Read. Sing. Pray.

One of the foundational elements in our home is family worship. Now this idea is not new to us in any way. In fact, it was the common practice for many Christians for generations. Family worship does not involve the act of worshiping one’s family but of worshiping God with one’s family. This means that worship is not meant to be limited to a Sunday morning, or even private devotions, but involved the family throughout the week.

In our home, family worship looks rather simple. We commit ourselves to read, to sing, and to pray. 

1) READ: We read through whole books of the Bible. Now there is a great flexibility in this dynamic. For example, we may often read through whole stories. But sometimes, if there is a particularly difficult section we might break it up into parts. The big idea is that our children begin to become acquainted with the stories of the Bible. 

Now this doesn’t mean that we read them all in the same way. Sometimes it’s fun to read them dramatically changing your voice as you read. One particular practice that still makes my wife giggle is when I choose to rap the genealogies or extended lists. The kids will get a kick out of it, and whether you are awful or the next hip-hop star your kids will remember it. The big idea is that they hear Scripture.

One clear benefit of this regular practice of reading whole books is that your children will inevitably hear the whole Bible. Think about it. If you choose to read a paragraph, a page, or a chapter, eventually you’ll reach the end of the book. Our aim is to expose our children and ourselves to the full counsel of God’s Word.  

In addition to reading God’s Word, we regularly provide our own observations. We want to stand on God’s Word and what He has said. Therefore, we are looking to draw our observations from the text. We ask those basic journalistic questions: who, what, where, when, and why. We typically begin with the youngest child, and work our way up. We try to consider how this passage relates to other passages. We consider together the application of the text. For example, we might ask, “What is God trying to teach us here?” or “How does this inform how we ought to live?” It’s always fascinating because everyone comes to the text with a different emphasis and sometimes our children have the most profound insights. But we don’t only read.

2) SING: We sing familiar songs in the church like the doxology or the gloria patri. We may choose to sing familiar songs like “Jesus Loves Me” or “The Fruit of the Spirit is not a Coconut.” We may even sing classic hymns like “Amazing Grace” or “It is Well.” One way we involve everyone is that each day, a different person gets to pick the song. That way everyone gets a turn and everyone can have an opportunity to lead in some way. 

One practical tool that we utilize is our church’s hymnal. We use the Trinity Psalter Hymnal and it has all 150 psalms set to music. In some cases, a psalm may have more than one musical setting. We have often found that picking a song from this section can be quite beautiful because it will begin to solidify the words of God we’ve read even further in our hearts. I can’t describe the joy I’ve felt as I’ve seen my children begin to sing the words of Psalm 23 to themselves as they move about the house. It’s also good for me because I need to continue to have God’s Word resonate in my heart and I often find it easier to memorize if I have a song. 

3) PRAY: Prayer is the most basic element in our relationship with God. Prayer can be offered extemporaneously, that is immediately, and from the heart. But written prayers are also excellent. There are a wealth of great resources to help guide our prayers such as the “Book of Common Prayer” (1662), or “The Valley of Vision”. Whether you pray from a book, or one of your own creation, as long as it is offered to the Father, by the Spirit, through the Son in accordance with Scripture, it is wonderful. To this end, we offer opportunities for our children to pray, but most often I lead them so that I might model what prayer ought to look like. In addition, fathers have a unique role in shepherding their family and so it is good for them to lead.

There is nothing complex about this. It simply requires desire. Do you want to help your family grow in the Lord? Then do it. It can be done at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or before bed. It can be done at all of them or even between them. All that matters is that we take seriously our call as disciples to love the Lord, and to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. As we do so, we show by our actions our wholehearted commitment to consecrate our homes to Christ. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 ESV)