Flashback Friday: 7 Prayer Requests for Your Children

Photo Credit: wnd.andreas via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: wnd.andreas via Compfight cc

This is a flashback to a popular post on praying of your kids from February 2012:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:9-13, ESV) 

How can we really see change in the lives of our children? The starting place is prayer. We start with prayer because it is God who works in our children not us. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if you have to choose–though I doubt you do–between discipling your children and praying for them then you should prioritize prayer.

So how should we pray for our kids? Should we pray for them to be bright, athletic, good-looking, healthy, happy, and above average? Maybe. Or, we could set a higher bar and pray for them to grow in godliness. That’s how Paul prayed for his spiritual “children.”

We can have confidence when we pray Scripture because it’s God’s Word and reflects His heart for His children. Take the passage above and turn it into a prayer for your kids. I have built my prayer for my children over past 13 years on the verses above. You can try it right now, just place your child’s name in these sentences:

  1. Lord, fill my child with spiritual wisdom and understanding (for salvation or for spiritual growth if they are already believers).
  2. Lord, help my child to have this wisdom so he/she will walk (live) in a way that is worthy of you and pleasing to you.
  3. Lord, help my child to bear spiritual fruit by doing good works.
  4. Lord, help my child increase in his/her knowledge of you.
  5. Lord, strengthen my child with all power, according to your glorious might.
  6. Lord, give my child endurance, patience, and joy.
  7. Father, thank you for my child, and thank you for qualifying us through Jesus Christ to share in your inheritance of eternal life. (Or, for the hope of that inheritance for the child not yet saved).
So, don’t make prayer harder than it needs to be. Model your prayer after God’s Word and trust, not in the prayer, but in the One to Whom you are praying to answer for His glory.

Six Steps to Spiritual Growth in 2015, Part Three

praying handsToday is devoted to the final two steps in developing your spiritual growth plan for the coming year. On day one, we looked at reflecting and committing. Day two was devoted to reading and memorizing the Bible. Today is focused on prayer and evaluation.

Step Five. Decide how you will pray. Prayer aligns our hearts with the heart of God. Read a book like With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray to help you orient yourself rightly toward God. A simple and useful device to remember some components of prayer is the “prayer hand” by the Navigators. As a parent, I love to pray for my children using Andrew Case’s free resource, Setting Their Hope on God: Biblical Intercession for Your Children. You can also list the people you know who are lost and pray for them by name. I have a list in the front of my journal. This has allowed me to celebrated as I have been able to record the dates that many friends on the list have come to Christ. It also causes me to weep over friends who do not yet know or have rejected the hope of Christ. Additionally, use a prayer guide like Operation World to pray for the peoples of the world to know Christ.

Step Six. Evaluate. As we noted in the first post of this series, most people abandon New Year’s resolutions within the first six months. This is due in large part to the fact that people rarely stop to evaluate their progress. It is a good idea to schedule monthly reviews of how you are doing in your spiritual growth plan. Frequent stops along the journey will prevent you from falling so far behind that you become discouraged and drop out. A monthly audit allows you to get back on course or make course corrections. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Where am I on track with my plan?
  • Where have I fallen behind?
  • Are the practices I am engaged in helping me grow in Christlikeness? Why or why not?
  • What do I need to change?
  • What do I need to do differently/keep the same to ensure success?

So, finish 2014 by setting your course for 2015. Hoist your sails and get ready for a great ride!

Read Part One
Read Part Two

Turning Toward Mission, Step One

Photo Credit: Lel4nd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lel4nd via Compfight cc

Last week I wrote about the need for churches to turn outward and amplify the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also promised practical steps for making your church systems a megaphone for making disciples. We are all seeking effective approaches. Everyone is seeking the steps that will lead to success. I am always reluctant simply to give a pragmatic answer. The books, articles, seminars–and blogs–offering the step-by-step approach are legion. But no matter what system or steps one chooses to implement, I believe true missional realignment in ministry or in your personal life comes from two key ingredients. The first is spiritual renewal. The second is disciplined, hard work. I want to focus on step one. [Read more…]

9 Steps for Self Examination

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Photo Credit: nathanmac87 via Compfight cc

“The hardest person to be honest with is yourself.” I don’t know who said it, but it certainly rings true for me. Honest self examination, though, is an essential spiritual discipline. In order to plot a course to where we are going, we have to know where we are starting. I’m really talking about confession – acknowledging our sin and our need for God’s grace in our lives. We know confession is essential, but many times we limit confession to our actions. In Mark 7:14-23 we find Jesus teaching His disciples that what really defiles a person comes from within—from the heart. Growth in Christ necessitates times for personal reflection, admission of faults and failures, and repentance. Here are 9 steps to help you in practicing the art of self examination. 

[Read more…]

How You Can Build Intimacy in Your Marriage

Recently, I said to a group of friends that I believed prayer was the most intimate activity a person could share with his or her spouse. My comment got some raised eyebrows, some chuckles, and more than one blush! I understand why, for sure. The prevailing worldview around us sends the message that physical intimacy is the pinnacle of a relationship. Earlier in my life I would have agreed. Physical intimacy is critical in a marriage; it should be enjoyed, not neglected. Nevertheless, without spiritual intimacy with God and each other, the rest of your marriage will never reach its full potential.

Marriage
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jo Christian Oterhals via Compfight

Consider this: the God of the universe has invited us to call out to Him in prayer promising that He will answer us (Jeremiah 33:3). His promise to us is that if we seek Him with all of our hearts we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). What a privilege and a promise! God calls us to relationship with Him in Jesus Christ. That relationship is deepened through prayer. We are told in James 4:8 that when we draw near to God then He will draw near to us. It makes sense, then that if my wife and I are both drawing nearer to God in prayer, then we will also draw nearer to each other.

