Helps to Private and Family Prayer

Two works by 19th century American Presbyterians newly added to Log College Press are designed to aid individuals and families in their devotions to God. 

The first, by James Robert Boyd (1804-1890), is Daily Communion with God on the Plan Recommended by Rev. Matthew Henry, V.D.M., for Beginning, Spending, and Concluding Each Day with God (1873). This revision of Henry's Directions for Daily Communion with God (a work that has also been republished under the title of The Secret of Communion with God, is different than his Method of Prayer), is edited with helpful introductory matter concerning the life of Henry, Henry's own practice of piety, and poetic verse inserted by Boyd for meditation and contemplation. This work shows the value placed by one 19th century Presbyterian minister on spending each day for and with God, much as his Puritan forebears did. 

The second is a course of daily family prayers for morning and evening over a month's time by John Hall (1829-1898), called Family Prayers, For Four Weeks (1868). These written prayers should be seen as guides for those in need of assistance in leading their family worship, that is, head of households, including households with absent fathers. They are meant to be adapted or modified to suit circumstances, but mainly to encourage regular family worship twice a day. They are partly Hall's own writings, and partly borrowed, he says, from an earlier anonymous author. One will note the prayers for Sabbath preparation and sanctification, as well as for all the daily needs of individuals, families, and civil and ecclesiastical society. This is a good guide for families who need a bit of assistance in this most precious family duty. 

If you need help with your private or family prayers, or know someone who does (and who doesn't?), please download these works and make use today of these valuable aids from two centuries gone by. 

Wisdom from William Swan Plumer for family worship...

Every Christian family should worship the Lord in the home. But it can be difficult to begin and to continue with consistency this blessed practice. William Swan Plumer, in his brief pamphlet "Family Worship," gives nine helpful instructions for heads of households as they seek to conduct this servie to the glory of God:

These rules may well aid in making this part of worship profitable:

1. Let it be at seasonable and convenient hours, commonly before breakfast and just after tea or supper.

2. Let it not be tediously long. It is sometimes painfully protracted. That is not edifying.

3. Let the reading of God’s word, prayer, and if possible, singing, be parts of each exercise.

4. Let great decorum and decent solemnity enter into all acts of family devotion.

5. Let not the presence of company nor business engagements interrupt the regular order for worship.

6. Let family mercies and afflictions be duly noticed by him who leads in the exercises.

7. Continually labor to have the heart right and warm.

8. Be joyful and cheerful in the whole service.

9. Never give reproofs to others in the forms of prayer.

If you're struggling to be consistent in family worship, read James Waddel Alexander

Regular family worship is one of the forgotten habits of family discipleship in the 21st century. But lest we imagine that the 19th century was a golden age of family worship, listen to James Waddel Alexander, in his book Thoughts on Family Worship

In a period when the world is every day making new inroads on the church, it has especially invaded the household. Our church cannot compare with that of the seventeenth century in this regard. Along with Sabbath observance, and the catechising of children, Family-Worship has lost ground. There are many heads of families, communicants in our churches, and (according to a scarcely credible report) some ruling elders and deacons, who maintain no stated daily service of God in their dwellings. It is to awaken such to their duty that this volume has been prepared.

Alexander covers the following topics in his book:

1. The Nature, Warrant, and History of Family Worship
2. The Influence of Family Worship on Individual Piety
3. The Influence of Family Worship on Parents
4. The Influence of Family Worship on Children
5. The Influence of Family Worship on Domestics
6. Family Worship as a Means of Intellectual Improvement
7. The Influence of Family Worship on Domestic Harmony and Love
8. The Influence of Family Worship on a Household in Affliction
9. The Influence of Family Worship on Visitors, Guests, and Neighbors
10. The Influence of Family Worship in Perpetuating Sound Doctrine
11. The Influence of Family Worship on the Church
12. The Influence of Family Worship on the Commonwealth
13. The Influence of Family Worship on Posterity
14. Practical Directions as to the Mode of Conducting Family Worship
15. The Reading of Scripture, as a Part of Family Worship
16. Psalmody, as a Part of Family Worship
17. The Household Exhorted to the Duty of Family Worship
18. Difficulties and Objections - Conclusion

Share this book with your family and friends!