J.H. Merle D’Aubigne – Family Worship

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

“Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” We have said, my brethren, on a former occasion, that if we would die his death, we must live his life. It is true that there are cases in which the Lord shows his mercy and his glory to men who are already lying on the death-bed, and says to them, as to the thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The Lord still gives the Church similar examples from time to time, for the purpose of displaying his sovereign power, by which, when he is pleased to do so, he can break the hardest hearts and convert the souls most estranged, to show that all depends on his grace, and that he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. Yet these are but rare exceptions, on which you can not rely absolutely; and if you wish, my dear hearers, to die the Christian’s death, you must live the Christian’s life; your heart must be truly converted to the Lord, truly prepared for the kingdom, and, trusting only in the mercy of Christ, desirous of going to dwell with him. Now, my brethren, there are various means by which you can be made ready, in life, to obtain at a future day a blessed end. It is on one of the most efficacious of these means that we wish to dwell today. This mean is Family Worship; that is, the daily edification which the members of a Christian family may mutually enjoy. “As for me and my house,” said Joshua to Israel, “we will serve the Lord.” We wish, my brethren, to give you the motives which should induce us to make this resolution of Joshua, and the directions necessary to fulfill it.

History

Family worship is the most ancient as well as the holiest of institutions. It is not an innovation against which people are readily prejudiced; it began with the world itself.

From the beginning

It is evident that the first worship which the first man and his children paid to God could be nothing else than Family Worship, since they constituted the only family which then existed on the earth. “Then,” says the Scripture, “began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Family Worship must indeed have been for a long time the only form of worship addressed to God in common; for as the earth still remained to be peopled, the head of every family went to live separately; and, as a high-priest unto God in the place which was allotted to him, he offered unto the Lord of the whole earth the homage due to Him, with his wife, his sons and daughters, his man-servants and maidservants. It was only by degrees that, when the number of men was greatly multiplied, various families happened to settle near each other; then came the idea of adoring God in common, and Public Worship began. But Family Worship had become too precious to the families of the children of God to give it up; and, if they began to worship God with the families of strangers, how much more was it their duty to worship him with their own families!

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Jonathan Williams – The Other Blessing of Family Worship

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My daughter and two sons are six, four, and two years old respectively. That means that I am now down to just about 628 more Saturdays with Gracie, 716 with Silas, and 836 with Elijah before they’re all out of high school and enjoying the next chapter the Lord has for them.

If God does indeed give my wife and I eighteen summers with Gracie before she graduates, that means we’ve already enjoyed a third of these summers with just twelve to go.

What a reminder of the value of every day with my family and the importance of spending those days well!

We only get a certain amount of time with our children and I believe that many desire more time with their family members, while longing for this time to be meaningful and consistent.

It seems people enjoy family time and want more of it. So how do we find this time and what should we do with it?

I believe the answer to both of these questions is found in the spiritual discipline of family worship.

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Tom Ascol – Family Worship for Dummies

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When I was a young father I remember reading J.W. Alexander’s Thoughts on Family Worship and being convicted, excited and bewildered. What he described was both attractive and foreign to me. The idea of worshiping daily in my home with my wife and children made perfect sense and seemed to have ample biblical warrant to make me feel compelled to take up the practice. If Noah (Genesis 8:20), the Patriarchs (Genesis 12:7; 26:25; 35:1-2), Joshua (Joshua 24:15) and Cornelius (Acts 10) could lead their families in worship, surely by the help of the Holy Spirit I could, too.

My firstborn was not yet a year old when I began making my first attempts to lead my family in worship. It was disastrous. Those early efforts left my child frustrated, my wife frightened of what the next thirty years might look like, and me feeling deeply disappointed at the carnality of my family. Not only did my wife and infant child not enjoy my 40 minute expositions, 15 minute prayers, and 3 hymns, they acted like I was imposing on them by trying to lead them to worship God!

Needless to say, those early years of attempted family worship were not stellar. Far more nights ended in frustration, disappointment and even despair than in the joy that is supposed to come from worshiping the Lord. I tried my best carefully to plan out our worship times. I thoughtfully selected and prepared a portion of Scripture to exposit, thought about appropriate hymns that would go with the text and, by the time my oldest was two years old, had incorporated catechetical instruction into the mix. Despite my best efforts, however, it just wasn’t working.

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John Newton – Family Worship

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Sir,

A neglect of family prayer is, I am afraid, too common among professors in this day. I am glad that you consider it both as a duty and a privilege, and are by grace determined, that, when you shall commence as the head of a family, you will worship God with all your house. It was Abraham’s commendation, that he not only served the Lord himself, but was solicitous that his children and household might serve him likewise. I trust that he who inclines your heart to walk in the footsteps of faithful Abraham, will bless you in the attempt, and give you peace in your dwelling; a mercy which is seldom enjoyed, which indeed can hardly be expected, by those families which call not upon the Lord.

Though I readily comply with your request, and would be glad if I can offer anything that may assist or animate you in your good purpose, I am afraid I shall not answer your expectations with regard to the particulars of your inquiry, concerning the most proper method of conducting family worship. The circumstances of families are so various, that no determinate rules can be laid down: nor has the word of God prescribed any; because, being of universal obligation, it is wisely and graciously accommodated to suit the different situations of his people. You must, therefore, as to circumstantials, judge for yourself. You will do well to pursue such a method as you shall find most convenient to yourself and family, without scrupulously binding yourself, when the Scripture has left you free.

