How To Do Family Worship

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to sit down and record for her podcast, Legacy Homeschool Reflections. In this episode we discuss the importance of family worship and offer some practical ideas on how to incorporate family worship into your daily routine.

The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast

In the book, Susie – The Life And Legacy Of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr. there is a quote that sums up how Charles and Susannah Spurgeon felt about this daily practice.

“Family Bible reading and prayer were a priority for Susie and Charles from the beginning of their marriage, and this was a the heart of their parenting. Susie remembered that whether they “lodged in some rough inn on the mountains or in the luxurious rooms of a palatial hotel in a city,” they did not neglect reading the Bible and praying together. The elements of family worship modeled by Charles included Bible reading/explanation, prayer, and hymn singing. As the Puritan Matthew Henry declared, “They who pray in the family, do well. They, who read and pray, do better. But they who sing, and read, and pray, do best of all.”[1]

It has been my goal to model our family worship after C.H. Spurgeon and the Puritans. I hope you enjoy the podcast. May the Lord bless you and your family as you seek Him daily.

Our Family 2015
  1. Rhodes, R., Jr., Susie: The Life And Legacy Of Susannah Spurgeon (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers), 2018, 94

What’s with Saturday Morning Breakfast?

You may be wondering why there is a tab on this website entitled Saturday Morning Breakfast (SMB).  If you have read SMB, you may still be wondering why this was created.  SMB is a bit of an odd duck, so I decided to offer an explanation. 

You will find several things on Saturday Morning Breakfast.  First, it is a bit of an eccentric dialog with myself, while in a groggy state, as I get up on Saturday morning and make pancakes or waffles for my family.  It is partially a recipe for pancakes and bacon and partially a reflection of what most of my Saturday mornings have entailed for about 15 years.  Most days of the week I leave early for work, but on Saturdays, I sleep in a bit.  When I get up I typically make breakfast and then we have family worship.

Yes, there is a recipe for pancakes, but the real recipe is the outline for family worship.  If you are not currently having family worship, let me encourage you to make it part of your daily routine.  It does not have to be complicated or ritualistic.  It really is a very simple thing.  Sing.  Read the Word.  Pray.  These are the important elements that should be covered every day, if possible. 

Family worship does not have to take a long time, and it does not have to be complicated.  If your children are not used to sitting still, start out by singing one simple hymn or praise song.  Read a short passage of Scripture.  There are lots of short Psalms.  Then say a short prayer.  If your children do not want to cooperate, you may need to lovingly discipline them.  However, return to finish family worship. 

One thing to remember is that you want your children to enjoy worship of our great and mighty God.  If you force them in anger it is going to exasperate them.  Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  Exercise self-control and lead your family with a joyful heart.

As this becomes routine you may want to add a catechism and/or other readings.  The Catechism for Boys and Girls is an easy one to go through. There are many great books that can be helpful for family worship.  We have enjoyed Israel Wayne’s books, Questions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks.  Dr. Joel Beeke also has a set of short stories that are great for family worship entitled, Building on the Rock. Adding these elements can be very helpful for engaging discussion and are good teaching tools.

I have recently been reading C.H. Spurgeon’s autobiography and discovered some great stories about his involvement in family worship as a boy and a man.  Even Spurgeon was a bit of a challenge as a boy.  Enjoy this story and add family worship to your home today.

When I was a very small boy, I was allowed to read the Scriptures at family prayer. Once upon a time, when reading the passage in Revelation which mentions the bottomless pit, I paused, and said, “Grandpa, what can this mean?” The answer was kind, but unsatisfactory, “Pooh, pooh, child, go on.” The child, however, intended to have an explanation, and therefore selected the same chapter morning after morning, and always halted at the same verse to repeat the enquiry, hoping that by repetition he would importune the good old gentleman into a reply.

The process was successful, for it is by no means the most edifying thing in the world to hear the history of the Mother of Harlots, and the beast with seven heads, every morning in the week, Sunday included, with no sort of alternation either of Psalm or Gospel.  The venerable patriarch of the household therefore capitulated at discretion, with, “Well, dear, what is it that puzzles you?” Now “the child” had often seen baskets with but very frail bottoms, which in course of wear became bottomless, and allowed the fruit placed therein to drop upon the ground; here, then, was the puzzle,—if the pit aforesaid had no bottom, where would all those people fall to who dropped out at its lower end ?—a puzzle which rather startled the propriety of family worship, and had to be laid aside for explanation at some more convenient season.

