In a post entitled 11 Reasons to Worship with Your Family, Jason Helopoulos explains family worship as follows:
What is family worship? It is pretty simple. Tonight, sit down with your family on the couch or at the dinner table. And then . . . pray together, read the Bible together, and sing a great hymn of the faith together.
What some call “Bible time” others call “family worship.” Whatever you call it, gathering regularly with your family to read and discuss God’s Word is a great blessing. It is clear that the Bible commands parents to teach their children God’s Law-Word. Two passages make this manifest:
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
It should be noted, however, that the Bible does not command you to conduct a “family worship” session each day. Nevertheless, having a regular time to read the Bible together (i.e. family worship, Bible time, etc) provides many benefits in the home.
1. It Provides an Avenue to Fulfill the Commands to Teach Your Children God’s Word
One could rightly argue that God does not require a formal time of sitting down and discussing God’s Word with your children. After all, the Deuteronomy 6 passage, among others, hints at teaching that is to occur throughout one’s life. Proverbs 7 is another example of a father instructing his son via everyday observances, in that case a young man being seduced by an adulteress. There may be parents who are able to faithfully teach God’s Word to their children by simply talking about it everyday, as situations arise. It’s true: those off the cuff moments are sometimes the best to provide biblical instruction in! Nevertheless, many of us desire a more structured approach, while certainly not ignoring the seemingly random “teaching opportunities” that occur all around us. Having regular family worship helps provide an avenue and structure to lay a groundwork of basic biblical literacy and instruction in the home, thus fulfilling what God has clearly commanded: the instruction and discipleship of our children.
2. It Helps Busy Parents Stay in God’s Word
I can’t remember where I read it, but I seem to recall that Martin Luther once noted how his prayer at the end of a busy day was often a simple, “Thank you, Lord,” followed by his prompt entrance into the realm of sleep. That may seem like a far cry from the religious “devotion” and “piety” that many have been taught to pursue, but the fact of the matter is that marriage and children bring more responsibilities into one’s life (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:33). For a new parent to expect to maintain the same level of personal study and reading that he had prior to children (or even marriage) is often unrealistic. Sometimes it seems parents have trouble finding anytime for reading God’s Word, though they truly desire to do so. Even for a person like myself, who loves reading, I have found the regular practice of family worship to be the greatest single factor in my regular diet of God’s Word. Since becoming a father nearly ten years ago, there have been many days wherein I have not had a “quiet time” in God’s Word. But there has hardly been a day that I’ve not been in God’s Word—thanks to our family’s commitment to family worship. I often encourage my wife, who works harder than anyone I know, with this reality. Most days, she is not able to have a self-imposed “quiet time” with the birds chirping, hot coffee brewing, and all four children sleeping soundly. However, she is in God’s Word daily, hearing it read aloud by her children and interacting with the text via discussion, study notes, and other literature. I don’t ever feel guilty about saying that the 30-60 minutes I spent in family worship was my main time in prayer and God’s Word for that day. I am not saying we should never seek other avenues of spiritual disciplines; I am simply saying there are seasons (sometimes prolonged) where family worship is a buoy to keep those disciplines afloat.
3. It Allows Children to Interact with Biblical Passages
This is one of my favorite parts about family worship. I love discussing the text with my family and hearing the questions (often very insightful) that my children raise. It has been a great blessing to see them grow in their understanding of God’s Word simply by reading it day-in and day-out for basically their entire lives. This practice of discussing God’s Word is an important one to foster in your home. Many children grow up in supposedly “Christian” homes and yet never really talk about the Christian faith. Even the most basic type of family worship will prevent that problem from occurring.
4. It Teaches Children to Sit Still
This not only helps when it comes time to gather with the church as a whole on Sunday, but even for when you have to wait at the airport or other venue. I’m not saying it’s easy, but working on helping children sit still and have self-control is sure to bring results. Just be patient!
5. It Makes You Slow Down and Keep Your Priorities Straight
So many things come and go in the life of a family. Sports. Clubs. Events. Trips. Vacations. The constant that can help keep your family focused, might just be a regular time in God’s Word where you all slow down, sit together, and spend time contemplating the very words of the Creator of all things. Make it a habit and don’t look back. If you’d like tips or resources on conducting family worship, please feel free to contact me.