FAMILY ALTAR TIME
(Family Bible Study Time)
The title "family altar" simply means family Bible study and worship time. Every Christian family should have such a time daily. It is amazing how few families really take this seriously and practice this routinely. It is the best guarantee to have Christian children with good moral standards that do not drift through the teen years, to have a family that has a witness for Christ in the community, and to have a family that takes the church seriously and enjoys going to all the services.
It is well to remember the Great Command that the Lord gave to Israel.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and 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" (Deut. 6:4-7).
Worship of the Lord is first of all vertical and then horizontal and begins in the home and takes in the whole family.
I. What Is the Purpose of the Family Altar?
II. Practical Suggestions That May Be of Help.
- To worship God together and learn more of His ways. What could be a better purpose. Children should learn to worship God in their early years that they might have respect for Him in the later years. They need to learn how to regard Him and to realize that He is the Creator, Holy, and to be honored in all that we say and do.
- To honor God's Word, develop respect for it, and to live by it. James says, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22). Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Home is a good place to practice the exhortation, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16). In these days when we have put the Bible out of our schools, we need to put it back in our homes and teach our children from it.
- To establish the family in the faith, personal convictions, and doctrine. Children and young people need convictions to stand up against their peers. They must understand their faith and know something of good Bible doctrine so they know what they believe and why. The home makes a good Bible school where the children can be grounded as they face the humanistic, evolutionary philosophy of our modern society.
- To pray over family problems and needs, burdens the children may have, and that they may have confidence in the God that answers prayer in the everyday things of life. All the members of the family have personal needs. It would be good if they could learn to share them openly and take them before the Lord together. There are school needs, boy and girl friend problems, problems with play mates, character problems such as timidity and fears of all kinds, questions about amusements, finances. Teenagers have deep needs and hate to express them for fear of being misunderstood or embarrassed. Their problems are big problems to them and must be considered. Mom and Dad have needs of all kinds. Financial needs, Dad's work needs, the car, moving, and all kinds of things can be prayed through with God. All the family needs to know they can have confidence in Him and that He will hear and answer prayer.
- To pray and intercede for others such as the pastor, missionaries, sick folk, unsaved loved ones, the neighbors, fellow believers in need, the church, our leaders, the shut-ins, those who are in trials or going through persecutions. Children who can learn to pray openly at home will have no problem praying publicly in the church weekly prayer meetings as they grow.
III. Possible Methods That May Be Used.
- Search out methods that will appeal to all age levels in the family. Different ages have different interests and what may appeal to one will not appeal to another.
- Vary the methods so as to keep family time from being boring and from being cold routine. Interest for all should be maintained so monotony does not kill it.
- Do not make it a time of forced listening to the Bible, of bitter participation, or unhappy endurance while you drone through whole chapters of the Bible beyond family comprehension and then drag the family through a long dry, routine prayer. If they participate in bitterness, they will abhor the family altar time.
- Make it a delightful, happy, interesting time filled with enthusiasm so that the whole family looks forward to it with real expectancy.
- Do not make it so long that the children despise the time it takes. Better have it short and sweet, vital and satisfying, so their appetites hunger for more.
- Let all participate and become involved. Those that can read should take turns in reading as well as in prayer. Even the little tots can say a few words in prayer even if they cannot read. They can be taught songs in which all can take part.
- Take time for discussion, answering questions, solving problems, and for self expression. All have some. Children especially are inquisitive and want to know.
- Do not spend time in criticizing or gossiping. There is nothing that will sour the whole thing more than engaging in tearing something or someone apart. This is not time to air church problems unless for a matter of prayer. Make sure that you do not have roast preacher. Remember it is a worship time.
- Let the children that are old enough conduct the family worship time some time either in the whole or in part. Let them do it their way and express themselves. It will create interest in it for them. This is also a good way to develop them spiritually and in self confidence. They should be encouraged in what they do or say and not be belittled.
- Have the family altar when it is most convenient for all. Supper time is usually best for all before the various activities of the evening begin.
- Paragraph Bible study. Rather than read a whole chapter at a time which may be quite long and hard to retain, do just a paragraph a day. Let all the members of the family suggest a title to the paragraph according to its content. Let each one list some things they observe in the paragraph such as places, people, things, special words, etc. This can be great fun for the children and a real challenge to all. It is like observing things in a room or in an automobile ride. When you have gone through the paragraph like that, then investigate spiritual lessons that may be learned. Let each one make it personal and tell what they have learned for themselves.
- Read Bible stories from the Bible. They supply answers to different family needs and give a challenge to spiritual living. Bible Children Stories and Children's Bible Read Online and Wee One's Bible Stories.
