We all know, at least in our heads, that prayer is important. Yet how many of us honestly believe that our prayers, the simple prayers of our far-from-perfect family, can really make a difference?
If we could comprehend, deep down in our spirits, the true power of prayer, we would all pray more — and the difference would radically impact our lives and the lives of everyone around us.
James 5:16 tells us, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." We want our prayers to be effective, but what does it mean to stand "righteous" before God?
As a family, we're very aware of our differences and our faults. We've all sinned, and we need to acknowledge that no one of earth can stand blameless before our perfect, holy, and awesome God. No matter how good we try to be, our own works are nothing but filthy rags in His sight (see Isaiah 64:6).
To pray effectively as a family, we need to grasp the importance of the "fear of the Lord." We don't need to be "afraid" of God in a fearful sense of the word, but we need to realize how powerful and mighty He is.
Teaching your Kids about Prayer, with Filthy Rags
The next time you come across an extremely dirty rag in your house, use it an opportunity to share an important lesson with your kids. We may think our own self-efforts help us earn "Brownie points" with God. But, to Him, our human works are as worthless as stinky rags.
If we try to earn favor with God — instead of trusting in Jesus — it's like collecting yucky rags. The more they pile up, the more they stink and mildew.
In prayer, each of us must come to God in an attitude of total surrender and humility, keeping our hearts clean and open before Him. Through the cleansing sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, every mom and dad, and boy and girl, can pray as a "righteous man" before God. Because of Christ's forgiveness and righteousness, even your family can come before God with boldness and authority to effectively intercede on behalf of others.
Easy Prayer Projects for the Mission-Minded Family
- Take a prayer-walk around your neighborhood, quietly praying for each neighbor as you walk by.
- Have your children make a "Ten Most Wanted" list or poster. Have them think of ten people who need Jesus. These can be relatives, neighbors, famous people, or the man who works at the convenience store. Use this list or poster to remind you to pray for these people to come to know the Lord.
- Put a small map on your refrigerator, and use this area to display newsletters from missionaries you support, along with current international news updates. Pray regularly as a family, perhaps around the dinner table, for specific world needs and for people you know who need the Lord.
Ann Dunagan, author of The Mission-Minded Family (Authentic Media, 2008), international minister alongside her husband, Jon Dunagan (http://www.harvestreport.net/missionminded.htm), and homeschooling mother of seven