Do we give our children this kind of bountiful grace or do we call them on the carpet for every sin? Do we spend our time chiding them for their wriggly bottoms during family worship or do we adjust our expectations of these little souls remembering our own wriggly bottoms when the Lord is trying to teach us something? Psalm 130:3 says, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”
2. ACTS OF GENTLENESS
Let us take our parenting cues from our heavenly Father. Does your family have a two year old? Well, maybe he gets his own bedtime prayer and you wait until that little person is asleep instead of forcing a tired toddler to sit still in the lap to “participate” in family worship. A time of day when everyone is excited to be together and involved would be a good time to harness to use for building your children in the Lord (e.g. meal time, prayer time right before bed when most children tend to be more open and willing to be gently shepherded).
Think back to how longsuffering your heavenly Father has been with you. How many of your sins has he forgiven? How long has it taken you to get to where you are right now and how much more time will it take to be formed into the image of Christ? This should correct our expectations of our children and help us enact gentle kindness and longsuffering patience toward them as we use the tool of family worship in our home.
3. RELENTLESS PRAYER
Next, we must remember that family worship is only one tool, not the only tool that the Lord can and will use in the life of your child. Don’t let it be the end all and be all, which was my temptation and stumbling block. Our heavenly Father is so creative. Every day I am surprised at the manifold ways he works on my children’s hearts.
The most potent tool for discipling and reaching the heart of your children is actually prayer. No “family this” or “family that” will ever have the power to transform the lives of the members of the family—only prayer in the name of Jesus. Let us be like the widow who was relentless and persistent, who wouldn’t stop going to the judge. (Luke 18:1–8) Let us day and night bombard heaven with prayers for, and often with, our children.
PUTTING THE WORSHIP BACK IN FAMILY WORSHIP
Having said all this, I do want to note that the Lord does indeed use the methods of family worship. I certainly don’t want to discount that, I just want to put it in its proper place. Family worship should not occupy the center. Jesus does. Family worship is a tool that I personally love and believe can bring depth to the spiritual life of a family, when used wisely.