Family Worship Resources


William Perkins (1558-1602)

The Directory for Family Worship (Edinburgh 1647) 

Richard Baxter (1615–1691)

George Hammond (1620-1705)

Oliver Heywood (1630-1702)

John Howe (1630-1705)

Thomas Doolittle (1632-1707)

Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

Samuel Davies (1723-1761)

Family Altar (Doddridge, Bickersteth, Watts, Hamilton, Barnes, sometime in the 1700’s).

The Godly Family (various authors, from the 1700’s) 

J.W. Alexander (1804-1859)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

A.W. Pink (1886-1952)

Joel Beeke (1952-)

Donald Whitney (1954-)


Thomas Watson (1620-1686) 

  • “Another sin which has brought us low, is neglect of family worship. Religion in men’s families is brought low. There is little reading of Scripture. They more often look at a deck of cards, than a Bible. There is little praying. It is the mark of a reprobate that “he does not call upon God,” Psalm 14:4. The atheist never prays at all. The Grecians asked counsel of their pretend gods—by their oracles; the Persians—by their Magi; the Galls—by their Druids; the Romans—by their Augures. Shall pagans pray—and not Christians? Creatures, by the instinct of nature, cry to God. Psalm 147:9, “The young ravens cry to Him for food.” Prayer has no enemies, unless they are infernal spirits—and such as are near of kin to them. Keys that are often used, are bright—but if they are laid aside and never used they grow rusty. So it is with men’s hearts. If they are not used to family prayer, they will be rusted over with sin! For this, God has brought us low. Why did He pull down many houses in this city—but because they were unholy houses. There was no prayer in them. How can we think to have a blessing from God—if we never ask for it? God would be doing more for us than He did for His own Son. Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up prayers, with strong cries and tears.” (Watson, The Mischief of Sin)
  •     “How many ways may a man sin against illuminations and convictions? (1) When he lives in the total neglect of duty. He is not ignorant that it is a duty to read the Word—yet he lets the Bible lie by as rusty armor, seldom made us of. He is convinced that it is a duty to pray in his family—yet he can go days and months, and God never hears of him; he calls God Father—but never asks his blessing. Neglect of family-prayer, as it were, uncovers the roof of men’s houses, and makes way for a curse to be rained down upon their table!” (Watson, The Ten Commandments)
  •     “You say you hunger and are not satisfied? Perhaps God is not satisfied with your hunger. You have ‘opened your mouth wide’ (Psalm 81:10)—but have not ‘opened your ear’ (Psalm 49:4). When God has called you to family prayer and mortification of sin, you have, like the ‘deaf adder’, stopped your ear against God (Zechariah 7:11). No wonder then that you have not that comfortable filling as you desire. Though you have opened your mouth—you have stopped your ear. The child that will not hear his parent, is made to do penance by fasting.” (Watson, The Beatitudes)
  •     “We are a spiritual decline—when we are less troubled about sin. Time was, when the least sin grieved us, as the least hair makes the eye weep; but now we can commit sin without remorse. Time was, when we were troubled if we neglected closet prayer; now we can omit family-prayer. Time was, when vain thoughts troubled us; now we are not troubled for loose practices. Here is a sad declension in piety; and truly grace is so far from growing, that we can hardly perceive its pulse to beat!” (Watson, A Body of Divinity)

Thomas Boston (1676-1732)

