Chapter 2

Rediscovering Family Worship

“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.” —Matthew Henry

Nothing comes more natural to a child than singing songs. Trust me, I know. I have little girls that sing everywhere they go—in the car, at home, at school, in the shower, etc. The reason children love music and singing is because God has created each one of us, young and old, to worship Him. The Bible reminds us that children are not too young to worship or understand their faith. The Bible says, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise” (Matt. 21:16).

Since the birth of Christianity, prayer and worship have been essential elements of practicing our faith. Worship is the act of giving all of ourselves back to God by giving Him respect, reverence, honor, and glory. The English word means “worthship” and carries the idea of worthiness. God is worthy of our highest praise and worship. God has called us to live “to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12). We are here to glorify and know the God who created us. True worship of God begins in our hearts as we give adoration, glory, and praise to God and then it manifests outwardly as we lift up our voices to God in prayer, praise, and song.

prayer, praise, and song. Worship is more than singing or clapping our hands; worship involves all that we are and it influences how we live our lives for God. The writer of Psalms tells us to “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (96:9). Living our lives for God in love and holiness is perhaps one of the highest forms of worship that we can offer to God (see Romans 12:10).

Rediscovering Family Worship

Worship is not just something we do on Sunday mornings, but something that should take place in our homes. Christian families everywhere are beginning to rediscover the great blessing of family worship. What is family worship? Family worship is simply coming together as a family and worshiping God in the home. In the same way we come together for a time of corporate worship in the church, we also come together in the home for a time of family worship that involves prayer, reading Scripture, and singing songs. Author Jason Helopoulos reminds us, “We need to hear about the need for family worship in our homes.  .  .  . My hope is that our Christian homes will once again be filled with fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, sisters, and brothers that are worshiping to the glory of God.”

The truth is, your home is like a little church. The Reformers, including Martin Luther and John Calvin, promoted family worship in the home and called upon parents to disciple their children. Later, Christians in England and America carried on the emphasis on family worship and discipleship. John Wesley wrote a Collection of Prayers for Families, which were to be used for morning and evening prayers throughout the week. The pastoral theologian Jonathan Edwards reminds us that “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.”2 In other words, parents have a moral and spiritual responsibility to make the home a place of Christian worship and discipleship. We bring the components of a worship service—which include reading the Bible, praying, and singing—into our homes through family worship.

Keep It Simple

At this point you may be thinking, “This isn’t for me.” or “Okay, this sounds pretty hard to do.” I admit that the idea of family worship may seem a little intimidating at first, but don’t let it be. Honestly, every Christian parent can lead their home in family worship. It’s really not that hard. Teaching your kids about your faith and sharing in a time of family worship isn’t just for trained theologians or pastors with kids. It’s for all of us, including single parents, working parents, and parents who are new to the faith. Trust me, if my wife and I can do it, you can do it too.

I remember the first time we gathered together as a family to read the Bible, pray, and sing songs to the Lord. Our girls were still very young, but we made it a special time for the entire family by allowing our children to be involved in the prayers, the singing, and reading the Bible. As the parents, we provide the guidance, but everyone can play a part in your time of family worship. We let our girls share in leading the prayers and reading the Scriptures. The fact is, family worship doesn’t have to be stuffy or boring, but can be fun and uplifting. Let everyone play a part and get involved in your time together.

The key to family worship is to start small and finish big. It’s worth it because your children really do want to know about God. The truth is family worship is not that hard, so keep it simple.

Grow At Home

God’s Word tells us about the duty of parents to lead their children in worship. But this is not just a responsibility—it is a sacred privilege. Leading family worship in your home will bless your children and fill your home with God’s grace and peace. As you begin, here are a few practical ideas that may help you make the most of your time of family worship. This section also contains several simple prayers and songs for you and your children to learn together.

Ideas To Make the Most of Your Time

  1. Find a good children’s Bible, such as My First Bible, The Adventure Bible for Young Readers, or the ESV Children’s Bible. Children love to have a Bible that they can call their own.
  2. Have a daily time for family worship. Develop a routine for your children. Consistency is good for learning. It will show your children that this is an important part of the day.
  3. Limit distractions. Make sure all screens are off.
  4. Balance your time between Scripture memorization, using the catechism questions, and prayer and song. This book will help you bring those different areas together in a holistic approach to family discipleship.
  5. Remember to have fun with your children while learning the Bible. Memorizing and learning about the Bible doesn’t have to be boring. Make the time fun and special.
  6. Keep the time brief to hold the children’s attention.
  7. Pray with your children every day at meals and before they go to bed at night. Let prayer become an important part of your home.
  8. Share what you learn with other families. Encourage others to experience the blessings of doing faith together as a family.
  9. Let your children ask questions and talk through what they are learning about God and the Bible. One of the primary ways we learn is through communication.
  10. Ask questions. After reading a Bible passage or catechism question, ask questions like, “What does this say about God?” or “How does God want me to respond?” Let your children ask questions that they may be thinking about.

Prayers for Family Worship

A Child’s Grace

God is great and God is good, And we thank God for our food; By God’s hand we must be fed, Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.

A Child’s Prayer for Morning

Now, before I run to play, Let me not forget to pray To God who kept me through the night And waked me with the morning light. Help me, Lord, to love You more Than I ever loved before. In my work and in my play Be with me through the day. Amen.

God Hear My Prayer

God in heaven hear my prayer, keep me in Your loving care. Be my guide in all I do, Bless all those who love me too. Amen.

For Happy Hearts

We thank Thee, Lord, for happy hearts, For rain and sunny weather. We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food, And that we are together.

Children’s Bedtime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep: May God guard me through the night And wake me with the morning light. Amen

Songs for Family Worship

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world; Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in his sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus died for all the children, All the children of the world; Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in his sight; Jesus died for all the little children of the world.

Jesus rose for all the children, All the children of the world; Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in his sight; Jesus rose for all the little children of the world.

Jesus wants the little children, To be careful what they do; Honor father, mother dear, Keep their hearts so full of cheer; Then he’ll take them home to glory by and by.

Books of the New Testament

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts and the letter to the Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Hebrews, James, First and Second Peter, First and Second and Third John, Jude, and Revelation.