Seven Things to Pray for Your Children

Prayer (2)I first began to pray for my children in 1980 at the age of sixteen. At first I wasn’t sure what to pray, but over time my prayers became progressively more focused; especially after my son was born. Thirty-two years later I can clearly see the abundant return of all those hours spent on my knees praying for him. I am still praying today that God will continue working in him until he attains “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4.13).

I would encourage you today to begin praying for your children, even if you are years away from starting a family. Here is a post by Jon Bloom that will assist you in beginning to pray for your children. Please remember, your prayers are most effective when they are an overflow of your lifestyle. The greatest witness to your children is you, so live out your prayers for them to see and follow.

Bloom writes:

So, here are seven helpful, specific things to pray for your children:

1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming.

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13–15)

2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus’s faithful, persistent call.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

5. That their thoughts will be pure.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work.

All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord. (Exodus 35:29)

7. That when the time is right, they will GO!

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Why Practice Spiritual Disciplines?

whyIn Donald Whitney’s post “Remember, Every Spiritual Discipline Is About Jesus” he asks and answers some great questions.

Whitney writes:

Why pray when it appears that your prayers go unanswered? Why keep on reading the Bible when it seems like you’re getting little from it? Why continue worshiping God privately when you feel no spiritual refreshment? Why persist in keeping a journal when writing your entries bores you? Why engage in fasting, silence and solitude, serving, and other spiritual disciplines when you sense meager benefits from doing so?

It’s easy to forget the real purpose of anything that’s as habitual as the activities of the spiritual life. And purposeless spiritual practices soon become . . .

To continue reading follow this link to The Center for Biblical Spirituality.

 

No, I Won’t Bless the Food

PrayerDo  you pray before you begin eating a meal? I don’t mean “God is great, God is good, thank You for this food, Amen.” I mean a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving for God’s provision. I once heard of a family who prayed over their grocery sacks before unpacking them so they didn’t have to pray at each meal. I don’t think this is the right motive or means for giving thanks for the nourishment God provides through our daily bread.

In his post “No, I Won’t Bless the FoodDonald Whitney gives some great instruction on why and how we should pray before we begin each meal.

Whitney writes:

In my travels, at the start of a meal with Christian brothers and sisters, I’m often asked, “Will you bless the food?”

“No.”

My hosts sit there in stunned silence for a moment. Then, with everyone staring at me with awkward, “What do we do now?” looks, I’ll add, “But I’ll be happy to ask the Lord to bless the food.”

Maybe it reflects the limits of my own experience, but it’s been my observation that nowadays fewer followers of Jesus pause like this at the beginning of a meal to give thanks for what they are about to eat.

This seems to be true for individuals and for families, at home and in public.

Why the decline? As with all Christian practices and disciplines, unless each successive generation is taught the reason for something, it soon devolves into mere a routine, then an empty tradition, and then disuse.

Biblical origins of mealtime prayers

Have you ever been taught the biblical reasons for the Christian tradition of praying before a meal? To continue reading follow this link: No, I Won’t Bless the Food.

I Don’t Know What to Do!

Prayer (2)Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know what to do?  You’ve tried to straighten things out but regardless of your efforts things seem hopeless. All you want is relief, so you ask the simple question, “Now what do I do?”

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jerusalem is surrounded, and Jehoshaphat knows that he is powerless to stop the enemy. What did he do? In 20.6-11, he reminds God of all His promises and then in 20.12 he prays, “…we know not what to do, but our eyes are on you!” He didn’t look at the size of his problem, he looked to the One Who is greater than any problem and trusted Him to take care of everything.

Jehoshaphat gives us a great example to follow. Before trying to fix things, put out fires, or clear our name we need to pray, “Father, I don’t know what to do but I am looking to You.”  This prayer reminds me of a song we sang growing up:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

It is amazing how simply looking to Jesus puts everything into perspective.

Don’t know what you’re going to do next? Try looking to Jesus!

A Day In The Life Of A Pastor

At the end of his post Dr. Thom Rainer extends a challenge to pray for your pastor five minutes a day. If you will commit to this challenge or believe that it is a much-needed ministry, will you please share this on your Facebook page, email the link to all your friends, or have  your church send this to their members. Once you have done these things then pray! Pray for wisdom, discernment, holiness, purity, compassion, vision, and most of all for a Spirit-filled life. You will never know this side of heaven the difference you are making for the kingdom of God.

