The Father and Family Worship
Of late, I have taken great encouragement from the writings of the early fathers of our nation, who were the chief priests and theologians of their households. Many of these men were champions of faith for their wives and children and because of it they fathered preachers, teachers, statesmen, heads of state – the great minds that formed our nation. We need men who will rise above mediocrity for the sake of their families and for our faith. If one is to carefully follow and compare such blood lines as Cain and Seth – he will clearly see that those men who look forward to the future of their generations rather than for the momentary, bear great legacies. Michael Gantt
THERE is no member of a household whose individual piety is of such importance to all the rest as the father or head. And there is no one whose soul is so directly influenced by the exercise of domestic worship. Where the head of a family is lukewarm or worldly, he will send the chill through the whole house. And if any happy exception occur, and one and another surpass him in faithfulness, it will be in spite of his evil example. He, who ought by his instructions and life, to afford a perpetual incitement1 to his inferiors and his juniors, is made to feel in case of such delinquency, that they must look elsewhere for guidance, even if they do not weep in secret places over his neglects. Where the head of the family is a man of faith, of affection, and of zeal, consecrating all his works and life to Christ, it is very rare to find all his household otherwise-minded. Now one of the chief means of promoting such individual graces in the head is this: his daily exercise of devotion with the members. It is more to him, than to others. It is he who presides and directs in it, who selects and delivers the precious Word, and who leads the common supplication, confession, and praise. To him, it is equal to an additional act of personal devotion in the day; but it is more. It is an act of devotion, in which his affection and duty to his house are particularly brought before his mind; and in which he stands in the place and pleads the cause, of all that he holds dearest upon earth. No one need wonder then, that we place family-prayer among the most important means of reviving and maintaining the piety of him who conducts it.
Observation shows that families which have no household worship are at a low ebb in spiritual things; that families where it is performed in a cold, sluggish, negligent, or hurried way, are little affected by it and little affected by any means of grace; and that families where God is worshipped, every morning and evening, by all the inmates of the house in a solemn and affectionate service are blessed with increase of piety and happiness. Every individual is blessed. Each one receives a portion of the heavenly food.
Half the defects and transgressions of our days arise from want2 of consideration. Hence the unspeakable value of an exercise, which twice every day calls each member of the household at least to think of God. Even the most careless or impious son, or servant, must now and then be forced to talk a little with conscience, and meditate a little on judgment, when the grey-haired father, bowed before God, with trembling voice pours out strong supplication and prayer. How much more mighty must be the influence on that larger number, who in ten thousand Christian families in the land are more or less impressed with the importance of divine things! And how peculiar and tender and forming must the same influence be, on those of the domestic group, who worship God in the spirit, and who often wipe the gushing tear, as they rise from their knees, and look around on husband, father, mother, brother, sister, child—all remembered in the same devotion, all clouded with the same incense of intercession!
Perhaps among our readers, more than one can say: “Times without number have I felt the influence of domestic worship on my own soul. When yet a child, no one means of grace, public or private, so awakened my attention, as when the children were prayed for day by day. In wayward youth, I was never so stung by conviction of my sin, as when my honored father earnestly besought God for our salvation. When at length in infinite mercy I first began to open the ear to instruction, no prayer so reached my heart, or so expressed my deep affections, as those which were uttered by my honored father.
from The Father and Family Worship – J.W. Alexander (1804-1859)