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12 March, 2013

Family Prayer

By James Smith

"Pour out your fury upon the heathen that have not known you, and upon the families do not call upon your name!" Jeremiah 10:25

Family prayer is a most important means of grace, and has often proved one of the greatest blessings which a family could enjoy. It is not enough that we pray as private individuals in our closets; we must honor God in our families. Twice in the day if we can, at least once — every family where Jesus is professed, should be called to bow before the Lord together. Parents and children, master and servants, should meet before the Lord their maker. The head of the family should lead the devotions if present; and his wife should lead, should he be absent. Family prayer should never be omitted if there is one of the family at home who can call upon God; even if the language is broken, and the time occupied is very brief. The gift of prayer always grows by use, and smallness of gift is no lawful excuse for omitting family prayer. If we cannot pray eloquently, we may pray earnestly — which is much better; if our language does not flow freely, we need not be long and tedious. Prevailing prayers are often short prayers.

Family devotions should generally be short, especially where there are young children, A short portion of God's holy Word should be read; and it has often been found profitable to read a few striking remarks on some spiritual subject, by an approved author. If those present can sing, a few verses of praise greatly enliven the service; if not, a short prayer, being a direct address to Jehovah, offered with feeling and fervor, under a sense of the divine presence, is very edifying and refreshing. God approves, an enlightened conscience commends, and all are benefited.

Family prayer will prevent much sin, as well as do much good. It keeps up a remembrance of the divine presence, it brings important truths before the mind, it teaches the prayerless what prayer is, it leads children to think, and brings down the blessing of God upon the house. We are to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit; but this we cannot do if family prayer is neglected. We are to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting; this cannot be observed, if we do not pray in our families. He who would excuse himself from family prayer, should expect to be excused from family blessings.

Reader, have you family prayer in your house? If not, allow me to ask, do you profess to be a Christian? Have you considered the solemn passage at the head of these remarks? If God is to pour out his fury upon the families which call not upon his name, and you have not family prayer, how can your family escape? You ought to own God in your house, and daily should you acknowledge your dependence upon Him, and obligation to Him. All your domestic comforts, all your temporal mercies, and all your spiritual privileges — flow from His love and grace; and will you daily as a family receive, and never as a family praise?

The heathens have their household gods; and will not you have your family altar? Shall they honor idols of wood and stone, and must it be said of you, "The God in whose hands your breath is — you have not glorified?" An old divine says, "A family without prayer is like a house without a roof, opened and exposed to all the storms." Again, "Family prayer bolts the door against danger at night, and opens it for the admission of mercies in the morning." Private prayer was never intended to set aside family prayer, nor should family prayer be made an excuse for the neglect of private. The one is for the person, the other for the household. Both are necessary, and properly conducted both are means of blessing.