Family Prayer – Preservation
One of God’s highest priorities is preserving family relationships. God designed marriage (Genesis 2:18, 24) and the family to accomplish His purpose and to enrich our lives (Psalm 127:3). While technology has enhanced the quality of our businesses and allowed families to stay electronically accessible, it has also curtailed communication. With greater regularity, parents and their children distance themselves from one another emotionally and spiritually. Ultimately, in this era of cutting-edge communication, the family unit “mis-communicates” with God by omitting family prayers.
A family unit is established upon divine creation and Satan utilizes any circumstances that promote disputes and destruction within a relationship (Ephesians 4:26–27, 1 Peter 5:7–8). The majority of families rarely participate in activities together, directing their attention to the television or computer. In forfeiting dialogue with family members, parents and children lack unity from God through prayer.
Family Prayer – Privilege
We may recall the familiar child’s family prayer, “God is great, God is good. And we thank Him for this food.” As a child facing the probability of a “creature” hiding under my bed I prayed, “If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Some families may choose prearranged prayers or repetition, while others may prefer spontaneous, less structured prayers. In both cases, prayers are a privilege that require a commitment between parent and child as well as God. Including God in daily circumstances helps both child and parent to understand one another. With the freedom of praying together, families are partners, building strong spiritual foundations in their homes (1 Corinthians 3:9, 11).
Family prayers extend beyond meals and bedtime. Our needs extend beyond food and fears. Families should discuss and pray together on a variety of issues. By integrating a Bible verse(s) (Ephesians 6:1–3) with prayer, children can be encouraged to ask God to help them obey their parents. Parents show their obedience to God by respecting and honoring each other (1 Peter 3:7). Children experience security as they witness their parents praying for God’s help as well. As the mother seeks to please God in her prayers, God rewards her family (Proverbs 31:10–12, 28-29). As the father assumes his place as spiritual leader in the home, God blesses the family (Genesis 18:19). By example, their children will approach the Lord regularly as if they we were crawling up into a loving Father's lap.
Family Prayer – Protection
In family prayer, it is important to remember that our Heavenly Father loves to talk with children and cares deeply about their problems. Knowing that He protects and rescues us from our fears provides invaluable peace and unity to a family. Praying together allows children to voice their concerns to both an earthly parent and their “Father, dear Father” (Romans 8:15) simultaneously. When our daughter was young, we read Romans 8:38–39 then prayed, thanking God for His love and asking Him to keep her safe as she began first grade. Years later, as our daughter headed off to college, our family prayers knitted us even closer, knowing God was faithful.
The benefits of family prayers impact the parents in dramatic ways. Unemployment can tear a marriage and family apart. When Dave lost his job of 8 years, he was shaken. The children began praying for their father before and after school. Dave and Christy shared their need for direction and resources with their children. Dave recalls, “There were days when I felt frustrated and my heart was restless. But then one of the children would put their hand on my shoulder and ask God to ‘help Daddy not to be sad and for some nice people to give our daddy a job.’” Dave shared how he felt his heart being guarded, even protected, whenever his family prayed with him. When that perfect job was provided, the whole family gave thanks and their children realized their vital part in praying (Philippians 4:6–7). Prayer plants a hedge of protection around families.
Family Prayer – Priority
Though family prayer is effective in strengthening members, it’s often difficult to find a specific prayer time. Parents approach family prayer with the best of intentions, only to find schedule conflicts. A parent may feel unqualified to lead in prayer, believing that they will appear ineffective communicating with God. So are there guidelines to establishing family prayer as priority each day?