the family ebenezer

>> May 12, 2010

My mother has a small rock, about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, sitting on her dresser. On it is written the word, “Ebenezer.” Now I don’t know what would come to your mind, but I always think of Ebenezer Scrooge when I see it—you know, the grumpy old man who had a life-changing experience on Christmas Eve. I know that isn’t what it means, but I tease her anyway about having a rock with an old man’s name on her dresser.

What it actually means is “stone of help.” She keeps it there to remind her that God is her help. It all comes from the Bible, when Samuel placed a stone at Mizpah after the Isrealites defeated the Philistines rather miraculously (see 1 Samuel 7:12). This ebenezer was meant to be an altar, a monument, a place to help the Isrealites remember God’s help.

Each family, especially each pastoral family, should have their own ebenezer. I don’t mean placing a big stone in the middle of your living room and praying before it. I mean that we should each have a family altar, a place where we worship and honor God for his help. I mean that we should each have a regular family worship time. Here are the 5 W’s of family worship:

Why should we have family worship?

It is a time where the family gathers together and worships God. The family altar is extremely beneficial because it is a place to discuss your faith, to worship together, to discover God, to transmit your faith and values, to build memories, to listen to each other, to pray together, and to address relevant issues.

Who is involved in family worship?

Everyone. The entire family. It should ideally be led by the father, as he is the priest of the home. However, everyone should be involved. Once the kids get old enough, it is fun for them to sometimes plan and lead a worship. And we all know as PWs that our hubbies are not often around in the evening, so we might have to lead out when he isn’t there.

When should we have it? 

Preferably in the morning and evening. But our schedules are often so crazy, that any time your family can consistently have family worship is the time you should plan for. Maybe around the breakfast table. Maybe after baths at night, before the kids go to bed. Even if you can’t have a morning worship because everyone is rushing out the door, at least have a family prayer before everyone leaves.

Where should we have it? 

Anywhere! It could be around the table, or on the couch in the living room (wouldn’t a crackling fire make it cozy?). Maybe gathered around the piano. Or perhaps snuggled up on the kids’ beds before bedtime. How about going outside to worship (there is a stream near our house where we like to go)? In the car on the way to a church service. However, even though it can take place anywhere, the best place is somewhere consistent.

What should we do for family worship?

This, of course, depends on the ages in your family. The purpose is to discover God, so the best place to start is the Bible. However, Bible story books or family devotionals may be a great bet for younger kids. Share your own stories, or share objects from nature. God has written His character all over creation! Every family worship should include prayer, but music is usually included in our family worships. We also like to play Bible games, perform skits or role plays, or other active learning activities.

The beauty of family worship is that you can tailor it to fit your family’s needs and tastes. Make it fun and meaningful. Vary the format at times. Consider the ages of your family members and create it for them. The important thing is to keep it consistent, purposeful, relevant, and godly.

But I must warn you—as soon you start to have family worship in your home, Satan will try to stop you, and put all kinds of distractions and disruptions in your way! Don’t let him! Treasure your “family ebenezer” and do whatever it takes to be faithful with it. When we worship God as a family, and honor Him for the help He brings us everyday, we will draw closer to Him, and to each other. Isn’t that what we all want in our homes?


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SKA May 12, 2010 at 10:39 AM  

LOVE IT, Julie! Our family started having morning and evening worship the day after our son was born - in the hospital bed!

And when I was growing up, my parents made special family worships on the weekends, too. We'd go for long nature walks with other families after church, and all the kids were told to find some random object along the walk that reminded them of something in the bible. A stick might remind you of Moses parting the Red Sea, or a little stone might make you think of David and Goliath. Then, in the evening, all the kids would take turns showing their object and sharing about it. Great for all ages!

Family worship is a long-lost Christian tradition in many places, but we are determined to do it in our home. And you're right - it takes determination, but it is SOOOO worth it!

And a side note - kids that learn to sit and pay attention during daily worship at home have a much easier time sitting in church, too!

Erika May 12, 2010 at 2:31 PM  

What a beautiful symbol of trust in the Lord.

Thanks for an inspiring post. I think sharing a meal in love with prayer and conversation can be a wonderful act of worship.

**p.s. I would love a PW linky on the blogroll!**

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