Thursday, December 29, 2011

Praying for Families

Praying for Families

            Included in the lists of those I pray for every day, are at least thirty families.  However, I do not pray for every member of every family each day.  Sometimes, I pray for one member of the family each day in a rotation, so if a family has three members each person is prayed for every fourth day.  However, if a family has nine members, it will be a longer time between when each individual is remembered in my prayers.  Nevertheless, each family member will be prayed for by name at regular intervals. 
            A variety of situations have brought these families to my attention evoking a sense of my need to pray for them.  Some families have needs that revolve around illnesses of various kinds, both physical and emotional.  When one member of the family suffers, the pain affects all others.  Illnesses, accidents or age and infirmity can lead to death and here again a family needs the support of prayer as they take that particular journey of grief.  Other complex family situations that are addressed by my prayers include marital discord and other relationship challenges.  My prayers are for the healing of broken relationships and the necessary wisdom and discernment to address courageously complicated and longstanding issues.
            Let me give you some specific examples of families with prayer concerns who have requested my intercession.  One request came to my husband, Glen when he ran into some friends when he was in Europe on business.  Their adult daughter was suffering from severe clinical depression that debilitated her so much; she was unable to care for her own family.  Her desperate parents asked Glen to pray for her and for the whole family and to ask me to pray for them as well. 
            Another example of a need is that of my friend whose is the mother of a young man who has developed a gambling addiction.  She asked my prayers for him and for his wife as the addiction has placed their marriage in jeopardy and the innocent victims will be their young children.  The whole family is caught in the midst of a maelstrom that threatens to overwhelm them.  Prayer seems to be their only hope right now. 
            An elderly woman who decided a few years ago that she wanted to become a church member labours under the weight of guilt and a sense of failure.  Having raised her children as a single parent, she fears that it is her fault that she is unable to build a meaningful relationship with her adult daughter.  She is heart-broken about this and asked my prayers that somehow they might learn to love one another.  
               One family that has been a part of my prayers for many years includes a daughter who in her rebellious teen years alienated herself from her family by choosing to have an illegitimate child.  Eventually this young woman returned to the faith, married and had her own family.  When her children were in their teens, she again wandered and pursued an affair that destroyed her own family as well as another one.  It was tragic.  The devastation of the choices she made is extensive and I include all members of all the families involved in my prayers.  My focus is on the healing of relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation and the dawning realization of the unconditional love of God for each person concerned.  Only God can bring these about, and so to Him we make our requests.
            Other parents ask me to pray for the children who have made bad choices and now must live with the consequences of those choices.  Parents are aware of the danger that their children may make the wrong choices.  Their request is that I pray for the protection of their children.  These parents are aware of the choices bombarding their children and fear they have not adequately prepared them to choose wisely.  We know only too well that we are all susceptible to influences from others and vulnerable to temptations.  Prayer can help us hold steady.
            The Bible talks of the power of a father’s love and a mother’s compassion.  Images of family help us to understand the nature of God. 
           One of my greatest joys is to see the gratitude of family members as they see God answering prayers in the lives of their loved ones.  In my book More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening, I tell the story of a young man who came to faith and prayed for his father for ten years.  The father then embraced the faith and today the father rejoices in the little grandson who he prays will one day also come to faith.
            God created families and He works to strengthen them as we pray.   

More Questions than Answers,
Sharing Faith by Listening
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"Living  Outside our Comfort Zones"
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Intercession for Our Children

