Podcast: How to Create a Plan for Family Worship (David Murray)

This article is part of the The Crossway Podcast series.

Practical Advice for Families

In this episode, David Murray, author of Exploring the Bible Together: A 52-Week Plan for Family Worship, discusses the why and how of family worship. He reflects on the impact regular family worship had on his own life as a child, shares practical advice for getting started for the first time, and highlights the three main reasons families most often fall off the bandwagon when it comes to staying consistent.

Exploring the Bible Together

Exploring the Bible Together

David Murray

This resource will help families establish and practice regular family devotions because it is realistic in its aims, it has a clear plan and direction, and it stimulates interaction with Scripture and prayer.

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Why Is Family Worship So Hard?

01:40

Matt Tully
I want to start with a simple question, Is family worship really that important? And if so, why is it so hard for us parents to do consistently with our families?

David Murray
It is hard. I think we can find a lot of excuses not to do it, or stop doing it. There are barriers to it and I think one of the biggest barriers to family worship is not understanding the why. Why should I do this? If you're just doing it because it's the thing to do, everyone else is doing it, or—

Matt Tully
I feel guilty.

David Murray
—I feel guilty when I hear of other people having one hour family worship and things like that. That's not going to sustain you—doing it out of some comparison or legalism or some motive like that. Try and keep in mind, Why am I doing this? I'm doing this for my children's salvation. It's to bring them the gospel daily. It's not to tick off Bible verses, it's not to do a rote prayer. It's in the hope and with a prayer and with the promise that God blesses his word to the salvation of souls. And I think if you can keep that in mind, even if it's short, it's gospel short—or short gospel, whatever you want to call that. So keep the why in mind. Also, you can give Bible verses as a reason to do family worship.

Does the Bible Speak into Family Worship?

03:18

Matt Tully
What do we see in Scripture on this topic?

David Murray
In the Old Testament, certainly, you've got Abraham; Moses encouraged a command for the way that they teach their children and the coming generations; you've got it in the Psalms; you've got the prophets condemning Israel for not teaching their children; you've got, more positively, Jesus's involvement with children—his bringing children to himself, his teaching them, his even using them as examples. And I think, just generally, we believe that you give the fuel and God gives the fire. So I think that there's a biblical warrant for family worship; but I still think you want to keep a gospel focus, not a commandment focus. You're doing it because you want your children to live forever with Jesus, and you want them to live for Jesus when they're here in this world from the earliest possible age. And Paul speaks of Timothy, that from a child you knew the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise to salvation. If we keep that in front of ourselves as much as we can, I think we'll find the motive is there—and the energy to do it—even when we're not seeing signs of life. It's just like a pastor preaching every Sunday—you believe God is going to bless your work.

Feeling Unequipped to Lead

04:49

Matt Tully
Some parents listening right now might be feeling like, I hardly feel like I know how to read my Bible. I hardly feel like I pray consistently. How am I supposed to lead my family, lead my wife, lead my kids and teach them how to read the Bible when I don't feel super equipped on that front right now? What would you say to that person?

David Murray
I agree that is a tough starting point when it's not there personally in your life, so I would say that is what to work on first. I don't think we are equipped to minister to others if we are not being ministered to by the Lord ourselves, blessed by his word and by his Spirit. So in that case, I would say start; start small; start short; start simple. You don't need to read a whole chapter, you don't need to pray for ten minutes even. Habit formation, in general, is to keep it short, keep it simple, and use existing resources. There are many helps so that you don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Building Habits of Family Worship

06:02

Matt Tully
I think sometimes we can feel like if I don't have family worship last long enough or if I'm using someone else's pre-designed resource there's something less beneficial or less pure about that.

David Murray
Well, it's better than nothing isn't it? You might get to that point where you can read more, pray more, and you don't need helps, but to begin we need all the help we can get. All the research into all kinds of habit formation talks about taking the smallest step possible to get you started. For people who want to start in the gym, the advice actually in James Clear's book Atomic Habits is open the front door. And then the next day, open the front door and walk to your car. And then maybe do that for a few days, but he's basically saying make it as easy as it possibly can be. And what you'll actually notice is, I'm in the car; I might as well go to the gym.

