This is a powerful excerpt from a short book, “Family Worship” by the Swiss minister and historian, J. Merle D’Aubigne (1794–1872). This book is available at the link below for free from our friends at Chapel Library. The book explores the proper motives for family worship and provides sound guidance for the venerable practice:
Parents! If your children do not meet with a spirit of piety in your houses; if, on the contrary, your pride consists in surrounding them with external gifts, introducing them into worldly society, indulging all their whims, letting them follow their own course, you will see them grow vain, proud, idle, disobedient, impudent, and extravagant!
They will treat you with contempt; and the more your hearts are wrapped up in them, the less they will think of you. This is seen but too often to be the case. But ask yourselves if you are not responsible for their bad habits and practices; and your conscience will reply that you are; that you are now eating the bread of bitterness that you have prepared for yourself. May you learn thereby how great has been your sin against God in neglecting the means which were in your power for influencing their hearts. And may others take warning from your misfortune, and bring up their children in the Lord!
Nothing is more effectual in doing this than an example of domestic piety. Public worship is often too vague and general for children, and does not sufficiently interest them. As to the worship of the closet, they do not yet understand it. A lesson learned by rote, if unaccompanied by anything else, may lead them to look upon religion as a study like those of foreign languages or history. Here, as everywhere, and more than elsewhere, example is more effectual than precept.
They are not merely to be taught out of some elementary book that they must love God, but you must show them God is loved. If they observe that no worship is paid to that God of Whom they hear, the very best instruction will prove useless. But by means of family worship, these young plants will grow “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither” (Psa 1:3). Your children may leave the parental roof, but they will remember in foreign lands the prayers of the parental roof, and those prayers will protect them.