“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 2:5
In the New Testament, it is not the ministers alone but all Christians who are “priests” in service under Christ, our High Priest and Mediator of this New Testament in His blood (Hebrews 9:11–15). We present our bodies and life as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable in His sight (Romans 12:1), in the life of good works; we offer the incense of our prayers and supplications in Jesus’ Name (1 Timothy 4:4–5). The expression, “the family altar,” comes from this biblical vocation as Christians to abide in the Word of God (John 8:31–32), let it dwell richly in us especially in song (Colossians 3:16) and offer our spiritual sacrifices as Christ’s royal priests.
The practices of “the family altar” vary from home to home and go by many informal names (devotions, catechesis, table grace, etc.). There may or may not be any physical altar. Nevertheless, central to every Christian home is the Word of God and the fruit it bears in song, prayer and conversation. God grant that these and other resources help you to find fruitful and joyful patterns for your own household’s “family altar.”
The Family Altar
God comes to us through His Word and Sacraments during worship at church, and then the family’s devotional life at home keeps its members connected to those gifts all week long. This routine creates a lifelong rhythm that helps keep kids in the faith throughout all stages of their lives.
How to do Family Devotions
Pastor Sean Daenzer, Director of Worship for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and chaplain for the LCMS International Center, shares how to do family devotions at home. It’s a habit that is hard to form, and even easier to fall out of. But if we can improve our devotional life in times of necessity like this, we will be blessed far greater in our daily devotional life, even in times of plenty.
The Family Altar: Brief Daily Devotions
Each devotion starts with a Scripture reading before author F. W. Herzberger guides you through a short one-page devotional for any moment of your day. A brief prayer is included at the end to recite as you re-center yourself for the day.
Treasury of Daily Prayer
Organized around the Christian Church Year, this book is designed to be an all-in-one tool for daily devotions for individuals, families, and small groups.
Lutheran Prayer Companion
This is the first-ever English translation of the German Evangelical-Lutheran Prayer Treasury, featuring prayers written by Luther and other church fathers. It includes:
- Nearly 500 prayers that cover almost any situation, every Sunday in the Church Year, and each day of the week
- More than 100 hymn texts
- A topical prayer index