Two weeks ago, I published an article speaking about the importance and necessity of establishing and maintaining a time of regular family worship in a Christian home. (If you missed this article, you can read it here.) A few days later, one of my readers reached out to me and asked me a question that I have heard many times before. The essence of the question is this: Even if I understand the importance of family worship in my home, and desire to implement it with my children; how do I go about doing this when I have never done it before, and when my spouse will not or cannot assist me in this endeavor?
It’s been said that for every one person who raises a question or voices a concern or an opinion, there are a thousand others who have the same question or share the same viewpoint – and yet do not publicly vocalize their thoughts. So I am pretty sure that my reader who asked this question last week is not the only one who is searching to find answers and advice because they are in a very similar situation. I want you to know that you are not alone. My heart deeply sympathizes with Christian parents (particularly mothers) who have a desire to raise their sons and daughters in the ways of the Lord, but are faced with the challenges of doing it single-handedly. And although I know that this is certainly not an ideal situation, I also believe that it is not impossible. It only means that there are indeed challenges; but in the strength of Christ, they CAN be overcome (Luke 1:37; Philippians 4:13) and bring about beautiful results in your home! Today, therefore, I would like to share with you some of the same thoughts and encouragement (in a modified form) that I communicated to my reader last week.
First of all, if you have never had a regular time of family worship in your home, you may be wondering what I actually mean by “a time of family worship.” What does it involve? I believe that such a time should involve three key things: Scripture reading, singing, and prayer. It is up to you to arrange them in the order that you feel to be best for your family. The portion of Scripture that you read together is also your choice, but a pattern of consistency is certainly best. At the very least, I think it would be helpful to read through one book of the Bible at a time – perhaps the Book of Psalms, or maybe one of the Gospels. Or you could start at the very beginning of the Bible and work your way through from there. In regard to singing, consider choosing one song to sing with a goal for memorization on a weekly or monthly basis. And when you pray together, think of ways that you can implement ideas or truths from the Scripture you read. Perhaps you’re familiar with the ACTS prayer method – taking the Scripture portion and trying to find something therein to ADORE God’s name, CONFESS your sins, give THANKS to the Lord for His mercies and blessings, and offer up SUPPLICATIONS and requests for your own family and other people as well.
I do emphasize that consistency is key in this matter. There is no particular right or wrong time in your day to do this, but I would strongly encourage you to try to keep it roughly around the same time of day if possible. This will help get you and your children in the routine of doing it, and not letting it wait until a “convenient” time in your day to squeeze it in. Also, do not feel pressured that this necessarily has to be a time of sophisticated conversations, digging into the hard questions of deep doctrines that many pastors and scholars do not even agree upon. This time with your children is a time for you to read the Scriptures, which are Jesus’ words to you. It is a time for you to come into your heavenly Father’s presence together and enjoy it, not necessarily to dive into the deep theological mysteries of the world (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that if your children’s interest and conversation does happen to go in that direction!).
That being said, there are incredible helps to explaining the Scriptures in greater detail. If you have time for nothing else, I would recommend doing the three things I just mentioned. But there are a lot of good, theologically-solid commentaries out there that can help give deeper insights to what you read in the Bible. You might find one or two of these to be helpful to read over before your family time, as a sort of preparation; or you might even find it useful to read some of them directly with your children if your time permits.
I do strongly believe that the Lord expects the husband and father of the family to take an active role in the responsibility of leading family worship. However, I know there are many wives and mothers out there whose husbands – for one reason or another – are unable or unwilling to take on this God-ordained task. In such circumstances, the best thing you can do for your husband is to pray for him. Your heavenly Father hears your prayers for him. Remember that the prayer of one of His children is very effectual (James 5:16). However, I do think that as you embark on this time with your children, it is important that you do not give your husband the impression that this is “something unpleasant” as he sees you engaging in this activity with your children. You want him to see you doing this, and then come away with an idea something like, “My wife and children seem to enjoy this time that they’re spending together; I wonder why they seem to find such joy and blessedness in it.” Who knows? By seeing your enjoyment of this special time together, he may very well be drawn in and attracted by what he sees the rest of his family happily engaged in.
In reference to the subject of family worship that is led by the mother of a family in which the father will not do so, J. R. Miller once wrote these words of encouragement: “There are mothers who every morning and every evening gather their children together, sing a hymn with them, read a chapter from God’s Word, and then bow in prayer – invoking heaven’s grace upon their heads and upon the beloved father. It would be easy to cite examples proving the power of such hallowed faithfulness. It may at first be a cross for a mother to take up, but – like all crosses taken up for Christ’s sake and for love’s sake – the burden becomes a joy and an uplifting influence; and out of the hard duty comes such blessing, that the hardness is soon forgotten. There are men in heaven today, or engaged now in earnest Christian service on the earth, because their godly wives had the courage to establish a family altar in the home. There are children all over the Christian world in whose hearts the sweetest memory of early years is that of the tender moments in the old home, when they bowed in the daily prayer, and the mother – with trembling tones – implored God’s blessing upon her household.”
As I said above, this is certainly not an ideal situation; but the good news is that – by the grace of God – it can be done! Even if your husband never sees the necessity and the blessedness of family worship; you, as a mother, will not regret the time you spend doing this with your sons and daughters. It WILL have an influence on them for good. Our heavenly Father promises this in Isaiah 55:11: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Remember that you are doing this for the sake of their precious, immortal souls. There is nothing on earth that is more important than cultivating this ground in their hearts. No, it will not be easy all the time; but it CAN be done, and the blessings that will result will far outweigh the tears and difficulties that are involved. Even if you already have a strong relationship with your children, there is no greater way to strengthen and build up that relationship than by being in prayer and God’s Word together!
In closing, I’d like to draw a thought from a book by a Christian family that I highly respect and admire. Please don’t ever allow yourself to become discouraged by mistakenly thinking that just because your husband is not leading in family worship, the whole thing will fall apart and be useless. The HUSBAND is not the foundation upon which a family is built; only JESUS is the only sure foundation upon which you can base your hopes for the future. He has a tender spot in His heart for the husbandless and the fatherless, and He will be your strongest support in this journey with your children. “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:10, 11).
I hope that these thoughts may be an encouragement to every reader who is a parent in this difficult situation. May the Lord give you His grace and strength to enter upon this privileged responsibility for the sake of your children’s immortal souls.
If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, or you can use the contact form on my Contact page!
God bless you and your children, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
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