Family Worship

“As for me and my house, we will serve [in Hebrew: ‘worship’] the LORD.”

Josh 24:15

“And it was so… that Job sent and sanctified them [his sons and daughters], and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all…  Thus did Job continually.”

Job 1:5

“Then David returned to bless his household.”

2 Sam. 6:20

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Subsection

Bible Verses on Family Worship 

Quotes on Family Worship

Prayer Before Meals

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Order of Contents

Where to Start
Westminster Confession
Articles

Booklets
Books
Audio Sermon
Helps for Family Worship
Family Fasting
Bibliography

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Where to Start?

Beeke, Joel

Booklet

Family Worship  2002  29 pp.  with a list of materials helpful for family worship at the end

Video

‘Leading Family Worship’  video, 74 min. with transcribed notes of the message.  From the Desiring God 2011 conference for pastors.

Barth, Paul – Family Worship: How to Get Started  2016  16 paragraphs

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The Westminster Confession of Faith, 21.6

Note that the office bearers in conservative presbyterian denominations, by their ordination vows, swear to uphold, defend, promote and teach this.

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“…God is to be worshipped every where in spirit and truth; as in private families¹ daily²…”

¹ Jer. 10:25. Deut. 6:6,7. Job 1:5. 2 Sam. 6:18,20. 1 Pet. 3:7. Acts 10:2
² Matt. 6:11

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Articles

1600’s

Church of Scotland – The Directory for Family Worship  1647  20 paragraphs

Cawdrey, Daniel – ‘Family Reformation Promoted’  Buy  1656  11 pp.  a sermon in The Blue Banner, vol. 10, issue 4, pp. 13-24

Doolittle, Thomas – How May the Duty of Daily Family Prayer be Best Managed for the Spiritual Benefit of Everyone in the Family?  1674  Sermon 15 in Puritan (Cripplegate) Sermons  Buy  vol. 1, Supplement, page 225, should be page 297

Baxter, Richard – ‘A Disputation, or Arguments, to Prove the Necessity of Family Worship and Holiness, or Directions Against the Cavils of the Profane, and some Sectaries, who Deny it to be a Thing Required by God’  †1691  40 pp.  in A Christian Directory, vol. 4, ‘Christian Economics’, ch. 3, pp. 48-89

Tillotson, John – Concerning Family Religion, a Sermon  1684  in Six sermons  1694

Tillotson (1630-1694) was an Arminian, Latitudinarian, Anglican.

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1700’s

Henry, Matthew – A Church in the House, a Sermon Concerning Family Religion  1704

Colman, Benjamin – An Argument for and Persuasive unto the Great and Important Duty of Family Worship: with Rules and Directions for the Due Performance of it  1728  43 pp.

Colman (1673-1747) was reformed, New England minister.

Doddridge, Philip – A Plain and Serious Address to the Master of a Family, on the Important Subject of Family Religion  †1751  33 pp.  in Sermons and Religious Tracts, vol. 2, pp. 87-120

Davies, Samuel – The Necessity and Excellence of Family Religion  †1761  24 pp.  in Sermons, vol. 2, pp. 74-98

Whitefield, George – The Great Duty of Family Religion a Sermon  †1770  10 pp.

Presbyterian Church in the United States of America – ‘The Directory for Secret and Family Worship’  1787  2 pp.  in A Draught of the Form of the Government and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, pp. 117-8

The Draught was the draft form of the Book of Discipline that was adopted in 1788 (which is not on the internet).  The Book of Discipline adopted in 1788 was the original form of discipline of the national denomination of Presbyterians in America, from which all American branches of presbyterianism derive.

(Note that denominations such as Reformed Presbyterians, the Associate Reformed Presbyterians, the Dutch American Reformed Denominations, and others, whose backgrounds are from other nationalities, did not descend from this Order of Discipline and Worship.)

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1800’s

Newton, John – ‘On Family Worship’ a letter  †1807  13 paragraphs

D’Aubigne, Merle – Domestic Worship  1846  33 pp.

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church – ‘Family Worship’  1847  6 paragraphs

Smith, B.M. – ‘Family Worship’  1859  7 pp.  in Family Religion, or the Domestic Relations as Regulated by Christian Principles, ch. 3, section 7, pp. 138-145

Smith was a Southern Presbyterian professor at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.

