Last night we broke our evening routine and got home close to 10 p.m. after some Independence Day festivities. Our kids are usually in bed by 7:30 (and we often aim for 7), so we shortened the all-important bedtime routine considerably. For us, speed is of the essence when we’re late for bedtime, because our sweet little toddler, E, has a tendency to turn into a raging ball of pure tantrum when he’s short on sleep. So, we skipped his (almond) milk, and we rushed the toothbrushing, and we even opted him out of pajamas (it’s hot here).
One thing we did not skip, though, was family worship. E looks forward to our family worship every night (and he has since before he could talk). Sometimes, like last night, we shorten our worship time (much to E’s chagrin–choosing a shorter story than usual almost caused a meltdown), but we don’t leave it out of our routine, even when everything else is out of whack.
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If you’re committed to parenting your children in a way that brings them closer to Jesus (what I call “discipleship parenting“), worship and prayer time will be an essential part of your daily routine. Making it a habit, if you have not already done so, will change your life, and the lives of your kids.
Daily family worship is the best way to begin teaching your children how to praise God, learn about His character from the stories in the Bible, and to pray for and with one another.
Are you having family worship?
Family worship isn’t difficult to implement, but it does take commitment. George Barna, in his book Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s 1 Priority,* (which is excellent, by the way) writes that (as of 2003) only 1 out of 20 families were having family worship in a typical month, even though 85% of parents believed themselves to be primarily responsible for the moral and spiritual development of their children. I don’t know about you, but that statistic is astounding to me! If we are to influence our children to form personal relationships with God, we need to show them how, and family worship is the way to start.
1. Family worship invites God’s presence in your home.
Matthew 18:20 tells us that God is there when 2 or 3 of us come together in His name. Where better for God to be than with your family? It’s comforting to know that we have this access to our heavenly Father. If you make inviting God’s presence a regular thing, your children will notice when it doesn’t happen and they’ll miss it.
2. Family Worship Ends the Day on a Positive Note.
This only works if you have family worship before the kids are past being able to function for the day. I don’t know about your kids, but mine get to a place at the end of the day where they can’t be happy, even if I give them ice cream and a new puppy. Don’t leave it to the last part of the bedtime routine, or it will often be a miserable time.
The thing is, if worship isn’t positive, it isn’t worship.
No, you don’t have to do crazy elaborate things every night. Choose what works for you as a family and keep it short! For my bookworm toddler, we read a Bible story every night and then pray together (he prays first, then we each take turns). Sometimes we sing a song, but we’re singing our praises all day long (my babies love music, what can I say?!), so we don’t feel that we need to add any songs to the routine before bed. But, I know for some people music is the focal point of their family worship, and that’s great! Do what works for
you your kids to make worship a happy way to end their day.
Then, when the teeth are brushed and the potty trips have been taken, and you’re tucking your kids in, you can remind them of your worship thoughts and that God loves them and you do too. Focus their minds on Him one last (very brief) time before you leave them to fall asleep.
3. Family Worship Helps Your Kids Form Good Worship Habits
Your kids won’t always be home with you. Eventually they’ll go to school or grow up and move out. While you’ve got them, make a habit of family worship. Start when they’re too young to even know what’s going on, and then just keep it up. They’ll never remember a day without family worship! That way, it’ll stick even when the kids are in school and music lessons and sports, and you don’t have a lot of time together. It just may keep sticking when they’re off, married, and have kids of their own.
Worship needs to be a priority, which means it doesn’t get skipped when your routine is off. Have worship together earlier in the evening when you know bedtime will be crazy, or include your guests if it’s bedtime and they’re still around. Have intentional worship time together in the car if you’re still on the road. You can figure it out! Be flexible when conditions change. Time and location are irrelevant to being able to praise God and connect with Him in prayer.
One day, you won’t be able to daily gather your family for worship, and you’ll have to trust your kids to prioritize God for themselves. Remember what I said about the kids missing worship when it’s not there? If you’ve formed a solid foundation for making worship a part of every day, your kids will know what’s missing when it’s not laid out for them anymore. This is where the early work you’ve done to help equip your children to have personal prayer and devotions and to lead out in family worship will really come to fruition.
If you’re not already having daily family worships, it’s not too late to begin! Remember, it doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) be long or fancy. Take the first step and your family will be blessed.
Already convinced you should be doing family worship, but need practical tips or resources to make it meaningful? Read my post with tips for meaningful family worship with young kids to get you