Can I tell you something? Even though I grew up in a Christian home with parents who also grew up in the faith, I did not learn what family devotions were until just a few years ago. I had always heard that families should study the Bible together & do devotions. Pastors talked about it from the pulpit, and many books I’d read mentioned the practice. So, even though I was familiar with the concept, no one ever showed me how to do it.
I didn’t learn how to do family devotions (also called family worship) until I moved to Spokane, Washington. My pastor had mentioned family devotions for the umpteenth time in one of his sermons and I finally got fed up with not knowing how to do it. So, when I got home, I did some googling and found a book that taught me how to lead my family in a time of devotion and worship.
If you’re like the old me, unfamiliar with the concept of family worship, let me remove the veil. I want to show you that family worship is so easy a caveman can do it. The information below is compiled from two fantastic books both titled Family Worship; one by Joel Beeke and the other by Donald Whitney. By the time you’re done reading this tip you’ll have all you need to lead family worship in your own home.
Imagine having a mini Bible study in your home with the members of your family. This is family worship. It’s a time of instruction when parents teach their children the Bible and core doctrines of the Christian faith.
While we go to church to learn the Bible, it is not the church’s responsibility to train up our children in the faith. As parents, that is our task. Family worship is a discipline that facilitates such spiritual growth in the home.Imagine leading a mini Bible study with the members of your family. That's family worship! Click To Tweet
Family worship is not explicitly commanded in the pages of the Bible, but its idea is clearly implied. Numerous passages instruct us to train up our children and to teach God’s Word in our household. God told Abraham to teach his household the ways of the Lord (Genesis 18:17-19). Moses commanded the Israelites to instruct their children at every opportunity in Deuteronomy (6:4-7). Paul tells us to do similarly in Ephesians 6:4. Even Joshua said his house would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15); they could only do this if he taught them how.
The command to train up our children is clear in Scripture. It’s our primary responsibility; this is why family devotions are vital.
You’ll be pleased to know that family devotions are quite simple. At its most basic, it contains three elements: Scripture reading, prayer, and singing. Let’s look at each element.
The primary method for instructing our families in the ways of the Lord is to read the Bible. Simply open your Bible and read it. Read books of the Bible to your family, one chapter at a time. Within time, you will read through all of it. You don’t need any special materials or prior preparation.
The process itself doesn’t matter, so long as you read the Bible. Donald Whitney suggests shorter readings and focusing on narratives (Bible stories) if your family has younger children. A children’s story Bible is an excellent resource for reading with young children. As your kids get older you can expand beyond Bible stories into other areas of Scripture.
After the passage is read, discuss it. Ask your kids questions to gauge their comprehension. Have them explain the passage back to you in their own words. If you’re at a loss for questions, the Family Worship Bible Guide is an excellent resource. This book contains questions for every chapter of the Bible, although the questions need some massaging to be used with younger kids.The Bible instructs us to train up our children in the ways of the Lord. This is not the church's responsibility. Click To Tweet
Once you’ve read and discussed the Bible, it’s time to pray. This varies from family to family, but the general idea is to pray together aloud. Get prayer requests from everyone, and then pray. If your kids are old enough, have everyone pray for their own requests. Another option is to designate someone to pray each day.
To deepen this time, teach your kids to pray for others. Have them offer requests for extended family and friends. Also, keep a list of prayer requests from church members and names of missionaries. Not only will this enhance your prayer time, but it teaches your kids the dynamics of prayer & that it’s more than praying for our own needs. A notebook or journal can also prove helpful, so you can note & rejoice together when specific prayers are answered.
Finally, sing a hymn or Christian song with your family. If I’m honest, this can be the most awkward time during family worship, especially if no one is a great singer (like me). But, it’s so worth it! Get a songbook or print out the lyrics for your family, then play the song & sing along.
If you have an Internet connected TV, YouTube can be your best friend. Find songs that contain the lyrics and play it on your TV. As you play the song, the words will be on the screen, making it easy to follow along. This is what I do most often because it’s very convenient & easy. Additionally, when you find songs you like, add them to a playlist so you can quickly access them for future use.
That’s it! That’s all there is to family devotions: read, pray, and sing. Simple, right?Family worship is simple. Read the Bible. Pray. Sing. That's it! Click To Tweet
Now that you know how to lead family worship, here are some additional tips to keep in mind.
This is the most important tip I can share with you. Keep it short. Family worship should last no longer than 15 or 20 minutes at most. If you have younger kids, that time should be shorter. The idea is to keep it from being boring and easy enough to fit in your family’s schedule. That leads to the next point.
Be as consistent as possible. Look at your schedule and figure out what’s going to work best for your family. Do mornings or evenings work best? What about after dinner before everyone gets up from the table? If possible, strive to do it daily. If that doesn’t work, find days and times that do. If you can only have devotions 2 or 3 days a week, do that. Whatever you decide, the goal is consistency. Try not to miss days, otherwise it becomes easy to slack off and put it off entirely.
While it’s important to be consistent, it’s just as important to be flexible. Life happens and schedules change. When that happens, go with the flow and be flexible. But, as Donald Whitney suggests, beware that your flexibility does not lead to inconsistency.
If you have a Bible and a means to play music, you have all you need for family worship. Don’t put it off. Start today. Even if your child is a baby, that’s no excuse. Start the practice and it’ll be easier to keep up with as they grow.
What if you don’t have kids yet? That’s fine. Have a time of family worship with your spouse. If you two can get in the habit now, you’ll be ready for when you do have kids.
Finally, if you’ve been a Christian for a while and have not been leading your family in times of devotion, be willing to repent. Part of leading your family in the ways of the Lord is teaching them to confess sin. Ask their forgiveness for not taking responsibility over their spiritual growth, especially if you have older children. Not only does this teach your family a valuable lesson, it is pleasing to the Lord. I’ve had to do this with my own family. It’s hard, and have had to do it many times after falling off the family worship wagon. But, it shows humility and the importance that God’s Word should have in your household.
Did your family have family devotions when you were growing up? Do you have them now with your own family? If so, I want to encourage you to keep up the great work. If not, I challenge you to start today. There’s no time like the present to begin training up your family in the ways of the Lord.
Don’t be fooled. You have everything you need to get started, so don’t delay!
Yes, it’ll be difficult at times, but keep at it. Since learning about family worship, it’s one of the things I struggle with most, but it’s always worthwhile when I make time for it. Don’t give up. Remember, you’re planting seeds that will reap an eternal harvest!
This week, meditate and journal on the following passages: