Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 24 -- 30 days of prayer in the home

Ideas to pray for your home in general:

1) That the family will be good stewards of any physical possessions that the Lord provides.
2) The the home will be a place of beauty, order, and peace.
3) That the home will reflect God's glory.
4) That members of the family will build and retain happy memories of home.
5) That the members of the family will work together in unity to make home life godly and sweet.
6) That the home and all who enter it will be blessed.
7) That God will bless your work as a keeper at home.
8) That the home will serve as a training ground for godly character and wholesome skills needed for life, and most importantly, for faith in the Lord. That this training will include any children in the family, but will also extend to others -- such as singles -- who might visit the home and learn what a godly home is like from the example you set.
9) That the people in the home will always be quick to repent and quick to forgive.
10) That you home will be filled with music, love, and joy.
11) That the people who are sleeping in the bedrooms, whether family or guests, will have sleep that is sweet and restorative.
12) That God will bless the hands that work in the kitchen; that everyone will be grateful for the food that God has provided; that the arms of the family can reach out to those who do not have food or shelter; that the food prepared will nourish the physical body; that the family will never neglect spiritual food in favor of physical food; that the Lord will create in the hearts of the family members a hunger and thirst for righteousness and that He will fill that hunger.
13) In the bathroom: That family members will have clean and pure hearts; thankfulness for clean water in which to bathe, to launder, and to drink;
14) That your family will speak only words which are loving, truthful, and useful for building each other up in the faith.
15) That your home will be a place of truth.
16) That your home will be a refuge from the struggles of this world or else a place where people work through struggles with faith, love and compassion.
17) That nothing will be hidden in the home that shouldn't be hidden; that any dangers, temptations, or hidden sins being practiced in the home will come to light so that they may be dealt with;
18) That your vision of how home life should be is fully surrendered to the Lord's plans; that you will be faithful even if things do not look as if they are going well at the moment; that you will always have a vision for what God can do in even the most dire of circumstance.
19) That relationships in the home will be godly and healthy.
20) That your family can open the home to people who need hospitality.
21) That family members will not hold unspoken or unrealistic expectations over each other; that family members will accept each other even if there are differences in personality and abilities; that family members will love each other without showing preference.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 23 -- 30 days of prayer in the home

Touched by an Angel...

Consider the time that Jacob wrestled all night with someone. The stranger never reveals his name, but Jacob associated him with having seen the face of God. So, we assume that he was, at the very least, a messenger from the Lord. Here's what the scriptures tell us:

"Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob." And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."" Genesis 32:24-30

There's a lot to think about in this incident from Jacob's life. I leave it to others who are more qualified than I to write a lesson on this passage. I just want to consider one small thing that this might teach us: to be persistent and faithful in prayer.

On the night that Jacob wrestled with the stranger, he was returning home from a distant land, where he had worked for his uncle. The reason he had fled to his uncle's land was that he had angered his brother Esau, and his brother had threatened him. Jacob had induced his Esau to sell him his birthright as the firstborn in exchange for a pot of lentils, and, with this mother's guidance, he had deceived his father into thinking that he was Esau, thus receiving from Isaac the blessing usually reserved for the firstborn son.

It's odd that Jacob and his mother used trickery and manipulation to obtain the birthright and the blessing. When Rebekkah had been pregnant with the twin boys, the twins had wrestled in her womb. She inquired of God what this might mean. He replied that within her womb were two nations. He declared that the nations that came through the lineage of Esau, the older one, would serve the nation that sprang from Jacob's lineage.

It was clear that God meant to bless Jacob. He chose to work through Jacob to continue his promises to Abraham and his seed, through whom all nations would one day be blessed. Jacob and Rebekkah probably did not understand the big picture of what God was doing through Abraham's family as we do who live after Christ came to be our Savior. However, they did know that God had chosen Jacob for a special purpose. Still, they resorted to tricks to obtain what God had already promised them.

Jacob's name means supplanter, trickster, or one who grabs by the heel. In truth, Jacob did come out of the womb grabbing at Esau's heel, who was born just a few moment before him. When the two were grown, Jacob, with the help of his mother, did manipulate things so that Jacob received the blessings normally reserved for the first born.

Esau was by no means innocent in this matter. He despised his own birthright. He treated it as something cheap -- worth the same as a bowl of porridge. In a fit of physical, temporal hunger, he traded the blessing meant to last for a lifetime in exchange for lentil stew. He, like many people, could not see past his immediate desires to the longterm consequences of his actions. Thus, he threw away the greater for the lesser. In the book of Hebrews, Esau is used as a warning not to throw away our faith in exchange for worldly approval and comfort. Yet, when Esau faces the consequences of his actions, he focuses on Jacob's sin and not on his own need for repentance. He is angry with his younger brother.

So, Jacob flees. We know that God appeared at least two times to Jacob during his journey and sojourn, promising to bless him, to be with him, and to make of him a great nation. In fact, God appeared to Jacob in his uncle's land and told him to go home and promised him that he would be with him.

Still, Jacob feared seeing his older brother. He sent his family on ahead and stayed alone for a night. Was he thinking over past events? Praying? Scheming according to his old nature? We don't know.

A stranger comes to Jacob and wrestles with him. Note that it is the stranger who initiates the wrestling match. Jacob somehow recognizes that he is wrestling with no ordinary person. He cries out that he will not let the stranger go until he blesses him.

The stranger asks Jacob what his name is. Why did he do that when a messenger from the Lord or the Lord Himself would know who Jacob was? We don't know. God often asks questions not for information, but to make us think. (An interesting study is to examine all of the questions Jesus asks people in the book of John.) Once, when Jacob was asked this question by his earthly father, he lied and said he was Esau. Perhaps, the stranger wanted Jacob to face up to the meaning of his name, and also to take a good inward look at his character. Perhaps, he wanted to underscore the fact that he was giving Jacob a new name -- Israel.

Why did the stranger initiate the struggle? Again, we don't know for certain. Perhaps, the stranger wanted to take Jacob to new levels of faith and repentance. Perhaps, he wanted Jacob to literally come to grips with the God in whom he trusted. Perhaps, he wanted Jacob to get to the point of exhaustion and surrender so that he would come to the end of his own powers and look to God. Perhaps, he was testing Jacob to see if he would persist in his struggle or give up. Perhaps, he wanted Jacob to wrestle to a point of deeper faith and humility. Perhaps, he wanted Jacob to see that it was not the circumstances of his life that he needed to wrestle with, but that he should seek a relationship with the Lord above all else.

Jacob held onto the stranger until he did receive a blessing. However, the stranger put his mark on Jacob and forever after this incident, Jacob was lame. To be lame is a humbling thing. It must have been doubly so in Jacob's case, for it was a constant reminder to him of his stunning encounter with God.

God had already promised to bless Jacob. In one sense, Jacob did not need to wrestle for a blessing. Yet, the stranger was pleased with Jacob's persistence. He commended Jacob for having struggled with God and mean and having prevailed.

How did Jacob prevail? It was obvious that the stranger had supernatural means by which he could have fully subdued Jacob. Yet, he wrestled Jacob on Jacob's level. I assume that the stranger let Jacob prevail, much as we might let a little child win a game of checkers. Perhaps, the way in which Jacob prevailed was simply that he did not give up.

I personally think that God used this wrestling match to transform Jacob from being the "supplanter" to being Israel. Perhaps, in the encounter, Jacob not only wrestled with the man, but he also wrestled with himself, his fear, and his faith.

Whatever his weaknesses were, Jacob understood the value of the blessing God had promised. Maybe, he sought it by the wrong means, and received correction from God. Still, he would not let go until he had obtained what the Lord had promised to him. Unlike Esau, Jacob did not count the blessing casually. Instead, he earnestly sought it and tenaciously held on to it. It can equally be said that the stranger did not let go of Jacob, but wrestled with him until what needed to be accomplished was accomplished.

