As I collapse on the couch to rest for a moment during the busyness of this holiday season, my eyes catch on my Bible study book…..that I have neglected the past 2 days. Not only that, seeing the book reminds me that I have neglected to pray faithfully for my family those two days also. I have a twinge of guilt in my stomach. If I’m really honest with myself, I have to admit that it’s been closer to a week since I have had a meaningful prayer time.
If this speaks to your heart, don’t despair! It’s not meant to produce guilt, but I write it because I can relate to you. You’re not alone. But let’s not stay there; let’s do better starting now!
The book I’m studying is The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. It’s a study of Ephesians 6:10-19. In it, I have been impressed even more by the need of prayer. The protection we have through the Armor of God is activated by prayer. Prayer is essential to our joy, our spiritual lives, and growth, but our prayers are also important in the lives of our family members.
How can my prayers for my family members make a difference in their lives? Here are 5 ways:
1. When we pray for our family members, we are committing them to the Lord for Him to do His work in them. We experience peace and joy when we trust the Lord with our families. Prov 15:8, Phil 4:6, I John 5:14
A few years ago one of my sons, who was living in the states while we were still living in Brasil, began to experience a severe spiritual attack. It was absolutely devastating to him and our family. I was ready to get on a plane and try to intervene in his problem, but it was as if the Lord spoke to me saying, “Mama! You stay there! I am working with your boy here and you will get in the way!” I prayed harder than ever for my son and for the hurt he was experiencing. I had to commit Him completely to the Lord, and know in my heart that God loved my boy even more than I did.
2. We may not always know how our prayers are making a difference in the hearts and lives of a family member, but we can trust that prayer is a catalyst that activates the Holy Spirit to do what He has planned to do. We can trust His plans even when we do not know them. I Thess 5:17, I Tim 2:1-2 I John 5:14-16, Luke 18:1, Rom 8:26
After several losses in our family, our church, our ministry, I went through a time of rebellion against God. I was mad at Him and extremely frustrated in my spiritual walk. Yet….here I was a missionary on a foreign field. I questioned, “What is the point of prayer? We pray for things that don’t happen and don’t pray for things that do happen….so what’s the point?” As I slowly settled my differences with God, confessed my sinful attitude and began to grow spiritually again, I spent some time trying to understand prayer better. One of the most comforting things that I learned is that our prayers are a catalyst to move the Holy Spirit. We are told to pray and it’s not a suggestion; it’s an imperative.
3. When we tell our family members that we are praying for them, and we sincerely do so, it is an encouragement to them. Eph 1:18, Eph 6:18, Rom 12:12
There is a sweet lady at our church who encourages our family regularly by sending us emails telling us that she has prayed certain scripture over us. To know that someone is going before the Lord on our behalf is so encouraging. Many times it felt like the only lifeline we had when we were living in a foreign country as missionaries. I know the joy and encouragement of others praying for me and I know it is an encouragement to my family members also.
4. When we pray we can ask that they learn or remember important truths that God wants them to know. Eph 1:18, Eph 3:18-21, Phil 2:14-16
With three of my children essentially on their own, I pray this often for them. They grew up learning everything we could teach them about Biblical truths and living those out as a reflection of our love and thankfulness to the Lord for saving us, but there is so much more for them to learn or put into practice. I pray often that the Lord will teach them so that they can know and grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ.
5. Our prayers can give wisdom to and protect the spiritual lives our family members. Eph 6:18-19, John 17:15
I pray scripture for my husband as he is serving the Lord. There are difficult aspects of our ministry that he needs the wisdom of God to help him with. I pray for a discerning heart (Jeremiah 29:11). Also, I pray that he will have the mind of Christ (I Cor 2:16, 2 Cor 10:5), that he will understand the word (Rom 12:2), and that he will trust the Lord. (Prov 3:5-6)
Scriptures say that the effective earnest prayer of a righteous person has power. We are told to make intercession for all believers, we’re to devote ourselves to prayer, and that Jesus prayed not for us to be taken out of this world, but that God would protect us from the evil one. We can pray this same thing for our husbands and children and trust God to do His will and work all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Prayer is something that inexplicably involves human and divine cooperation. We will not know how important prayer actually is until we are with Jesus. For now we have plenty of passages of scripture telling us to pray, as well as several examples of Jesus praying. Let us rekindle our joy by trusting God with what we don’t understand about prayer and developing our discipline of prayer in order to have more powerfully protected spiritual lives for ourselves and our families.