Be filled with the Spirit . . . speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:18–19
Ephesians 5:19 instructs us to address one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We find music mentioned throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
We see this, of course, in corporate worship. Christianity is a singing faith. Worship services all over the world include songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. Congregational singing is a great unifier. When hearts are united in praise to God, they are united to one another. Praise bonds the hearts of the worshipers together.
Since praise is proper in the corporate body of Christ, how much more within our own families? Though their members are small in number, our homes are congregations. Worship is a family affair. Robert Murray M’Cheyne said, “Worship God in your family. If you do not worship God in your family you are living in positive sin. You may be quite sure you do not care for the souls of your family. . . Do it in a spiritual, lively manner. . . Sing the praise of God the way the Seraphim do, the way God deserves to be praised.”
Family worship should include three things: instruction in God’s Word, prayer at God’s throne, and praise to God’s name. According to Psalm 118:15, the glad songs of rejoicing are heard in the tents of the righteous. In Bible times families dwelt in tents. The tent was their home, and there they sang glad songs of rejoicing. Our homes should be characterized by joyful singing. Phillip Henry, the father of Matthew Henry, believed that Psalm 118:15 was the biblical basis for the singing of psalms with-in the family unit. The entire family is to be brought into the arena of praise. Young, old, and those in between are part of the household congregation.
Before Richard Baxter arrived in Kidderminster, England, the city was a wicked and godless place. God used this man to transform that town, and scores were converted. After he had been there for some time, one of the things Baxter loved to do was go down the village lanes after supper and hear people shouting the praises of God through the open windows in their homes. When he had first arrived in the city, hardly one family in a hundred could be heard singing the praises of God. But God had worked so powerfully under his ministry that Baxter noted that there was scarcely one in five families that did not sing praises to God in their homes.
Below are some tips for family worship.
It does not have to be lengthy. Richard Cecil said, “Let family worship be short, savory [lively], simple, plain, tender, heavenly.”1 Quality is more important than quantity.
Make it joyful. Every worship service is choir practice for heaven, so we should keep it lively. Have you ever been in a low-energy song service? How deadening and lifeless. The key to good congregational singing is the leader. When the leader is engaged and enjoying the songs, it helps the people enter into the spirit of praise. Our music ability may be limited, but we can be enthusiastic. We should “make a joyful noise” (Ps. 98:4).
Collect good music. When my children were small, our family acquired some old hymnbooks and sang from them. Another idea is to compile a file of songs from the Internet. We should develop a library of spiritual songs and sing them regularly.
Take charge. Whose job was it to make sure every family member was inside the house on Passover night? Whose responsibility was it to choose a suitable lamb? Whose job was it to smear blood on the lintel and doorposts? That of the head of the home—the father. Passover was an annual family event. God charged the heads of households, “Ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever” (Exod. 12:24). It is the father’s responsibility to observe this practice both for himself and his family. If a father is not present, the mother takes on this responsibility. It is unclear whether the father of Timothy, Paul’s disciple, was dead or at all involved in his spiritual development, but Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, taught him the Word of God. Regardless of family dynamics, the parents must see the need, take the lead, and do the deed.
- Set a time each day. Choose what is best for your family—early in the morning, dinner time, or before retiring. Create a routine.
- Establish a place in your home for family worship: the family room, the kitchen table, or another informal gathering place where musical instruments can be kept and used.
- Develop a plan and implement it!
Written by Evangelist Harold Vaughan
This chapter is taken from Home Improvement – Keys to Building a Happy Home