What about us? God has given us the greatest blessing: Jesus Christ. He has given us great and precious promises, especially concerning eternal life with Him. Do we treat these promises lightly? Do we treat the presence of God in our lives lightly? What do we do when God calls us to attention, as the stranger did Jacob?

One occasion when we might be called to wrestle could be when we don't understand what God is doing in a particular circumstance and we need to get to the point of trust and surrender. Similar times might be whenever our faith flags, when the answers to prayer seem a long time coming, whenever we are tempted to place our feelings and desires above God's word, whenever tragedy strikes, or even when things have been going well and we begin to forget how desperately we need God.

As we mentioned in an earlier post, Jesus told the parable about the unjust judge to teach us to pray and never give up. Jesus connects this persistence in prayer to faith. There may be times in our life when we were tempted to quit praying with heart or even to quit praying all together. If we, like Jacob, value the blessing of God's presence in our lives above all things, we will persist in prayer. We will pray without giving up. We will pray until the Lord transforms our hearts. We will gladly bear his mark -- the mark of the cross -- upon us. When he comes again, we will have hope that the Lord will find faith in our hearts.


30 Days of Prayer in the Home -- Day 22

Praying for our children -- Part II

Here are some ideas of things to pray for children:

1) That your child's heart will always be receptive to God's word. That your child's heart will be the noble soil that produces a crop even greater than that which is sewn. Luke 8:4-21
2) That your child will have faith in the Lord and love for the Lord that will never fail. I Corinthians 13, Luke 22:32
3) That their thoughts will be fixed on things above. Phil. 4:4-8; Col. 3:1-2 That God will guard their thoughts and protect them from influences that would make them stumble or turn to worldly things. That they will have clear minds and self-control so that they can pray. I Peter 4:7 That they will set their hope fully on the grace to be received when Christ comes again. I Peter 1:13
4) That your children will walk as Jesus did. I John 2:6; that your child will come to Christ, learn from Him, take Christ's yoke upon his or her shoulders, and have rest for their souls.
5) Pray for your child's present or future mate or for the Lord to make it clear if it is His will for your child to remain single. Pray for your child's future or present mate's family. Pray for your child's present or future children.
6) Pray for your child's teachers. Pray for other adults who are in a position to influence your child. Pray for your child's present and future friendships. Pray that your child will be a strong influence for godliness among his peers and that he or she will reject any worldly influence from others. Pray that your child will have a teachable heart and will learn from those who can teach him or her to be like Christ and to obey his commands. Pray that your child will stand strong against any peer pressure or persecution or other influence that goes against a true faith in the Lord. Matthew 18:18-20; Proverbs 27:17
7) Pray that your child will never be able to get away with deceit. Pray that the Lord will alert you to any hidden problem in your child's life so that you can help. Pray that your child will love truth and hate falsehood. Pray that you will have an open relationship in which your child feels that he or she can safely confide in you. Also, pray for godly friends with whom your child can be open and that these friends will pray with your child and offer sound, Biblical counsel.
8) Pray for your child to have the qualities of godly love: I Corinthians 13.
9) Pray for your relationship with your child. Pray that you will be a godly, loving parent and that your child will love and respect you. Pray that your home will be filled with love, joy, and peace, along with all the fruits of the Spirit of God. Pray that your child will see in your home, and in other homes, examples of godly marriages and healthy, godly families. Pray this for your child's sake.
10) Pray that your child's heart and mouth will be filled with praise and thanksgiving. Pray that your child will have joy and peace in all circumstances, whether in times of happiness or times of trial.
11) Pray for your child's to pray and read God's word. Ask your child if there are specific things that he or she would like you to pray about and pray for those things. Keep a little notebook in which you list things that your husband or children mention that they need prayer for and in which you jot down prayer needs that you see.
12) Pray for your child's priorities, work or school tasks, etc. Pray that your child will be able to find satisfaction in his or her tasks and, when adult, in his or her life's work. Pray that he or she will be able to organize well, yet also be able to handle interruptions well. Pray that he or she will surrender his or her days to the Lord and that he or she will find their days to be productive, rather than burdensome. Pray that if your child faces some illness in which he or she will not be able to go about their daily routine that they will know how to rest in the Lord. Pray that your child will be able to cope with whatever his or her days bring.

