Thursday, January 21, 2016

Husbands, It’s Time to Start Leading Family Worship --- 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?”

Be Resolved

Husbands, fathers—if you have been negligent in this duty and great privilege, repent by starting family worship today. Again, you may feel awkward about what to say to your wife or your children about starting, but simply say that God has convicted you of your responsibility to lead in family worship and you want to start at a given time today or tonight. Almost certainly your wife will be thrilled more than you can imagine to hear you say that. Your children may or may not be as enthusiastic, but that does not really matter. The less interest they show, the more your family needs family worship. The Lord will help you. He does not call his Spirit-begotten sons to this task without giving them the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it. The same Father who gave you the gospel and who drew you to Christ will strengthen you by his Spirit to put on this badge of godly manhood. 

Family members—have the willing spirit of Jacob’s household. After he called them to follow his leadership in the family worship of God, Genesis 35:4 tells us, “So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.” Respond just as willingly to the call to family worship in your home. Encourage your husband or dad in his desire to bring the blessing of God upon you. Do not be a stumbling block in his efforts to obey God. 

Single men—resolve to begin a time of worship with your fiancĂ©e from the night you become engaged. Build your marriage from the start on the foundation of family worship. This is holy husbanding. And as married men will tell you, it is much easier to begin the worship of God together before your wedding day than after the daily habits and routines of married life have become established. Make family worship a regular part of your life together before you are married and you are much more likely to continue it after you are married.

Single women—resolve not to marry a man who will not pray with you and lead you in worship daily. For if he will not lead you spiritually in this way before you wed, it is very unlikely that he will do so after. If a man shows an interest in marrying you, talk to him about family worship before you commit your life and the lives of your future children to him.

Empty nesters—show your adult children by your newly begun practice of family worship that you can still learn the things of God, and also that you can still repent. Rather than grieving over what you should have done for your children in family worship years ago, begin family worship now and let that be an example not only of your continued growth as a Christian, but also of what your adult children can likewise begin to do. If your children are married, they can immediately learn from and follow your example in their own homes. Be sure to model family worship for them whenever they come to visit.

Remember the Gospel

Let us be clear: faithful involvement in family worship is not the gospel. We are not made right with God by practicing family worship, or by how well we love and provide for our families, or by anything else we do. The gospel—the message that can lead to being right with God—is the truth of what God has done for us through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The most important way to respond to that message is not engagement in family worship, but first to repent of your sins against God and to believe that Jesus can make you right with God. But blessed is the family where the good news of what God has done through Jesus Christ is declared and discussed, day after day, generation after generation. 

Regardless of what anyone else does, let every husband, let every father, let every Christian challenged by these words commit himself to this: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” in family worship (Josh. 24:15).

[1] J. W. Alexander, Thoughts on Family Worship (1847; repr. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1998), 151.

Donald S. Whitney
is professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has written several books related to Christian spirituality, including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Praying the Bible, and Family Worship. Don blogs regularly at