A house of prayer
– The Bible in the Family Circle –
By Gennifer Tudoroiu
It was a calm and peaceful evening. The trees and flowers told of summer’s last goodbye, and the sky in her purple glory began to fade. Inside the stout, blue house of the Henry family there was a gentle fire blazing, the lingering smell of dinner they had eaten earlier, and Father’s voice reading from one of the books of the Bible. The rest of the family sat, listening to the story and watching the fire devour the blackened wood. Tom, a perky boy of almost twelve, held his breath. Father reached the part in the story where Joseph was going to meet his brothers in Dothan. As he listened, Tom’s mind climbed up into his imagination. He could hear the sneers of Joseph’s brothers as he strode towards them in his rainbow coat. He imagined Joseph in the blackness of the narrow pit. He imagined what the caravan might have looked like with all those camels and bags. “Now, Tom” Father said, “I want you to think about what it would be like if you were Joseph.” Tom tilted his head contemplating the question. What would he do if he were Joseph? “Well,” Tom poked the carpet that seemed so interesting all of the sudden and said, “If I knew my brothers did not like me that much, I’d be smart enough to keep out of their way. Besides, they were older than Joseph, couldn’t they look after themselves in Dothan?” Tom looked at Father with inquiring eyes and raised brows. Mr. Henry’s calloused hands tenderly closed the worn-out Bible, while he held it to his chest and leaned forward in his chair. “My son, you are right. No one wants to be around people who dislike and even hate them. Joseph had. . .“Mr. Henry paused. He was thinking of how he could teach the gospel from Joseph’s story. After a few seconds, with much interest in his tone he asked Tom, “So why do you think Joseph went to check on his brothers even if he knew they did not like him?” Tom shrugged his shoulders, “Because he loved his brothers.” It was not the first time Tom heard the story; he gave a good answer. As Tom looked at his father nod, he knew he was thinking seriously, and that there was some important lesson he ought to learn from this evening worship. Mr. Henry motioned for Tom to come sit on his knee. “You know, the Bible says Jesus is our Elder Brother. Like Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers, the Father above sent His only Son Jesus to visit our world.” Tom’s mind worked as he listened. His father continued, “But when He came to us, we treated him badly. He was sold and put to death. Jesus came because He loves you and me. He came even though He knew His brothers did not love Him.” As Tom’s eyes grew wide, his heart grew too. He wanted to be like Jesus, because there was something so special about Him. Every time his father taught him some lesson from the Bible, he wondered more and more about what it would be like to know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph. Years went by, yet those moments in the mornings and evenings when his family gathered to read the Bible, left deep impressions upon his young mind. Tom grew up to be a man, had his own family, and prayed for God to help him make their morning and evening worships the most golden part of the day. Just like he had experienced as a boy. May we also seek to invest in this special duty we have, for “If ever there was a time when every house should be a house of prayer, it is now.”1
Why Morning and Evening Worship?
Have you ever thought, “Why do we do morning and evening worship? Where did this tradition come from?” The concept of morning and evening worship actually comes from the Bible. Back in Bible times it was called “the morning and evening sacrifice.” It was instated after Adam and Eve sinned. It required them to shed the blood of a lamb in the morning and evening as a reminder that their hope was in the coming Savior who would die for them. It also focused their hearts on God and living a life dedicated to Him for that very day. But since Jesus resurrected, is there any need for a morning and evening sacrifice? “It is a serious neglect when those in responsibility fail to bring the family together for worship. This is a sacred privilege and duty, and it means life to the soul.”2 The Bible identifies three reasons that show that evening and morning worship is a requirement, not a suggestion.
1) Exodus 34:14, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:” We are commanded to worship the true God.
2) Joshua 24:15, “… as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We are commanded to direct our families, as much as possible, in worship of the one, true God.