Great times to pray for (or even with) your child in addition to your morning prayer time:

1) When your child wakes up.
2) When your child goes to sleep.
3) As mentioned before, when you do your child's laundry or do some cleaning in your child's room.
4) When you are driving your child and his or her siblings or friends someplace. They will almost forget you are there, and you will be able to glean a lot from their conversations with each other.
5) When you are nursing a little one in the middle of the night, pray for that child.
6) When your child leaves home during the day; when your child comes back home
7) As you cook for your family.
8) Right before or right after you talk with an adult child on the phone or email them.
9) When you are helping your child get dressed.
10) When you take a walk with your child.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 21 -- 30 days of prayer in the home

Praying for children:

When praying for our children we need to remember:

1) God loves them even more than we do.
2) God is the perfect parent.
3) We need to pray for God's will for our children, even if it means that His purposes require some sacrifices on our part and on the part of our child.
4) Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8. Jesus was God's perfect son. From all eternity, He was with God in heaven and He was God. John 1. Yet, God did not spare His Beloved and Only Son from suffering. He let Him come to earth to live with us and die for us. This love of God is a great and beautiful mystery. If Jesus, who was perfect, identified with us in his suffering so that He became the High Priest who understands our temptations Hebrews 3:14-15, then how much more will our children, who are less than perfect, have to suffer to learn things like deep compassion, godliness, unselfishness, etc.
5) God's desire for our children is to have an eternal relationship with them. He wants to bless them with joy and an abundant life. He loves them and cares tenderly for them. Any suffering He allows in their lives is to refine their faith. (I Peter Chapter 1; James Chapter 1).

Therefore, when praying for our children, one of our greatest tasks is to surrender them fully to the Lord with the understanding that His will is always best and right and true. Along with godly mothers, such as Hannah, we find examples in scripture of mothers who tried to do things according to their own plans. Think of the pain that accompanied Rebekah's favoritism of Jacob. Even Mary, the faithful mother of our Lord, had at least one moment when she wrestled with God's plan for her Son's life. Though, for the most part, she is the supreme example to us of godly motherhood, there was a point at which she tried to interfere with Jesus' ministry out of fear for her son. Mark 3:20-21, Mark 3:30 ff. Yet, God's plan for Jesus led to salvation for Mary and for all of us. What joy Mary must have had in seeing her son after his resurrection, knowing that glory had now swallowed up any motherly pangs she had endured during his time on earth.

We can be sure that God understands a mother's heart, which swells with joy and tenderness and protectiveness and love. God created motherhood. He, Himself, often explains His nature to us in terms of being a parent, and, sometimes, in maternal imagery. Not only that but, in Christ, he experienced what it is like to receive a mother's love. Isaiah 40:11 gives one of the most beautiful pictures of our Lord's tender heart toward mothers. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

We may fear at times to surrender our children fully to God, but we need not do so. God will gently lead us as we raise our children when they are young. He will be there for us as we watch our children grow up and become adults. He will continue to show us how to nurture and love our children, and, best of all, He will gather our precious lambs close to his heart! Where could our children be safer, more loved, and more joyful than snuggled in the arms of Christ?