Matt Tully
What do we know about why that’s an effective way to build a new habit?

David Murray
Because everyone can do that. I'm gonna do 100 push-ups. No, you're not. You're not even going to get near the floor if you say that because you know the pain involved. But, I'm going to do one push-up. Everyone can do one push-up. So I get down on the floor. This will be done in seconds. You do a push-up. I'm here; I might as well do another.

Matt Tully
But the goal should just be that one first.

David Murray
The goal should be that one. So read one verse. One verse of Scripture—that's like a gazillion times better than zero Scripture in your life.

Matt Tully
I think that definitely rings true that you can have a big, complicated plan and then you do it once—maybe you do it twice—and then it just kind of falls apart and then you just never return to it.

David Murray
And then when you think of returning to it you think, Well, I failed all these other times, so it's just going to happen again. There's no point even trying.

Matt Tully
Yeah. Interesting.

David Murray
Start small. Think of the smallest possible thing to start.

Matt Tully
So what might that look like? Speaking to somebody who hasn't done this before with their family, what would be a baby step—an “open the door”—kind of step that they could take?

David Murray
I would say get Exploring the Bible Together. Am I allowed to say that?

Matt Tully
Yeah, absolutely!

David Murray
Yeah, this is The Crossway Podcast! This was designed especially for people in that situation. I just don't know what to do. I don't know how to start. And here's a resource that gives you a guide every day—just a few verses; a couple of questions; a short, one-line lesson; and a one-sentence prayer. You can do it probably, if you spoke quickly, in about two minutes. But the hope is that as you do it, Hey, we're here; we may as well talk a bit more, pray another line. And I know I shouldn't say this in a Crossway podcast, but you can do without Exploring the Bible Together. Open your Bible, read a verse, and even read a prayer. If you're not used to praying publicly, praying with your family, write out a prayer and just read it. Or ask your children to pray. Children can pray usually better than ourselves—they find it easier in public. Just begin and God will bless it. He'll help you, he'll amaze you, actually, I believe.

Battling Guilt and Shame

09:48

Matt Tully
When it comes to family worship, my guess is that many Christian parents—maybe even most—feel some level of guilt about how they're currently doing on that front. Maybe they've tried it, like we've said before, and they've struggled to be consistent—they've fallen off the bandwagon. I wonder, have you ever been in that situation? Have you ever felt that—like it's not going well and you just feel this kind of guilt or shame?

David Murray
You know, every time I read the Bible for myself, pray myself, do family worship, preach—I feel guilty. That's the devil. I really believe that's the devil. And I've actually taken recently to just basically saying, Shut it. Right? I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't say that. That's the way I rebuke the devil. It doesn't matter if I pray for five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes—the first thing I hear when I get up, Not long enough. You could go longer. And what does that do? I can't help but think, Oh, I know I could.

Matt Tully
Well I feel like sometimes that guilt of I didn't do it yesterday, I skipped yesterday; instead I just wanted to watch something or listen to my podcast instead; and the guilt makes me then not do it today.

David Murray
Yes, it does. Of course it does.

Matt Tully
Why do you think that is?

David Murray
And again, that's why we have to silence the devil and speak the gospel to ourselves and embrace forgiveness. Was my prayer perfect? No. Was it long enough? No. Praise God I'm forgiven. And he delights—no, more than that—it's not just it's gone, it's clear. God delights. In the Song of Solomon it speaks about God being delighted with one glance of his beloved bride. One glance. He says, I'm ravished. So try and keep that in mind, as well. If you measure this by the Puritans or the Reformers or by what you hear other people talking about family worship or personal Bible reading, you're going to feel guilty. But then you go to the Bible and you find God takes delight and pleasure with one word towards him, or one word that we listen to from him. Delight. Ravished. Overwhelmed. That's God.

