A. NAME YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS DAILY
“He would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all… thus Job did regularly” (read Job 1:1-5).
The Bible records that Job was a righteous man. It was his practice to bring his family before the Lord in prayer. He was deeply concerned about their relationship with God.
This illustrates a key principle of your role as a follower of the Lord Jesus. Each believer has been called to important spiritual responsibilities – whether you are a church leader or not.
One of those responsibilities for every sincere Christian is to pray for those who are close to you – including family, friends, and the brothers and sisters in Christ with whom you fellowship.
SERVANT HEADSHIP THROUGH PRAYER
If, however, you are a husband and father, you have a God-given role as the spiritual head in your family under Christ’s Lordship. This increases your responsibility to pray for your family.
In Ephesians 5:23-28, the husband’s role is compared to Christ’s. Within that passage we read, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church…”.
Christ is both the Head of the Church (v.23) and the Servant of the Church (Matt 20:28). He became the Head of the Church by willingly laying down His life at the Cross; therefore, God raised Him up and exalted Christ as the Head of the Body (Eph 1:22,23; Phil 2:5-11).
Christ served the Church (His Bride – Eph 5:25) by laying down His life; and Christ continues to serve the Church as Her exalted Lord! Let us read of one of the ways Christ now serves His Bride: “Therefore He [Christ] is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25); “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom 8:34).
Jesus, our great Savior and Lord, is also our great Intercessor! Though part of His intercession includes His role as the once-for-all Mediator between God and Man (1 Tim 2:5), He is also our great High Priest (Heb 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-16) Who even now brings the needs of the Church before our loving Heavenly Father.
Christ is the ultimate example to husbands of the servant role that is part of spiritual headship: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:4,5).
The prime exercise for a husband of the servant-headship role is to pray for the members of his family.
PRAY FOR YOUR FAMILY
So husbands, you have the spiritual responsibility to pray daily for your wife and family. But every believer should also pray for their family members daily!
You may be single or married; you may have children or not; you may have grandparents living in your home, or even grandchildren. Regardless of the circumstances, each of our living family members needs our prayers. Let’s look at some practical ways this can be accomplished.
- Pray For Your Spouse
Marriage partners are joined in a very significant way. The Bible says we are “one flesh” with our spouse (Gen 2:23,24). Paul affirms the same truth, and uses it also to illustrate the mystery of how Christians are joined to the body of Christ (Eph 5:28-33).
Paul instructed, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for Her” (Eph 5:25). One of the ways to love our marriage partner, and to “give our life” (make sacrifices) for them, is to pray regularly for them. We usually know our spouse better than anyone else. We know their fears, dreams, weaknesses and desires. The best way to apply what we know about them is to pray for them every day.
You might pray something like this: “Lord, I ask You to bless my wife (or husband) today. Strengthen her, give her great grace, help her to be more like You. Give her wisdom in every decision. Bless her activities; surround her with Your presence and peace. Protect her and keep her in health today.”
If your spouse has an upcoming ministry assignment, pray about that, too. And take a few minutes to pray in the Spirit for your spouse. As you do, the Lord may give you insight about a specific need for which you should pray. Daily prayer for your spouse will strengthen your marriage before God and bless your spouse in a beautiful and powerful way.
- Pray For Your Children
Raising children is a challenging job! Most parents do not feel properly qualified, and can sometimes become discouraged when their children are less than perfect.
Scripture exhorts parents to: “bring them [your children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4); “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov 22:6); “teach them [God’s commandments] diligently to your children” (Deut 6:7).
Our children do not belong to us; they belong to God. He entrusts them to our stewardship, to take care of them, to raise them in His ways – so that they will become faithful followers of Christ, and honor God with their talents and their lives.
This requires much time, commitment and effort – and especially a lot of prayer. As parents, we must be our children’s first and best intercessors!
You can pray for your children alone in your personal devotional time; but you and your spouse should pray together for your children as well. Prayer can be even more powerful when two are in agreement (Matt 18:19,20).
Some things for which parents can pray for their children are:
- For the work of the devil to be bound, so he cannot steal from and destroy your children; and for God’s power and purpose to be realized in your children’s lives (Matt 16:19).
- For them to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, and to grow into faithful disciples (Deut 6:4-7; John 3:16; Eph 6:4).
- For them to be open to God’s instruction and correction (Ps 119:9-11; Matt 18:1-4).
