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DAY AFTER DAY
A MANUAL OF DEVOTIONS
INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY USE
Compiled and Arranged
AND SABBATH SCHOOL WORK
AND SABBATH SCHOOL WORK
Published January 1919
Worship in the Home A HOME is never quite complete until the father takes his place before his household as a priest. I do not mean as an ordained minister, but rather as one who realizes that he is responsible for the spiritual interests of his household. It is not enough that we should provide for the material comforts of our children. It is by no means enough that we should be concerned for their intellectual development. The spiritual nature must be cultivated, and the moral atmosphere surrounding our children carefully considered and properly developed. I know of no one thing that can so aid in doing this as that the day should begin with family prayer.
It is a sad thing to realize that some children have never heard their fathers pray. I sincerely pity the father of whom this can be said, and the child who is thus deprived of an influence which almost inevitably makes for strength of character.
I am quite sure that one reason why so many men shrink from holding family worship is this: they do not feel that they are able to make a sufficiently long and intelligent prayer; perhaps they feel that they are too busy to read an extended lesson from the Scriptures. I am also positive that one reason why the children in a household may find family worship irksome is this: the prayers are too indefinite and, sometimes, meaningless, while the reading of the Scriptures is too long-drawn-out, and the passages selected inappropriate to the occasion.
Why not have family worship something like this? Let the family assemble around the breakfast table, the head of the household reading the Scripture lessons suggested in this booklet, then use the prayers indicated for each day, closing with The Lord's Prayer or The Apostles' Creed, or offer such a simple prayer as the following: “Our Father, bless our household to-day. Take care of our children; protect them in time of danger; help them in their work and in their play. Bless their father and their mother and keep us all, an unbroken family circle, until we are safe home with thee. Amen.” Such a prayer could be easily offered, and be made impressive to the smallest child.
Most of us fail in our praying at the point of definiteness. I know of an aged man who used to begin every day by praying with his household. The servants came to family worship; the men from the fields came to sit with the household and worship God. The name of each one was mentioned, and an individual petition offered for each. They sang a hymn together, they had a brief Scripture lesson, and all went forth to toil, realizing that God was with them.
If the family altar is to be reëstablished, this fact needs to be kept clearly in mind. The father and the mother must be right with God. Children are always quick to detect the note of insincerity, and there is no place where this reveals itself more clearly than in the words we use in prayer. It is not so much what we say when we pray, as the way we say it. As a matter of fact, it is not so much what we say and the way we say it, as what we are that counts. There is one prayer which the head of the household should continually offer. It is this: “ Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Then, too, it is necessary that the prayer, offered in the morning, should be lived throughout the day. We cannot pray one way and live another. We cannot ask for patience and be impatient. We cannot pray for love and be unlovely. There are trees, the spread of whose roots under ground quite equals the spread of their branches above ground, and this is the picture of the true Christian. Being right in his devotion, he must needs be right in his daily living.
The influence of family worship is as lasting as eternity. Many a boy who appears restless at the family altar has an impression made upon him which comes back to him with tremendous force in after years when he is out in the world and is battling with sin. Many a girl is kept from doing that which is inconsistent, because of her recollection of the trembling tones heard in her father's prayer, and the sound of her mother's voice in song. Many times when we find ourselves drifting, we suddenly stop as if a hand had reached out to lay hold upon us. It is impossible to drift farther, and all because the hand is a memory, and the memory brings before us the period of family worship when our fathers were praying, and the very atmosphere of heaven was about us.
Let it not be said that life in these days is too strenuous for real family worship. It is possible that we have not the time for extended worship, but five minutes each morning thus given to God would protect a household. Surely it is possible, when the Lord's Day comes, to assemble the entire household, sing a hymn, read the Scripture together, bow in prayer, and thus pledge ourselves to a faithful and consistent following of Christ in the days ahead of us ?
A prayerless home is a powerless home. A household protected by prayer cannot drift far from God. Therefore, if we would have our homes right with God, and our children kept from drifting, we must pray not only for our loved ones, but with them, and do it every day.
I am greatly indebted to a number of the ministers of our Church for their valuable coöperation in the compilation of this Manual of Devotions.
PUBLISHERS' NOTE If Dr. Chapman could have known in advance the day when God would call him from earth, he could not have chosen a more fitting task for the rounding out of his ministry than the preparation of DAY AFTER DAY.
Both as pastor and as evangelist, he delighted to speak on the home and to urge with all his great power the duty and privilege of Family Religion.
The reading of the proof of this volume was one of the last acts of his fruitful life.