Time and again, the Bible tells us to worship God. So we go to church for the services on Sabbaths and we sing His praise. There should also be a response of worship to the reading of the Scriptures, and a response of worship to what is said in the sermon. Indeed there should be something of worship in every part of the service, for God is great and we are to declare His greatness – at least in our hearts – as we listen and think and sing.
But we are not only to worship God as part of a congregation; we are also to worship God as families. It is not every day we can go to church, but as families we can worship God every day. Of course, we can – and we ought to – worship God as individuals, but He has placed most of us in families. And as families we ought to acknowledge God.
There was a time when family worship was common. Indeed a minister in Birmingham, writing about 150 years ago, claimed that, in almost every part of the Christian church, people would think someone almost totally without religion who did not keep family worship. Sadly, that is not so today. People scarcely feel the need to worship God at all. But there is a clear duty on us all to worship God, and to worship God as families.
Every morning and evening, if at all possible, the whole family should gather together. The head of the household – usually the husband – should conduct the worship. Normally he would first ask God to bless His Word to them. Then they would sing some verses from a Psalm and read a portion from the Bible. Finally they would go down on their knees to pray. In this way, in the morning, the whole family seeks God’s blessing on everything they will do throughout the day; and in the evening, they again seek God’s blessing for the night. As they read, they hopefully learn something from God’s Word. But, as they ask Him to take care of them throughout that day or night, they are also acknowledging God as the One who orders the whole of their lives. It is an opportunity for them to come together to ask God’s blessing, especially on their souls; it is an opportunity to seek grace to live in a way that is pleasing to Him, and a preparation for eternity.
Very often people have found a blessing for their souls at family worship. An Englishman once spent some days with a godly friend in America. The English visitor was a man of great gifts but he did not believe the Bible. Four years later he paid his American friend another visit. Everybody in the family noticed that he was a changed man, but none of them at first realised how the change had come about. But he explained that it began when he was with them at family worship on the first evening of his previous visit. As they read a chapter and then all knelt down to pray, he remembered such times in his father’s home many years before. These memories so occupied his mind that he did not hear a word that was said. But he began to think and that led to him giving up his unbelief. Afterwards, we are told, he found “quiet rest in the salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ”.
Perhaps about the same time, a young Irishman and his family asked for a night’s shelter from a godly schoolteacher. He agreed, and when the time came for evening worship, he began to read slowly and solemnly the second chapter of Ephesians. The young man was astonished at expressions like “dead in trespasses and sins”, “children of wrath”, and “walking after the course of this world”. Sensibly, he asked the teacher to explain, and he was told that this was God’s account of the state of everyone by nature. The young man felt that it was indeed exactly his state. “In this way,” he told the teacher, “I have walked from my childhood. In the service of the god of this world we have come to your house.” They were on their way to a fair, where the man was going to spend the forged money he was carrying. But God’s Word found him out and he asked the teacher to burn it for him. Then he asked for a Bible for himself. The teacher gave him one and the next morning the family headed back home; the fair was forgotten.
Maybe family worship has not been such an obvious blessing for you as for the men in these two incidents. But if, each morning and evening, you have a place in your father’s prayers, as he asks God to bless each of you for time and for eternity, is it not good for you to be there? And if, day by day, you learn a little from God’s Word, then family worship is proving a blessing for you – though you must not rest satisfied until you believe on Christ for the salvation of your soul.
As young people grow up, they may have to take responsibility for conducting family worship in their home. If that becomes your duty, ask God to help you. If you marry a wife and set up home together, do not shirk your responsibility; take it up with seriousness and in dependence on God’s grace. At such a time, you perhaps need God’s blessing as never before. But here is an opportunity to ask God’s blessing, for Jesus’ sake, on your new life together. And it is also an opportunity to ask His blessing on the children He may yet be pleased to give you.
[Editorial from the February 2004 issue of The Young People’s Magazine]