Family Worship Has Fallen on Hard Times
April 17, 2017 .
Family worship has fallen on hard times. Parents often say they are too busy to do it. Or else they don’t know how to do it because their parents never did it.
When my parents commemorated their fiftieth anniversary, all five of us children decided to express thanks to our father and mother for one thing without consulting each other. Remarkably, all five of us thanked our mother for her prayers and all five us thanked our father for his leadership of our family worship.
Given the importance of family worship as a potent force in winning untold millions to gospel truth throughout the ages, we ought not be surprised that God requires heads of households do all they can to lead their families in worshiping the living God. As Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15). This word serve is translated as worship many times in Scripture.
“Fill their minds with Scripture. Let the Word dwell in them richly. Give them the Bible, the whole Bible, even while they are young.” – J.C. Ryle
Believers in Christ follow in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith, and we must also follow in the footsteps of Abraham’s obedient leadership of his family. “For I know him,” God said, “that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19). We have that same duty. How are we doing?
John Paton served as a missionary over a century ago to a cannibalistic people in the islands of the south Pacific Ocean. Those people killed and ate the missionaries who had preceded Paton within minutes of their arrival. Paton faced enormous difficulties and sorrows. But he persevered in the name of Christ. One earthly means by which God prepared him for his labors was his father in Scotland. In later years John Paton looked back upon his father with great gratitude.
Paton remembered of his father how, “When, on his knees and all of us kneeling around him in family worship, he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the heathen world to the service of Jesus, and for every personal and domestic need, we all felt as if in the presence of the living Savior, and learned to know and love Him as our Divine Friend.”
When John Paton left his home to go to Glasgow to study theology and do urban evangelism, he had to walk forty miles before coming to a train station. His father walked the first six miles out with him. They spoke about the Lord, and his father gave him counsel. Then for the last half-mile they walked in silence. His father’s lips still moved, but now in silent prayer for his son while tears streamed down his face. When they came to the place of their parting, father grasped son by the hand, and said, “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil.”
Overcome by emotion, he could say no more, but his lips continued to move in silent prayer. John Paton later wrote, while reflecting back on this experience, “I vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as He had given me.”
May God help us in this vital and weighty responsibility so that you and I may increasingly become parents like that!
—Joel R. Beeke; PRESIDENT AND PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY; PURITAN REFORMED THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY