For many Christian families in the 21st century this is a legitimate question. For Protestant families coming out of the 16th century Reformation this was a no brainer. Even through the middle of the 19th century this was common practice in the majority of Christian homes. Yet, in the Christian culture today there is little discussion on the God-given responsibility of families to regularly engage in worship within the home. For the most part, churches today take on the role of being the sole spiritual leader in the lives of a Christian’s children and Christian parents have gladly handed over their responsibility to Sunday school teachers and youth ministers. It is time for Christian parents to expend the necessary energy to bring up their own children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In this post, I set out to give two straightforward reasons why every Christian family should be engaging in family worship or family devotions together regularly, consistently, and joyfully.
It is Biblical
One of the earliest and clearest examples in the Bible of a father instructing his children is found in Genesis 18:19, “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” God gloriously sets apart Abraham to father the nation of Israel who would be the apple of God’s eye. God then describes how Abraham will operate in his fatherly responsibility, commanding his children to keep the way of the Lord. What an early precedent and pattern God establishes for us.
Maybe the most well known passages pertaining to family worship in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Once again at a key moment in Israel’s history, after the 400 year slavery in Egypt with all the idolatry and syncretism that had crept into the life of Israel, God reinforces the need for parental instruction of their children. This is the God-given means of propagating God’s truth to future generations. This is how we implicitly see in the book of Genesis a godly lineage that develops from Adam and Eve’s offspring. Though it isn’t explicit in the text of Scripture, we know that Adam and Eve would have been diligent to teach their children. Though Cain murders Abel, God gives them Seth and from Seth we see God’s truth being passed from generation to generation. This is seen rather clearly in Genesis 4:26, “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”
You can’t read the Old Testament and not feel the vast importance in the mind of God of households. The family unit is a remarkable institution, the most remarkable institution in the earth outside of Christ’s church. It is a preservative against evil, a restraint against sin, and the ideal place of instruction in godly living. Remember and think often about one of Joshua’s final addresses to the people of Israel, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) It is in the footsteps of godly men like Abraham, Moses, and Joshua that every Christian father should aim to walk. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that Christian parents are called upon by God Himself to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
It is Beneficial
Think with me for a moment of the awesome history of God’s gracious activity within Christian homes. Consider how many toddlers and young children were converted in the course of week in and week out family worship. Picture the toddler upon the knee of his father praying his first prayers, answering catechism questions, and reciting his first memory verse. Hasn’t God’s normative work in Christian homes throughout the centuries been to save, instruct, and establish Christian children? It is apparent that Eunice, Timothy’s mother was active in such instruction, “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15) I want to make the point exceedingly clear in this post. God has determined to bear eternal fruit from the consistent, diligent labors of Christian parents as they instruct their children, exhort their children, and saturate their children in the Word of God and the Gospel. What greater benefit could a parent know than to see God redeem and then equip their children for kingdom, Gospel-centered living?
May it be that in your home as a Christian parent that you are building upon the foundation things that will last all eternity, utilizing the building materials of gold, silver, and precious stones. “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:14)