The Art of Raising Prayer Warriors: Part 1

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

img_7925_fotorI have to admit, I hated praying. For years as a professed Christian, I spent no more than five minutes each night. Every once in a while I might do ten to fifteen minutes, but seriously, looking back at it now I realize how pitiful that was. I was far from fulfilling I Thessalonians 5:17 where it says to “Pray without ceasing.” God was still graceful and answered many of my prayers, but I came to realize that my pathetic prayer life stunted my spiritual growth in multiple ways. I was not receiving the full blessing that comes with being in communion with our heavenly Father. Even though I spent a lot of time studying the Bible, my discernment, my ability to resist temptation, and my ability to fight the spiritual battle were all weakened because I lacked a real prayer life. But through the encouragement of a friend, I have come to enjoy prayer and to seek it in ways that I had never done so before.

Early this year, I started thinking of how I could encourage my children the way my friend had encouraged me to not only pray more but to love it. I don’t want my girls to waste years missing out on something so amazingly powerful like I did. I therefore meditated on it and I discovered that a lot of the same reasons I had disliked praying were the same reasons my children did not enjoy it either. I asked God for wisdom and direction on the things that I could do encourage them to become prayer warriors and now I want to share what I learned with you in a series of blogs. This is the first one.

This first strategy is simple and straight forward. You have probably heard this shared many times, but it works and I have seen the fruit of it this past year with my girls.

Make sure they see AND hear you pray. Children learn best from watching you, especially young children. It may seem that in their multiple distractions, they don’t notice what you are doing, but they do. They don’t miss a beat and if they don’t see you praying, they will wonder why they have to do it. Both my nine-year-old and my four-year-old are quick to point out any inconsistency with the things I say and the things I do. I, therefore, know that I have to model praying behavior for them if I expect them to listen to my encouragements to pray.

Just as important as it is for our kids to see us praying, it is also important for them to hear us praying. We will sometimes seek to pray in a quiet place away from the noise of our children. Or we might be tempted to quit praying when the kids interrupt us. There are certainly good reasons to do that and we do need quiet in our own personal prayer lives. However, I want to encourage you to also pray in spite of your children’s commotion. Even though it is hard for us to concentrate, it does something for them. It really does. Believe or not, they are listening.

A couple of years ago my then two-year-old was role playing with her toys. At one point in her story, one doll started praying for the others. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I was surprised because the words that came out of my child’s mouth were almost verbatim phrases she had heard me pray. Up until that point, I had not even known she had been listening, but she obviously had been.

Now I am getting to enjoy the fruits of modeling prayer for them. My four-year-old sometimes wakes up early and she will find her way to my war room (a.k.a. family room) where I pray in the mornings. She snuggles next to me. We have had enough conversations about what I am doing that she knows to try to be quiet, but many times she is not quiet. Sometimes she is asking me a million questions, but many times she is repeating everything that I say. The latter is music to my ears because I know that she is learning how to pray. And just this morning, I was praying and my older daughter was getting ready for school. She then found her way to the couch on the opposite end of me and bowed her head. There was no nagging on my part. I had not even asked her to come pray with me. She did it all on her own.

BONUS TIP: Form a prayer/play group. Yes it will be loud and yes it may be hard to concentrate but prayer is powerful in numbers. Just as important, your children will  see and hear you pray together. What a wonderful testimony for their young lives and a wonderful way for them to learn about prayer.

 If you think this article would bless someone, you are welcomed to share it!

Top 5 Things We Forget to Pray For

top 5 prayerWe have all have a list of things that we routinely pray for. And I would even venture to say that that list includes things like financial security, safety for ourselves and our kids, and the health of our loved ones. However, as I sat and listened to an amazing sermon this past week, it made me reflect on things that we often forget to put in our prayer lists, but should. I am sure there are more, and I am sure not everyone forgets these, but I do believe we should all be praying for these five things.

Our Mission: We often get so entangled in the affairs of this world that we forget the main reason we are here. We are here to bring others to Christ. We are here to share the good news so that others may one day too enter God’s kingdom. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The “things” it talks about are clothing, food, and water, basic necessities for life (Never mind a nice big house or a fancy car). And yet he is telling us not to be worried about the basic necessities, but to instead be kingdom centered. We are to be mission centered.

So when you pray, ask God to raise you up. Pray that he opens doors so that you may share the “good news.” Pray that he gives you the knowledge and wisdom you need to speak God’s word. Pray so that you may stay on mission.

Pastors: My parents are pastors so I get to witness the burdens placed upon them. They are pulled in a million different directions. At times, they do not even have the time to deal with their own problems, because they are helping others get through theirs. It is a tough job and it never ends. They get called in the middle of the night, on weekends, 365 days a year. And it doesn’t help that everyone has an idea of how to better run the church. Criticism is never far away, although those that are willing to take on the burden of a church are always few and far between. So pray for your pastors. Pray that God gives them the strength to continue on. Pray for their protection and the protection of their children. Pray that they may get a moments rest and they may be blessed and be in health.

Schools and its Administrators: I was just recently reflecting on the fact that my daughter spends thirty-five hours of her week under the care of her school. That is a long time away from home. I was convicted of the importance of praying daily for the protection of the school from all evil. I was also convicted to pray for the principal, the teachers, the staff, and the bus drivers.

