Guiding Your Family In Keeping The Sabbath

6 min


I counsel you, my Sabbath-keeping brethren and sisters, to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” You must change greatly. Many of your habits and practices on the Sabbath are displeasing to God. If you would train your children to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment, you must do it by precept and example. The deep engraving of truth in the heart is never wholly effaced. The impressions made on the heart in early life are seen in after years. They may be buried, but they will seldom be obliterated. Teach your children that the commandments of God must become the rule of their lives. Circumstances may occur to separate the children from their parents and from their home, but the lessons of instruction given in childhood and youth will be a blessing to them throughout their lifetime. Lake Union Herald, April 14, 1909

The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God’s purpose they are indissolubly linked together. On this day more than on any other, it is possible for us to live the life of Eden. It was God’s plan for the members of the family to be associated in work and study, in worship and recreation, the father as priest of his household, and both father and mother as teachers and companions of their children. But the results of sin, having changed the conditions of life, to a great degree prevent this association. Often the father hardly sees the faces of his children throughout the week. He is almost wholly deprived of opportunity for companionship or instruction. But God’s love has set a limit to the demands of toil. Over the Sabbath He places His merciful hand.

In His own day He preserves for the family opportunity 1) for communion with Him, 2) with nature, and 3) with one another. All who love God should do what they can to make the Sabbath a delight, holy and honorable. They cannot do this by seeking their own pleasure in sinful, forbidden amusements. Yet they can do much to exalt the Sabbath in their families and make it the most interesting day of the week. 4) We should devote time to interesting our children. A change will have a happy influence upon them. We can walk out with them in the open air; we can sit with them in the groves and in the bright sunshine, and give their restless minds something to feed upon by conversing with them upon the works of God, and can inspire them with love and reverence by calling their attention to the beautiful objects in nature.

The Sabbath should be made so interesting to our families that its weekly return will be hailed with joy. 6) In no better way can parents exalt and honor the Sabbath than by devising means to impart proper instruction to their families and interesting them in spiritual things, giving them correct views of the character of God and what He requires of us in order to perfect Christian characters and attain to eternal life. 7) Parents, make the Sabbath a delight, that your children may look forward to it and have a welcome in their hearts for it. Child Guidance, 535, 536 

At family worship let the children take a part. Let all bring their Bibles and each read a verse or two. Then let some familiar hymn be sung, followed by prayer. For this, Christ has given a model. The Lord’s Prayer was not intended to be repeated merely as a form, but it is an illustration of what our prayers should be—simple, earnest, and comprehensive. In a simple petition tell the Lord your needs and express gratitude for His mercies. Thus you invite Jesus as a welcome guest into your home and heart. In the family long prayers concerning remote objects are not in place. They make the hour of prayer a weariness, when it should be regarded as a privilege and blessing. Make the season one of interest and joy. Testimonies For the Church, vol. 6, 357, 358 

A portion of the day, all should have an opportunity to be out of doors, not in play, but in God’s beautiful scenery of nature, let their attentions be called to the tokens of His love to man in His created works. Testimonies For the Church, vol. 2, 583

Fathers and mothers should make it a rule that their children attend public worship on the Sabbath, and should enforce the rule by their own example. It is our duty to command our children and our household after us, as did Abraham. By example as well as precept we should impress upon them the importance of religious teaching. All who have taken the baptismal vow have solemnly consecrated themselves to the service of God; they are under covenant obligation to place themselves and their children where they may obtain all possible incentives and encouragement in the Christian life. Child Guidance, 530, 531 

When my children were small we had a large family of adopted children. We would have our work away before the setting of the sun. The children would hail the Sabbath as a joy. They would say, Now father and mother will give us some of their time. We would take them out for a walk. We would take the Bible and some religious instruction to read to them, and explain to them the Scriptures. We would keep praying that they should know the truth of God’s Word. We would not lie abed Sabbath mornings because it was Sabbath. We would have our preparations all ready the day before so that we could go to service without the hurry and worry. We would not stroll off and have a nice time to ourselves. We wanted our children to have all the privileges and blessings of God’s sanctified rest day. Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 107 

The Sabbath school and the meeting for worship occupy only a part of the Sabbath. The portion remaining to the family may be made the most sacred and precious season of all the Sabbath hours. Much of this time parents should spend with their children. In many families the younger children are left to themselves to find entertainment as best they can. Left alone, the children soon become restless and begin to play or engage in some kind of mischief. Thus the Sabbath has to them no sacred significance. Testimonies For the Church, vol. 6, 358 

On the Sabbath, parents should give all the time they can to their children, thus making it a delight. I have seen many families where father, mother, and the older members of the household, take themselves away from the younger children, and leave them to amuse themselves as best they can. After a while, the children become weary and go out of doors, and engage in play or some kind of mischief. Thus the Sabbath has no sacred significance to them. In pleasant weather the parents can take their children out for a walk in the fields and forest, and talk to them of the lofty trees, the shrubs and flowers, and teach them that God is the Maker of all these things. Then teach them the reasons for the Sabbath, that it is to commemorate God’s created works. After working six days, He rested the seventh, and blessed and hallowed the day of His rest. Thus the most profitable instruction can be given. Lake Union Herald, April 14, 1909

The Sabbath—oh! make it the sweetest, the most blessed day of the whole week. Parents should not allow their children to be out with others in play or amusement. I have found that on the Sabbath-day many are indifferent, and do not know where their children are or what they are doing. Parents can and should give attention to their children, reading to them the most attractive portions of Bible history, educating them to reverence the Sabbath-day, keeping it according to the commandment. This cannot be done if the parents feel no burden to interest their children. But they can make the Sabbath a delight if they will take the proper course.

The children can be interested in good reading or in conversation about the salvation of their souls. But they will have to be educated and trained. The natural heart does not love to think of God, of heaven, or of heavenly things. There must be a continual pressing back of the current of worldliness and inclination to evil, and a letting in of heavenly light. It takes line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.  Review and Herald, April 14, 1885

Parents and Children Breaking The Sabbath

Parents, above everything take care of your children upon the Sabbath hours. Do not suffer them to violate God’s holy day by playing in the house or out of doors. You may just as well break the Sabbath yourselves as to let your children do it, and when you suffer your children to wander about and suffer them to play upon the Sabbath, God looks upon you as Sabbath breakers.  Child Guidance, 527

I have been shown that very many of the parents who profess to believe the solemn message for this time have not trained their children for God. They have not restrained themselves and have been irritated with anyone who attempted to restrain them. They have not by living faith daily bound their children upon the altar of the Lord. Many of these youth have been allowed to transgress the Fourth Commandment, by seeking their own pleasure upon God’s holy day. They have felt no compunctions of conscience in going about the streets on the Sabbath for their own amusement. Many go where they please, and do what they please; and their parents are so fearful of displeasing them that, imitating the management of Eli, they lay no commands upon them. These youth finally lose all respect for the Sabbath and have no relish for religious meetings or for sacred and eternal things. Child Guidance, 527 

The claims of God’s holy law have not been sacredly observed in your daily life. You have desecrated the Sabbath by bringing your [school] studies into that holy time which was not yours to occupy for your own purposes. God has said” “In it thou shalt not do any work.”  Testimonies For the Church, vol. 4, 114 


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