As we continue our series on family devotions I wish to focus today on family prayer. I have often said there are few, if any, ways to better knit the hearts of believers together than through corporate prayer. It stands to reason that the same holds for family prayer times as well. The bible exhorts us to “Pray for one another” (James 5:16) and the early church provides numerous examples of gathered prayer, including: Acts 1:14; 2:12; 4:24-31; and 12:5-18. Of the many benefits of family prayer, here are three:
(1) Dependence on display
Prayer ought to be the natural inclination of a child of God. We depend on him for every good gift in this life and the life to come (James 1:17). It is noteworthy that even in eternity: when death is defeated, sin is no more, and every tear wiped away; God’s children will still be praying (Revelation 19:1-8), declaring his sovereign reign, the wonders of his salvation, and the glory of his righteousness. Praying together places your family in a position of humble dependence as you bring your needs and desires to the only source of ultimate satisfaction and provision: God himself.
(2) Leading by example
Children naturally look to their parents for not only their basic needs, but also for how to make sense of the world in which they live. Having a regular time of prayer in addition to bible devotions models how and why we pray to God. Even Jesus’ disciples needed to be taught how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4), how much more the little ones God entrusts to our keeping. There are many daily opportunities we ought to use to demonstrate the value and necessity of prayer: devotional times, mealtime thanksgiving, situational needs etc. But may I also encourage you to set aside an extended time to pray together? We generally made a habit of an intentional block of time to pray as a family once per week. Linda would keep a journal to record not only requests, but encouraging answers as well. Experiencing God’s faithfulness is a priceless foundation to establish in your household – could you commit to such a habit? Remember, whether we wish to our not, the priorities we set for our homes automatically communicate to our family that which we value the most.
(3) Constructive Discipleship
We often think of family discipline as being reactionary; we discipline children in reaction to ungodly behaviour. Certainly there are times for this and the bible tells us that God chastens and disciplines those he loves (Heb. 12:6). However, the most effective discipline is the regular shaping that occurs as we give ourselves to family devotion, and prayer is central to all devotion. We are to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15), and we are to “confess our faults one to another and pray for another” (again, James 5:16). Family life places people who sin and are sinned against in the cozy confines of home. Life is challenging and living with ourselves is hard enough, let alone the rest of our family. Prayer times help us to confront our faults in the loving, gracious context of Christ’s gospel. We are generally the first to know of the triumphs and trials of each family member as our family is who we know the best. Family prayer helps us confront the challenges of life, return thanks for life’s joys and pleasures, and face tomorrow with confident hope; all the while reinforcing God as the sustaining source for all of life.
Mission Action Prayer:
Lord thank you for your steadfast love and that you long to be my family’s “living hope”. Help me establish, foster, and cherish family times of prayer.
Mission Action Plan:
Start with your own prayer life. Does it need revitalizing? A good resource to consider is Tim Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.
Click here for more info.