“Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned” – Job 8:8

When a man led his family in prayer, the very act of prayer and reading the Bible to them, those in this era believed, promoted righteousness in his own life. In leading the experience of prayer and worship the father “submits himself to an influence which is incalculably strong on his own parental character” [1] and the result was increased grace in his life which benefited every member of the family. “Hence the unspeakable value of an exercise, which twice every day calls each member of the household at least to think of God.”[2]

This daily reading of the Bible by the Father in front of the children “is one of the most powerful agencies of a Christian life. We are prone to undervalue this cause. It is a constant dropping, but it wears its mark in the rock.”[3]

Those who advocated radical social reform, then as now, saw the family as an obstacle to their goals. “On every side…we hear the outcry against the domestic temple [the family] …” As now, defenders suggested that those who did not appreciate the fidelity of family structure and marriage failed to see that in its absence poverty would intensify and social oppression would escalate. “Our ruling pseudo-philanthropists are in perpetual agitation bout the wrongs of labor, the rights of women, and the reconstruction of society.”[4] There was also regimented school system which took children from the home. Suddenly, from an array of different directions, the family seemed pulled apart. Defenders of the family saw forces the seemed destined to “tear the household elements asunder.” They saw that “Christianity compacts the structure, and strengthens every wall. It adds a new cement, and makes the father more a father – the husband more a husband – the son more a son; so that there is not a social tie which does not become more strong and endearing by means of grace.”[5]

God, turn the hearts of the fathers. Wake up the nation – one home at a time. Stir in the hearts of men. Humble them, to be able to pray with, in front of, and for their families.

[1] Ibid, p. 45-46.

[2] J. W. Alexander, Thoughts on Family Worship, 35.

[3] Alexander, 62-63.

[4][4] In the early years of the industrial movement, the factories used women and children as a labor force. Leaders of conscience called the trend exploitive and saw its potential to ‘pluck away the heart-stone’ [the disruption of family prayer], and break the marriage ring. Those who wished to continue the practice of utilizing the cheap labor of women and children, under a noble guise, championed their cause as ‘women’s rights.’ (Alexander, 164, 165).

[5] Alexander, 103.