M’Cheyne, Robert M. – ‘Family Government’ a sermon  1863  4 pp.

Palmer, Benjamin Morgan – ‘The Family in its Offices of Instruction and Worship’  1876  12 pp.  being ch. 6 of The Family in its Civil and Churchly Aspects, pp. 279-291

The Presbyterian Church of the United States – ‘The General Assembly of the PCUS on Family Worship’  1873-1915  5 paragraphs  being excerpts from pastoral letters and reports of the Southern Presbyterian Church’s general assemblies

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1900’s

Ptacek, Kerry

‘A Brief History of Biblical Family Worship’  1997  14 paragraphs

‘Family and Government in Puritan New England’  1995  10 paragraphs

‘Family Instruction & Christian Public Education in Puritan New England’  1995  12 paragraphs

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2000’s

Beeke, Joel – ‘Worship Like a Puritan’  2013  17 paragraphs  Tim Challies interviews Beeke with 4 questions about puritan family worship.  Excellent.

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Booklets

Marcellino, Jerry – Rediscovering Family Worship  Buy  27 pp.

Comin, Doug – Returning to the Family Altar: A Commentary and Study Guide on The Directory for Family Worship  Buy  2004  63 pp.

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Books

1600’s

Heywood, Oliver – A Family Altar  Buy  130 pp.  in Works, 4.285-420

Heywood (1630–1702) was a reformed puritan who was ejected from the Church of England in 1662 and later excommunicated for continuing to preach.

Slater, Samuel – An Earnest Call to Family Religion, or a Discourse Concerning Family Worship, being the substance of 18 Sermons  1694  318 pp.

Slater (†1704) was a reformed puritan who was ejected in the Great Ejection of 1662.

Hamond, George – The Case for Family Worship  Buy  1694

Hamond was a reformed, English puritan who was ejected in the Great Ejection of 1662. 

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1700’s

Orton, Job – Six Discourses on Family Worship  †1783  119 pp.

Orton (1717-1783) was a presbyterian dissenter from the Church of England and wrote the memoirs of, and preached the funeral sermon for, Philip Doddridge.  With time his doctrinal orthodoxy came into question, though this should not affect this particular work.

Dalrymple, William – Family Worship, Explained and Recommended in Four Sermons, from Joshua 24:15, with Short Prayers from the Psalms and Assembly’s Hymns  1787  245 pp.

Dalyrmple (1723-1814) was a Scottish religious writer, minister and moderator of the Church of Scotland.

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1800’s

Anonymous – The Family Altar, or the Duty, Benefits and Mode of Conducting Family Worship  1844  128 pp.

Alexander, J.W. – Thoughts on Family Worship  1847  260 pp.

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1900’s

Ptacek, Kerry – Family Worship: Biblical Basis, Historical Reality, Current Need  1994  82 pp.

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Audio Sermon

Fentiman, Travis – Family Worship  a sermon on Ps. 78:1-7  2008

This sermon demonstrates that family worship is a Biblical obligation.  It covers all the main Biblical data and principles, the Westminster Assembly’s teaching respecting it, and some practical how-to questions before the audio was accidentally cut off at 34 minutes.  

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Helps for Family Worship

1600’s

Baxter, Richard – ‘Forms of Prayer for Families’  1674  60 pp.  being part 2 of The Poor Man’s Family Book

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1700’s

Toplady, Augustus – ‘A Course of Family Prayer for Each Day of the Week’  †1778  11 pp.  in his 1 volume Works, pp. 771-782

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1800’s

Jay, William

Short Discourses to be Read in Families, vol. 1, 2  1807

Prayers for the Use of Families, or the Domestic Minister’s Assistant  1835

Beddome, Benjamin – Twenty Short Discourses Adapted to Village Worship or the Devotions of the Family, vol. 1  1807  182 pp.

Beddome (1717–1795) was an English particular baptist minister.

