This is an article out of an old book that was written some time in the 1800’s. The date, the name of the book, name of the author are missing and the pages are coming apart at the touch. I think you will enjoy the article.
Reading the Bible should form a part of family worship. God commands us to teach the Word of the Lord diligently to our children and talk of it when we sit in our houses. The most natural way to do this is to read aloud portions of the Bible everyday, in the family, and talk about them, or make such comments as may seem best. The whole Bible should be read through by course, or if that is not done, certain books should be read in that way. One chapter a day will take you through the Bible in about three years. Three chapters a day and five on the Sabbath will take you through in one year. If you read the Bible through every three years you will read it through ten times in thirty years, or fifteen times if the family remains together forty-five years.
Of course, when the Bible is thus read, much will not be understood by the younger members of the family, and much that is understood will be forgotten. But by successive readings, more and more Bible history and Bible truth will adhere to the mind.
The elevated, spiritual style in which the Bible is written will become familiar to us, and those grand characters of the Bible, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, Paul, and, chiefest of all, Christ, will become like household friends. The family will grow up under their influence.
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is a great convenience for family reading, and yet sometimes an interesting narrative, or continued argument is cut into by these divisions, and one feels like reading right on until the story or argument is finished.
All in the family who can read should join in this exercise, reading two or five verses alternately. It is much easier to understand and remember what is being read if we have the Bible open before us.
Besides reading at family worship, the Bible should be constantly at hand, ready to be appealed to during the day when any question arises about the right or wrong of any course of conduct. Our children should see that it is, in fact, as well as in theory, the man of our counsel, our rule of practice as well as of faith.
Some families have the happy custom of repeating each one a verse at family worship. Many Christians, who are tolerably familiar with the drift of the Bible as a whole, can repeat very few whole verses correctly. They should fix more of them in the mind.
It would be an excellent plan if each church goer would commit to memory, the texts from which he hears sermons preached on the Sabbath. The texts from which ministers preach are usually among the choicest in God’s Word. Commit to memory those that you hear preached from in one year, and you will have, in your head and heart, a rich store of Bible truth.
Prayer is of course, the most essential part of family worship, for it is by prayer that we directly approach God to thank, or supplicate, or adore Him.
One form of this kind of family worship is asking a blessing, or giving thanks, at the table. Christ gave thanks when He miraculously fed the thousands, and when He broke bread for His disciples. His example has been followed ever since. Our most prominent and ever-pressing bodily want is food for the body. It is representative of all our bodily wants. God supplies that want, and when we sit down to our tables, it is fitting that we thank Him.
When we pray at the family altar we should thank God for the blessings already bestowed before we ask for more. If our hearts feel grateful, our lips will naturally express our gratitude, while, if our hearts are not grateful, all our professions and expressions of gratitude will be a mockery of God.
Confession of sin and shortcomings will naturally find a place in our prayer, while, of course, we will ask for the blessings which we need as a family.
In all these things – thanks, confession, and supplication – the prayer should be specific. Particular things should be mentioned. Some prayers are so general that, at their close, we can hardly remember anything in particular for which God has been thanked, or for which confession or supplication has been made. What family is there that does not, everyday, have special occasions for thanksgiving or for supplication? Some member is taken sick or restored to health; someone is being tempted or delivered from temptation; someone is starting on a long journey or has just safely returned from one; someone, a stranger perhaps, has just joined the family circle, or someone is leaving it permanently; death is in the house, or wedding bells are ringing – all such special things should be remembered at the family altar. In this way our children will be taught to take all their joys and griefs to the Lord.
Above all things, avoid formality in family prayer. Avoid getting into ruts of prayer. Let the prayer be the expression to God of the actual wants of the family. There should be in it that unction which comes only from a living communion of the soul with God. Let things and persons outside the family be remembered; neighbors, the sick, the church, the community; but it is better to have the prayer short and full of life and earnestness, than to have it dull and formal and long. Let long prayers be reserved for the closet; they are needed there.
And what is prayed at the family altar should be lived and acted through the day.
Some men pray in the morning that their children may become Christians, and then go out and pray all day by their conduct that they may become rich.
It is vain for a man to pray in the morning that Christ may dwell in his heart, and then, during the day, take no pains to cultivate the Christian graces. Of what use to pray for a revival in the morning, and all day long speak not one word nor do one thing to advance Christ’s kingdom? Where is the consistency in praying for the conversion of the world to Christ, and then spending as much in one day, or one week, on some foolish habit, as you give in a year to the cause of missions? Let your prayers at the family altar be reinforced by the daily life or they will accomplish but a little. When we think how little agreement there is between our prayers, even our fervent ones, and our daily lives, it is no wonder that so many children from Christian families grow up to godless lives.
It is an excellent custom which some families observe of having a family prayer-meeting every Sunday night, in which all the family, from the youngest to the eldest, offer prayer, If we commence in this way with the children when they are young, they will form the habit of prayer, and it will be far easier for them to grow up into the Christian life and profess Christ. No multiplicity of public meetings on the Sabbath ought to interfere with a religious meeting for the family on that day, in which the exercises shall be longer and more varied than on week days.
Some have family worship only on the Sabbath. That is far better than not to have it at all; but why not have it everyday? Does not God give us blessings everyday? And do we not stand in need of Him everyday, of His help and His protecting care? And do we not need for ourselves and our children the daily influence of the family altar?