Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deuteronomy 6:4-9
We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. -Psalm 78:4
And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. -Joshua 24:15
One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. -Psalm 145:4
Quotes concerning domestic devotions and family worship:
If, therefore, there be any spark in you of love to God, be not content that any of yours should be ignorant of him whom you so much admire, or any haters of him whom you so much love. If there be any compassion to the souls of them who are under your care, if any regard of your being found faithful in the day of Christ, if any respect to future generations, labor to sow these seeds of knowledge, which may grow up in after-times.
-To the Christian Reader, Especially Heads of Families, Westminster Standards
It is highly honorable to family-worship, as a spiritual service, that it languishes and goes into decay in times when error and worldliness make inroads in the church.
-James W. Alexander
You are not likely to see any general reformation, till you procure family reformation. Some little religion there may be, here and there; but while it is confined to single persons, and is not promoted in families, it will not prosper, nor promise much future increase.
Not only Scripture, but reason and experience point to the necessity for family worship.
We must have a special eye upon families, to see that they are well ordered. The welfare and glory of both the Church and the State, depend much on family government and duty. If we suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all. Therefore, if you desire reformation, do all you can to promote family religion.
A family without prayer is like a house without a roof, open and exposed to all the storms of heaven.
As touching the spiritual state of his family; he ought to be very diligent and circumspect, doing his utmost endeavour both to increase faith where it is begun, and to begin it where it is not. Wherefore, to this end, he ought diligently and frequently to lay before his household such things of God, out of his word, as are suitable for each particular.
Thy children have souls, and they must be begotten of God as well as of thee, or they perish. And know also, that unless thou be very circumspect in thy behavior to and before them, they may perish through thee: the thoughts of which should provoke thee, both to instruct, and also to correct them.
But some will perhaps say, At what time ought we thus to think of God and approach Him together? I answer, whenever you choose, at the most convenient hour, when you will be least disturbed by your other business. This is generally in the evening; perhaps it were better, on account of the fatigue of the day, that it should be in the morning; and best of all both morning and evening. When you have eaten your morning meal, or even while you are eating it, could you not spend that time which is usually spent either in saying nothing or in talking of trifles, in reading a few words which would raise your thoughts to God, or in hearing them read? I am about to begin the day by the first function of the animal being; but wilt not thou, O my spiritual and immortal soul, do anything or receive anything now? I am about to feed my body with that which God has created; but do thou, O my soul, awake and receive thy food from the Creator! O God! Thou art my portion forever! O God! Thou art my God; early will I seek thee! What a blessing, my brethren, will such a beginning bring down upon the whole day, and what a happy disposition of mind it will give you!
-J.H. Merle D’Aubigne
But do you say, “This is so strange a thing?” What, my brethren! Is it not more strange that a family professing to be Christian, professing to have a firm hope for eternity, should advance toward that eternity without giving any sign of that hope, without any preparation, without any conversation, perhaps, alas! without any thought concerning it? Ah! this is very strange! Do you say, “This is a thing of very little repute or glory, and to which a certain degree of shame is attached?” And who, then, is the greatest: that father who, in former and happier days, was the high priest of God in his own house, and who increased his paternal authority and gave it a divine unction by kneeling down with his children before his Father and the Father of them all; or that worldly man in our days, whose mind is engaged only in vain pursuits, who forgets his eternal destiny and that of his children, and in whose house God is not? O what a shame is this!
-J.H. Merle D’Aubigne
How can you hope to meet with those whom you love near Christ in heaven, unless with them you seek Christ on earth? How shall you assemble as a family there, if you have not as a family attended to heavenly things here below? But as to the Christian family which shall have been united in Jesus, it will, without doubt, meet around the throne of the glory of Him whom it will have loved without having seen.
But, my brethren, if the love of God be in your hearts, and if you feel that, being bought with a price, you ought to glorify God in your bodies and spirits, which are his, where do you love to glorify him rather than in your families and in your houses? You love to unite with your brethren in worshipping him publicly in the church; you love to pour out your souls before him in your closets. Is it only in the presence of that being with whom God has connected you for life and before your children, that you can not think of God? Is it, then, only, that you have no blessings to ascribe? Is it, then, only, that you have no mercies and protection to implore? You can speak of everything when with them; your conversation is upon a thousand different matters; but your tongue and your heart can not find room for one word about God! You will not look up as a family to him who is the true Father of your family; you will not converse with your wife and your children about that Being who will one day, perhaps, be the only husband of your wife, the only Father of your children!