Matt Tully
I think our natural way of viewing God, when we feel like we're not measuring up—we never do—we naturally think that God looks on us with some level of almost disdain or disappointment.

David Murray
Guilt is the biggest estranger from God, isn't it? I remember one time I was playing soccer with my church at youth camp and my team was down, I think, 4-1. The dinner bell went off and somebody said, Okay, let's play two more minutes and the team that scores first wins. My team had hardly kicked a ball for the last ten minutes, but basically the slate was wiped clean. Next goal is a winner. Man, all my guys were like, We're up for this! They were playing like Messi or something like that. And it was amazing. So what was the dynamic there? It was that a clean sheet—forgiven—is energizing. And I think to come to family worship with that spirit, or come to personal Bible reading with that, just start the clean sheet. I embrace forgiveness, and it's all gone. Even if I missed yesterday, even if I missed last week, even if I've missed months, let's just start with, I confess, I'm forgiven, and it's gone. We don't need to wait. We don't need to earn. We don't need to make up. We're back. We're in. We're with God. He embraces us, delights in us.

Matt Tully
That's the heart of the gospel—that's justification.

David Murray
I will heal all your backsliding. I'll love you freely.

Matt Tully
So guilt is one of those reasons that we can fall off the bandwagon, and stay off the bandwagon, on this front; but what are some of the other things that you think can make family worship not work well?

David Murray
I think the most common thing is actually a lack of planning—you don't actually have a plan for when you're going to do it. The fact is that again—just to go back to habit research—the more routine, the more regular something is, the more likely you are to sustain it. So that's why they say don't try and exercise three times, one hour a week because you're much more likely to stop than if you did seven times, five minutes a week.

David Murray
Don't go on binge, opposite pitch diets—like, I'm going to cut all this for two weeks. Just make a fractional adjustment every day.

Matt Tully
So less, but more frequently.

David Murray
Exactly. Yeah. So again, to go back to habit research, James Clear in Atomic Habits talks of habit stacking and the best way to build a habit is to attach a habit to an existing habit. So for example, if you say, I want to make a habit of flossing my teeth. Well, attach it to tooth brushing, then,

Matt Tully
All the dentists are cheering.

David Murray
And I'm a total hypocrite. But anyway. So this is something you're doing every day in a way, and so you use the existing habit as a trigger to add a habit. So for example, Bible reading. What do you do every day that you can build this habit on top of? Not just, Okay, we're going to have it at 8:00 every night or 3:00, or whatever. The most common is meal time, isn't it? So a family meal time—whether that's at 6:30 or 7:00 or if it's varying—there's always a meal time; and therefore, as soon as we've finished our main course or dessert or after coffee—whatever you do—start stacking that habit on top of it.

Finding Time for Family Worship

16:37

Matt Tully
So not necessarily tied to a time of day, then; it's more of an event?

David Murray
Yes, more of an event. Usually it'll be around at the same time; but in my house it can be supper at 5:00, sometimes 5:30, sometimes 6:00.

Matt Tully
It seems like that's actually probably pretty typical for us these days—different job schedules and school activities.

David Murray
And don't aim for perfection. So I've got four teens; sometimes they're all there—very rarely. Sometimes it's two, sometimes it's none—it's just myself, my wife, and my wee six-year-old. But whoever is there, we do it. Same time. And what we found is if we say, Let's wait until they come in later, we forget. We don't do it. Then we're laying in bed saying, Oh! We forgot! So you've got to attach it to something that you do every day and just do it regardless of who's there. But ideally you want to build a culture of this is the one time of the day when the family comes together—even just having a family meal is good family practice—but we join the with the gospel and prayer.

Understanding the Benefits of Family Worship

17:47

Matt Tully
So we talked about the danger of not having a plan and we already hit on the danger of having an unrealistic plan—too much that we're trying to do instead of starting small—and then one other thing that you note as a reason for why we often fall off the bandwagon is that we don't understand the spiritual benefits—the real payoff of all of this. We kind of hit on that already, but what would you say to that?

