Private worship (as opposed to corporate worship) is something different from Bible study. It is quite possible to study the Bible as information, as literature, as history. What we seek in private worship is the nurture of our communion with God through Jesus Christ, even as this is daily mediated through Word and Prayer. Prayerful reading requires that we engage not only our minds, but our hearts and souls as well.
The Daily Lectionary is recommended for private and/or family worship. It is arranged in a two-year cycle and provides for reading twice through the New Testament and once through the Old Testament during the cycle. It is related to the Revised Common Lectionary, a collection of readings from the Bible arranged and intended for use during corporate worship and used by many traditions throughout the world. Assigning the readings to a specific date allows all of us to be praying the same scriptures daily – enhancing not only our conversations with God, but also our prayerful connections with each other. In addition, the specific date allows us to let go of a set of readings we missed and move on to today’s readings without a guilty look behind us.
This sample Prayer Service Guide is also recommended for your time of personal/communal worship. It reflects the “Gospel pattern” of spiritual renewal and will help shape our spirituality as to enable us to experience the power of the gospel in our lives. The main sections of the service are important in order to maintain a gospel centered pattern in the way we approach and remain in communion with God. The content of each section is merely intended to give you an idea of the way it could go. You will of course want to use content within the recommended pattern that you deem most appropriate for you and/or your family as reflecting your own voice.
There is perhaps no more single “program” that will nurture faith than for the whole family to practice that faith in the worship of God together. Family worship is not education or Bible School. It is not even primarily an exercise of parenting children, at least not directly. It is a time when we are all as children of God, remembering Him and cherishing His gracious gifts to us both in creation and redemption. Good family worship is simple, brief and God centered. It will include:
- Singing a hymn or two (preferably one that will transcend age)
- Reading a passage of scripture with minimal comment other than to get the gist of what we are to remember about God and our salvation
- A season of corporate prayer (ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication/ntercession)
The gospel is as much “caught” as “taught.” There is a culture to the gospel that makes it safe to be morally flawed without digressing to moral licentiousness, where forgiveness and grace are the norm rather than the exception. To be sure, “law” and “grace” are not only compatible, but are also necessary components of the gospel wherein true confession and faith are nurtured. The culture of the Gospel will show itself when we “speak the truth” to one another about the gospel in love — which is to be one another’s greatest human advocate for grace. (Notice the famous Ephesians 4:15 passage is interpreted in its greater context as to NOT mean “be each others worse critic.”) The culture of the gospel will both cherish family “rules” in order to protect family identity and patterns of family interaction, but without a rigid and/or legalistic practice of these rules. The culture of the gospel relative to parenting covenant children will assume in them Christ’s Spirit by baptism, albeit awaiting and nurturing them to discern a personal and self-aware faith as an emerging adult.