Family Altar Time
What does it take to know God?
FAMILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
STEP BY STEP
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.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them 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" (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 NIV).
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?
- A. 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.
- B. 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.
- C. 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.
- D. 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 and 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 and Mom'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.
E. 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.
II. Practical Suggestions That May Be of Help.
- A. 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.
- B. 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.
- C. 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.
D. Make it a delightful, happy, interesting time filled with enthusiasm so that the whole family looks forward to it with real expectancy.
- E. 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.
- F. 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.
- G. Take time for discussion, answering questions, solving problems, and for self expression. All have some. Children especially are inquisitive and want to know.
- H. 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.
I. 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.
- J. 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.
HIghly recommend on our sister website have many children's Bible stories here.
III. Possible Methods That May Be Used.
- A. 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.
- B. Read Bible stories from the Bible. They supply answers to different family needs and give a challenge to spiritual living. At our sister website we have Bible Stories for all ages like Bible Children Stories and Children's Bible Read Online and Wee One's Bible Stories.
C. Go through the miracles of Christ. You could do one a night and learn something about Christ from each miracle and especially let each one learn something for themselves. Study the miracle as to where it was, the occasion, what happened, who was involved, and then personal lessons. Created 9 different children's Bible reading plans here.
D. 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 in a two week 13 reading plans here. One example is two weeks on the Life and Teaching of Jesus here.
E. 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.
F. 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.
G. 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.
- Recommend on our sister website children's stories with puzzles, art work, quizes, pictures, and memory verses.
163 Children's Old Testament stories here.
162 Children's New Testament Stories here.
- H. Devotional books for various age levels. You can buy such books in a local Christian book store or borrow from your Church Library or order online at Christian Book. Com. 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. Check out our Children's Study Methods here for a lot of resources for a family altar time.
- I. 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.
- J. 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 sister site www.biblesnet.com Fun Stuff there are games for children and adults. The Bible Trivia Quiz is different each day, so come back often.
K. 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. here at Bible Maps and Atlas.
L. 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.
- M. 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. On our sister site helps for parents, have a ton of different ideas, crafts, art and games here.
- N. Read short biographies of godly servants of the Lord Jesus: missionaries, evangelists, pastors, etc. Good sources are available on our sister website on Biographies.
O. 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, and Charles H. Spurgeon. Check out our Audio Video Section.
P. Read wholesome short stories. Let each member of the family who can read take a turn reading. A great source available on our sister website children and family resources here 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.
- Q. 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 sister website 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.
- R. 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 at our sister website here.
S. 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 sermon is different each day, so come back often. Please bookmark www.biblesnet.com.
- T. 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 devotional, especially with computer savvy families or print out for daily devotion time.
- U. 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.
- V. Other helpful Resources:
- Recommend at our sister website Children & Family Reources with 100's of ideas and Children's Stories here.
Children's Bible Reading Plans here
Children's Study Methods here
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.