3) Genesis 4:4, “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:” We are commanded to demonstrate our commitment to worshiping the true God. We see many examples of those whom God approached and called, such as Abraham, Jacob, and Job, performing sacrifices because of the Lord’s direct instruction. Since Jesus, who was represented by the lamb in the morning and evening sacrifice died and resurrected, we no longer have to kill a lamb for sacrifice. We come together in the morning and evening to meet the Lamb, Himself! Instead, the focus is now on the provision God has made for us to be saved, and placing ourselves in His hands because we have no merit. That is so amazing!
What Family Worship Can Be
How exactly do we go about embracing and applying this idea of worship in our personal lives? What should the experience of morning and evening worship be like? First and foremost, morning and evening worship should be an outward expression of the worship of our heart. If each member of the family is pursuing a deep relationship with Jesus, family worships will be life-giving and will strengthen the family bond. “The worship of God should be both interesting and instructive to those who have any love for divine and heavenly things”3 “In arousing and strengthening a love for Bible study, much depends on the use of the hour of worship. The hours of morning and evening worship should be the sweetest and most helpful of the day. . . Let the services be brief and full of life, adapted to the occasion, and varied from time to time. Let all join in the Bible reading and learn and often repeat God’s law. It will add to the interest of the children if they are sometimes permitted to select the reading. Question them upon it, and let them ask questions. Mention anything that will serve to illustrate its meaning. When the service is not thus made too lengthy, let the little ones take part in prayer, and let them join in song, if it be but a single verse.”4 “In every family there should be a fixed time for morning and evening worship.”5 “Family worship should not be governed by circumstances. You are not to pray occasionally and, when you have a large day’s work to do, neglect it. In thus doing you lead your children to look upon prayer as of no special consequence. Prayer means very much to the children of God, and thank offerings should come up before God morning and evening. Says the psalmist, ‘O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.’ ”6 Even the choices of songs to sing should be beautiful and inspiring. They should be sung with enthusiasm and expression of the joy that is in our hearts because of God’s love. Everything that has to do with praising God should be beautiful, as David says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalms 92:2). A bite-size portion of God’s Word may be read so there is something for everyone to carry in their minds throughout the day. Most importantly, worship should be treated as a meeting with Jesus. Through our thoughts and behavior, we should create an environment where He can truly come and be with us; a time where we feel like we are sitting at His feet. We should also have a special place where these morning and evening worships are done. Having a special location for morning and evening worships will help to associate reverence and a sense of sacredness with this spot. The Lord, by Ellen White, communicated that, “The father, who is the priest of his household, should conduct the morning and evening worship. There is no reason why this should not be the most interesting and enjoyable exercise of the home life, and God is dishonored when it is made dry and irksome. Let the seasons of family worship be short and spirited. Do not let your children or any member of your family dread them because of their tediousness or lack of interest. When a long chapter is read and explained and a long prayer offered, this precious service becomes wearisome, and it is a relief when it is over.”7 “It should be the special object of the heads of the family to make the hour of worship intensely interesting. By a little thought and careful preparation for this season, when we come into the presence of God, family worship can be made pleasant and will be fraught with results that eternity alone will reveal.”8
How to Start Worshipping
Unfortunately, sometimes people make evening and morning worship the only time of the day when they bring God into their home and life. Once their morning worship ends, so does the worship of their heart; it ends up being just a dry routine. Like it says in Matthew 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Jesus said, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). If our Christianity does not exceed formalism, then we are just modern Pharisees; we are lost. The solution for this problem is one. Ask Jesus to break down every sin in your life that is separating you from Him. Ask Him to change your heart. Ask Him to help you walk with Him and know Him on a intimate level. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus says, “all ye.” There is no exception. Whoever you are, wherever you are in life, Jesus is calling you. He says to you, “. . .Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1). What are you going to do? When are you going to surrender your life to Him? I pray it will be now.
- Child Guidance, p. 517.
- Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 305.
- The Review and Herald, April 28, 1885.
- Education, p. 186.
- Child Guidance, p. 520.
- Ibid., p. 521.
- Ibid., p. 524.