Parents! if your children do not meet with a spirit of piety in your houses, if, on the contrary, your pride consists in surrounding them with external gifts, introducing them into worldly society, indulging all their whims, letting them follow their own course, you will see them grow vain, proud, idle, disobedient, impudent, and extravagant! They will treat you with contempt; and the more your hearts are wrapped up in them, the less they will think of you. This is seen but too often to be the case; but ask yourselves if you are not responsible for their bad habits and practices; and your conscience will reply that you are; that you are now eating the bread of bitterness which you have prepared for yourself. May you learn thereby how great has been your sin against God in neglecting the means which were in your power for influencing their hearts; and may others take warning from your misfortune, and bring up their children in the Lord! Nothing is more effectual in doing this than an example of domestic piety.
They are not merely to be taught out of some elementary book that they must love God, but you must show them God is loved. If they observe that no worship is paid to that God of whom they hear, the very best instruction will prove useless; but by means of Family Worship, these young plants will grow “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither.”
-J.H. Merle D’Aubigne
Consider family religion not merely as a duty imposed by authority, but as your greatest privilege granted by divine grace.
Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove in effectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful.
Husbands duty to wives – In seeking her spiritual welfare; her conversion, if unconverted, and her spiritual peace, comfort, and edification, she being an heir with him of the grace of life; by joining with her in all religions exercises; in family worship, in reading, in prayer, in praise, in Christian conference and conversation; by instructing her in everything relating to doctrine, duty, and church discipline; in answer to questions she may and has a right to ask him at home (1 Cor. 14:35).
Parents duty to children – It is proper to instruct them in the necessity of faith in God and in Christ, and of the use of prayer; and to lay before them the sinfulness of sin, and show them what an evil thing it is, and what are the sad effects of it; to teach them their miserable estate by nature, and the way of recovery and salvation by Christ; and to learn them from childhood to read and know the holy scriptures, according to their capacity; and by these to be “admonished” of sin, and of their duty, to fear God, and keep his commandments; which may be meant by the “admonition of the Lord”; and the proper opportunity should be taken to instil these things into their minds.
Masters of families, who preside in the other affairs of the house, must go before their households in the things of God. They must be as prophets, priests, and kings in their own families; and as such they must keep up family-doctrine, family-worship, and family-discipline: then is there a church in the house, and this is the family religion I am persuading you to. You must read the scriptures to your families, in a solemn manner, requiring their attendance on your reading, and their attention to it: and inquiring sometimes whether they understand what you read. Those masters of families who make conscience of doing this daily, morning and evening, reckoning it part of that which the duty of every day requires, — I am sure they have comfort and satisfaction in so doing, and find it contributes much to their own improvement in Christian knowledge, and the edification of those that dwell under their shadow;
If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights; and our family-worship the most valuable of our family-comforts… A church in the house will be a good legacy, nay, it will be a good inheritance, to be left to your children after you.
Brethren, you are ordained of God to rule your own houses in his true fear, and according to his word. Within your houses, I say, in some cases, you are bishops and kings; your wife, children, servants, and family are your bishopric and charge. Of you it shall be required how carefully and diligently you have instructed them in God’s true knowledge, how you have studied to plant virtue in them, and [to] repress vice. And therefore I say, you must make them partakers in reading, exhorting, and in making common prayers, which I would in every house were used once a day at least. But above all things, dear brethren, study to practice in life that which the Lord commands, and then be you assured that you shall never hear nor read the same without fruit.
A family is the seminary of Church and State; and if children be not well principled there, all miscarrieth: a fault in the first concoction is not mended in the second; if youth be bred ill in the family, they prove ill in Church and Commonwealth; there is the first making or marring, and the presage of their future lives to be thence taken, Prov. xx. 11.
A house without family worship has neither foundation nor covering.
