the LORD your God
all your might.
shall be on your heart.
when you sit in your house and
when you walk by the way and
when you lie down
and when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall write them on the
doorposts of your house
and on your gates.”
A few years ago, my husband and I felt compelled to begin making time to gather as family for worship and prayer each week. While we have not always consistently maintained this habit, each and every time we do take the time to join together to seek His presence, the Lord faithfully meets us and ministers to our hearts. Typically, we begin in worship, then follow it with the sharing of the Word and a short time of prayer.
What follows is a testimony about our very first time gathering for family fellowship.
…As we lifted our voices for worship, the children marched around the living room, accompanying my guitar with their shakers and tambourines, and what joy was in it!
A few songs in, I began playing “I Cast All My Cares Upon You,” one of the childrens’ favorites.
As we all sang, my husband and I noticed Eden (then age 5) was creating motions to accompany the words we were singing.
At “I lay all of my burdens, down at your feet…” her arms swept down, down, down the the floor, where she kneeled…
“And anytime, I don’t know, wha-at to do…” Out she lifted her questioning hands. . .
“I will cast all my cares upon You…”
As we sang these last words to finish the song, we watched our girl stretch out on the living room floor in a prostrate/kneeling position before the Lord…and stay there.
Totally spontaneously, and without a word, Christian and I both moved to join her there, and then invited the squirmy boys to join the circle too.
On our knees or lying down, we all held hands with our faces down to the ground…and we prayed together.
Do you know what beautiful, simple prayers come from the mouths of 3 and 5 year olds?
To hear my little boy thank the Lord for his daddy “always workin’ hard” and requesting that his brother learn to share with him (Ha!) …and his gratitude for about 20 of his favorite toys …
Then listening to our daughter’s heart cry out in faith for an unsaved family member to come to know and love Jesus…
Oh, I just could not stop the tears from flowing!
This sacred & unplanned moment in His Presence was one of the most beautiful “church services” I’ve experienced of late.
We lingered a few moments in prayer there together as a family before declaring our Amens, but this time of prayer has become the focus of our time of family fellowship with the Lord.
At some point each time we meet, the children will come running to the middle of the living room floor, and together we “take our place on our face” before the Lord.
I don’t think I have to tell you how powerful this is.
Can I encourage you, along with your spouse, to commit some time each week, as a family, to enter into His Presence, if you don’t already do so?
It doesn’t need to be overly structured–just allow the Lord to direct it.
The important thing is to set it apart unto HIM.
If your kids are little, it won’t take long. And it may be awkward at first.
But you know what?
It will be HOLY.
Yes, even though the children will squirm and fuss at first (our first week, Joshua spent half of our gathering in time-out), it will still be holy unto Him.
You will be BLESSED.
…In ways you did not expect or plan for.
Watch as the simple story you read to your children penetrates your heart afresh.
But most importantly, He will be GLORIFIED.
And HE is most worthy!
As our kids grow, we hope to teach them the WAYS of the Lord–including the importance of what it means to BE the Church as opposed to only “going to” a church building, or “doing” a church routine.
You hardly have to look past your own street or neighborhood to find a multitude of ministry opportunities available for you as a family. There are so many ways to encourage and bless fellow believers as well as reaching out to those who are simply in need of a helping hand.
How about the new mama who just had a baby, or the elderly neighbor who just had surgery?
They could probably use a meal or a plate of cookies. . . or even just a visit.
We have a nursing home RIGHT here in our neighborhood where we visit twice a month as a family with dozens of precious seniors, sharing the love of Jesus in the simplest of ways…singing worship songs at their bedside, making sparkly beaded bracelets and necklaces together, or sharing a homemade baked treat.
The opportunities are limitless if your eyes, ears and heart are open.
Pray about how the Lord would use you to be the church right where you’re at.
Does anyone know there is a church at YOUR address? ‘Cause if you live there, there is!
But before your neighborhood, and before your street, it starts right in your home.
Teaching our children the WAYS of the Lord comes first by LIVING that example in front of them, in everyday things, in ordinary ways.
They notice how you respond when you have to wait in a long line.
They hear your road rage.
They pick up on gossip.
They remember ungodly attitudes and hurtful words yelled at spouses, or at them.
Even if I SIGH too loud, my daughter immediately asks me what’s wrong. They notice everything.
They also pick up on your kindness and tenderheartedness.
They see when you open up the Word, and will want to find their Bibles and “read” too.
Eventually (if you make prayer a discipline) they’ll even find you in your prayer closet–and will mimic you in that, too. I’ll never forget when I came into Eden’s room several years ago, and was immediately alarmed when I saw her lying prostrate on the floor, only to have her look up and assure me “I’m just prayin’ mom.”
Your kids notice the way you speak to your husband.
Is kindness and respect on your tongue?
When they hear you say “I love you” to him, they are made to feel secure and loved.
The point is, your formal family gathering should reinforce what is happening informally and on a daily basis in your home. THAT’s what Duet. 6 is talking about when it says:
“Impress [these commandments] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
It’s a day-in, and day-out kind of thing, isn’t it?
You have probably seen or are familiar with the Jewish tradition of placing a mezuza upon the doorpost…and of the wearing of phylacteries, or tefillin. The use of these symbols is an outward, and literal response to this ancient command from Deut. 6.
What spiritual lessons can we draw from the binding of the Word of the Lord upon our HANDS and FOREHEADS, and upon our DOORPOSTS and GATES?
Indeed, there is no area of our hearts and lives that should not be fully infiltrated by His Presence!
Ask Him to sanctify, or set apart your whole life as an offering of praise and adoration–then honor Him corporately by coming together into His Presence as a family.
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