  • Boston mentions Family Worship 23 times in his memoirs.
  • “The neglect of family worship, and prayers particularly, Jeremiah 10:25 [is a lamentable thing]. Christian families should be churches, wherein God should be worshipped. It is the sin of the whole family, especially of the heads thereof, when it is neglected. I say the whole, because it must needs be offensive to God, that while his worship lies neglected in a family, there is none there willing to take it up, and supply the defect. Besides, there is a neglect of it, where it is performed, viz. when any members of the family neglect to join therein, but unnecessarily absent themselves, or being present do not join in their hearts with the speaker.” (Boston, Volume 2 of his works)
  • “Hindering family-worship [is a breaking of the second commandment]; which may be done many ways; as by a too eager and unseasonable pursuit of worldly business, till neither time nor strength is left for it; shuffling it off by this and the other thing that is to be done, and not watching the season for it; strife and contention in families, especially betwixt husband and wife, 1 Peter 3:7, any member of the family drawing back, and creating disorder.” (Boston, Volume 2 of his works)
  • “True religion is not all exposed to the view of others. Attending on public ordinances in the church, and going the round of family-worship, is not that in which the whole of religion consists: for many may be diligent enough in these exercises, and yet strangers to vital heart-religion. But they that are truly religious in the eye of God, are such who not only perform outward duties, but worship God in spirit, and hold communion and intercourse with him in secret prayer, without which they can no more live, than without bread and water.” (Boston, Volume 2 of his works)
  • “[Christians spur one another on to love and good works by] Appointed private meetings of several Christians together, for prayer and Christian conference for their mutual edification, provided it mar not family-worship, nor be improved to the prejudice of public ordinances, as they are warranted by the word of God, so might be of good use (if rightly improved) to the advancement of religion, Acts 12:12; Malachi 3:16; Colossians 3:16. By this means Christians might improve both in gifts and grace, in knowledge and love, and they have been blessed of God to these holy ends unto many: and ordinarily, in parishes where the gospel begins to thrive, they are set up almost as naturally as the birds draw together in the spring; and, where the gospel work is going back, they decay, owing their fall, either to coldrifeness in God’s matters creeping in, or to the fiery heat of division.” (Boston, Volume 3 of his works)
  • “Of reproof to several sorts of persons. And, 1. To those who make no conscience of propagating religion to their families, among their children and servants. Every man is, by divine appointment, the prophet of his own family to teach them, the priest to worship God with them, and the king to rule them. Each will maintain his own authority to his power; but family worship, with many, is not so closely stuck to, but family teaching least of all, which is yet commanded of God: Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down and when thou risest up.” The want of this makes ministerial teaching in preaching and examination so unsuccessful. How will men answer this neglect of the special business of life?” (Boston, Volume 5 of his works)
  • “We must also follow the worship of the Lord—The secret worship of the Lord by ourselves alone: Matthew 6:6, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Secret prayer is a duty which they who are exercised unto godliness cannot live without, a duty in which communion with God is as readily to be had as in any other: and though there may be prayers in your family, yet, if you know your duty, you will also pray in your closet—Family prayer: “Pour out,” says the prophet, “thy fury upon the heathen, and upon the families that call not upon thy name.” [Jeremiah 10:25] What do prayerless families but expose themselves to the wrath of God? Every house should be a church. We receive family mercies, and are chargeable with many family sins; why not then family worship? And do they follow the Lord fully that have their family worship? They will worship God at night, but not in the morning. Complain not of want of time, others in your circumstances get time when they have a heart to it—Next, internal worship, without which all your external worship will be to no purpose. There is no following of the Lord fully, if that be wanting: Philippians 3:3, “We are the circumcision, that worship God in the spirit;” that is, in the exercise of grace with external worship; fear, reverence, faith, hope, love, and other holy affections, which are the life and soul of worship.” (Boston, Volume 9 of his works)
  • “Particularly the communion with God is to be sought and kept up, . . . 2. In family prayer, Acts 10:2-3. Never one that gives Christ heart-room, but they will be willing to give him house-room too. And there are none that walk with God themselves, but they would fain all their family walked with God too, Joshua 24:15. And there are none who have gone about it seriously, but must say, that family worship is an ordinance in which God is to be found. Prayerless families are in a dangerous condition; they are as if the owners should uncover the roofs of them, that wrath may be showered down on them; Jeremiah 10:25, “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name.” And I think if people were walking with God in family-duties, they would not lay by the morning-exercise, as many of you do. And what is it that hinders it? What but the weary world? Ye cannot get time for it, because of your business. But are ye not afraid of God’s curse on that business that shuts out his worship? And if it should thrive, ye take the way to get leanness to your souls. It looks not like walking with God to stand off from family worship, till they have no other thing ado, and it is a graceless-like thing to offer only that time to God that costs you nothing.” (Boston, Volume 10 of his works)
  • “Of reproof to those that, being come to years of discretion, . . . Those that pray now and then only, as it suits with their conveniency. Some will pray on the Sabbath-day, when they have no other thing to do. Sometimes they are in a good mood, and take a start of praying; at other times they will rise from bed, and go to it, without ever bowing a knee to God. They will pray at even, but not at morn. Some cannot be got to set up the worship of God in their families in the morning, others for several days in a week have no family worship, sometimes in the year in the throng of business. Let conscience say, if that be “praying without ceasing.” Is it not a contempt of God in his worship; and like the hypocrite; Job 27:10, of whom it is said, “Will he always call upon God?”” (Boston, Volume 11 of his works)
  • “Forasmuch as every Christian family ought to be a church, Romans 16:5, to receive all ordinances appointed of God, and competent to them in their family capacity; and that religious fasting is an ordinance of divine appointment, in the nature whereof there is nothing to hinder its being performed by a family in their family capacity, it is evident that family fasting and humiliation is a part of family worship; namely, an extraordinary part thereof, to be occasionally performed. Accordingly, it is promised, as an effect of the pouring out of the Spirit; Zechariah 12:12, “The land shall mourn, every family apart.” We have also a plain instance of it, in Esther’s family, on the occasion of the mischievous decree against the Jews, procured by Haman; Esther 4:16, “I also and my maidens will fast likewise.” And the fasting of the Jews, on the same occasion, in every province whithersoever that decree came, mentioned Esther 4:3, seems to have been mostly, if not altogether, of the same kind, to wit, family fasting; not only in respect of their circumstances in these provinces, where they were dispersed, Esther 3:8, but also, that the thanksgiving for their deliverance was appointed to be “kept throughout every family,” Esther 9:28.” (Boston, Volume 11 of his works)

Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575)

  • “Let the father at home examine his children, and know what they have learned from hearing the sermon. Let both the father and mother also at home privately do their endeavour to teach their children the ten commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s prayer; and let them teach them a brief and ready rule out fo the scriptures for the understanding of the sacraments. Let them often and many times cause them to repeat the catechism, and beat into their heads such sentences as are most necessary to put them in memory of their faith and duty of life.” — Heinrich Bullinger, Decades (2.5, p. 291)
  • “Let the father place his children with expert and cunning workmen, to teach them some handycraft whereby to get their living another day. But first, he must make trial of their wits, to see whereunto every one is best apt, and wherein he doth most delight . . . If thou hast any fit for learning, though shalt do a good and godly deed, to train them up to the ministery of the church, or some othe roffice that standeth by learning” — Heinrich Bullinger, Decades (2.5, p. 294)

John Knox (1577), ‘A most wholesome counsel how to behave ourselves in the midst of this wicked generation, touching on the daily exercise of God’s most holy and sacred word’, a letter, in Selected Writings of John Knox  1577

  • “[D]ear brethren, if you look for a life to come, of necessity it is that you exercise yourselves in the book of the Lord your God.  Let no day slip or want some comfort received from the mouth of God.  Open your ears, and He will speak even pleasant things to your heart.  Close not your eyes, but diligently let them behold what portion of substance is left to you within your Father’s testament.  Let your tongues learn to praise the gracious goodness of him, whose mere mercy has called you from darkness to life.  
        Neither yet may you do this so quietly that you admit no witness.  No, brethren, you are ordained of God to rule your own houses in his true fear, and according to his word.  Within your houses, I say, in some cases, you are bishops and kings; your wife, children, servants, and family are your bishopric and charge.  Of you it shall be required how carefully and diligently you have instructed them in God’s true knowledge, how you have studied to plant virtue in them, and [to] repress vice.  And therefore I say, you must make them partakers in reading, exhorting, and in making common prayers, which I would in every house were used once a day at least.  But above all things, dear brethren, study to practice in life that which the Lord commands, and then be you assured that you shall never hear nor read the same without fruit.  And this much for the exercises within your homes.”

William Perkins, Oeconomie: or, Household-Government, in Works 3:670,
“Those families wherein this service of God [family worship] is performed, are (as it were) little churches, yea, even a kind of Paradise upon earth.”

