The Praying Parent

In my study for this week’s message on Joshua 24:14-15 and the importance of Family Worship, I came across these two paragraphs from James Alexander’s “Thoughts on Family Worship.”  Keep in mind, this book was originally printed in 1847, and while the language is a bit out of date, it is incredibly accurate and relevant for our families today.  Whether you are considering family worship for the first time as part of my sermon series, or have come upon it randomly on this blog, I pray that this will help to encourage and motivate you in the practice of worshipping together as a family.

I’ve highlighted some of the more powerful sentences.

In the rage for amassing wealth, which threatens the church among us, and especially in our great commercial cities, there is an estranging process going on which I fear is too little observed. Such is the insane precipitation with which the man of business rushes to his morning’s task and such the length of his absence from home, often extending till the hours of darkness, so that he gradually loses some of that parental tenderness which Providence keeps alive by the presence of those whom we love.  The long continuance of such habits cannot fail to affect the character. Of all persons in the world, he should be most willing to take time for family devotions who is, by his very employment, shut out from his home most of every day  The paternal heart demands this hour of culture. A deliberate service in which the voices of infancy and age unite in praising God, amidst the flow of mutual affection, is a blessed means of countervailing the hard and selfish world which surrounds them. But above all the Christian parent needs something to keep him constantly in remembrance that his children have souls, that they look to him for more than their earthly support, and that there are means whereby, under God, he may be the instrument of their salvation. If, amidst the avocations of this life, he seldom finds time to deal faithfully with their souls; if he rarely conveys to them any sign of fear for their safety; if he is dumb in respect to Christ and eternity; here is a daily service of which the direct tendency will be to arouse him to these duties.  Can it be possible for a man to pray earnestly for the salvation of his children in their hearing, representing them to God in earnest supplication as dead in trespasses and sins, while at the same time he leaves them to wonder why no syllable ever falls from his lips on those momentous subjects? The praying parent has a daily reminder of these and the like obligations; and while he asks heavily good for his household, he will sometimes cry to God for grace to fulfill them. The answer of such prayers will not be withheld. The prayer-hearing God will render him a better parent, will endow him with those peculiar gifts for which, alas, professing parents are slow to seek, and will cause him to discharge the obligations of this fearful station in a better manner, to say the least, than those who hasten through life without any token of family religion.

Prayerless parents have cause to tremble.  God’s anger may light upon them in their parental relation, as Eli’s neglect was visited (1 Sam 3:13). They have no right to expect parental happiness. They place themselves and their household in the defenseless condition of the heathen. “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know Thee not, and upon the families that call not on Thy name” (Jer. 10:25). Family prayer invites and bespeaks the blessing of God on all concerned, but chiefly on him who leads in it. Better a roofless house than a prayerless one; better beg one’s bread with prayer than deny God by a neglect of this chief means of domestic property. One who has any genuine religious faith, and any trust in God’s promises, must be assured that in the rearing of his household, in providing for their support and education, in governing and restraining them, and in laboring for their souls, no good can ensue but by the blessing of God. And for this blessing, in the way of direction and grace, the Christian parent should join with his family in asking everyday. In so doing he will not only be a better man, but a better father. He will love his children more, and more wisely. He will be doubly a parent to them by the power and affection of a holy example. He will better be able to bear those reverses and bereavements which may befall him.*

* Alexander, James W. Thoughts on Family Worship 2002 (Soli Deo Gloria Publications; Morgan, PA) Pg. 30-32.

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