Worthy of Family Worship

family worship

After nearly a half-century in ministry, including preaching in 47 states, it is my observation that few Christian homes practice regular family worship. I would even venture to say that in most of our best churches, most of our best men do not lead their wives — and children if they have them — in family worship.

Having your family in a good, Bible-teaching local church is crucial to a Christian marriage and parenting. But it is unlikely that church attendance alone will impress your children with the greatness and glory of God such that they will want to pursue him once they leave home. In this article, I want to convey one main point: God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.

Worthy of Daily Worship

The Bible clearly implies that God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.

Although there are few explicit commandments in Scripture about family worship (though see Deuteronomy 6:4–9), evidence for its practice abounds. For example, Abraham evidently led his family in the worship of God; otherwise, how would Isaac have known to ask, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7)? Leading his family in worship is something that “Job did continually” (Job 1:5).

Family worship is one of the best and most practical ways husbands administer the cleansing water of the word of God to their wives (Ephesians 5:25–26) and fathers bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). When Peter commands husbands to show honor to their wives “so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7), he is likely referring to mutual prayers, not merely those of the husband.

Our Little Churches

The lives of our Christian heroes also testify that God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.

The growing emphasis on family worship today is not a contemporary Christian fad. A study of church history reveals that believers have always understood the Bible to teach the practice. We know, for example, that the first generation of Christ-followers after the apostles read a portion of Scripture, prayed, and sang Psalms together as families. The same was true for Luther, Knox, and the Puritans. Both the Westminster Confession (1647) and the Second London Confession (1689), the most influential of all Baptist confessions of faith, contain the identical phrase: “God is to be worshiped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself” (emphasis added).

Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, the missionary John G. Paton, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, though all had many heavy responsibilities, led their families in the daily worship of God. Virtually all of our Christian heroes could be shown to believe what Edwards declared: “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church” (Works of Jonathan Edwards, 25:484). And part of the life of every church and every Christian is worship.

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Don Whitney is professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is the author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Praying the Bible, and Family Worship. Don’s website is www.BiblicalSpirituality.org.