David Murray
If God can take a family worship, or personal Bible reading, and bless it to salvation—he can do that and he has done that—but more often he uses it as part of a long term drip of truth into the life that ultimately he blesses. You may hear a sermon and you remember that, but without all that laid before it's unlikely that sermon would have done that. And therefore we need to really believe that even if our family worship doesn't look as if it helped anyone—we were all over the place, the kids were running everywhere, you were distracted and cold—I think it's just part of the daily drip of truth. And I think it's not just looking ahead to salvation we trust, but the protection of our children. So the beginning of wisdom is the feed of the Lord. What does family worship do? It reminds our kids of God—that he's there, that he's watching, that he's looking. And that itself can have a good restraining effect on our kids. Even if it's not salvation, it can stop them from certain habits and places and people. So there's the protective element of it. And also I think to emphasize we are here to get help. We need help. You need help. I need help. And to be really honest. Let's say if you're a dad or a mom and you're praying, just pour your heart out and show kids that you're a needy person as well. And then say to the kids, Do you have any needs that we can pray for? And it just builds a culture of we are needy, but God is a helper of the helpless.

Matt Tully
How much of the benefit of this is related to letting children see you as parents coming before God and submitting to his word and calling out to him in prayer?

David Murray
I don't think you can measure it. It's not dramatic. It's not usually world-shattering, but God has blessed it through the years in wonderful ways. Do I remember many family worships growing up? No. Half my life I didn't have, half my family didn't practice it. My dad, when I was twelve or thirteen, started it. But I certainly remember—we did it in the morning before we went to school—

Matt Tully
That's extra special.

David Murray
Yeah well, it was also extra tough though because well number one, you're really sleepy—you've just woken up.

Matt Tully
Yeah. I can hardly get my kids to eat breakfast.

David Murray
Exactly. I don't know if I would try that, but do I remember the impressions? Yes, I do. Not one specific word do I remember, but I remember we worship God. We used to do the old Scottish practice, which was kneeling. We didn't actually kneel to pray. It's a very common practice in Scottish Presbyterianism.

Logistics of Family Worship

21:42

Matt Tully
Where were you doing this? In the bedroom?

David Murray
In the living room, yeah.

Matt Tully
Just in a circle?

David Murray
Yeah, in sofas and chairs. There were five kids and my mom and my dad were there. When you're a teen, you do not want to bow your knees to God.

David Murray
It really showed me my rebellion as well. It showed me that things are not right between me and God. Did I like it? No, I didn't. I don't like it. Not when I was living a very worldly life, but it stayed with me. I can still picture it just now. I can still hear my dad praying. I can still remember the reverence with which he read the Bible. So even young kids can remember these things.

Navigating Resistance

22:33

Matt Tully
What would you say to parents who are facing children—a child, multiple children—who, whether they're just really little and they're kind of wild or maybe they're getting a little older and they're starting to have that rebellious side of them and they're starting to exert their will and they don't really want to do it, they don't want to be there, how do you know how hard to push? Do you force them to do it with the rest of the family? How do you balance that?

David Murray
You've got to use common sense first and foremost. Kids are going to mess up your routine at times, especially infants and babies. Sometimes one of you will have to leave with a kid just to allow for some peace if the kid is crying his eyes out or is going crazy. And you do ask yourself, Do they even understand? What's the point? But ask yourself, When are you going to start? The earlier you start the easier it becomes. Kids never like sitting still. But the earlier you start the more they become accustomed to it. They do actually amazingly quickly get it, that this is the time when they have to be still. With a bit of persistence—two or three weeks of it—and adjust expectations. I had four kids and the youngest was ten when my fifth child was born, so there's a bit of a gap. And so we had been having longer family worships—reading a chapter or half a chapter—but when the wee guy came along, we had to go to a verse or two. So you've got to adapt.

Matt Tully
Willing to be flexible.