- For them to know – and follow – the will of God for their lives, and to be obedient and submitted to their parents (Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20)
- For God to provide a good and godly spouse for them; for them to remain sexually pure until they are married (2 Cor 6:14-7:1; 1 Tim 4:12).
- For God’s blessing to be upon them and all that concerns them (Matt 19:13-15).
- For any other needs you know about, or that they have expressed to you.
B. OPEN TO YOUR LARGER FAMILY
Most of us have relatives beyond our immediate family members. They may be siblings, relatives by marriage, nieces or nephews, grandchildren, etc. They may not all live near you but, as part of your family, they should be included in your prayers.
God loves you; He loves all of your family, too! As a Christ-follower, you should especially pray for the salvation of your unsaved family members. You may be the only person praying for them at all – what a blessed privilege to bring them before God’s throne!
Though it would be difficult to pray for them all every day, you could pray for several of them by name each day of the week. If you don’t know the details of their needs, you can ask for God’s blessing over them or pray for them in your spiritual language.
Let the love of Christ compel you to pray for your family members (2 Cor 5:14,15). You will then reap the rewards of God’s saving power and blessings being shown to them!
C. REMEMBER THE FATHER’S FAMILY
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph 3:14,15).
The Heavenly Father’s family is the Church. The Church is made up of those people who have been redeemed by God “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). These are the people who have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who believe on Him and trust Him for salvation, and who follow Him as disciples. It makes no difference what denomination or church group people are part of; if Jesus Christ is truly their Savior and Lord, they belong to the family of God!
As members of one another (Rom 12:4,5), we need to pray for each other. The Bible gives us insight as to how God would have us pray for His family.
- Jesus’ Prayer
At the close of Christ’s ministry, He prayed for all the generations who would be part of His living Body– the Church – on this earth (John 17:20-23). There are many things that Jesus could have prayed for at that moment. But He essentially prays for one single thing: that believers would “be one in Us [Jesus and the Father]” (v.21). Jesus prayed for unity among believers.
This prayer should signal two things to us:
- The importance of unity among churches and believers,
- The need for leaders to pray for and emphasize unity.
As a leader, you should pray for unity in your church. You can also help encourage unity by teaching the people in your church to pray for each other. As they do, they will have greater love for one another.
As a leader, you should also be praying for other ministers and churches in your area, and teaching your congregation to do the same. Make time in your meetings to pray for each other, and for the believers in other churches as well.
These two points of prayer will not only please the Lord, but will also build strong spiritual unity in your church and community.
But why is unity so important? Jesus told us the reason: So that the world would believe that Jesus is the true Savior of mankind, sent from God the Father (John 17:21-23). Unity among believers is a powerful witness of the Gospel to unbelievers, and can spark revival!
- The Apostle Paul And Prayer
The man through whom the Holy Spirit breathed (2 Tim 3:16) more than one-third of the New Testament– the Apostle Paul – was a man of great prayer. He prayed “night and day” for the Church (1 Thess 3:10). He tells the Corinthians of his “deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28) – a concern that was surely born in prayer. Paul prayed for those he had trained and raised up in ministry: “without ceasing I remember you in my prayers…” (2 Tim 1:3). When describing how he labored in prayer for the Galatian church, Paul compared it to the travail of a mother giving birth to a child (Gal 4:19). Paul was a man of intense prayer!
Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down some of his prayers for the churches. Take the time to read and study the following scriptures in which Paul describes some of the things he prayed for: Romans 1:9-12; 2 Corinthians 13:7-9; Ephesians 1:15-19 and 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12.
As you study these prayers, notice several important things:
Paul prayed with sincerity and passion. Paul believed in the importance of prayer. He put great time and effort into his prayers, often praying over extended periods. He trusted that God heard his prayers and would move according to His wisdom and will.
Though prayer does not “earn” blessing, it does bring a release of God’s work and power. As leaders, You should pray for other ministers, and teach the people in your church to pray for each other we must spend much time in prayer for those people and situations God has put into our lives.
Paul had a correct focus. Paul did not pray for successful church programs or for entertaining sermons. Paul did pray for people. He prayed both for their specific needs (1 Tim 3:14) and for the eternal, transforming work of God in their lives (Eph 1:15-19).
As leaders, we should pray for the immediate needs of people. But we should also pray:
- For their spiritual maturity.
