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June 25, 2006
Matthew Henry once wrote regarding family worship, “Here the Reformation must begin.” If we are to experience the fullness of God’s blessings and are to be as faithful to Him as we can be, we must begin with the family, the very building block of God’s kingdom. This is something that was understood by the first and second generation Dutch-Canadian Christians among whom I grew up. Every meal was begun with prayer and every meal ended in a time of family worship. I do not recall any exceptions. This was the expectation of all families, and I am quite sure that nothing short of natural disaster would interfere with this family worship. It impacted myself and my family deeply.
Outside of those Dutch circles it seems that family worship is far less common. I find it strange that at a time when there is such a great deal of discussion about the priority and nature of worship, so little attention has been given to family worship. Don Whitney seeks to remedy that in his new booklet entitled Family Worship: In the Bible, in History & in Your Home.
While at 32 pages this book is merely an introduction to family worship, it is at once valuable and convicting. Dr. Whitney takes a logical approach to the topic. He begins with proving from Scripture that family worship is an expectation God has for all believers and then shows how believers through the centuries have understood the importance of this discipline. One chapter is dedicated to the elements of family worship, which he identifies as reading Scripture, prayer and singing. After answering several “what if” situations, a final chapter encourages familes to begin worshipping together today. A small discussion guide wraps up the book.
As in all of his books, Dr. Whitney depends primarily on Scripture and secondarily on the consensus of great Christians of the past to support his arguments. And as with his previous books, what he writes is both convincing and convicting. I was convicted that I need to increase the priority of family worship and to seek to make it not something that we do most of the time, but something we do all the time. In this small way I can show my children just how important it is that we give priority to the time we spend hearing from and crying out to God.
In truth, I had but two minor complaints about this book. The first was the length. This cannot be helped, for the booklet is intended to serve as only an introduction to this topic, but I would love the opportunity to read more on this topic (and especially from the pen of Dr. Whitney). The second, related to the first, was that Dr. Whitney did not include a “recommended resources” section at the close of the book. Still, by referring to the footnotes I found a few other resources that looked promising.
Family Worship is a great introduction to a topic of great importance. I recommend it for any and all Christian families. There is not a family that cannot benefit from this book.