A Good Old Way—An Encouragement to Heads of Households

Ryan Bush

couple reading book on couch

There is a passage in The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis that moves me deeply each time I come across it. The protagonists, Jill and Eustace, are about to embark on a quest. Aslan speaks to them and gives them signs by which they can find their way. Just before they leave, he gives them these final words:

First, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart, and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.

What a mercy it is that God has given to us signs, as it were, to guide, comfort, correct, and strengthen us. The Scriptures are God’s Word to his children. His Word guards us against the corruption of the flesh, the malice of Satan, and the lies of the world.

You need this, dear brothers, but so does your little flock. As the shepherd of your household you have the great privilege and responsibility to gather your sheep together and show them again and again God’s signs, the Scriptures. This is not redundant, nor is it excess, for your wife and children will be the target of Satan’s fiery darts, the world’s lies, and their own heart’s condemnations this very day.

As the shepherd of your household you have the great privilege and responsibility to gather your sheep together and show them again and again God’s signs, the Scriptures.

We often speak of preparing our children to send them from the nest years from now when they are grown. This is a good and noble aspiration, but this view is too limited. When I gather my wife and children together to minister the Word to them through reading, praying, and singing, it is so that they will have strength to go to battle today. We have family worship at 8:00 am, because the war against their souls starts at 9:00 am.

When I teach my wife and children from the Scriptures, it’s not as if I am simply making deposits in their spiritual savings account from which they will be able to withdraw years from now when they need it. Rather, I am suiting them up for the battle that is raging just over the hill. It is their daily bread for their nourishment now.

I can’t think of anything more in agreement with the Word of God than a man who governs his household by giving priority to tenderly gathering his flock together each day to read, pray, and sing the Scriptures. Is it possible to argue that fathers leading their families to the throne of the one true God in prayer, singing, and the reading of Scripture isn’t God’s will for families? Hardly. The objection that there is no direct positive command is a feeble defense and is quickly crushed under the avalanche of biblical evidence for family religion.

Family Worship is scriptural. In fact, a biblical directive could hardly be more emphatically implied than the command for heads of households to regularly lead their families in the worship of the one true and living God. Charles Spurgeon explained it like this:

I trust there are none present, who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families. We may have no positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is so much in accord with the genius and spirit of the gospel, and that it is so commended by the example of the saints, that the neglect thereof is a strange inconsistency.

Matthew Henry put it this way,

The way of family worship is a good old way, no new thing, but the ancient usage of the saints.

J. W. Alexander wrote,

It is not our purpose to make any ingenious efforts to force into our service the history of the Old Testament or to search for Family Worship in every age of the world. . . . But without any indulgence of fancy, we cannot fail to discern the principle of Family Worship appearing and reappearing as a familiar thing in the remotest periods.”

Family Worship is part of the warp and weft of the fabric of Scripture. Furthermore, Scripture should be the very warp and weft of the fabric of Family Worship. In other words, just as the Scriptures are saturated with Family Worship, so should our times of Family Worship be busting at the seams with God’s Word.

Let me encourage you to keep Scriptures as the central element of Family Worship because it is God’s Word and God’s Word is what your little flock needs for the nourishment of their souls (to say nothing of your own soul). Do you see that if you are to be a faithful watcher of souls, that you must nourish them with God’s Word?

What a weighty charge that you have been given. Your house is your parish over which you are the priest; and your family is the flock. May this little flock never be harmed due to your willful neglect.

Tremble, brothers, and look to Him who is the true Father of your family. Consider this question from J. Merle D’Aubigne:

Will you not converse with your wife and your children about that Being who will one day perhaps be the only Husband of your wife, the only Father of your children.

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