- For the character of Christ to be formed in them.
- For them to truly know Christ, and to experience the power and full measure of God’s love for them.
- For God’s will for their lives and ministries to be revealed to them.
- For them to be filled with every spiritual blessing. There are many more ways to pray for people. Be encouraged to study the prayers of Paul in order to gain more insight into how and what to pray for your flock.
- Leaders Need Prayer
As a church leader, it is important that you teach your congregation to pray for you during their devotional prayer times. Your role of spiritual leadership is vital, and you need God’s grace and help in order to lead effectively. You are also a target for the devil; a common strategy of the adversary is to attempt to strike the shepherd so that he can scatter the sheep (Matt 26:31).
Many leaders mistakenly believe that it is a sign of weakness to ask for prayer. But it is actually the wisest thing a leader can do!
Jesus, at the end of His ministry, prayed a very important prayer (John 17) for His closest disciples – those who would lead the Church after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Studying His prayer will teach you some important things that you, too, can ask your congregation to pray for you:
- To be “kept” from the evil in the world and from the attacks of Satan (vs.11,15)
- To live, work and minister with fellow believers in unity (v.11)
- To be “sanctified” (set apart) for the ministry of the Word (vs.17,19)
- To be “sent” into the world as Christ was with the Good News of salvation by faith in Christ (v.18).
The Apostle Paul asked others to pray for him many times. He understood that fruitful, life-changing ministry could be done only by the power of the Holy Spirit (Zech 4:6; 1 Cor 2:4; 4:19,20; 2 Cor 4:7). Paul admitted that he was weak and dependent upon God (2 Cor 12:9,10). Yet Paul believed that God’s power would be released by prayer, and knew that it would make a vital difference in his ministry if others were praying for him.
Paul did not ask others to pray for his comfort or prosperity. He asked them to pray: that God would open doors for the Word, so he could boldly speak of Christ; that he would be more effective in more places for the sake of the Gospel; that his life would be spared when he was being persecuted (2 Cor 1:11; Eph 6:18-20; Phil 1:19; Col 4:2-4; 2 Thess 3:1,2).
One way to teach your congregation how to pray is to exhort them to pray for you, just as Paul did. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us…” (Col 4:2,3). Ask them to pray that you will walk in holiness, be freshly anointed by the Holy Spirit for every good work, receive fresh revelation and insight into God’s Holy Word, and grow in your ability to teach and lead effectively (2 Cor 7:1; Eph 1:17,18; 4:11,12; 5:18). Your congregation will gladly “amen” such a request!
D. INCLUDE THE SINGLE
“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families…” (Ps 68:5,6).
All of us need healthy, wholesome relationships with others. We need people who will share in our joys and trials, and pray for us. These needs are often met by a spouse or other family members.
But there are those who are unmarried, and may be without other family nearby. They may be young and orphaned, or older and living alone.
God wants all of us to know what it is like to be loved, cared for, and prayed for by our family in the Lord. And He wants to release ministry through us in service to, and prayer for, the many single or lonely ones whom He will bring across our path. God wants to place them into our families; that can be our church family, or maybe even our home.
All of us know people in our neighborhood, church, school or place of work who may be lonely. They may want to relate to others and be warmly accepted, but they aren’t sure what to do. We should be on the watch for those whom God would have us begin to pray for and include in our church activities and other events.
This may or may not mean that God wants you to become a special friend to them. But you can begin by praying for them; then be sensitive as to how else you can include them and help them to grow spiritually.
Ask God to put into your heart the love that is in His heart for those who are alone. His love will help you reach out and encourage people who may be lonely and hurting, to help them draw closer to God.
This was clearly seen in the life of Jesus when He was here on earth (Matt 9:36; Mark 1:40,41). Now, through the grace and power of His Spirit, our hands can become His hands. We can become the family into which the Father sets His “solitary” ones.
FINAL DEVOTIONAL NOTE:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority…” (1 Tim 2:1,2).
Intercessory prayer should have an important place in your daily devotions. Take time to intercede for the world; for specific nations; for tribes and peoples that have not yet had the Gospel proclaimed to them; for missionaries and evangelists who are laboring in the Lord’s harvest; and for the Lord to send out more “laborers into His harvest” (Matt 9:38). Such daily intercessory prayer will be time well spent – and will gather “fruit for eternal life” (John 4:36).