Six Ideas for Restoring the Family Altar
By Randy Maxwell, Washington Conference prayer ministry coordinator and Renton pastor
Because family worship has gone the way of the 8-track or VHS, our children don’t know who God is, who they are in relation to God, and how to respond to Him in love and life. God is often on the fringes of our lives instead of in the center.
Ancient Hebrew/Jewish families would recite the Schema every day. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). By repeating this daily, they affirmed who God was, who they were in relation to God (He is “ours”), and how they were to respond to God (“love” Him with everything they had and in all aspects of life).
Check out six ideas for restoring your family worship experience!
Keep It Short
Make the time active and interesting. But do not turn it into a seminary classroom. Adjust the time based on children’s age and ability to focus: 10 minutes for young children,15-20 minutes for older children. On-the-go young adult children? Consider texting a scripture verse or short prayer.
Mingle a classic hymn with something from the children’s Sabbath Schools, or a contemporary praise chorus. Don’t get stuck in a rut, but use music to encourage worship and the memorization of scripture.
Share God-sightings (“divine encounters”) that family members may have had that day. How did you see God at work today? Give everyone a chance to share. If someone goes long, save other God-sightings for another time.
Read from the Bible
Children need to hear, read, and handle the Word of God. As a family, read through a portion of scripture. If you’re reading the Gospels, for example, take a few verses that focus on a particular event in the life of Jesus (i.e., any of His healing miracles, His parables, etc.) Read and discuss the passage asking who, what, when, where, and why questions.
Take turns sharing praises and petitions. Consider having a family prayer project (i.e., a mission project, the pastor and family, a missing/inactive member or family, the staff at the school where the children attend, a neighbor in need, the sick, someone in the family or neighborhood who needs to know Jesus, etc.). Pray regularly for the family prayer project and keep tabs on what is happening in that person’s life.
Repeat the Shema
Recite the Shema together (see Deuteronomy 6:4-5). It’s easy to memorize and helps instill reverence for God in an otherwise busy and distracted life. As we rebuild the family altar, God will revive our souls and turn our homes into houses of prayer where His presence dwells in power and love.