Welcome to the Ask Pastor John podcast. Today we are joined by our friend, Tedd Tripp, known for his bestselling books, Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Instructing a Child’s Heart. Dr. Tripp, we often get questions in the inbox about family worship. It’s a practice many Christian families engage in together at home, but what is it, what did family worship look like for you, and what are the aims and goals of it?
Well, I think family worship is such an important thing, because it gives weight and mass to the spiritual realities you are talking to your kids about. I mean, if you are talking to your kids about the vitality of knowing and loving God and the joys of loving God and the goodness of God, it makes sense that you would spend ten or fifteen minutes in a day reading the Bible and praying together — acknowledging God and seeking God in your life as a family. So I think that it is a very, very important thing.
Read, Sing, Pray
Now in terms of what it looks like, I think of three things in the simplest terms: I want to read, sing, and pray with the kids. So I want to sing together, I want to read the Bible together and talk about the passage that we looked at, and I want to pray together. And I think you engage the kids in that. I mean, singing is such a wonderful thing, because singing puts truth into your head in memorable ways. It ties truth to rhythm and melody, and it is a great way to memorize.
We had such a fun time this summer. We were watching five of our grandchildren for a week while their parents were in England, and we rode along one day. We were driving in the car together, and we sang for probably an hour — just sang hymns from memory — and these kids had learned all these hymns that they had been singing at home with their parents. And it was great fun. They were singing away, and it was just wonderful. So I think singing is such an important part of family worship.
Second, read the Bible. You know, reading and looking at the passage and talking about it is key, and then, of course, praying and saying to the kids, “We want to pray.” We want to pray about the passage. We want to pray about any family needs we have at the moment — the whole range of things: “Daddy knows we need a new car. Let’s pray to God to help us to find a good car that we can afford that will meet our needs.” And so forth. So you are making that car-purchasing decision a matter of prayer: that God would give us wisdom and lead us to the right car.
We prayed when our kids were little. We prayed for sick cats and dogs, and I mean everything — whatever the kids were concerned about. If it was their concern, we wanted to convey to them the truth that God is concerned with the things that we are concerned about. God is good, and he loves us, and he is open to our prayers, and there is nothing too small and nothing too big to bring to God.
Bible Memory with Kids
So I think that that is a very, very valuable time. I think Scripture memorization is another great thing to add to that. We started memorizing the Psalms together, and we went through whole chapters of the Bible. I mean big chapters like, you know, the high priestly prayer. John 17 is such an important chapter, or the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13, or the whole christology there in Philippians 2: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
But we found it was very easy to memorize with kids simply by reading the passage every day. And if you read it every day, within two weeks your kids have it memorized. And, you know, a month or so later you and your wife will know it, but it is very easy to memorize with kids.
Heritage of Faithfulness
So I have found that to be an incredibly valuable thing. My personal testimony is that I was raised in a home where we always had family worship. My dad wasn’t very creative with it. All we did was read the Bible and pray. I can remember my brothers learning to read as we sat around the table reading the Bible every morning, and there were times when they stumbled through the words and had to be helped with a lot of the words, and eventually they could read them all fluidly. And we prayed together. That is all we did.
And dad made very little commentary. I mean, I think there is much more he could have done, but the fact is that we had that ten minutes every single day at the beginning of the day. That is what he chose to do: we read the Bible and prayed together. There was that acknowledgement of God and God’s place in our lives that was part of every single day. And I think that was incredibly significant for me. I think, you know, of my brother Paul and I and the opportunities of ministry that God has showered on us, and I think that in many ways that heritage has contributed enormously to our lives and to our ministry.