Therefore, as you pray, pray that the principal makes decisions that are godly and that will contribute to a godly education of our children. Pray for the teachers, that they will instruct our children well and build our children up. Pray that the staff is able to provide the needed support to the school. Pray for the bus drivers, that their buses are under the care of heavenly angels and they will be able to keep our children safe.

Leaders: It is interesting that I Timothy 2:1-2 says that we should pray for “all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”  So if you want a quiet and peaceful life, the Bible is clear, pray for your leaders. Pray for our President, that he will make decisions that are consistent with godliness; that he will make the right decisions that will protect our country and that God’s word may have free course. Pray for our congressmen, judges, administrators at both the federal, state and local levels that they will make sound decisions to protect our food supplies, water supplies, and godly freedoms. Pray for your bosses and those above you, that God works in their hearts to make good decisions for your company or place of work.

Our Enemies: One of the things that has made Jesus so radical and so different is partly what it says in Luke 6:27 when he told his disciples to love their enemies and to do good unto those that hated them. I will never forget that that scripture, that idea, had a tremendous effect on Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the founders of Hamas. As he writes in his own autobiography, The Son of Hamas, the concept of loving your enemy helped him move away from Islam to become a follower of Christ.

Loving our enemies is radical, but it is godly. So pray for your enemies. Pray for that person at work that has stabbed you in the back and is out to get you. Ask that God heal the hurt in their hearts and that they will one day acknowledge the harm that they are causing. Pray for even the vilest of our enemies like, ISIS. Pray that God will convict them. Pray that its leaders and participants will one day see that what they are doing is evil. Pray for their miraculous transformation, that instead of being messengers of darkness that one day they too may become messengers of God’s love and forgiveness.

 I am convinced that if we as Christians start to include these things in our prayer life that we will see a radical transformation in our churches, our schools, our country, and even in places far away. So let’s get to work and start praying!

Organizing Your Prayer Life

prayer appHow many times have you told someone that you will be praying for them and then you forget to do so? At least I know I used to forget a lot. I, therefore, came to the realization that I needed to organize my prayer life. One of the simplest ways to do that is to keep a prayer journal, but if you rely on technology like I do, there is an app out there that will help you do just that.

I personally use the Pocket Prayer Pro. This little app lets me not only add the list of  people that I am praying for but also allows me to schedule prayers on specific dates. Scheduling works great if you have people that need prayer on a particular day for surgery, recital, job interview, etc.  The app also allows you to share the prayer on social media if you need the help of other prayer warriors.

Once a prayer has been answered, you can move it to the Answered Prayer category. I like this feature, because it allows me to review those answered prayers and be reminded every time God has come through for me or those that have been in my prayers. It is also a great way to remain thankful and to help build my trust in God.

There is also another app that I came across called the Prayer Notebook. I have not used this one in particular, but feel free to check it out and use the one that is best for you.

Whether you use an app, a prayer journal, or great memory (which I lack), the important thing is to keep praying always. So prayer warriors, keep on praying!!

A Child’s Faith

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I have spent a lot of time teaching my daughters about prayer and trusting God. I have also taught them to expect miracles. Seeing that I have several years of knowledge and experience ahead of my daughters, sometimes I have gotten stuck in my own adult arrogance. As my seven-year-old daughter likes to say, “Sometimes your brain just gets in the way.” However, a few months ago my daughter showed me that sometimes she can also teach me something.

We were in our kitchen and heard the rain start to fall. Shortly after, I heard the thunder and saw flashes of lightning. Very much like her mommy, my daughter does not like loud noises and dislikes thunderstorms. She marched right up to me and told me, “Mommy, I am going to pray for this thunderstorm to stop.” In an effort to save her from disappointment, I explained to her that the grass, the flowers, and trees need rain to grow.  She looked up at me annoyed and said, “Mommy, I am not going to pray for the rain to stop, just for the thunder and lightning to stop.” What was I to say? Even as I heard the thunderstorm getting closer and closer all I did say was, “Okay, honey.”

She closed her eyes, bowed her head and very simply said, “God I pray for the thunder and lighting to stop in the name of Jesus Christ.” As soon as she stopped, the thunderstorm was gone. It was still raining, but there was no more thunder and lightning. After teaching my children to expect miracles, I don’t know why I was even surprised.

The funny thing is that that she would do that again a few weeks later and most recently she did it again, or shall we say, God did it again. As soon as she stopped praying, the thunder and lightning were gone. Out of curiosity, those first two times I pulled up the weather radar and sure enough it was a sea of green intermixed with large red areas but right over our little town I could see only a green bubble. It is as if the worst of the storm went right around us leaving only the rain. Jokingly, now when we see a weather anomaly, we always say, “Emma must have been praying again.”

Watching my daughter pray and see God answer her prayers, is a reminder of just how much God loves us. No prayer is too big or too small. If He can be moved by the heart of a seven-year-old who is afraid of thunderstorms than He can also be moved by the cares that we bring before Him at the throne of grace.  All you need is to trust that He is able and willing and have that child-like faith.