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Day 20 -- Praying for Your Husband

Here are some ways you can pray for your husband:

1) Make a list of five to ten qualities that you admire in your husband and thank God for those qualities in your husband. Song of Solomon 2:4
2) Pray that God will nourish the special friendship that you and your husband share. Pray to be a great friend to your husband: Song of Solomon 5:16
3) Pray that God will nourish the romance that you and your husband share. Pray to be a romantic companion to your husband. Song of Solomon 5:16; Proverbs 5:18-19
4) Pray that your husband will always love the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Pray that he will grasp the wonder of Christ's love for us. Mark 12:30, Ephesians Chapters One and Two
5) Pray that God will fill your husband with the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5
6) Pray for your husband's purity and for your purity as well. Pray for purity of heart and motive, as well as sexual purity. I Thessalonians 5:23, Matthew 5:8
7) Pray that your husband will fix his thoughts on things which will nourish his relationship to God and not on things of the world. Phil. 4:4-8
8)Pray that God will bless your husband; that you will be a blessing in his life; that God will heal any hurts from his past and give him a holy vision for the future and fill him with hope. Numbers 6:24; Proverbs 31; Romans 15:13
9) That his faith will never fail or, if he is not a believer in Christ, that he will be saved.
10) That the word of Christ will dwell richly in him. Colossians 3:15-17

There are any number of specific requests, such as those listed above, that you can make for your husband. If we take our requests from scripture, we can be sure that they are in line with God's will. One of the greatest ways we can love our husbands is to put a lot of thought into praying for our husband's needs.

However, one area that many women struggle with in prayer is the desire to take control, rather than to leave God room to work. Can you relate to the woman who prays to the Lord for her husband, yet who feels the Lord needs her help in managing things? Have you ever been tempted to nag, wheedle, take the reins, or somehow manage your husband into being the man you want him to be, and, what's more, to make of him the man you want him to be right this instant?

So often, we pay lip service to the way that the Lord says to win our husbands to greater righteousness. God says our greatest power in winning our husbands to godliness lies in having a calm and quiet spirit, as well as a life that is reverent.

So, along with making specific requests for our husbands, we can also pray to have quiet, trusting hearts that do not give way to fear. (I Peter 3). We can surrender our husbands to God and pray for His will to be done in their lives. We can remember that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20-21. We can also remember that He loves our husbands even more than we do and that He knows what is best for our husbands even more than we do.

There are times when we may need to talk calmly and gently to our husband about something we see that is amiss in his life, and, perhaps, we may even need to seek the aid of a godly counselor who can help. In this as in all situations, we still need to maintain a trusting heart and to avoid letting fear make us grasp for control.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Day 19 -- Thirty Days of Prayer in the Home...

We need both concentrated times of prayer and also short, extemporaneous prayers throughout the day. While our relationship with God is different than our other relationships, we can draw some parallels from human interaction. With our loved ones, we set aside times to be together, but we also communicate throughout the day.

Little events throughout the day can serve as prompts to praise God and to intercede for others. Here are some examples:

1) When we write an email, a blog article, a tweet message, or a text, we do well to pray before we hit the send button. This is especially true if we are conveying emotion and not just facts.
2) When we hear an ambulance or pass an accident scene, we can pray for those in stress.
3) We can praise God and thank Him for our families and also intercede for our families in those moments right before a loved one will be arriving home from work, school, or other activity. We can also pray when we, ourselves, enter our home after having been out.
4) When the phone rings, we can thank God for friends and family and to pray that our speech will be wise, kind, and free of gossip. If we have caller I.D., we can pray specifically for the person who is calling.
5) We can carry a prayer card with us and use it as a prompt to pray when waiting for appointments, for a stop light to turn green, or while standing in a line. We can jot down on the card things we are thankful for, as well as needs we know about.
6) We can pray for families, teachers, and children when we drive or walk by a school.
7) Seeing a headline or hearing the news can give us ideas for prayer.
8) Instead of getting angry when someone cuts us off in traffic, we can ask God to bless that person.
9) If we deal with a store clerk or other customer service person, we can ask God to bless that person. This goes doubly if the person seems to be having a bad day or if the interchange does not go as we would like it to.
10) When planning menus, paying bills, or doing other desk work, we can pray.