I hope “A Day In The Life Of A Pastor” by Thom Rainer encourages you to pray for your pastor.

Rainer writes:

It’s Thursday morning. Pastor Doug has a clear calendar, an aberration in his busy schedule. Actually, the calendar is not really clear; he has set aside time to finish his sermon for Sunday. His Bible is open; study aids are nearby. He begins to study.

Then the phone rings.

His assistant tells him about a car accident involving a family in the church. The ambulances are already on the way to the hospital. Doug leaves all of his study material on his desk and jumps into the car.

On the way to the hospital, his assistant calls him again. The entire Godsey family of five was in the car. None are seriously [hurt] except Gary, the father and husband of the family. His condition is grave.

Pastor Doug walks into the emergency waiting room. The family has just been told that their husband and father did not make it. They see their pastor and run to him sobbing, in total shock. Doug is there for them. He stays with the entire family for three hours until he is certain that enough people are around to care for them.

The Afternoon

He stops by his home to see his wife and grab a quick sandwich. It is now afternoon. He’s not sure if he can return to his sermon preparation, but he knows he must. He must fight the emotional exhaustion of the morning, and finish the message. But as he walks back to the church, his assistant apologetically tells him that two people need to speak with him. They consider it urgent.

Doug meets with the two men. One of them is the worship leader of the church. He is struggling with his ministry and is considering giving up. For two hours, Doug listens, consoles, and attempts to encourage the staff member.

The next visitor then catches Doug off guard. George is one of the key lay leaders in the church. Doug considers him a friend and an incredibly vital person in the overall leadership of the congregation. George struggles to speak: “My wife is having an affair . . . “  There are no more words for 15 minutes. Just tears and sobs.

Doug stays with George for over two hours. They pray together and talk about next steps.

It’s nearly five o’clock in the afternoon. Doug is too drained to attempt to get back to his sermon. Instead he begins to look at his crowded email inbox. He cringes when he sees one of the senders of an email. But he cannot stop himself from opening the message. It’s from one of Doug’s most frequent critics in the church. She has two complaints. The first irritation was something he said in last Sunday’s sermon. The second complaint addressed Doug’s failure to visit her sister-in-law who had minor outpatient surgery yesterday. The sister-in-law is not a member of the church. And Doug knew nothing about the surgery.

And Now Evening

Pastor Doug shuts the laptop cover and moves to his car slowly. He’ll stop by the house to grab a quick bite to eat. He needs to check on the Godsey family. He will stay with them for a while, but he must leave prior to 7:30, when he is to give the invocation for a local high school basketball game.

Several people get his attention at the game, so he doesn’t get home until after nine o’clock. He goes to his small study in his home, shuts the door, and begins to cry.

Gary Godsey, the father and husband who was killed in the car accident, was Doug’s best friend.

This was the first chance Doug had to grieve.

A Call to Pray for Pastors

The story is true. Only the names have been changed.

In a few weeks, I will be initiating a call for church members to pray five minutes a day for their pastors. Will you make a commitment today, even before the initiative? Will you commit just five minutes a day to pray for your pastor? Will you ask others in your church to do so? Will you pray for their strength, protection, wisdom, and families?

Will you pray for just five minutes?

A Father’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, can you forgive me for hurting my children?

I came from a poor background so I thought that a big house would make my children feel important. I didn’t realize that all it takes is my love.

I thought money would bring them happiness, but all it did was make them think that things were more important than people.

I thought spanking them would make them tough so that they could defend themselves. All it did was stop me from seeking wisdom so that I could discipline and teach them.

I thought that leaving them alone would make them independent. All it did was force my one son to be the father to my second son.

I thought that by smoothing over all of the family problems I was keeping peace. All I was teaching them was to run rather than lead.

I thought that by pretending to be the perfect family in public that I was bringing them respectability. All I was teaching them was to live a lie and keep the secret.

I thought that all I had to do to be a father was make money, stay at home and supply all their material needs. All I taught them was that there is more to being a dad. The problem is they will have to guess what being a dad really is.

And Dear God,

I hope you can read this prayer. My tears have smudged a lot of words.

From “Stories for the Heart” by Alice Gray (Multnomah, 169).