Friday, April 15, 2011

Family Devotions - "Pray For Me"

"The family that prays together, stays together."   

Pretty neat little saying, and I believe it's true, too.   Our family has been in the habit of having family devotions every evening since we first got married.   Back when it was just-us-two we read from our Bible or from a little devotion book our church-body publishes called"Meditations".   

As children joined the family, we adjusted to fit the needs.   We used "child-friendly" devotion books like "Little Visits With God/Jesus" or some others.  

At some point, we also taught our children to pray "ex corde" (Latin for "from the heart").   These were un-prepared prayers, off the top of the head or "off the cuff."    Now don't run screaming from the room!   Many people are uncomfortable with praying in front of others--like giving a speech only worse!   However, you can teach your children and yourself--in a very non-threatening way--and before long the nerves will calm and praying excorde will be "no biggy."

Most importantly you will be teaching your children to pray for others!

Here's a nifty way to keep family devotions and prayer-time moving and interesting.    

A little advance preparation:
  • Write on slips of paper the names of all your family members and any friends you see frequently.    
  • OR type them in a list, make two or three columns on the page, add several spaces between the names.  
  • Then print out the names and cut the names apart, so you have one little slip per person.
  • Fold each name-slip in half and drop it into a little basket or box that can be kept in the area where you sit for your family devotion.    

Papier mache box - decorate with creativity!
At the end of your family devotion time, pass the box around the group and have each person pick a slip.  No fair peeking OR putting back!

Begin your prayer time by asking God to send his Holy Spirit to your family, to guide you as you pray for these family members. 

Then go around the group, and each person say a short prayer for the name on their slip.   OR first discuss what the prayer needs for the individuals might be--but DO NOT belabor this.   OR give all the slips to one person who says the prayer for everyone that evening.  The next night a different person can be the pray-er.

At the end of prayer time, gather the slips and clip them together and put in the bottom of the box.   The next night, pick from the remaining names.   When all the names get used up (depending on how large your family is, this may take several weeks or only a few days), pull them apart from the clip, and either add them back into the box or go through them and see if you know of anything special that's gone on for these individuals.

Wooden box to jazz up!
Whose names to put in the box?   
  • grandparents
  • grandchildren
  • god-childen
  • our own names
  • all the aunts and uncles
  • cousins
  • nieces and nephews
  • special friends
  • family friends 
  • neighbors
  • co-workers
  • classmates & teachers
  • pastor & Sunday school teachers & classmates
  • coaches, players
  • people you know!

St. Paul wrote to his friends in Ephesus (Ephesians 6:19-20):
"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."

One last thought ~

It has been our contention that whichever names are drawn out of the box each night--that God means for those individuals to get our especial attention that night--and we take it seriously.   I remember one time, one of my boys--at his wits' end about what to pray for a particular cousin or aunt--saying something like this: 

"God, you know why this person was the one I picked tonight.  I don't know what's going on in her life, but you do.  Please be with her and keep her safe and mindful of You."   

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