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

The Restoration of Family Worship (Part 1)

By Kim Butts

    Many look with despair upon the decline of the family in our culture today. We live in an age when marriages are rapidly falling apart, if couples even bother to marry. The very purposes of God for marriage are being threatened in our courts as acceptance for homosexual marriages is growing rapidly. Single parents or grandparents are raising children, blended families are struggling, and children are being abused and neglected routinely. Even families committed to Jesus have become too busy to give Him first place in their homes. The largest unreached people group in the world is children, and our culture is lagging woefully behind in reaching them! Statistics routinely show us that if children do not make a decision to accept Jesus when they are young, their chances of embracing Him later decline dramatically.

    We have bowed down to idols without even recognizing them…work, television, sports, technology, and yes, even our work in the church. These things used wisely and for God’s purposes can bring Him great glory; however, we have lost our spiritual balance because we have become intoxicated by them. If Jesus has the back seat, or the leftovers in your family, it is time to come back to your First Love (see Revelation 2:4-5)! It is time to repent of being lukewarm (see Revelation 3:15-16), and of settling for "looking alive" rather than being alive (see Revelation 3:1-3). Instead, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [your family] heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

    As Christians, we have great hope because of the healing nature of Jesus Christ, if we will turn back to His original plan! God created families to be worshipers! Harold Richards said, "The family is the first unit that God created, right after He created Adam, and well before government or even the Church. It is logical that revival must move from the personal to the family level. The ones we live with on a daily basis know us best and will sense what is happening in our lives. What a natural environment for further development of revival."

    The Reverend Graham Nicholson of the Presbyterian Church of Australia penned the following comments as an introduction to a modernized version of The Directory for Family Worship, 1647:

    "It is easy for each generation to think that its own times are more stressful than any other period in the past, and that it is just not possible to walk in the old paths anymore. However, apart perhaps from a few periods of heightened revival, it has never been easy to live a consistent Christ honouring life in any age. Satan sees to that, and Christ’s own intercessory prayer of John 17:6-19 is proof of that. With Christ’s continued intercession for us, and the guarantee of His preservation, we simply cannot use the excuse that times are tough…The practice of Family Worship has long been one of the key evidences of the revival of true godliness and piety throughout history. While it is dangerous to measure ourselves by past practice alone, it is true that if there are themes which continually re-appear, then these are good indicators of how the Spirit of Christ has been pleased to stir up practical action in the life of the Church.... It is quite clear from the Bible, that the real engine room of a united worshipping Church is the united worshipping family. The whole stress on God’s covenant promises and man’s covenant responsibility is evidence of that. It is equally clear, that this is something which must continually be pressed on each successive generation by patient and loving example and instruction."

    Let’s look for a moment at the Scriptural mandates that illustrate Rev. Nicholson’s statement:

    "O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands. They would not be like their forefathers – a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him" (Psalm 78:1-8).

    In this passage, it is clear that our children need to hear what has been taught from generation to generation so that they will be able to remain faithful to the Lord. His covenant statutes and acts of salvation must be impressed upon them, since faith and obedience is dependent upon understanding the relationship between the two.

    The book of Deuteronomy was the call of Moses to total commitment to the Lord in worship and obedience. He wanted to make certain that the Israelites never forgot the faithfulness of the Lord and His words to them:

    "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when He said to me, ‘Assemble the people before Me to hear My words so that they may learn to revere Me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children’" (Deut. 4:9-10).

    It is clear from the following passage that there is one God, who is the Lord, and that it is imperative to love Him completely, with one’s entire being:

    "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

    The word "impress" means to emphasize or to make an impression on. Therefore, we are instructed to impress the commandments upon our children. We are to continually talk about them and teach them in all aspects of our lives so that they will never be forgotten. How does your family "love" the Lord? Do you honor Him with your worship and spend time with Him in prayer?

    In the New Testament, Paul gives us a good example of a young man who grew up with the godly influence of his mother and grandmother. It is very clear that these women passed along their faith to Timothy:

    "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also" (2 Timothy 1:5).

    Are you passing the baton of faith to your children? If not, what is keeping you from doing so? Are you too busy? Do you feel inadequate? Are you feeling so guilty for not training them up (Proverbs 22:6) that you have been paralyzed into doing nothing? Parents, we have no excuses. As long as we have claimed the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord and have His holy Word to instruct us through the power and revelation of His Holy Spirit, we are not left without resources to do as the Lord commanded: teach them, train them and impress the Lord’s commands upon them so that they will put their trust in God and will not forget His deeds and will keep His commands (Psalm 78:7).

    Arthur Pink, in an article entitled Family Worship, tells of an old writer who said, "A family without prayer is like a house without a roof, open and exposed to all the storms of heaven." He continues, "All our domestic comforts and temporal mercies issue from the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the best we can do in return is to gratefully acknowledge together His goodness to us as a family. Excuses against the discharge of this sacred duty are idle and worthless. Of what avail will it be when we render an account to God for the stewardship of our families to say that we had no time available, working hard from morn till eve? The more pressing be our temporal duties, the greater our need of seeking spiritual succor [help]. Nor may any Christian plead that he is not qualified for such a work: gifts and talents are developed by use and not by neglect…The advantages and blessings of family worship are incalculable. First, family worship will prevent much sin. It awes the soul, conveys a sense of God’s majesty and authority, sets solemn truths before the mind, and brings down the benefits from God on the home…Daily prayer in the home is a blessed means of grace for allaying those unhappy passions to which our common nature is subject. Finally, family prayer gains for us the presence and blessing of the Lord. There is a promise of His presence which is peculiarly applicable to this duty in Matthew 18:19-20. Many have found in family worship that help and communion with God which they sought for with less effect in private prayer."

    These are powerful words. It is not my intent to heap guilt upon parents at this juncture; however, it is my prayer that you will feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit to rise up and do something about the spiritual condition of your family if you have neglected the practice of family worship. Fathers, the Lord Himself gives you the primary spiritual headship of your home. Please do not neglect this duty and high privilege given to you. In the case of single mothers, or those whose husbands do not yet know the Lord, you must take the lead to train your children. Pastors, please encourage those in your churches to take this step in their homes, remembering that your homes must be an example. Perhaps a call to repentance would be appropriate. Can you imagine what life will be injected into your churches when families begin to seek the Lord together in their homes?

    As I never want to admonish you to do something without giving you the tools to take action, in next month’s article I will focus on practical ways to give Jesus the highest place of honor in your home. Between now and then, please pray that the Father will show you what the stumbling blocks are to family worship. Next, ask Him to give you the desire and the means to overcome them as you seek personal revival. Finally, take the steps needed to prepare yourself and your family to experience the delight of worshipping together. Study the Scriptures contained in this article and ask the Lord to stir your hearts.

    "Now fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:14-15).

     (To be continued)