The Bible not only says that you SHOULD pray for your family, it also gives examples of HOW to pray for them…
But you may not have recognized these examples, because they are not geared specifically toward the family. They are prayers the Apostle Paul prayed for the folks he was writing. They were groups of people who had come together around their faith in Jesus. They were church “families”.
If you take a look at the prayers Paul prayed for those folks, you’ll notice something right away. He prayed with a level of depth that is very uncommon in our day. In fact, Paul prayed for things that we sadly, don’t even THINK to pray for. That means we have a TON to learn from his prayers.
HERE’S AN ACTION STEP: Take a minute to hover your mouse over the scripture references in the bullet list below (f you are reading this in email, you’ll have to click on the post title at the top and go to the website to use that functionality). Pick out some of the things Paul asked the LORD to do in the lives of his readers.
- Romans 8:1-10
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
- Ephesians 1:3-5
- Ephesians 3:14-21
- Philippians 1:9-11
- and many, many more…
Here’s the important question: How do those types of prayers compare to the type you normally pray for your family?
My heart is broken, when I see my own lack in this area
When I do the exercise above, I immediately come to the realization that my prayers on behalf of my family are anemic, when compared to the prayers of Paul. He had a sense of what was truly important, what mattered on an eternal level, and he prayed along those lines for the people under his care.
Who is under MY care? My family, most of all.
Paul’s prayers are the kinds of prayers that I want to learn how to pray for my wife and my kids. They are the kind of things I want to ask God to do for my grandkids and their kids. That’s because they are the kind of prayers that really matter.
I want to learn how to pray, in this powerful, scriptural, God-honoring way, on behalf of the people God has entrusted to me.
We can impact our families on an eternal level by how we PRAY for our them
In the rest of this post, I’d like to walk through one of Paul’s prayers that has come to mean a TON to me…
As you read it, join me in imagining. Ask yourself this question:
What would it be like, if MY spouse, MY kids, and MY grandchildren had THESE KINDS OF THINGS becoming true in their lives?
Then I realize, what is the most important point of this blog post:
YOU CAN HAVE IN IMPACT ON WHETHER THOSE THINGS COME ABOUT, OR NOT.
Read that sentence again… it’s true. YOU can have an impact on whether or not the following, eternal things happen in the lives of your loved ones.
You have that impact, through prayer.
Here we go… let’s dissect this “family prayer” passage, phrase at a time…
These are the ways that Paul prayed for those under his care…
Consistently – “we have not ceased to pray for you…”
Paul was incredibly consistent in his prayers. I don’t think this means he was praying for these people 24/7. Nor does it mean that he was only praying for them (he had other churches that were on his mind, as well). But it does mean he made a way to remember to pray for them on a regular basis. How do you do that?
Here are some suggestions for you, that have been helpful for me:
- Once you get a regular routine of “Quiet Time” into your daily routine, include a “prayer reminder” list. I have mine with my Bible study notes, tucked into the passage where I’m reading/studying. That way I see it daily and am reminded to pray. My “list” includes ONLY the primary relationships in my life (family, close friends). I have a different way of handling my “other” lists.
- Write out a passage like Colossians 1:9-12 to keep WITH your list. Use it as a model prayer, to remind you of the kinds of things you need to pray for.
How can YOU incorporate these ideas into YOUR prayers for YOUR family?
Prayer for God-mindedness – “that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
Paul wanted those he was praying for to be able to know God’s will, so he prayed for what it would take in order for that to be true. They needed spiritual wisdom and understanding.
That’s more than just asking God to make them wise. It’s asking the LORD to make them spiritually wise, able to discern things on the spiritual level that undergirds all of life.
When your spouse, and kids, and grandkids begin to grow in spiritual wisdom, all of life will change for them. They’ll begin to see God’s activity and purpose in things going on around them. They’ll be better able to understand their role in His work.
How can YOU begin praying for this God-mindedness in your family?
A life that is productive, and pleasing to God – “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”
Notice, this request is a result of the one before. Spiritual wisdom and insight RESULTS IN a fruitful and God-pleasing life. So… you can pray for the God-pleasing life, but make sure you’re understanding the WAY it comes about… through spiritual wisdom and understanding.
How can YOU be actively praying for the fruitfulness and God-honoring lives of those within your family?
For TRUE strength – “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might”
Paul understood that we are dust (Psalm 103:14), without the empowering work of God in us. That’s why He prayed that his readers would be strengthened with the power that only GOD can supply.
He prays for these dear people, that they will be strengthened ACCORDING TO God’s glorious might. That’s a proportional statement, telling us what degree of power Paul is praying for in their lives. Think of it this way:
You could try to power the lights in your home with a 9 volt battery. If you did that, you’d be powering your lights “according to” the capacity of a 9 volt battery.
OR, you could power the lights in your home with the power supplied by the electric company. That would be powering your lights “according to” the capacity of the electric company.
Which do you think is a better power source?
Paul wants his readers to know that he’s praying for the power for their lives to be “according to” God’s glorious might.
Did you hear that? GOD’S might is what Paul wanted to be fueling their souls. That’s the kind of power every Christ-follower needs.
It’s the kind of power your family needs.
What kind of prayers do you need to be praying regarding YOUR family’s power for living?
For a life of endurance, joy, and gratitude – “for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father”
This is another statement that is a result of the one before. The kind of power Paul wants them to have, PRODUCES a life that is typified by endurance and joy. It makes sense.
- If God is the power source of your family’s lives, they will be able to endure every hardship, trial, or disappointment that comes their way.
- If God is the power source of their souls, they will be able to have joy, in the midst of those types of events.
Do you think YOUR family needs those kinds of things? There’s no doubt in my mind, my family does! I can have an impact on whether or not they have those kinds of lives, through my prayers for them.
What adjustments do YOU need to make in how you pray for your family’s endurance and joy?
In light of God’s abundant grace in their lives – “who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light”
Paul prayed for his church “family” with an eye on the great benefits that they had already received in Christ. That means that the kinds of bold, gutsy prayers Paul just prayed for them are to be expected. He is able to pray confidently, because he knows that the things he’s asking for, are the kinds of things God will naturally do for His own.
Does that encourage you? You don’t have to be cautious, or skeptical about whether God wants to do these kinds of things for your family. If they are believers in Christ, these are the kinds of things that our good Father does for His children. We can ask Him to do these things with confidence, expecting to see the results come about in their lives.
How do your prayers for your family need to grow in confidence?
Your prayer for your family makes a difference – a powerful, God-empowered difference!
I’m so encouraged when I read Paul’s prayers, and take the time to understand what he is praying for. It shows me that my family, as believers in Jesus, are about to get their socks blessed off… as I am praying for them according to God’s perfect will!