What Is Worship and How Does It Begin in My Home?

by Heather Owens at Bibles.net
| Time: 4 Minutes

Instead of painting an idealized picture of family worship or giving you a checklist of things the Christian family ought to do, let’s talk about family worship as a concept. Let’s consider what worship is and where it begins in our homes.

What Is Worship?

Pastor John Piper has written much about worship, and in one short explanation of worship, he concludes that we express worship to God in two ways: by our words and by our actions (Hebrews 13:15-16). Christians worship God by reading the Bible together, speaking and singing praise to God, and praying. We also worship by living obedient lives which express love for God and for others. This active love includes service and hospitality and generosity.

Family worship (like all Christian worship) is about turning our minds and hearts toward God in all that we do (Romans 12:1-2). Our work, our studies, and even completing our everyday to-do lists can become acts of worship if we are motivated by our love for God and a desire to glorify him. On the other hand, our habits of worship (Bible reading, singing, praying) are not worship at all if they do not flow from a genuine love for God (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8-9).

So, worship is an expression—whether with our lips or our actions—of genuine love for and delight in God. It may become a habit for us, but all true worship begins in our hearts.

Where Does Worship Begin?

Worship begins in the messy heart of a sinner who discovers the love of Jesus and begins to delight in the goodness and glory of God. A true experience of God’s mercy toward our sin and his grace toward us prompts us to earnestly praise God through our words and our actions. Transformed hearts lead to true worship.

When we worship in church, there may be people sitting nearby who are watching and even going through the motions of praise or prayer, but they are not truly worshiping because they have not yet experienced and embraced the love of God (Isaiah 29:13). The same is true when we worship as families, especially as families with very young children. Family worship must begin in a place that parents do not control—our children’s hearts. We cannot force our children to worship. We can encourage them (and even expect them) to be present and to participate in forms of worship (attending church, reading the Bible, praying together, etc.), but we cannot make children worship God from the heart.

How to Inspire Worship in Our Homes

So how can we pursue genuine worship in our homes? The most helpful thing we can do is to be true worshipers ourselves. Children are proficient lie detectors. They see between the cracks of our public witness to how we behave at home when we are tired or how we react in the car when we are running late. Our children see our inconsistencies. They know we are not perfect. Therefore, worship in our homes begins with our own worship.

Our children will see us fail, so they need to see us confessing our failures and trusting in God’s mercy. We should be quick to ask our child’s forgiveness, as well as God’s forgiveness, when we snap or behave selfishly. This admission of guilt and expression of hope in God’s mercy might be the most meaningful act of worship our children witness in the home. If nothing else, it will act as a seal of authenticity on every other act of worship we model for them. Our children will never believe that our worship is genuine if they do not see our humble dependence upon God.

Worship begins in our own messy hearts and our own messy homes as we repent of our sins and trust in the mercy of God which was poured out for us in Jesus. Worship is most sincere when it stems from a deep sense of our own need for the Lord and a heartfelt celebration of his all that he has done for us. When we take genuine delight in God’s unreserved goodness to us. our children will recognize this as true worship. By God’s mercy, they may also learn to embrace it as good.

Worship begins when we recognize our desperate need for God’s mercy and respond in gratefulness for it. As we’ve seen, every aspect of our work, play, and rest can become an act of worship if we are doing it for God’s glory, to obey him, or to reflect his love by serving others.


We’ve seen that we worship God by our words and by our actions (Colossians 3:17). All of life provides an opportunity for worship when we love God and delight in him. This worship begins in our hearts, and it must begin in the hearts of our children. The greatest thing we as parents can do to encourage our children to worship is to be true worshippers ourselves—repenting of sin, embracing God’s mercy, and living by his grace.

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Questions About Family Worship
Discover what family worship is, why we do it, and how to make God's Word a bigger part of your family culture!