My prayer lists include over 120 names of people I recorded because parents expressed concerns to me for their children.  I am always amazed how often in conversation with other parents, we find ourselves talking about our children.  Our concern may be for their physical well being particularly when their children face health issues that cannot easily be resolved.  I know this challenge well because of my personal experiences.  Other times the worry is about the emotional health of a child.  Sometimes this is a huge frustration for parents as we are unable to remove the cause of illnesses like depression and we feel a sense of guilt that somehow we bear responsibility for the anxious state of our child.  Many times our burden as parents is for the spiritual health of our children.  
We realize that when God entrusted the children to our care, we needed to do everything in our power to enable our child to maximize every opportunity and enjoy a full and satisfying life.  The first few years we devoted ourselves to seeing that they developed into healthy, happy human beings.  Then they began to discover their own unique identities.  In adolescence, we fear that in discarding the identities we to some degree shaped and helped them create in order to find their uniqueness, they will also abandon the roots that can hold them firm in the challenges life brings their way. 
These fears can be acute among Christian parents.  We desperately want our children to understand and embrace the faith that has given meaning to our lives. We do not want our children to shrug off with the vestiges of their childhood the sometimes tenuous faith they have begun to develop and thereby miss discovering those realities of eternal value.  Along with our fears is the awareness of our engagement in a cosmic struggle. 
I have often observed the point where the Enemy chooses to attack us is in the area of discouragement.  The domain where this can flourish is in our relationships with our children.  We invest heavily in their well-being and if He can capitalize on our fears for their future, He can immobilize us. 
Especially as our children begin to emerge into adulthood or any time when they are facing physical or emotional challenges we feel so helpless.  The only way I know to find our equilibrium when we face overwhelming fear for our children is to place them once again in the hands of the One who entrusted them to us.  That is much easier to talk about than to put into practice. 
Many parents tell me how they have surrendered their children into the care of the Lord in prayer, in the same way I have.  No sooner do we open our eyes, than once again we are gripped by fear and concern for our children.  It seems we have to keep on surrendering them and through that exercise, we gradually build our faith and confidence that He will work out His purposes in their lives.
In my intercession, I have literally taken a page from the book of someone who has written about how to pray for our children.  I use as my own a sample prayer adapting it to my situation.  I choose to do so because I realize that in praying for my children in this way I am able to enter into spiritual warfare on their behalf. I am not one who spends a lot of time delving into the occult, but I do have the discernment to recognize the attacks of the Enemy in trying to immobilize me by discouragement over the spiritual condition of my children.  My greatest weapon in retaliation to this attack is to arm for spiritual warfare.  Thus I pray in this way, speaking aloud in an affirmative tone.  
The first part of the prayer is an establishment of the authority by which I am able to address the forces of evil.  I state that I am doing this in the name and under the authority if Jesus.  I know that He is the one who has authority over the spiritual realm and all spirits must bow to His authority.  I bind these spirits under His authority and refute their influence over those for whom I am praying, identifying the objects of my prayer by name.
I then name the specific spirits that I am binding.  The list includes spirits of witchcraft, occult activity, satanic interest, mind control, fantasy, lust, perversion, rebellion, rejection, suicide, anger, hatred, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, deception, unbelief, fear, sensuality, greed, additions and compulsive behaviour.  Then I add others that I feel to be appropriate to the situation. 
Having bound these sprits, I then declare that under the authority of Jesus, I break their power and affirm it is null and void in the lives of the people whom I name.  I revoke the blinders that the Enemy has placed on them.  I avow that those whom I name will see the light of the gospel of Christ.  They will be taught by the Lord and their peace will be great.  These declarations agree with the Scriptures in Isaiah 54: 13. 
From the evil spirits, I then turn to God our Heavenly Father.  First of all I express my thanksgiving to Him for the gift of those for whom I am praying, again using their names.  Then I ask for His protection of them.  I request for them the support of Christian friends who can have a godly influence on their lives.  I pray for discernment to know when they need my prayers and my help.  I also pray for wisdom to be the person they need me to be in our relationship.
I conclude my prayer asking that our Heavenly Father will fulfill His plan and purposes in the lives of those for whom I am praying, and that His Spirit will be upon them.  My final action is to release these gifts He has given me (those for whom I am praying) and place them in His hands.  I acknowledge that He loves them even more than I do and that according to Jeremiah 29: 11 His plans for them are for welfare and peace, not for evil and that He will give them a hope and a future.  Then I try to leave them there. 
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Living Outside Our Comfort Zones
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