Queries of the like simple but rather unusual stamp would frequently break up into paragraphs of a miscellaneous length the Bible-reading of the assembled family, and had there not been a world of love and license allowed to the inquisitive reader, he would very soon have been deposed from his office. As it was, the Scriptures were not very badly rendered, and were probably quite as interesting as if they had not been interspersed with original and curious enquiries. I can remember the horror of my mind when my dear grandfather told me what his idea of “the bottomless pit” was. There is a deep pit, and the soul is falling down,—oh, how fast it is falling! There; the last ray of light at the top has disappeared, and it falls on—on—on, and so it goes on falling—on—on—on for a thousand years! “Is it not getting near the bottom yet? Won’t it stop?” No, no, the cry is, “On—on—on.” “I have been falling a million years; am I not near the bottom yet?” No, you are no nearer the bottom yet; it is “the bottomless pit.” It is on—on—on, and so the soul goes on falling perpetually into a deeper depth still, falling for ever into “the bottomless pit”—on—on—on—into the pit that has no bottom! Woe, without termination, without hope of its coming to a conclusion!

C.H. Spurgeon

I am sure the young Spurgeon had some serious thinking to do after this grave warning from his grandfather.  As you incorporate family worship into your daily routine remember it is not always easy, but it is a great tool for discipling your children and drawing their hearts close to yours.

Stand Firm

When I was in college at the University of Houston, I usually kept to myself.  I was an engineering major and not very well equipped with social skills.  However, I had began to learn a little about Christian apologetics and my faith had been growing. 

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV

One day I was having lunch in a campus cafeteria and I somehow got into a conversation about Christian denominations.  I began to explain that there were some denominations that had become liberal and were not holding to the truth of Scripture.  Before I knew it, a crowd was beginning to gather and not everyone agreed with my conservative convictions.  I still remember the look on a young man’s face as he snickered and said to a friend, “Watch this.” He then presented me with a problem he seemed very confident would stump me.  He said, “Did you know the word ‘hell’ did not exist when the Bible was written?” 

I wish I knew then what I know now about the history of Scripture, but I did have sense enough to know that the Bible was not originally written in English.  Instead of trying to debate him in an area that I was not too confident in, I simply replied that I would have to do a little research and get back with him.  Then I moved on to other conversation.  I watched the guy’s smirk fall away and he walked away apparently disappointed.  I supposed he had hoped that I would act shaken or perhaps he just wanted to debate.  My point is that I did not allow his criticism to shake my faith.  I stood firm.

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8-11 ESV
Standing firm on a post when we last had family pictures taken

Had I thought about it a little I could have easily refuted his attempt to remove the doctrine of hell from Scripture. The reality is that none of the words we find in our English Bibles existed when the Bible was written.  The English language did not exist as we know it during the time of Christ.  Furthermore, the Greek word we translate as “hell” is transliterated into English as “Gehenna.”  This literally means a place of fire and eternal punishment.  His criticism was irrelevant. 

I told this story to my children the other night as we were wrapping up family worship.  I encouraged them that if someone ever presents information critical of Christianity, and they are unable to answer, to not let it shake them.  They just need to smile and say, “I’ll have to look that one up.”  God’s Word is very defensible, and pretty much every criticism that has been made of it has been refuted in the past.  I highly recommend owning a harmony of the Gospels such as Thomas and Gudnry’s.  Having a copy of Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties is worth having on your shelf as well.  If you would like something more modern, Jason Lisle’s book, Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason: Refuting Alleged Bible Contradictions can be very handy.

What books we have on our shelves is not my ultimate point.  What I want to drive home is that God has called us to stand firm in our faith.  We may not ever get answers to all our questions, but we can trust that the Creator of the universe and the Savior of mankind is as real as the screen you are staring at.  Our children need to know that they can trust Him no matter what they are confronted with. 

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Philippians 4:1 ESV

I believe it is imperative that we teach our children that they can trust the Scriptures and that they can stand firm in their faith.  There have been a few stories in the news about well know pastors of large churches essentially saying we did not need to believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.  They think these “old fashioned” beliefs will drive people away.  The reality is there are many churches who have made this mistake in the past and now they have dwindled to almost nothing.  Compromising on the authority of the Word of God is not the answer to building the kingdom.  Jesus did not do this.  Instead, we must trust the Lord and equip ourselves to defend His Word.  I have discovered that my children find it exciting when they learn that there are good answers to tough questions.  They then want to go out and defend their faith and share the gospel.  At the same time, I often remind them that they may not always be able to answer the critic.  That is when they must stand firm and trust Jesus Christ.  Then they can come home and ask their daddy.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:13 ESV