Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Family That Prays Together

It is a well-known truism that “the family that prays together stays together.”

The saying was invented by Al Scalpone, a professional commercial-writer, and was used as the slogan of the Roman Catholic Family Rosary Crusade by Father Patrick Peyton (P. Peyton, All for Her, 1967). The crusade began in 1942 and the slogan was apparently first broadcast on 6 Mar. 1947 during the radio programme Family Theater of the Air. The Crusade in Britain started in 1952, and the expression now has many (often humorous) variant forms. [Jennifer Speake, ed., “The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs” (5th ed., 2008), p. 109]

Though the saying comes directly to us through a 20th century Roman Catholic “crusade,” the principle behind the saying is a Biblical and Protestant one.

Religion is absolutely necessary to preserve domestic union. For families are but little societies, as societies are larger families; and therefore religion, which is confessedly the best bond and cement of union in states and larger communities, is likewise so in little domestic governments: and family prayer is as much a duty in this smaller sphere of action, as public worship is a national concern. [Jeremiah Seed, “Domestic Love and Union Recommended and Enforced” (Serm. III) in “Discourses on Several Important Subjects. To Which are Added Eight Sermons,” (5th ed., 1757) Vol. 1, pp. 68-69]

Seed adds: 

Besides, the united devotions of a whole family acting in concert will be more effectual, than the solitary prayers of any single member, when detached from the whole body: as they have a tendency to beget in others a correspondent piety, to propagate the flame from breast to breast, and to encourage, countenance, and give a sanction to exemplary holiness: but chiefly, because God has promised, that where two or three are gathered together, he will be in the midst of them. It is a beautiful and amiable sight to behold a well-regulated society, glorifying God with one heart and one mouth, canceling their former sins by repentance, and forming settled resolutions of obedience for the future.
Add to this, that the joint devotions of a family are as necessary to derive a blessing upon a family, and to return thanks for blessings already received; as the applications of each individual are to beg God, or to thank him for, his own personal advantages. [Jeremiah Seed, “The Duties of Family and Private Prayer Considered” (Serm. XI) in “Discourses on Several Important Subjects. To Which are Added Eight Sermons,” (5th ed., 1757) Vol. 1, pp. 290-291]

More recently, Herbert Lockyer writes:

A home which puts Christ first and is bathed in prayer never breaks apart. When the first family was formed, family prayer began, with the head of the family as the priest. 'I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.' Genesis 18:19 'There can be no true family life without family religion, and family religion is best sustained by family worship,' says W.C. Proctor. The proverb has it that, 'A home without prayer is like a house without a roof.' Manifold promises are for those whose home life is permeated with prayer. 'A family that prays together, stays together.' Family prayer is 'the bond of family love, the cement of domestic amity, and the sweetener of home life.'" [Herbert Lockyer, "All the Promises of the Bible (1962)," p. 219]

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