As I consider my blessings on this Multitude Monday, I'm struck by the immense power of prayer, so maybe God wants me to flesh out that blessing a little today, for your benefit too, I pray?
A while ago I introduced the concept of a family prayer jar. We've used it faithfully since those first posts although our methods have evolved some. We now use index cards cut length-wise into 5 inches by 1 inch "sticks". These are more durable than folded slips of paper. On a larger index card we have the ACTS acronym spelled out for the boys, who take turns with Daddy leading the prayer. We want them to feel confident in leading their families spiritually, and we feel early practice is essential for a smooth transition after marriage.
A - adoration
C - confession
T - thanksgiving
S - supplication (prayer requests)
Using a prayer jar can feel mechanical at times because the prayers are already listed. It may feel as though you're reading something, rather than connecting with the Holy Spirit. But when you go around the table and have each person in turn praise God, then confess, and then say what they're thankful for, it feels more like a connection with the Spirit while still providing children with a model for prayer that is structured and disciplined.
Moreover, the confession part is beneficial to you as a parent. It provides a surprising picture of your child's heart on any given day. You can gauge how much your child is tuning into the Holy Spirit, and you can plan how to further her spiritual growth. And the children can hear how mom and dad struggle and apply grace with a sensitivity beyond their years.
Family prayer accomplishes so much, but perhaps the greatest benefit is how it encourages us to apply grace in our household relationships. We grow in love and in compassion toward our family members, as they humble themselves and speak frankly with the Father.
When all around the table have praised, confessed, and thanked God, we then get to the index card sticks (the supplications).
Don't expect it to look like an adult prayer session, I warn you. It is chaotic at times and not every night runs smoothly; just be consistent and keep your sense of humor. The younger your children, the fewer prayer sticks you'll want to pray at one time. You can color-code your index cards and pray some M-W-F-Sun, and some on Tu-Th-Sat.
We had a prayer stick in there for several months about getting a new van, preferably a larger one to take more kids to church or AWANA. Tomorrow we are purchasing the van I wrote about in the last post, so last night as we prayed through our sticks, we were able to change that one to say, "Thank you God for the new used van!"
We also had one in there for several months about Peter getting a hamster that wouldn't lead to asthma problems. For his January birthday he got a new hamster, this one a boy, since the girls have a stronger body odor. Peter is in hamster heaven with no allergy aggravation! When we get to that prayer stick, we always say, "Thank you God for Peter's new friend Scratchy!"
Slowly, more and more prayers are being answered. We had one in there about Peter's ADHD for over a year, and 2.5 months ago he began a new medication that has changed his life immensely--all of our lives. It's the lowest Prozac dose, prescribed for his OCD, which had become more debilitating. We haven't solved the OCD issue, and that prayer is still in there. But the 10 milligrams of Prozac reacted just right with the 10 milligrams of Strattera, allowing an awesome, godly, very sweet personality to surface--a child I never knew. Peter and I are getting closer and closer, and his relationship with his siblings has never been better.
A side note: If you don't have family members with neurological issues, I just ask that you reserve judgement about giving medication to children? Unless you walk a mile in these shoes you don't know what we've lived, and judging is dangerous spiritually. We all judge at times, but it blinds us to what God wants us to learn; we need to pray the tendency away. A brain chemical disorder is not much different than a heart condition, in that healthy living goes a long way, but sometimes medication is needed.
We also had a prayer in our jar about my friend Cheryl's migraines, which she's had for 55 years. Yesterday at church she told me that in the last month, she hasn't had a single migraine!
Nothing builds faith like answered prayer. Prayer is the work of the Christian. We have little control over this life, but we have prayer and it's better than control. Neglect prayer and life feels too overwhelming. Celebrate prayer and make time for it throughout the day, and life is a beautiful faith walk.
On Judgement Day Jesus will say to some self-proclaimed Christians, "I never knew you." We can say a salvation prayer and go to church, but that doesn't mean we know God. Prayer is communing with God and we simply can't neglect it.
Amazing prayer quotes:
"I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; A minister's highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray." -- MacGregor
Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work. -- Oswald Chambers
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. -- Brother Lawrence
We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God within him, which is nourished not by food but by prayer...Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. -- Oswald Chambers
When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy. -- Corrie Ten Boom
Multitude Monday blessing list:
Thank you, Father, for...
~ a beautiful relationship with my Peter.
~ a new used van.
~ such a good deal on the van that we were also able to order the computer we needed, and the Teaching Textbooks math CD ROM my children need for the next school year.
~ beautiful sunshine today.
~ a new child at our Bible Study on Saturday.
~ the guidance and peace in our daily life that prayer allows.
~ the joy of family movies and popcorn.
~ sons who are growing in Christ, making me more grateful by the day.
~ a sinus infection much better now with no pain. (They sure can last a long time)
~ hugs from a godly husband.
~ the knowledge that parenting isn't about our performance, but about our devotion to prayer.
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