-J. M. Mason
The chief thing to be attended to is, that [family worship] may be a spiritual service; and the great evil to be dreaded and guarded against in the exercise of every duty that returns frequently upon us, is formality. If a stated course of [it] is kept up as constantly in its season as the striking of the clock, in time it may come to be almost as mechanically performed, unless we are continually looking to the Lord to keep our hearts alive.
I think, with you, that it is very expedient and proper that reading a portion of the Word of God should be ordinarily a part of our family worship; so likewise to sing a hymn or psalm, or part of one, at discretion; provided there are some people in the family who have enough of a musical ear and voice to conduct the singing in a tolerable manner: otherwise, perhaps, it may be better omitted. If you read and sing, as well as pray, care should be taken that the combined services do not run into an inconvenient length.
Happy is that family where the worship of God is constantly and conscientiously maintained. Such houses are temples in which the Lord dwells, and castles garrisoned by a Divine power. I do not say, that, by honoring God in your house, you will wholly escape a share in the trials incident to the present uncertain state of things. A measure of such trials will be necessary for the exercise and manifestation of your graces; to give you a more convincing proof of the truth and sweetness of the promises made to a time of affliction; to mortify the body of sin; and to wean you more effectually from the world. But this I will confidently say, that the Lord will both honor and comfort those who thus honor Him. Seasons will occur in which you shall know, and probably your neighbors shall be constrained to take notice, that He has not bid you seek Him in vain. If you meet with troubles, they shall be accompanied by supports, and followed by deliverance; and you shall upon many occasions experience, that God is your protector, preserving you and yours from the evils by which you will see others suffering around you.
On the other hand, we may observe what fearful threatenings are pronounced against those who disregard this duty. We wonder how many of our readers have seriously pondered those awe-inspiring words “Pour out Thy fury upon the heathen that know Thee not, and upon the families that call not on Thy name” (Jer. 10:25)! How unspeakably solemn to find that prayerless families are here coupled with the heathen that know not the Lord. Yet need that surprise us? Why there are many heathen families who unite together in worshiping their false gods. And do not they put thousands of professing Christians to shame? Observe too that Jer. 10:25 recorded a fearful imprecation upon both classes alike: “Pour out Thy fury upon …” How loudly should these words speak to us. It is not enough that we pray as private individuals in our closets; we are required to honor God in our families as well. At least twice each day—in the morning and in the evening—the whole household should be gathered together to bow before the Lord—parents and children, master and servant — to confess their sins, to give thanks for God’s mercies, to seek His help and blessing. Nothing must be allowed to interfere with this duty: all other domestic arrangements are to bend to it. The head of the house is the one to lead the devotions, but if he be absent, or seriously ill, or an unbeliever, then the wife should take his place. Under no circumstances should family worship be omitted. If we would enjoy the blessing of God upon our family then let its members gather together daily for praise and prayer. “Them that honour Me I will honour” is His promise.
All our domestic comforts and temporal mercies, issue from the loving-kindness of the Lord. The least we can do in return, is to gratefully acknowledge together, His goodness to us as a family. Excuses against the discharge of this sacred duty-are idle and worthless! Of what avail will it be when we render an account to God for the stewardship of our families-to say that we had no time available? The more pressing are our temporal duties-the greater our need of seeking divine help. Nor may any Christian plead that he is not qualified for such a work-gifts and talents are developed by use-and not by neglect.
Family worship should be conducted reverently, earnestly and simply. It is then, that the little ones will receive their first impressions, and form their initial conceptions of the Lord God. Great care needs to be taken, lest a false idea of the Divine Character be given to them.
The advantages and blessings of family worship are incalculable. First, family worship will prevent much sin. Daily prayer in the home, is a blessed means of grace for allying those unhappy passions to which our common nature is subject. It awes the soul, conveys a sense of God’s majesty and authority, sets solemn truths before the mind. How can those who neglect the worship of God in their families-look for peace and comfort therein?
Personal piety in the home is the most influential means, under God, of conveying piety to the little ones. Children are largely creatures of imitation, loving to copy what they see in others.
Finally, family prayer gains for us the presence and blessing of the Lord. There is a promise of His presence which is peculiarly applicable to this duty, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name-I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). Many have found in family worship, that help and communion with God-which they sought for with less effect in private prayer.
