just mentioned under the previous heading. Pray about what you read in the scripture portion. Pray for people and events connected with your family and church family. Pray for missionaries. Pray for specific requests that may be collected just prior to the prayer time. But, whatever the requests, pray together as a family!
Song. We close our family worship time, each evening, by singing a verse or two together. Our particular practice (since we have small children) is to sing the same song for an entire week, so that the children really have a chance to learn it. You could do it that way, or you could select a different song each night. But sing! Get a hymnal (here or here), and maybe a psalter as well, and sing together each day with your household! It will give even further voice to the kinds of prayers and praises that you’ve already lifted, and will also make you more and more familiar with solid materials of praise that may begin to fill your mouth at more spontaneous times throughout the week as well!
So that’s it! Pretty simple … and yet of profound effect on your life (and on the life of your family members) if worshiping the Lord in your home becomes as much a part of your daily routine as changing clothes before bed.