- Go through the miracles of Christ. You could do one a night and learn something about Christ from each miracles and especially let each one learn something for himself. Study the miracle as to where it was, the occasion, what happened, who was involved, and then personal lessons.
- Study Bible characters. This can be good for a different kind of study for the sake of variety. Read about the character in the Bible and study his weak and strong points and discuss how you may learn something from him or her. You can see yourself in Bible characters and learn many precious lessons.
- Study Bible doctrine. Everyone should know the basic doctrines of the Bible. All the family should be grounded in the truth. You could follow the doctrine by means of a good concordance or perhaps taken from a book on basic doctrines of the Bible.
- Bible book study. This might be more difficult and might be better for older ones rather than children. Take one Bible book at a time and find out its theme, major divisions, lessons, key chapters and ideas, etc. You can check at your Church library for resources for younger children.
- Great chapters of the Bible may be used. If not done this way, one can go through a Bible book chapter by chapter. To read a chapter a day could well be done if the children are not too young so they can comprehend. Learn the key verse in the chapter, get the key word, study any special promises, see how Christ is seen, look at the important doctrine in the chapter, break the chapter down into its paragraph parts if you can to get the structure of the chapter, study what sins should be avoided and what things a person should do and what lessons can be learned.
- Devotional books for various age levels. You can buy such books in a local Christian book store, your Church Library or send for some from a Christian publishing house. They are written for various age levels. Children enjoy these and find them very interesting. There are books for primaries, juniors, teens, etc. and use discernment in selecting titles. . You can read the story in the Bible, answer questions about it, and memorize a weekly Bible verse. On our site on our Devotional Guide Page there is a lot of resources for a family altar time.
- Major verses. This is a good method for variety. Just take a verse a night for a period of time and scrutinize it as to what it means for each one. For example, you might take a series of verses on great promises in the Bible such as on prayer, salvation, victorious living, Christ's second coming. Try to memorize the verse.
- Bible games. This can be very interesting and add challenge to the family altar and can be very appealing to the young folks and keep the family altar time from being boring. Use Bible games that teach a lesson and from which you may learn something helpful for Christian living. On our www.biblesnet.com Fun Stuff there are games for children and adults. The Bible Trivia Quiz is different each day, so come back often.
- Have a map study. After all, salvation is also geographical and children might learn where certain countries, rivers, and mountains are and what happened there such as the law on Mt. Sinai, crossing the Red Sea, and Christ walking on the water. Show them where it took place and draw some lessons from it. Check out our Bible Maps and Atlas on our web site www.biblesnet.com.
- Use pictures. This is a wonderful way to interest children. Many Bible story books have many pictures in them that tell a story for the child. Check out our Bible in Pictures, and Bible Illustrations by Dore and Bible Photos on www.biblesnet.com
- Object lessons. Visual aids of all kinds can be used. Be creative and use whatever object you may have handy to teach a Bible truth. Christ readily used object lessons such as the sheep and goats, the rock, water in the well of Samaria, etc. There is no end to object lessons. Check out Bible in Pictures and Bible Illustrations by Dore on Biblesnet.com.
- Read short biographies of godly servants of the Lord Jesus: missionaries, evangelists, pastors, etc. Good sources are available on our web site www.biblesnet.com on this page Biographies.
- Listen to dramatized biographies of godly servants of the Lord Jesus available from on Audio, MP3 CDs. The following are recommended for all ages: James Chalmers, Franny Crosby, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Moffat, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, William Tyndale. The following are recommended for young adult and older: John Bunyan, George Mueller, John Newton, Charles H. Spurgeon. Check out our Audio Video Section on www.biblesnet.com.
- Read wholesome short stories. Let each member of the family who can read take a turn reading. A great source available on our web site www.biblesnet.com is Christian Stories for all ages. The Christian Story is different each day, so come back often. Excellent to use for a daily devotion, especially with computer savvy children or print out for daily devotion.
- Have a Scripture memorization program during the summer months. Even a 3-4 year old can learn ten verses during the summer if you select the right verses, and by the time a child is five years old, he can learn Psalm 23. Try it, make it fun, and you will be amazed at what your family can accomplish! A great source available on our web site www.biblesnet.com is Today's Promises, Today's Verse, Today's Psalm's, and Today's Proverb's and a Daily Morning and Evening Devotional for all ages. This section God's Promises is different each day, so come back often. Excellent to use for a daily devotion, especially with computer savvy families or print out for daily devotion.
- Use songs and always sing if possible. Have a hymnal for each member of the family. Learn the great hymns of the faith. You can also teach from the songs that are sung and there are stories behind the hymns if you investigate them. Check out our Audio's/Video's and check out our Music on www.biblesnet.com.