When Brandie and I were going through our premarital counseling, our pastor describe our relationship with God and each other by drawing a triangle with God at the top and each of us at the opposite lower corners. He noted on the drawing that if we each moved “up” the triangle (closer to God) then we were also drawn closer to one another. Note: the goal is to draw closer to God, the side effect is growing closer to each other.

How can you develop an intimate prayer life with your spouse?

1. Spend time alone with God on your own first. Your time of praying as a couple cannot replace your own time with the Lord.

2. Set a time. We have found it best to pray together when we go to bed. Yes, this means we go to bed together on most nights. This requires some sacrifice if one of you is a night owl and the other is an early bird. It may mean giving up that TV show or magazine. You must decide what’s most important.

3. Keep it short and simple. Many people are intimidated by prayer and are embarrassed that they fumble through the words. Don’t sweat it. Your prayer doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to be eloquent.

4. Both of you pray. Sharing prayer requests with each other is good, but hearing one another’s hearts as you pray out loud will give you insight into each other’s needs, hopes, and fears. It can seem awkward, as I said above, but if you are committed to trying it will get easier over time.

5. Get started. Using a guide may be helpful. Two Hearts Praying as One, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey is a good book to start with. The little book contains 30 days worth of brief devotions and guided prayers for husband and wife. 30 days can make a habit.

So, make prayer the most intimate part of your marriage. Then don’t be surprised when all other parts of your relationship get better, too!

 

The Family that Prays…

Recently, my wife, Brandie, and I had a conversation with a friend who was wrestling with how to encourage her teenager to be involved in their family prayer time. She and her husband have made a practice of leading their family to pray using the A.C.T.S. model (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication/intercession), but as their kids are getting older they are facing the challenge of keeping them all engaged in the prayer time. Although it was a challenge for them, the important thing is that this dad and mom were gathering their children for prayer and were intentional in how they were praying.

Teaching kids to pray through an intentional prayer time is vitally important, but what guidelines can we use to help us?

1. Be Real – Jesus warned against prayers that were merely vain repetitions to impress others (Matthew 6:8). By extension, those we try to impress with our prayers could be our own kids. We shouldn’t worry about saying the right things when we pray as parents, we should focus on sincerity of heart. Remember, we’re not praying so our kids will hear us, but so that God will. We pray within our kids’ hearing so they will have a model of sincerity in prayer.

2. Be Relevant – Jesus encourages His disciples to ask him for the things they need (Matthew 7:7). Pray about the needs you have and encourage your children to do the same. Your kids’ requests may seem silly or “unspiritual” to you, but don’t discourage them from asking what is really on their hearts. As you hear them pray and reveal what’s on their minds, then you have information to help you attend to their needs and guide them into more mature, less self-centered prayers.

3. Be Relational – Praying out loud as a family can bring you closer in your relationships with one another as well as with the Father. Prayer is a tangible way to keep Jesus Christ in the center of your family. Your faith as a family will be emboldened as you experience the Lord answering prayers you’ve heard one another pray just as the early church experienced together God’s power through their corporate prayers (Acts 4:31).

4. Be Realistic (not legalistic) – As your children grow they will go through stages of involvement and disconnect. It is good to have a model (like A.C.T.S.) to help guide them, but above all teach that prayer is an honest dialogue not a formal recitation. Keep their ages in mind and encourage small steps like sentence prayers of thanksgiving. And if a child does not want to pray out loud, don’t force them. Be careful not to set prayer out as a religious requirement but as a precious privilege. Encourage them to know that hearing their prayers is a way to grow in intimacy with one another, but emphasize that they don’t have to speak out loud to talk to God. Praying out loud may be a source of embarrassment for people because they’ve never been taught how. The home is a safe place for kids to prepare for public prayer at their own pace.

So, start tonight. Pray as a family. Remember, it’s not how you pray with your kids, but that you pray with your kids which is important! What about you? How do you pray with your kids?

 

7 Prayer Requests for Your Children

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:9-13, ESV) 

How can we really see change in the lives of our children? The starting place is prayer. We start with prayer because it is God who works in our children not us. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if you have to choose–though I doubt you do–between discipling your children and praying for them then you should prioritize prayer.

So how should we pray for our kids? Should we pray for them to be bright, athletic, good-looking, healthy, happy, and above average? Maybe. Or, we could set a higher bar and pray for them to grow in godliness. That’s how Paul prayed for his spiritual “children.”

We can have confidence when we pray Scripture because it’s God’s Word and reflects His heart for His children. Take the passage above and turn it into a prayer for your kids. I have built my prayer for my children over past 13 years on the verses above. You can try it right now, just place your child’s name in these sentences:

  1. Lord, fill my child with spiritual wisdom and understanding (for salvation or for spiritual growth if they are already believers).
  2. Lord, help my child to have this wisdom so he/she will walk (live) in a way that is worthy of you and pleasing to you.
  3. Lord, help my child to bear spiritual fruit by doing good works.
  4. Lord, help my child increase in his/her knowledge of you.
  5. Lord, strengthen my child with all power, according to your glorious might.
  6. Lord, give my child endurance, patience, and joy.
  7. Father, thank you for my child, and thank you for qualifying us through Jesus Christ to share in your inheritance of eternal life. (Or, for the hope of that inheritance for the child not yet saved).
So, don’t make prayer harder than it needs to be. Model your prayer after God’s Word and trust, not in the prayer, but in the One to Whom you are praying to answer for His glory.