Special joy thrills each Bible instructor's heart whenever she has helped a family to accept the truth. Another Christian home has become "an object-lesson, illustrating the excellence of the true principles of life," "to give to the world in their home life, in their customs and practises and order, an evidence of what the gospel can do for those who obey it."—Ministry of Healing, pp. 352, 196.
How can the Bible instructor impress this great respOnsibility upon parents who accept the high standards of gospel truth? How can she help them, and also fathers or mothers so new in the faith, to mold their homes after the divine pattern? By helping these parents to build and maintain the family altar, a vitalizing, stabilizing influence will be provided that will establish that home in present truth and make it a staunch witness in the community.
Too many of the homes we visit today are prayerless homes. Many times the parents themselves must be taught to pray before they can teach their children. The prayers of the worker in the home serve as object lessons in this respect. Studies on prayer and Christian home life lay the foundation on which the family altar will be built. As the regular Bible studies progress, parents and children should be encouraged to pray audibly. Any problems relative to the devotional program of the home is made the subject of earnest prayer and study.
Personal guidance is invaluable in establishing correct habits of family worship. The worker may at first meet with the family for Sabbath worship, perhaps leading out a few times. It helps these new Christians for the Bible instructor to suggest the procedure of worship, encouraging the younger members of the family to pray too. The father should be encouraged to exercise his office as priest of the home, leading his family in their daily seasons of worship.
This can be done, even though the mother has not been baptized. And the mother who is alone in the truth cannot afford to lose this op. portunity of teaching her children to love God's Word and faithfully obey it. Prayerful planning will bring tact and wisdom to know how to make the family altar a sanctifying influence upon every person in the home, even before the family is united in the faith.
Each family is to be encouraged to plan its own program of worship. We are blessed with a wealth of suitable material. We have not only our standard helps in the Morning Watch and Sabbath school lessons, but brief devotional articles in our many periodicals, and rich treasures in our denominational books. Let the purpose of the family altar govern every plan and let the basic principles of worship be carefully studied and followed. These following principles are clearly set forth by God's messenger.
1. A fixed, brief, but unhurried time for morning and evening worship.
2. "Let it be understood that into these hours no troubled, unkind thoughts are to intrude." Rather, they are to be "the sweetest and most helpful of the day," "the most pleasant and enjoyable," "intensely interesting."—Education, p. i86; Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 43.
3. The program is to be varied and appropriate for everyone, especially the younger children.
4. There must be careful preparation and planning. "To make such a service what it should be, thought should be given to preparation. . . . It will require effort and planning." —Education, p. 186.
The purpose of family worship is as definitely stated.
1. "To meet with Jesus, and to invite into the home the presence of holy angels."—Ibid., p. 186.
2. To seek pardon for sins committed, to present thanks and praise, and requests for needed blessings. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 364; Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 42.)
3. Consecration of parents and children to God for the day. (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 44.)
4. To "make a hedge about their children . . . that holy angels will guard them." (Ibid., IL 43-)
5. To instruct the children how to become followers of the Lamb, to teach respect, reverence for God and divine things, discipline, thoughtfulness. (Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 423, 424.)
The home in which the family altar is established upon these sacred principles, will be a truly Christian home, exerting an influence "far more powerful than any sermon . . upon human hearts and lives."—Ministry of Healing, p. 352. Parents so instructed and established will "work for their households, until with joy they can come to God saying, 'Behold I and the children whom the Lord bath given me.' "Christ's Object Lessons, p. 197.