In my small group at church this week we talked a little about how we pray. One of the members of our group mentioned reading Paul’s prayers for the church.
Knowing what to pray for my family has always been a topic of concern for me.
I confess most of my prayers are for their needs for the “here and now.”
- Help this grandchild to find a good job
- Provide the finances for this grandchild to pay for college
- Heal this son/daughter
- Take care of this difficult situation this child is experiencing right now
Looking at the ministry of Jesus on earth I do not think praying for their physical and financial needs in this life is wrong. While on earth Jesus often spend time meeting the needs of those who followed Him.
- He fed the hungry
- He opened the eyes of the blind
- He reached out and healed the leper
- His very first miracle was actually supplying wine for a wedding party
Clearly He was and is concerned about all our needs, not just the “spiritual” ones.
Still, when I look at the prayers the early church prayed and the prayers of Peter and Paul in their writings it is clear that their main concern was not for the “here and now.” They were not so concerned for their own needs but for God’s kingdom to be advanced, for “eternal” things.
I say as a Christian I believe there is life after this one on earth. I say it is my desire that my children and grandchildren know and serve the Lord. But do my prayers really reflect that? Am I more concerned about the “here and now” than I am with the “eternal”?
One prayer the early church prayed which I think really reflects their focus on the kingdom of God rather than their own needs, is the one found in Acts 4. Here, Peter and John had been in prison for preaching about Jesus. Upon being released, they were warned to stop sharing the story of Jesus and threats were made if they did not refrain from doing so.
They immediately gathered with the other believers. Now, today if this happened to our pastor, I believe our prayers would probably be for God to protect us or to change the hearts of the religious leaders. But I love their prayer.
“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
To help me focus my prayers more in line with the early church, I have been praying one of Paul’s prayers for my children and grandchildren. It is found in Colossians 1.
“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.”
Truly I want all the best for my children and grandchildren. It is my desire that they have great marriages, successful careers and good health. But most of all, my greatest desire is that they will grow to know God better and better.
How do you pray for your family?