(This was originally posted on February 12, 2020)
Family devotions (or sometimes called Family Worship) is a daunting task for husbands and fathers. If we are honest, few things conjure up dread in most men than the idea of leading family worship.
Sure, some men naturally lead well and enjoy their role in leading family worship, but if you are like me, the joy of leading family worship is often more dread than pleasure. I’m ashamed to say that, I am a pastor after all. Shouldn’t it be easy for me to lead the family in worship each night?
Maybe it is because I’m a pastor that I tend to complicate what we should be doing each night as a family. I remember my wife telling me that she didn’t need a prepared sermon each night. She just wanted to talk about something “adult-ish” after a day with the kids. A short conversation and prayer time is what she was longing for. Sadly, I’m still working at being consistent with even that. But we are working on it!
But for most men, the battle is either one of ignorance or spiritual warfare — ignorance in the sense that most men don’t know how to lead family worship. Add spiritual attack to that uncertainty, and you get the sum of why men don’t lead family worship well (typically).
So, how can we overcome these barriers?
Be honest with your wife and children about the struggle to lead and ask for their help and patience.
Pray about it. Ask God to give you the courage to lead in this area.
Start small. Choose one day a week that you might get together around the dinner table or gather in a room before bed and read a short passage (think paragraph here) and pray together. Have the kids help with reading and prayer time.
Ask others what they are doing for family worship. Asking others includes conversations with other men at church and reading books on the subject. I can recommend a few…see below.
Be willing to fail. I love what Jon Neilson wrote in his small, but beneficial book, Bible Reading With Your Kids:
So if you are beginning a consistent pattern of reading the Bible with your children, be willing to do it poorly at the outset. Set reasonable expectations; don’t expect everything just to click into place overnight. There may be dull moments. Your kids may even be resistant to this new routine at first. Stick with it, though, and I truly believe you will find this to be a key part of their growth in Jesus... as well as the growth of your spiritual relationship with them and role in their lives.
Dads, you really can do this. Be willing to begin. Be willing to do it badly at the outset. But, give yourself to the discipline of reading the Bible to your children daily, explaining it to them, asking them questions, and leading them in prayer to God about what he is teaching you together through his word. (pg. 49 – emphasis mine).
Men, we are called to lead our families. Some of you are good at preparing for their financial future or imparting hobbies and trades. That’s commendable. But are you leading your family spiritually? That’s eternal.
Start this week, and over time, the dread of leading will turn to joy.
Recommended reading to help us learn how to lead family worship:
Bible Reading With Your Kids by Jon Nielson
Family Shepherds by Voddie Bauchman Jr.
A Neglected Grace by Jason Helopoulos
Family Worship by Donald Whitney
Habits of Grace by David Mathis
Recommended books to read as a family for family worship:
The Radical Book For Kids by Champ Thornton
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Making Him Known series of books by Sally Michael
Truth78.org – has several great resources for family devotions.