David Murray
Willing to be flexible. Don't get legalistic about it. And when they could start talking we would ask them to repeat after us. So if I had ten verses to read, five kids, one or two verses each—obviously the youngest guy couldn't do it—but I would say a few words and he would say a few after me. So you just try to involve them, keep their concentration. And really, we need faith, don't we? It's just like going to church. What we found, too, actually is this is great training for sitting in church. If kids can get used to Okay, when this black book comes out, there's some special here I need to sit still for. So it does help you when you move to that stage as well. It's not automatic, but it does help.

The Role of Catechesis

25:31

Matt Tully
What role do you think chatachesis can play, or should play, in a family's worship time together—intentionally teaching kids different doctrines, often through a question and answer type of format? That was very popular hundreds of years ago and it kind of fell off of our radar for a long time, at least among low church evangelicalism, but then it seems like there's a bit of a resurgence coming where there's more awareness of the value of that. But how could that fit into this?

David Murray
What I've seen is that trying to pack that into family worship usually makes it unwieldy—too long, too demanding of the kids—and ultimately stops family worship in its entirety. I wish it wasn't so. You take Exploring the Bible Together, we actually have two questions in there everyday—one very simple for young kids, one a wee bit more applicable for older kids—but we're not getting them to memorize these questions and answers. It's just something to help interaction with the Bible. I think that's the key. You don't want it to be just read a verse and then we go. But this is a book we take seriously. We want to interact with it. We want to try and figure out what this means, how it applies. Again, you're building an expectation in that habit for kids themselves when they grew up. This is how we do the Bible, we come with an inquiring, questioning mind. So catachesis I would say is something I've tried to do on Sundays with my kids when there's more time and again, I don't try too much. So I'm working with my six-year-old just now. We do one catechism a week and one verse a week, we try and memorize.

Matt Tully
What catechism do you guys use?

David Murray
We use the Westminster. My wife's used the New City as well with the kids, and we do a new one every week for three weeks and then we do a week of revision. So it's not much, especially a young mind—it's amazing—he remembers more than I do.

Matt Tully
Yeah. We're always playing catch up to our kids.

David Murray
Yeah, we are. We motivate him so he gets five dollars every four weeks if does this.

Using Incentives to Motivate

27:52

Matt Tully
I wanted to actually ask about that: when it comes to family worship or chatachesis or even just Bible reading for our kids, trying to get them to read the Bible for themselves once they're old enough, what role should incentives play—monetary incentives? I think sometimes we can see the effectiveness of that in other areas, but it maybe feels wrong when it comes to “spiritual things.” What do you think about that?

David Murray
God uses rewards to encourage his people in obedience. He does. Usually it's a spiritual reward, that's true. But it's not only spiritual rewards. You read Proverbs. There are no guarantees, but in general there are some rewards. So I don't see any problem with rewards in general. I would hate to get to the point where that's the only reason they do it. And that's always tough with kids. My six-year-old guy, he's just Beyblade daft at the moment. You know these tops that they can spin.

Matt Tully
Say that again?

David Murray
Beyblade. B-e-y-b-l-a-d-e. I don't know why we're talking about this but anyway. Two boys here talking together. He pulls this strip and it spins and they fight one another—spinning tops, right? It's just an obsession for him. So basically, every four weeks he gets enough for a Beyblade. He came to me last week and said, “Dad, if I learn my three catechisms and three verses in one week, can I get a Beyblade at the end of the week?” They're always thinking ahead of you. So then I think we've lost sight of why we're doing this, right? So no, we're going to stick to the plan.

Matt Tully
So don't let them hack the plan necessarily.

David Murray
Yeah. But I wouldn't reward them for attending family worship. To me this is above and beyond. It's hopefully going to benefit them, but I would view basic Bible reading and to be a basic part of family life. You won't get rewarded for that. You won't get rewarded for tidying your room. You won't get rewarded for just listening to God's word. But if you're going a wee bit above and beyond, especially with young kids, I'll motivate them.

