The Puritans said the benefits of family worship are so great they are “impossible to describe.” Nonetheless, in this series I’ll be attempting to highlight ten of its advantages.
The second benefit of homes gathering daily to read Scripture, sing and pray is that it rewards future generations.
The reward of compound interest
Fools think only about today. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1Cor. 15:32). Imbeciles spend it all immediately, while wise men invest it and watch their earnings grow. In the same way, the Christian worldview looks to the future–to children and grandchildren. In family worship, fathers teach their children’s children. The placard above his home is: “All that is good, pass on.”
Don’t be stingy in what you invest in your family. The effect of what you give now will multiply in the future by the years of application and the number of your children. Hold nothing back. The family head gives with an open hand because he knows the generous will only grow richer (Pr. 11:24). Adopt the prayer of Asaph:
“We will not hide [God’s Word] from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done….That the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (Ps. 78:4, 6-7)
John Paton’s father wanted desperately to be a minister of the gospel. Instead, God called him to manufacture socks. He then determined to invest in his eleven children through family worship. In time, many generations of Patons served as pastors and missionaries. His son never forgot family devotions in his boyhood home. He said in his Autobiography:
“Never, in temple or cathedral, on mountain or in glen, can I hope to feel that the Lord God is more near, more visibly walking and talking with men, than under that humble cottage roof of thatch and oaken wood. Though everything else in religion were by some unthinkable catastrophe to be swept out of memory, or blotted from my understanding, my soul would wander back to those early scenes, and shut itself up once again in the Sanctuary Closet, and, hearing still the echoes of those cries to God, would hurl back all doubt with the victorious appeal, ‘He walked with God, why may not I?'” (p. 8)
The reward of likely conversion
God loves to bless whole surnames, not just individuals. He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Passover was a celebration for “you and for your sons forever” (Ex. 12:24). Cornelius’ whole household feared God (Ac. 10:2) and were converted. Christian spouses and parents greatly influence their unbelieving spouses and children toward salvation (1Cor. 7:14).
Good fathers often have blessed children. Bad fathers often have cursed children. Because Eli failed miserably to train his sons Hophni and Phinehas, they became “worthless men” (1Sm. 2:12) and brought a curse to their father’s house (2:22; 3:11-14). They met a terrible death at God’s hand (4:11).
David failed as a father with many of his sons. Amnon—David’s eldest—was put to death by his brother for rape (2Sm. 13:28-29). Absalom, now David’s eldest, responded to his father’s slights (2Sm. 14:28) by seeking to murder him (2Sm. 18).
Even in spite of these disappointments, does not the general rule of godly parents producing godly children urge us to take up family worship? Richard Baxter says, “Will you say that Noah’s family was no better than the drowned world, because there was one Ham in it; nor David’s because there was one Absalom; nor Christ’s because there was one Judas?”
Will Christian homes always have Christian children? No. But very rare is the home that meets daily for home worship where at least one is not converted. Very often this same home produces children that all are faithfully serving Christ.
God has made promises not just to his people but to their “seed’s seed” (Isa. 59:21). Therefore we must labor to educate future generations. In the last will and testament of the great patriot Patrick Henry, he wrote: “This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family: the religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.” What an inheritance indeed!
Some practical thoughts
First, parents and spouses, do not be weary in well-doing (Gal. 6:9). Even if your efforts seem of no effect, in due time you will reap if you don’t give up. As one faithful pastor has said, posterity reaps harvests from seed sown in the tears of former ages. This is true! Small streams dry up but the river still flows. Fathers pass on but his godly children will continue.
Second, it’s never too soon to begin thinking about the next generation. Don’t lower the bar by praying only for your children. Pray for your grandchildren. Teach your children how to train their own children one day.
Third, being raised in a Christian home doesn’t guarantee conversion. Parents must urge and plead with their children to repent and believe. God is a father but never a grandfather.