Have you ever read a book that put you under such conviction you quickly read another book just to get your mind off it?
Maybe it wasn’t another book, but I think it is a fair assumption to say that every Christian, at some point, has run from conviction rather than facing it. That happened to me a few years ago after reading Voddie Baucham’s Family Shepherds. There are many wonderful truths presented in that book, but the one that grabbed my soul was the discipline of family worship.
I recognized it was important. I intrinsically felt it was something I should lead my family in. However, I had no idea what it looked like on a practical level, especially with two kids under three years old.
Two years and another child later, my wife and I came across another book. I still had the conviction of leading my family in worship and had even written a blog about it, but I was still not practicing it consistently.
The new book, Family Worship by Donald Whitney changed that. Whitney wrote in a way that not only took the mystery out of family worship but actually made it seem easy. It was so impactful to me that I invited him on a radio program I help with and interviewed him. You can listen to part one and part two of that interview.
If you don’t have time or ability to listen, let me break down family worship in the three simple steps given by Whitney:
It can take as little as 10 minutes. In my case, now with three kids five and under, it takes less.
One thing Whitney told me in the interview that gives me great encouragement is, “I never prepare.” He said there are times where he reads an article and he might bring that up, but his regular plan is to pick up where the family left off the night before, pray something from tonight’s reading, and sing a familiar hymn.
Parents who may be reading this right now, know that I am not a pastor. I am not super spiritual. I am not overly intelligent. My family is not perfect. My kids want to play, they fall asleep, the get distracted by a bug flying outside the window. But we still do family worship.
To follow Whitney’s example, I want to show you exactly what family Bible time, our words for family worship, looks like in the James’ home. After everyone has changed into pajamas, brushed their teeth, and gotten that ever-so-important-and-life-saving last drink of water, we sit together on the couch.
I open our Family Devotion Bible, for now, to the book of Philippians and read a few verses (not an entire chapter). I ask my older two children one question each. Then I pray something from what we read. My church is currently going through the New City Catechism, so at this point, we go over our question for the week. Then we sing a song. My daughter has just started piano lessons and is learning Away in a Manger, so we will sing it for the next several weeks.
Then it is off to bed.
The entire process, as I mentioned, takes less than 10 minutes. And yet, if I’m being completely honest, there are still nights I feel too tired to do it.
There are nights I just want everyone to put on pajamas, brush their teeth, and climb into bed. I’ll make sure we do family Bible time tomorrow, I think to myself. But the last time I attempted this, one of my children brought our Family Bible to me. It has become part of their bedtime routine. Family Bible time has simply become part of the rhythm of our family.
I wish I could tell you doing family Bible time has led to an incredible depth of faith in my children, or that it miraculously made my children start obeying more. It didn’t.
But it has made me more obedient to a conviction God placed on my heart years ago. It has led to my children asking me questions about God and Scripture. It has resulted in my family ending our days focusing on Christ. It has also led to what I believe is a beautiful reality: the last thing my children hear, the last conversation my family has every day, is the worship of God.
I’m not telling you to do your Family Worship at night, in the morning, or at lunch. But I will say I agree with Whitney, and a host of other Christians throughout history that there should be a time built into the rhythm of every family for the reading of Scripture. If you want ideas about what that can look like for your family, or if you think your family can’t do it because you are empty nesters; there is no father in the home; or because your kids are too old, too young, or too uninterested, read Whitney’s book Family Worship. You can read it in one sitting since it is only 67 pages long. But those few pages will change you and your family.