Developing Kid’s Bible Reading

30:16

Matt Tully
Speak a little bit then to Bible reading in particular. As kids get older they're able to read and we all would love to see them getting into the word on their own, just to develop that habit as well. What have you seen as effective with your own kids on that front?

David Murray
I try to encourage my children to read every day in the morning or the evening. Some of them have done both, but I don't know. It's not been very long they've done that for. I try to encourage them to read no more than they can think about. So, no point in reading two chapters, closing your Bible, then walking away. It's better to read two verses and think about it. Try and encourage them to read the Old Testament and New Testament.

Matt Tully
At the same time?

David Murray
Alternating. So work your way through say the Gospel of John, then go to Genesis or Psalms or Proverbs. Try and guide them to books that are appropriate to the age. It is very unlikely they're going to profit from Leviticus or parts of Chronicles, at least at a young age. These are all profitable parts of Scripture, but not necessarily for young people and certainly without a guide. So I would like my kids to be really familiar with the big books of Scripture. By that I don't mean size but truth-wise, that have the big mountain peaks of redemptive history. I especially want them familiar with the person and work of Christ. I'd love them in the Psalms for the devotional worship language and then the Proverbs for practical everyday living. Over their lifetime, not in a year.

Matt Tully
That's a lot to get done with in one year.

David Murray
Giving them some guidance at an early age. So just start with a Gospel. Then I think maybe go to a few psalms. And it's a big book, so maybe why don't you do the first ten psalms and then go back to the New Testament?

Bible Reading Plans

32:40

Matt Tully
What do you think about Bible reading plans where there's an assigned reading for every day?

David Murray
Again, if they're realistic. I don't use it myself because I've found that I can't keep up with most of them. And sometimes I just want to pause and think and maybe write a little bit, journal or just meditate, pray over passages. And I think to vary it is important. But I think plans, if they're realistic, can be helpful to get you started on Bible reading habits. So Exploring the Bible Together or Meeting with Jesus is a Bible reading plan which has three, four, five verses; a little bit of interaction; and a verse a week to memorize—a very realistic, appropriate to age plan. The hope is you won't need that every year for the rest of your life, but it will give you a taste, it will give you an appetite, it will give you spiritual benefit that you'll want more of and now you'll have a habit and you'll have some tools with which to approach Scripture on your own.

Pastoral Guidance

33:49

Matt Tully
What can pastors do, church leaders do, to help parents when it comes to family worship and encouraging Bible reading with their kids? It doesn't seem like that's often a big point of conversation or teaching. Do you find that to be the case?

David Murray
There's a definite discipleship gap there, but I've noticed more and more churches are really working hard to fill that gap. I was in a church in Indiana a few months ago and they have a daily text that goes out to adults and a daily text that goes out to kids with a Bible reading. When they click on the link it will take them to the YouVersion, I think—I can't remember what it goes to. But it's so simple. And it's prompted. Another church . . . actually I just got sent an e-mail by a guy who is preaching through Exploring the Bible, believe it or not.

Matt Tully
Oh, wow!

David Murray
And so he's got his congregation a copy of it. So every week there's a syncing up. And again, would you do that all your ministry, all your life? No. But as a generator of a habit, a way to get people into the Word and to get them excited. And the key is, does it spiritually benefit? You won't keep something going if there's no reward. Again, go back to habit research. If there's a reward, that will trigger the habit cycle again. So I think that churches are working harder and finding ways to keep the discipleship going beyond Sunday.

The Church’s Role

35:32

Matt Tully
It strikes me that, especially when you talk about that broader issue of habit formation, there's a lot of research, a lot of books these days on those topics. But one of the most important parts is thinking very practically about how you actually help people, make it easier for people, to take that first step or remember to do something. What role do you think churches can play in that particular element?