An Exposition of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, in The Works of William Perkins, volume 1, ed. Stephen Yuille, Reformation Heritage Books, 2014, p. 448-9,
“But masters of families especially must look to the practice of this duty, and labor to bring God’s kingdom into their families.  For this end they must see to these things:
    First, that there be no manifest or open sin permitted in their families.  Rid your house of such a person, if you cannot reform him (Ps. 101:7). 
    Secondly, instruct your family in the way of the Lord, that they may know to live righteously and uprightly both before God and man
    Thirdly, set up and maintain the private worship of God in your family, join you with them in holy duties, especially in daily calling upon the name of God.
    In regard of these and such like duties it is that the Scripture ascribes salvation to a family [Luke 19:9], where the master or the governor of the house is converted to the faith.  And for the practice hereof, the holy patriarchs are commended to all posterity [Gen. 18:19; 35:2; Josh. 24:15].”

Samuel Rutherford, Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul’s Presbytery in Scotland, 1642, London. Ch. 20, Whether or not the government of the Church of Scotland can be proved by God’s Word to be lawful? Article 13, Private Worship.

  • “The worship of God is commanded by our Assemblies to be in private families, as catechizing by the master of the family, or some other better gifted in every family, Deut. 6:6-8; Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:1,2,3; 2 Tim. 3:15, praying, Zech. 12:10.
        Also singing of Psalms is commanded by our Church in families, as Ex. 29:39; Psal. 55:17; Eph. 5:18-20, and house-discipline, as Job 1:3; Deut. 21:18; Ps. 101:7, and private fasting in families, Neh. 1:4; Esth. 4:16; Zech. 12:11.”

Nathaniel Holmes  1599–1678, Gospel Music, or the Singing of David’s Psalms, 1644, p. 12

  • “Every well minded family by singing can make themselves a little church. And every church make themselves a little heaven.”

George Hamond, The Case for Family Worship, p. xiii

  • “When you thoroughly search into the Scripture grounds and reasons for family worship, you will find them to be as strong and prevalent to establish daily worship as the worship itself. For you may observe that our blessed Savior, giving directions about prayer, prescribed this petition: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Here it is evident that daily bread must be daily asked for. It is not then sufficient that we pray for bread once a month, once a week, or every three or two days, but this must be done every day. And I doubt not but every serious person believes daily grace to be as valuable and necessary as daily bread, and that our souls want supplies as well as our bodies. I am willing to hope that family worship (of which prayer is an essential part) will be sufficiently asserted in the discourse to follow, and, if so by our Savior’s determination, there must be daily family prayer.”

John Angier  1605–1677, Help to Better Hearts for Better Times

  • “The more we worship God in secret, the fitter shall we be for family worship, and the more we worship God in our families, the fitter shall we be for public worship.”

Philip Henry (father of famous puritan commentator Matthew Henry).

“Those do well that pray morning and evening in their families, those do better that pray and read the scriptures, but those do best that pray and read and sing the psalms.”

Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory, in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 1, p. 427

  • “Family reformation is the easiest and the likely way to a common reformation; at least to send many souls to heaven, and train up multitudes for God, if it reach not to national reformation.”

Wilhelmus A’Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 3, pp. 464-465

  • “First, the time of prayer, considered in a general sense, is every day, every opportunity — always. Specific times of prayer are when we engage in it corporately — be it in public gatherings, in private gatherings, or in our individual family worship which ought to be conducted in every Christian family. This ought to occur both morning and evening, and if the opportunity permits it, also at noon. At this time the father — or if he is absent or unable to do this, the mother — must read a chapter, speak about it, catechize children and servants, sing a psalm together, and bow and offer prayer — all in accordance with the ability the Lord grants each one. Joshua desired to serve the Lord with his house (Josh. 24:15), and Cornelius feared God with all his house (Acts 10:2).  One must make of his home a small church, for then the Lord will bless the home. Children and servants will learn to fear the Lord and thus will experience salvation. It will beget mutual love, there will be mutual respect, restraining everyone from sin, and one will exemplify godliness to each other and follow each other in this way. We must make use of all these opportunities, and take them into consideration, both when praying and when following the example of others.”

Francis Fontaine (1697-1749) and Peter Fontaine (1691-1759).
The Fontaines were two of the first ministers at the French Huguenot Church at Manakin-towne, Virginia, near Richmond.  This excerpt is from a letter cited in Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, 1607-1861, Vol. 1, p. 16

  • In the year 1700 great numbers of Huguenots [French reformed Christians] landed in America; some on the James River, and some on the Rappahanock.  They selected for their place of residence the Manikin Town… There the Huguenots built a house for the worship of God in the center of the settlement.  Here they had worship twice a day on the Sabbath, conducting the service after the manner of the Germans.  Such sweet singing [of psalms] I have never heard since.  They kept up worship in their families three times a day.

