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The Family Altar

"You sure have good kids," Darla said to her friend Grace.  "Did you do anything special in raising the?"

"We give the praise to the Lord," Grace replied.  "Not everyone is as fortunate as we are to have children who grow up to love God.  One thing we did that some people don't do is that we started having family prayers when our first child was only 18 months old."

"Eighteen months!" Darla exclaimed.  "That's pretty young to start learning about God, isn't it?"

Grace smiled.  "Better too young than too late.  If you have a family altar with children when they are very small, they will accept the Fatherhood of God easily.  Our kids started praying as soon as they could ask us for things."

"I see," Darla said.  "I'm sure it is important, but I wouldn't know how to go about starting to have family prayers.  What did you do?"

Perhaps you, too, have seen the need to begin a time of family worship, but haven't known exactly what to include.  Some of the components of an effective family altar are:

A leader.  Since the husband is the priest-figure in his home, it is best for the father to lead the worship time.  However, in some Christian homes the father is absent or unwilling, so the mother will need to assume that role.  Perhaps, as the children grow older, each can take a turn being the leader for an evening.

Time.  Taking ten to twenty minutes in the morning or evening will not be too long for even very young children.  Just before bedtime might be good.  When kids begin school, the worship time can be lengthened.  But be flexible.  On evenings when the children are very tired, just a few minutes will suffice, without breaking the continuity of a daily worship time.

Singing.  Choruses that the children know from their Sunday School hour will help them feel comfortable and lead the family into worship.  Learning new songs for their age group is always appropriate.  Help them learn hymns, too, if the words are not to 'big' for them.

Scripture reading and memorization.  The Gospels read like a story for young children, especially if you use a modern language version.  Memorizing scripture will allow each family member to take God's Word with them throughout their day.  Even young children can memorize short passages.  As they grow older, even memorizing full chapters will not be too difficult.

Worship and thanksgiving.  Praising God for His goodness and giving thanks to Him for everyday blessings will help the family to be more grateful for each other, too.  Complimenting one another will become easier.  Giving thanks each day will help family members to be alert to the blessing of life.  No matter how difficul a family's life is, there are always reasons for which to be grateful to God.

Requests and prayer.  Children's prayer requests may seem amusing to teens and adults, but every child's plea in prayer should be taken seriously.  If a child's appeal is laughed at when he or she is small, that child may withdraw from any form of prayer or worship in adulthood.  Remind the family that God hears and answers every prayer, whether it is voiced in one's heart or at the Family Altar.


lynnmosher said...

Great tips, Sylvia! Loved it! Thanks for sharing this. Blessings!

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