David Murray
Well sending that text is a great one, although it may not come at the right time. I remember in James Clear's book when he wanted to start jogging he started putting his running shoes at the front door so it was always triggering the thought, reminding him. Or he wants to start reading a bit more, so he would put a book on his pillow. So when he went to bed at night there it was. So I think a very easy prompt here would be just put a Bible beside your bed, not your phone. You can do a gazillion things on your phone.

Matt Tully
Things that probably feel a little more exciting then maybe Bible reading.

David Murray
Exactly. Yeah. So I really strongly discourage—especially young people, but not just young people—from using their phones for their Bible reading because it's almost impossible to resist the temptation. There's always the possibility of interruption and distraction. And even if it doesn't come, the possibility that it might does put your mind on a different level. You don't get down deep to think about what you're really reading about. So I think churches can help people by just giving them practical advice. Doing a realistic church reading plan. Maybe the pastor, at least at times following along with a sermon that will coincide with the reading plan, don't need to do it every Sunday. And help people by giving them questions with which to read the Bible because the key is reward. If there's no spiritual benefit it won't be kept up. But if people start feeling their hearts warmed, feeling spiritually edified, feel the presence of God with them, beginning to change their days just starting with Bible reading, or change their families . . . one of the most rewarding things I've ever had as a dad is seeing my kids start to ask questions about the Bible. That will keep me going. We had years and years-it used to really depress me—where I wouldn't answer any questions. Silence. Nothing. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And then one day, I remember it so clearly, my son started asking questions of the Bible; and the next day, and the next day. And I hope nobody has to wait as long as I did. But it can ebb and flow.

Encouragement for Perseverance

38:46

Matt Tully
How do you balance that? So you're stressing the importance of rewards and of seeing and feeling the benefit—that's how you keep going. But then there are some times when we have to do it and we don't feel it. We don't feel warm to God even personally. How do we persevere in those times?

David Murray
I think we walk by faith, not by sight, not by feeling, not by sense. So yeah, we want that feeling; we want that sense; we want that evidence; but when it's not there, to still believe that this is rewarding. And thus, when I read my Bible and I get up and there's nothing dramatic—or even anything—I still say, That was good. That was profitable. That's going to keep me from sin today. That's going to keep me close to the Lord today. I believe God's word never returns empty. So that's where faith comes in with family worship as well, that even when there's no evident reward, you have to believe that there is. It's the same with preaching and any kind of ministry. You publish, Matt. Books go out. You don't see even one percent of the return that there actually is, but you believe it.

Matt Tully
That's where it comes back to our confidence is in God's word and what he can do through his word, not in our efforts and in our activities.

David Murray
No. And his word is mighty, it's powerful.

Matt Tully
That's an encouraging truth for parents as we think about shepherding our kids, teaching them what it means to follow Jesus. It can be discouraging sometimes. It can feel like we're spinning our wheels, but there is hope there.

David Murray
And it is so good for you. I can't count the number of times my kids have asked me a question and I have no idea what the answer is. But I have to say, I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you. And so it drives you into the word and makes you approach family worship more prayerfully—Lord help me. This doesn't look good every time when I say I don't know. So I need to be more in my Bible.

Matt Tully
There's been a couple of times when I'm putting my daughter to sleep and I forget to pray with her—we say the Apostles Creed together—and she'll say, Dad, Dad! You forgot to pray! And those moments are both incredibly sweet and wonderful but also convicting. Sometimes our kids can do that to us.

David Murray
Yeah, they sure can. Don't let failures stop you. You're going to fail—you will. But don't let it stop you. Just pick up the pieces by confession, embracing forgiveness, and off you go again.

Matt Tully
Well David, thank you so much for offering parents, and frankly all believers listening today, some good counsel and wisdom and encouragement when it comes to leading our families in family worship.

David Murray
If there's one thing I'd like to say just in conclusion is approach it with excitement. That's contagious. Kids will catch it. If they see it's just a burden and a duty to you, that's not sending the right message. So say, Let's go and explore the Bible, or Let's go meet with Jesus. Just get a catchphrase or something that will over time communicate that something really positive is about to happen.


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