Robert Burns, “The Cotter’s Saturday Night”

The cheerfu’ supper done, wi’ serious face, 

They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;

The sire turns o’er, with patriarchal grace,

The big ha’bible, ance his father’s pride:

His bonnet rev’rently is laid aside,

His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;

Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,

He wales a portion with judicious care;

And “Let us worship God!” he says with solemn air.

They chant their artless notes in simple guise, 

They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim; 

Perhaps Dundee’s wild-warbling measures rise; 

Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name; 

Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame; 

The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays: 

Compar’d with these, Italian trills are tame; 

The tickl’d ears no heart-felt raptures raise; 

Nae unison hae they with our Creator’s praise.

The priest-like father reads the sacred page, 

How Abram was the friend of God on high; 

Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage 

With Amalek’s ungracious progeny; 

Or how the royal bard did groaning lie 

Beneath the stroke of Heaven’s avenging ire; 

Or Job’s pathetic plaint, and wailing cry; 

Or rapt Isaiah’s wild, seraphic fire; 

Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.

Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme, 

How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed; 

How He, who bore in Heaven the second name, 

Had not on earth whereon to lay His head: 

How His first followers and servants sped; 

The precepts sage they wrote to many a land: 

How he, who lone in Patmos banished, 

Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand, 

And heard great Bab’lon’s doom pronounc’d by Heaven’s command.

Then, kneeling down to Heaven’s Eternal King, 

The saint, the father, and the husband prays: 

Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,”^1 

That thus they all shall meet in future days, 

There, ever bask in uncreated rays, 

No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear, 

Together hymning their Creator’s praise, 

In such society, yet still more dear; 

While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere

C.H. Spurgeon, “A Pastoral Visit”, p. 362-363

  •     “If we want to bring up a godly family, who shall be a seed to serve God when are heads are under the clods of the valley, let us seek to train them up in the fear of God by meeting together as a family for worship
        We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children?
        Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves ‘holiness unto the Lord’; so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.”

James Campbell, from Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, 1607-1861, Vol. 1, p. 37, cited in Kerry Ptacek, Family Worship: Biblical Basis, Historical Reality, Current Need, p. 57 

  • “Their custom of family worship also kept the faith alive. Children learned the catechism from their elders and the church officers examined them frequently on it. Before each hearth where there was reverence for the forms of the Scottish church the whole family read the Bible aloud every day and repeated the Shorter Catechism.”

Abraham Van De Velde

The Wonders of the Most High: A 125 Year History of the United Netherlands 1550-1675

  • “All parents, fathers, mothers, must take care that they are a good example to their children and families, that they express God’s holy truth in their lives. Godly examples are like the soul of the doctrine to children. Are parents desirous for their children to be religious, love God’s Word, pray much to the Lord, be humble, sober, friendly, modest, righteous; let the parents be a good example, for therewith God’s truth will be pressed into their hearts. ‘For’, says Plutarchus, ‘the life of the parents is like a mirror, and by its light the children will refrain from evil.’ Plutarch. de liber. educat.
        A particular powerful method to gain this end is that family devotions are well taken care of in the home, as reading of God’s Word, fervent prayers, singing of psalms, necessary reprimands, teaching of the catechism, and summarizing sermons. We must take care that our families are little Churches, like those of Priscilla and Aquila, of Cornelius and others, Rom. 16: 5; Acts 10. For by continuous exercise the hearts of the members are influenced to love and obey the Word of the Lord.”

Ekklesia Muskogee is a reformed baptist church that gathers for worship in Muskogee, Oklahoma. We confess the 1689 second London baptist confession of faith. We affirm the five solas of the Reformation as well as the doctrines of grace (otherwise known as the five points of Calvinism), and each of our pastors would not be ashamed to be called a Calvinist. We are a church led by elders, of which there is a plurality (also called pastors and overseers in the Scriptures). Our mission is to make disciples, love cities, and plant churches.