Palmer, Samuel – A Collection of Family Prayers, from the Devotional Writings of Baxter, Henry, Willison, Bennet, Watts, Doddridge and others, with Occasional Forms  GB  1818  160 pp.

ed. Gibson, James – Family Worship: a Series of Prayers with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks on Passages of Scripture for every Morning and Evening of the Year  1851  964 pp.  with contributions from 180 ministers of Scotland

This is a manual for help in Family Worship.  For every morning and evening of the year it gives a selection for a psalm to sing, two scripture passages, then doctrinal remarks followed by practical remarks, with a prayer to pray at the end.  Try this for family worship.

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Contemporary

ed. Beeke, et al. – Family Worship Bible Guide  Buy  760 pp.

“…this Family Worship Bible Guide presents rich devotional thoughts on all 1,189 chapters in the Bible, including searching questions to promote conversation, to help you with this responsibility.  Use this resource every day alongside Scripture to read each chapter’s major takeaways aloud and then discuss them with your family.  With the Holy Spirit’s blessing, this book will transform you and your family!” – Reformation Heritage Books

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Family Fasting

Boston, Thomas – A Memorial Concerning Personal and Family Fasting and Humiliation on Zech. 12:12  †1732  50 pp.  in Works, vol. 11, pp. 343-393  See especially p. 386 ff.

The occasion of this piece (Memoirs, p. 304):

“The mortality in our perish is not over yet, though I hoped my child had closed it: but just while I was writing this, I heard of the death of a mother of four small children… carried off at night by a sickness, so far as I could understand, not above two hours long long.  Alas! we have provoked our God.

By the awful voice of Providence continuing, I was led to Zech. 12:12, ‘And the land shall mourn, every family apart,’ etc., on which I dwelt from 11th March till 20th May; and for some time after, on Ps. 126:5, ‘They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.’  Upon the former of these I pressed the duty of personal and family fasting, among other things.  And this was not without fruit.  I knew that some were engaged in these duties; particularly James Biggar’s family, on which the hand of the Lord lay long and heavy, and carried off several of them…”

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Quotes

Thomas Boston, Memoirs

p. 102

“On the Monday, some time was spent in his [Mr. Mair’s] family in prayer, with fasting…  being desired, I stayed, and joined with him in that exercise.  The family being gathered together, he began the work, showing the causes of it; which were, 1. The afflicting hand of God on his family, particularly a child of his at Edinburgh; 2. To prepare for a congregational fast at Carnock; 3. To pray God in behalf of his parish…  These prayers continued long; but we had ended about half an hour after twelve o’clock.  After which, retiring to our several apartments, we dined about two, having had no breakfast.  This was the first example of a family-fast I had ever seen, neither do I remember to have been witness to another without my own family.  But I bless God, I saw that, which was the happy occasion of bringing in that part of family-devotion into my family afterward at times.”

p. 303

“21st March —  This day we spent some time in family humiliation and prayer, on the account of the death of our youngest child Katherine, who departed on the 12th instant; and the hand of the Lord still on Thomas and Alison by the chincough; also for the state of the public; and as to myself, for my study of the [Hebrew] accentuation.  That child was very comfortable to me; but I bless Him I was helped to part with her; and saw and believed much of the Lord’s goodness in that dispensation…  I saw reason to bless the Lord, that I had been made the father of six children, now in the grave, and that were with me but a very short time…”

George Whitefield, A Continuation of Whitefield’s Journal During the Time He was Detained in England, by the Embargo, vol. 2

Friday, Oct. 12. — Kept a family fast this day, that we might afflict ourselves before our God; to seek of Him a right way for us and for our little ones, and for all our substance: I trust it was such a fast as the Lord would choose: His divine presence was amongst us, and we had good reason to hope and believe, that the Lord was entreated of us, Oh that we may find more and more reason to say so, when we come on shore.  I dread going into the world.  But wherefore do I fear?  Lord, I believe, O help my unbelief, that Thou wilt keep me unspotted from it.”

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Bibliography

Collin, Jr., David – ‘On Family Worship: a Select Bibliography’  2006  3 pp.  4 sections, 42 entries

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“The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous…”

Ps. 118:15

“Now therefore are we [Cornelius and his family] all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”

Acts 10:33

Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name…”

Jer. 10:25

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Related Pages

Worship

The Family