We have no positive precept enjoining us any set time for prayer, nor even how often we should pray, either in public or private; though the expressions of “continuing instant in prayer,” “praying without ceasing,” and the like, plainly intimate that prayer should be frequent. Daniel prayed three times a day; which the Psalmist speaks of as his practice likewise; and in one place declares his purpose of praising God seven times a day. This last expression is perhaps indefinite, not precisely seven times—but very often. Indeed, a person who lives in the exercise of faith and love, and who finds by experience that it is good for him to draw near to God, will not need to be told how often he must pray, any more than how often he must converse with an earthly friend. Those whom we love, we love to be much with. Love is the best casuist, and either resolves or prevents a thousand scruples and questions, which may perplex those who only serve God from principles of constraint and fear. A believer will account those his happiest days, when he has most leisure and most liberty of spirit for the exercise of prayer.

However, I think family should be performed at least daily, and, when unavoidable hindrances do not prevent, twice a day. Though all times and seasons are alike to the Lord, and his ear is always open whenever we have a heart to call upon him; yet to us there is a peculiar suitableness in beginning and closing the day with prayer: in the morning, to acknowledge his goodness in our preservation through the night, and entreat his presence and blessing on our families and callings in the course of the day; and at night, to praise him for the mercies of the day past, to humble ourselves before him for what has been amiss, to wait on him for a renewed manifestation of his pardoning love, and to commit ourselves and our concerns to his care and protection while we sleep.

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Justin Taylor – An Interview with Donald Whitney

In this video, Justin Taylor sits down with Donald Whitney to discuss his new book, Family Worship.

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Donald Whitney – Husbands, It’s Time to Start Leading Family Worship

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8 Reasons to Start

The worthiness of God to receive your family’s worship each day is reason enough to start practicing family worship today. But in addition to that, consider these other good motivations:

1. What better way to speak the gospel into your children’s lives every day?
2. What better way to provide a regular time for your children to learn the things of God from you?
3. What better way to provide your children with an ongoing opportunity to ask about the things of God in a comfortable context?
4. What better way for you to transmit your core beliefs to your children?
5. What better way for your children to see the ongoing, positive spiritual example of their parents in real life?
6. What better way to provide workable, reproducible examples to your children of how to have a distinctively Christian home when they start a home of their own?
7. What better way for getting your family together on a daily basis?
8. Isn’t this what you really want to do?

Why Do We Struggle?

Despite the desire that many men have to begin family worship, some simply lack the resolve. In his Thoughts on Family Worship, J. W. Alexander answers eight common objections to starting family worship, but then says that a “single reason operates with more force than all the others put together.” It is when a man says—most likely only to himself—“The truth is, I am ashamed to begin.” [1]

This happens when a man awakens to his spiritual responsibilities in the home, but because he has failed to lead family worship for so long he feels embarrassed to begin now. Or he fears the sneer of some member of his family when he says he wants to begin daily family worship. Or he is afraid that he is not capable of leading in family worship. Or he is ashamed because, even though he has tried something like this before, he did not stick with it. For some men their reluctance may be nothing more than the embarrassment of not knowing what to say to their wives and children to get family worship started.

Men, all you have to say is something like this: “I have come to believe that the Bible teaches I should be leading us in family worship, and I want to start today. I have a lot to learn about it, but I want to do what I believe God wants me to do. Will you join me?”

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Book Review – Family Worship

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As a father and a husband, I recognize both the need to lead my family in the things of God as well as the daily grind that demands so much of my attention and that of my wife and daughter. The command is quite clear in Scripture – husbands and fathers are to instruct their family about the things of God. This command is repeated throughout Scripture so there really is no excuse for being unaware of this requirement from God. But my oh my how things of life get in the way of doing what is aptly termed as family worship. How does one do family worship and is it really that important?

In his helpful book titled Family Worship, Donald Whitney answers those important questions, clearly demonstrating the importance of family worship as outlined in Scripture while providing biblical and historical examples of godly men who obeyed this important command. As noted, the Bible is full of examples of men who led their family in discussing and pondering the things of God. One might not find the exact phrase “family worship” in Scripture; however, as Whitney saliently reminds the reader, “the Bible clearly implies that God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.” We see men like Abraham and Joseph as well as Paul and Peter doing this very thing and exhorting others to follow suit. In church history, men such as Martin Luther and John Knox and more recent individuals such as Don Carson and John Piper have noted the value and importance of family worship.

So how does one go about doing family worship? Is there some secret formula? Whitney suggests three important activities – read, pray, and sing. In other words, read the Bible together in a purposeful manner, pray together either with the father leading the prayer time or having others take turns leading or joining in, and finally, singing praises to God be it classic hymns or even more modern day choices. The point is to be purposeful and consistent in this activity. Whitney suggests defining a specific time of day during which family worship will take place. This will look different for families depending on their schedules. Regardless whether it is in the morning, noon, or evening, find a time and a place where all can gather and go for it.

Whitney also addresses some unique situations that may arise such as the husband not being a believer or the unfortunate reality of no father/husband being in the home. In such cases, the wife/mother can lead the charge. Families with young children should not feel they are off the hook from doing family worship. Whitney aptly suggests some ways to do family worship that is age appropriate. I appreciated his statement that starting at a young age will often result in the child “believing that family worship is a normal part of life in the home, and as an adult won’t need a book like this one to teach him or her about the priority of family worship or how to conduct it.” It will be a natural and habitual part of life.

If you have neglected doing family worship, now is the perfect time to start. Don’t delay another day. Use this helpful book by Whitney to help you get started. Be encouraged that great men of God who have come before you have spent the time doing family worship. Don’t be discouraged should you miss a few days. As a husband and a father, I realize the importance of this family activity in my own home and Whitney’s book was just the kick start I needed to reinstitute this practice.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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