Strategy 4: Your Family (Fervent Bible study #5)
As a child I watched The Brady Bunch and as a teen I was addicted to Family Ties. What impressed me with these TV show families is no matter how big the problem was, it was solved in thirty minutes. Well, occasionally it might take an hour. When “To Be Continued” flashed on the screen, my heart would race and frustration would build at having to wait an entire week, or sometimes an entire summer if it was the last show of the season, to see it resolved.
I had no doubt when I got married that at some point we’d have conflict. I mean, even the Bradys and Keatons did. What I didn’t consider was the enemy would be out to destroy my family and our witness.
“If I were your enemy, I’d seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it. I’d want to tear away at your trust and unity and turn everyone’s love inward on themselves. I would make sure your family didn’t look anything like it’s supposed to. Because then people would look at your Christian marriage, your Christian kids, and see you’re no different, no stronger than anybody else— that God, underneath it all, really doesn’t change anything.” (Shirer 71)
The struggles my family has been through pale in comparison to some. We’ve had seasons of dealing with disobedient children, even seasons of knowing our kids were living in sin but not knowing what to do about it except pray. My boy brought such sorrow to my heart when he was in fifth grade, I remember being on my face weeping in prayer for him. Because the thing is, we can’t control other people. As much as we’d like to change them, that’s not our job. Change is the Holy Spirit’s department. So I did what I knew to do, which was to pray fervently. God met me there. He didn’t only give me peace, He gave me wisdom as to the root of the problem so I could make the necessary changes in our family. In time, the lying and deceiving stopped and my boy began to live out God’s Word.
Like I said, I know our family issues of respect and honor seem petty in the light of the issues some face. Writing the Once Lost series has truly opened my eyes to how the enemy works to destroy our witness by destroying our family. The Deceived started out as a book about how this teenager, Danny, chose sin even though he was raised in a Christian home. But the more I wrote, the more I realized everyone in the family had a role to play in the crumbling of the family. Though they attended church each Sunday, they stopped believing and living out God’s Word. Drugs and alcohol became Danny’s escape, his coping mechanism. I wanted the book to serve as a reminder to parents that the authenticity of our faith matters. We don’t need to just be thankful our family isn’t that messed up, we need to determine in our hearts to seek God and live out His Word.
As Priscilla said in this chapter, “But you know what? It’s always a big deal. All of our marriages and families are a huge deal. Yours and mine. They’re all that big of a deal…because each one is a billboard for the eternal, unchangeable love story between God and humankind. Each of their successes or failures is of great importance, both in God’s eyes and, therefore, in our enemy’s eyes.” (Shirer 74)
What if we prayed like all of these little things in our families were a big deal? What if we decided to combat what we’d categorize as small sins on our knees? What if instead of just praying that our kids would be good people, we specifically pray for their integrity, for them to love God’s word, for them to serve, for their friends to encourage them in God’s ways, and for them to have the heart to help others?
The teenage years are tough ones. Even though my son loves and respects me, he got to a point of not believing what I’d say. My advice constantly fell on deaf ears. At first, it stirred up such frustration that I would scream and yell at him. Then I decided to pray. I started to pray that God would bring good role models into his life. Men who would disciple him and share God’s truth with him. God answered that prayer in abundance. By the time Noah left for college, he had two men in his life who encouraged him and spoke God’s truth to him. At college, he became friends with a group of people that I wasn’t too thrilled about, but I just kept lifting it up to the Lord in prayer. Just as I prayed for him to have godly friends when he was in elementary school, I prayed he would find godly friends at his Christian university. He came home at Thanksgiving break and said he found new guys to hang out with. One invited him to attend church with him, another started doing discipleship with him. They are even continuing it over the phone during this season of having to be at home.
At the beginning of the school year, my daughter told me that she hated going to youth group because she didn’t feel like she fit in. I didn’t lecture her or force her to go, I prayed with her and for her. Every day I prayed God would help her to feel comfortable, help her find her group of people. A few weeks later our church announced they were starting a small group for high schoolers, kind of an alternative to attending Wednesday night youth group. Becca hesitantly agreed to try it. I’ll never forget when she came out to the car after that first meeting. She was smiling from ear-to-ear. Instead of dozens of teens in attendance, there were six.
“So you liked it?” I asked.
”I loved it,” she said.
Prayer accomplished results I never could have on my own.
For over a year I’ve been praying that my husband would love me as Christ loves the church because that’s what the Bible says men should do and, well, I felt entitled to it. As I penned my prayer for my family yesterday, God told me I needed to pray for myself to love and respect him completely. I can still pray for my man to love me as Jesus loves the church, but I need to recognize my role in our relationship as well.
I encourage you as you write out your prayer for your family, that you think about each family member and where they’re at right now. What specific needs do they have? We become prayer warriors for our family when we recognized their needs as well as our inability to meet it. When we realize that prayer is not just about bringing the big stuff to God. Prayer is turning everything over to Him with the understanding that He is more than able to meet our needs.
If you don’t have a spouse or kids, pray for your future spouse. Pray for your parents, siblings, and other family members. I don’t know about you, but it’s my heart’s desire that my entire family would come to know Christ. I’ve been praying for them all (parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) by name since I was saved at fifteen. What a blessing it is to see God working in each of their lives.
“I urge you, for the sake of your family, take the fight into your prayer room rather than your living room.” (Shirer 92)
Who do you need to pray fervently for? What part of this chapter spoke to you? What verses do you need to claim for yourself or for loved ones? I encourage you to spend time forming prayers for your family. God is able, my friend, to do more than you can ever conceive. It’s time to start praying with the expectation to see His glory.