- Listen to sermons of fundamental preachers/evangelists/teachers on audiocassettes. which contains preaching by John R. Rice, Bill Rice, Curtis Hutson, Lester Roloff, Bob Jones, Sr., J. Frank Norris, Paul Levin, Harold Sightler, Harry Ironside, G. B. Vick, Oliver B. Greene, and B. R. Lakin. The Lord can use His preached Word in the lives of each family member. Check out our Audio Video Section on www.biblesnet.com. The audio sermons is different each day, so come back often. Please bookmark www.biblesnet.com.
- Read God's Word together. Select a book of the Bible appropriate for your children's ages and have each family member read 2-3 verses as you go around the room. You can read anywhere from 1-2 chapters to an entire epistle such as Philippians each night. Let the children help choose what book of the Bible to read. A great source available on our web site www.biblesnet.com is Search the Bible Written and Audio (just click listen), it can search one chapter or many chapters on the Bible for all ages and you can listen to the audio or read it. Excellent to use for a daily devotion, especially with computer savvy families or print out for daily devotion time.
- On our web site we have a Fun Stuff Page for children and adults alike. The Christian Daily Trivia Quiz is different each day, so come back often. Excellent to use for a daily bible quiz for the whole family and have fun learning the Bible, excellent for computer savvy families.
- Other helpful Resources:
God's Plan For Your Life
Daily Reading Plan
Bible Study Tools.
Your voyage through God's Word will be the best traveling you can ever take. You will laugh and you will cry, and lots more. It can teach you the most important things for this life and the one to come.
Be aware some of the methods of raising children used below by certain writers are from years ago. ( this web site does not necessary agree with some of these methods.)
A Book for Boys and Girls by John Bunyan click here
A Daily Bible Method Reading of the Bible Done Successfully click here
(Bible Reading Methods, Structures of the Bible, Best Translations to Use,Where to Start )
A Daily Morning & Evening Reading Devotional Plan from Jan to Dec click here
A Day Study in Stewardship by Tim Keller click here
A Devotional Guide click here
A Help to Domestic Happiness by John Angell James click here
Bible Study For Spiritual Power by J. R. Mott click here
Christian Fellowship the Church Member's Guide by John Angell James click here
Counseling Recipes by Timothy Tow click here
Daily Confession click here
Do All to the Glory of God by Watchman Nee click here
(Marriage, Mating, Husband & Wife, Parenthood, Friendship, Recreation, Speech, Clothing & Eating, Managing Your Finances etc.)
Duties of Parents by J. C. Ryle click here
Evening Thoughts Or Daily Walking With God by Octavius Winslow click here
From Grace To Glory Or Born Again by Octavius Winslow click here
How God Guides by R. A. Torrey click here
(God Guides by His Word, God Leads by His Spirit, God Guides Us by Enlightening Our Judgment, God May Guide by Visions and Dreams, God Guides by His Providence)
How to get the Most From Reading Your Bible by Thomas Watson click here
On Family Religion by John Wesley click here
On Obedience to Parents (written in 1700's) by John Wesley click here
On The Education of Children (written in 1700's) Proverbs 22:6 by John Wesley click here
On Visiting The Sick - Matthew 25:36 by John Wesley click here
The Christian Father's Present to His Children by John Angell James click here
The Christian Professor by John Angell James click here
The Good Confession by Watchman Nee click here
(Public Confession, Separated From the World, The Elimination of Distinctions, Witnessing, How to Lead People to Christ, Household Salvation, etc.)
The Great Duty of Family-Religion by George Whitefield click here
The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson click here
The Ministry of Home by Octavius Winslow click here
(The Christian Family, The Desire to See Jesus, The Heart Opened, The Lord's Time of Love, Christ Not Hidden, The Woman that Left Her Water pot, The Power of the Tongue, The Gift of Suffering, The Bereaved Home, The Influence of Companionship, Gracious Surprisals, etc.)
The Necessity & Excellence of Family Religion by Samuel Davies click here
The Power of the Word of God by R. A. Torrey click here
(The Word of God has Power to Convict of Sin, The Word of God has Power to Regenerate, The Word of God has Power to Produce Faith, The Word of God has Power to Cleanse, The Word of God has Power to Build Up, The Word of God has Power to Make Wise, The Word of God has Power to give Assurance of Eternal Life, The Word of God has Power to bring Peace into the Heart, The Word of God has Power to Produce Joy, Patience Comfort and Hope also come Through the Word of God, The Word of God has Power to Protect from Error & Sin
The Sunday School Teacher's Guide by John Angell James click here
The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson click here
The Young Man Leaving Home by John Angell James click here
Why Forgive by J. C. Arnold click here
Whole Family by J. C. Ryle click here
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