WHAT MANY FAMILIES ARE MISSING
I read a recent article that said, “A quarter of all parents admit they spend just 34 minutes a day with their children undistracted.” Another article reminded me, “There are only 940 Saturdays between a child's birth and them leaving for college.”
This got my attention.
My daughter and two sons are six, four and two years old, respectively. That means that I am now down to just about 628 more Saturdays with Gracie, 716 with Silas, and 836 with Elijah before they’re all out of high school and enjoying the next chapter the Lord has for them. If God does indeed give my wife and me 18 summers with Gracie before she graduates, that means we've already enjoyed a third of these summers with just 12 to go.
What a reminder of the value of every day with my family and the importance of spending those days well!
We only get a certain amount of time with our children. I believe that many also desire more meaningful and consistent time, as well. For example, the Barna Research Group reports that 68% of women consider family relationships as their number one priority, and yet 59% of women are dissatisfied with their balance of work and home life.
Barna also reported last year that when celebrating a special holiday season, 72% of people consider “Time with Family” as the most treasured part of the holidays.
It seems people enjoy family time and want more of it. So how do we find this time and what should we do with it?
I believe the answer to both of these questions is found in the spiritual discipline of family worship.
FAMILY WORSHIP = FAMILY TIME
The thread of family worship is one we see woven throughout Scripture, and it is filled with blessings for the entire home. In my book, Gospel Family, I explore these blessings as a source of encouragement for the family considering times of family prayer, family devotions, and family discipleship.
But today, in light of the constant battle for our time and the time of our family, let us focus on just one of the many blessings that family worship brings: family together time.
A family that prays together, sings praises together, and enjoys reading the Bible together will inevitably find themselves blessed with more time together. When we read the famous words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we not only catch a glimpse of family worship, but we also see that this family time is assumed in any home that consistently enjoys family worship.
This passage describes a family that engages in family discipleship while sitting in the house together, while walking together, in the evenings before going to sleep, and in the mornings when first waking up.
We need to bring family worship through the front doors of our homes. We need to welcome this natural rhythm of family time and overcome the challenges we face while living in a culture that finds family meals uncommon and family conversations, free of smartphone distractions, just as rare.
Family worship cultivates a pattern of family time, inviting everyone in the home to push aside all distractions, take a break from all media, and just be still in the presence of God and one another for a few minutes every day. It simultaneously strengthens our relationship with the Lord and our relationships with our spouse and children.
MEANINGFUL FAMILY TIME
It’s not enough to just carve out time together, for some of the most stressed-out families are sprinting through life together, all-the-while, missing out on any profound connection or significant conversation. Just because we’re in the same room, at the same restaurant, stuck in the same traffic, or running the same errands, it doesn’t guarantee that we’re on the same page or growing together as a family at all.
Family worship doesn’t just produce family time. Family worship produces meaningful family time.
When a family engages the Word of God together, shares prayer requests together, or enjoys worship music together, there is a deeper connection. Hearts are opened and real life, real concerns, real fears, real hopes, and real needs all begin to trump the ever-busy calendar.
Chores, meals, dishes, TV shows, video games, appointments, meetings, dance rehearsals, baseball practices, and even church events can easily hijack any given week, leaving us little meaningful, private, undistracted, family time. But when we enjoy the presence of God together as a family while sitting around the house, while walking together, and before going to sleep, we protect the most important thing on every week’s calendar: family worship.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
This meaningful, consistent family time of worship doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Even if your family has never practiced family worship before, you can begin now by implementing these three things:
1. Pray Together
Just spend a few minutes each day sharing prayer needs and praying together. One person can pray or every family member can have a turn praying. It’s often helpful to choose a prayer spot in the house so that the family gets used to the routine of it all.
2. Read the Bible Together
Choose a family Bible that works best for your family, whether it’s a translation that everyone can understand or, perhaps, a children’s story Bible that is age appropriate. Keep this Bible near the dinner table and read one story every time you sit down for dinner together. Ask a few questions about the verse or story and begin to cultivate an atmosphere in the home where spiritual discussions are normal.
This will overflow into the natural rhythm of your days as you’re playing at the park, driving in the car, or getting ready for bed. It is in those times that your spouse and children will feel more and more comfortable discussing spiritual and biblical questions.
3. Worship Together with Music
If someone in your family plays an instrument, encourage them to learn some praise songs that your family loves. Or, you can simply sing together after your prayer time or at night before going to bed. Another way to bring worship music into the home is by simply creating a worship playlist on your phone or tablet that can be playing in the house and car throughout the day. You can even use some of the Gospel Family music available here. It’s amazing how this simple practice can transform the flow of family life in the home.
GOSPEL FAMILY RESOURCES
If you subscribe with your email on our Gospel Family website, we’ll email you a weekly family devotion every Monday, complete with Scripture, discussion questions, and even Catechisms.
We have two free e-books available here. One will equip you to pray Scripture over your family, while the other one provides several months worth of family devotions.
Get a copy of the Gospel Family book, read it together as a family, and then write out a new Vision Statement for your family.
Get a copy of the Family Devo worship albums on “First Bible Truths.”
Wherever you are in the journey, this could be the week that you and your family explore new ways to spend meaningful, worshipful time together. This could be the week you find new ways to simply enjoy the presence of the Lord and his Gospel inside your home.
Jonathan Williams is the founder of Gospel Family Ministries. He is also the author of Gospel Family. Jonathan enjoys this ministry alongside his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Gracie, Silas & Elijah. With a heart for families and the church, Jonathan also serves as the pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.