Slipping out of bed when the sounds of sleep and the quiet darkness of night still linger isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever trained myself to do. To get up for a paycheck is one thing, but to drag out of the coziness of bed is quite another when nobody is holding you to it. I’m a lover of sleep. I’m a fan of my warm covers. I’m all for that extra hour of rest. And yet I know there’s a special gift awaiting me each morning as the God who sustains me stands ready to hug me in greeting by filling me for the new day.
That filling is worth the effort of getting up. It’s worth the $7 I had to spend on a louder alarm clock when my current one was no longer penetrating my deep sleep. And it’s worth learning a discipline that doesn’t come naturally to me.
It’s the same with family worship.
Once everyone is finally awake, it’s easy to get lost in the flow of the morning. The breakfast rush, the hustle to do chores, the distraction of demand brought by another day. It all calls so loudly to us that it’s easy to think there isn’t time for stopping to gather the family for worship. The truth is, there isn’t time NOT to stop for family worship. We’ve done it before and it never works out well.
I had this image in my head of what family worship was supposed to look like. The children would all be fully and enthusiastically engaged, nobody would be tired, it would be interesting and nobody would ever look bored. But it never quite worked in real life the way it did in my head.
In the morning, people aren’t pepped for the day yet and in the evening, especially the little ones are very tired. It’s hard to feel like you’re offering a spiritual blessing to anyone when everyone looks about 30 seconds from dozing off. But we finally realized we weren’t offering the blessing…God was. God Is. He simply asks us to do the gathering and He promises to deliver the blessing.
And so we persevere. We definitely try to work in cooperation with Him so that His blessing is more easily received. We’ve done this by encouraging engagement, good attitudes, and respectful posture (we definitely still have work to do, as you can see in the pictures). And we try to keep things interesting while not skidding off into making it a form of entertainment.
Generally, we follow a relatively basic pattern. My husband is the worship leader when he’s home and I stand in when he’s not. We open with prayer for the Holy Spirit to be present and then we read our portion for the day. Sometimes we take it solely from the Bible (like reading through the book of Proverbs, one chapter a day) and other times we work through a topic study over the course of a few days or weeks. We utilize different things at different times but they can include a Concordance or Lexicon or even a laptop for an online commentary to open the flow of conversation. We’ve even used organized Bible studies and broken them into small pieces appropriate for worship. Generally, we keep the reading/study portion of family worship short as we dig deeper into study at other times through the day.
We then review our current memory verse, one of the girls plays a hymn and we sing along, and we confess ourselves to each other so that we’re starting and ending our day on good footing in our family relationships. Often we take a minute to offer things we’re thankful for and I’m pretty sure this is the favorite part of the little kids. They’re thankful for the smallest and best things!
Closing with prayer, we kneel and ask for God’s help to keep us connected to Him throughout the day.
The whole thing takes 10-15 minutes, max. We don’t want it to be wearisome or something the children dread. And we have a wide range of ages in our family and keeping it so everyone is engaged at their level is a little challenging but it’s also possible. However, the goal in gathering everyone for worship is just that…worship. And worship is setting aside oneself to honor, reverence, and adore God.
It doesn’t always feel right or good. Sometimes it feels like nobody got anything at all. But the Christian experience is largely about learning not to be guided by feeling at all. It’s about trusting He’ll do what He says when we surrender our doubts, fears, feelings, desires and dreams to Him.
Together, as a family, is the best place to start.
What does family worship look like in your home?