Because the Christian is not his own, but bought with a price, he is to aim at glorifying God in every relation of life. No matter what station he occupies, or wherever he be, he is to serve as a witness for Christ. Next to the church of God, his own home should be the sphere of his most manifest devotedness unto Him. All its arrangements should bear the stamp of his heavenly calling. All its affairs should be so ordered that everyone entering it should feel “God is here!”
The Bible in the pulpit must never supersede the Bible at home.
Family Worship increases the spirit of reverence for God and His Word. Children copy their parents’ spirit and example. If parents begin the day by invoking God’s blessing, by consecrating the early hour to His service, they show their estimate of the value of worship. If business, society, wealth, and pleasure are deferred for worship, the youth feels that the claims of Deity are above all other claims. Parents thus show that they can do nothing rightly without the divine blessing, and that Divine approval is far more precious than the approval of men. God’s Book is honored. The Bible is for every day, and for the morning hour of every day. If to the parent it is more precious than gold and sweeter also than the honey and the honey comb, will not the child learn to value a volume so honored and treasured?
I agree with Matthew Henry when he says, “They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but they that pray, and read, and sing do best of all.”
We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the Puritans; but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family Worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children? Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves “holiness unto the Lord”; so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.
First, let us begin by emphatically declaring it is parents (fathers in particular) and not the church who are given the primary responsibility for calling the next generation to hope in God. The church serves a supplementary role, reinforcing the biblical nurture that is occurring in the home. It is not the job of “professionals” at the church to rear the children of believers in the faith.
Brethren, I wish it were more common, I wish it were universal, with all [Christians] to have family prayer. We sometimes hear of children of Christian parents who do not grow up in the fear of God, and we are asked how it is that they turn out so badly. In many, very many cases, I fear there is such a neglect of family worship that it’s not probable that the children are at all impressed by any piety supposed to be possessed by their parents.
I trust there are none here present, who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families. We may have no positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is so much in accord with the genius and spirit of the gospel, and that it is so commended by the example of the saints, that the neglect thereof is a strange inconsistency.
Would then the present generation have their posterity be true lovers and honorers of God; masters and parents must take Solomon’s good advice, and train up and catechize their respective households in the way wherein they should go. I am aware but of one objection, that can, with any show of reason, be urged against what has been advanced; which is, that such a procedure as this will take up too much time, and hinder families too long from their worldly business. But it is much to be questioned, whether persons that start such an objection, are not of the same hypocritical spirit as the traitor Judas, who had indignation against devout Mary, for being so profuse of her ointment, in anointing our blessed Lord, and asked why it might not be sold for two hundred pence, and given to the poor. For has God given us so much time to work for ourselves, and shall we not allow some small pittance of it, morning and evening, to be devoted to his more immediate worship and service? Have not people read, that it is God who gives men power to get wealth, and therefore that the best way to prosper in the world, is to secure his favor? And has not our blessed Lord himself promised, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all outward necessaries shall be added unto us?
And first, for secret worship, it is most necessary, that every one apart, and by themselves, be given to prayer and meditation, the unspeakable benefit whereof is best known to them who are most exercised there in; this being the mean whereby, in a special way, communion with God is entertained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained: and therefore it becometh not only pastors, within their several charges, to press persons of all sorts to perform this duty morning and evening, and at other occasions; but also it is incumbent to the head of every family to have a care, that both themselves, and all within their charge, be daily diligent herein.
The ordinary duties comprehended under the exercise of piety which should be in families, when they are convened to that effect, are these: First, Prayer and praises performed with a special reference, as well to the publick condition of the kirk of God and this kingdom, as to the present case of the family, and every member thereof. Next, Reading of the scriptures, with catechising in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be the better enabled to profit under the publick ordinances, and they made more capable to understand the scriptures when they are read; together with godly conferences tending to the edification of all the members in the most holy faith: as also, admonition and rebuke, upon just reasons, from those who have authority in the family.
The head of the family is to take care that none of the family withdraw himself from any part of family-worship: and, seeing the ordinary performance of all the parts of family-worship belongeth properly to the head of the family, the minister is to stir up such as are lazy, and train up such as are weak, to a fitness to these exercises;
-The Directory for Family-Worship, Westminster Standards