A little over a year ago I went looking for a Bible Study. I enjoy studying the Bible as well as the fellowship and insight of others. I had been involved in a Bible Study the summer before. It really had me fired up and I wanted to recreate that experience in my new location (we had moved).
I looked high and low, in every denomination. I called every church in that town. My criteria were specific, but I had no idea how difficult to meet.
I wanted a Bible Study during the week, during the day, to which I could bring my (then) three year old son. I didn’t need him in the room with me, just a child care provided or an arrangement within the group to trade off with the kids, to afford everyone an opportunity to participate.
All I found were evening studies. Or Sunday studies. Being the kind of person I am, I decided I would start my own.
Which is how I started leading a Bible Study. I say leading because I was NOT teaching.
I started a Bible Study for women (it turned out) who had never read the Bible for themselves (I had read it BTW). We read it alone, then came together, read it again together, and shared with one another our questions and any insights God had provided us. We met at homes or parks with our children. They played together while we were in the Word. It was lovely.
I led. I did research about vocabulary that could be confusing. I provided context, in the case of cleanliness standards by Jewish law. I anticipated responses and conflicts the other women would have based on what I knew of their histories. I tried to come prepared with support for various denominations interpretations to lay out for them to pray about for themselves to be led by the Spirit to the truth.
I mainly tried to encourage them. Specifically to pray. So, at one point I compiled this list. Both to encourage them to pray and to help them at home, supporting their desire to pray with their husbands and children.
I included links to each source. Some sources will completely turn one person off of an idea, while another source will be the turning point in their commitment to prayer. So, I included a variety of sources in the hopes of reaching a broader audience.
I hope now, as I did then, that someone finds this list encouraging and helpful. I hope it inspires prayer.
Prayer Alone. Prayer with Others.
· The Bible says the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, yet something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer. In Matt. 18:19, Jesus said, “If any two of you agree touching any matter on this earth, it shall be done.”
· In Acts we read, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul…” (4:32). We are one family. We pray to “OUR Father.” Andrew Murray said that it is unnatural for the children in a family to always meet with their father separately and never know a shared relationship with him.
· Prayer is healthy for those who practice it. Aside from the question of whether or not prayer generates responses from God, we do know from scientific studies on the question, that prayer does generate response within the one who prays. Back as far as 1990, over 250 studies have shown that religion plays a significant role in the outcome in physical health. Since then the number has grown considerably.
· … soldiers marching together, a sports team warming up before a match, people praying together in church, ritual dancing of primitive tribes, etc. cause the release of oxytocin. This produces a bonding, a feeling of closeness and a willingness to help others. “Oxytocin makes us feel what others feel which not only motivates us to avoid doing things to hurt others, but actually makes us feel pleasure when we bring others joy.” The presence of the hormone, Oxytocin (OT), in our brain and body is among the vast number of daily miracles taking place in each of us. The proper amount and functioning of OT determines our ultimate sense of personal and interpersonal contentment and connectedness. Inadequate OT influence can lead people and animals to become withdrawn, alienated and isolated. *Praying together intensifies our bonds not just emotionally but chemically.*
· 3) The example of the apostles in Acts points to the priority praying together held for them. Every occurrence of prayer in Acts preceding Chapter 6 (1:14, 24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31) pictures the apostles leading others in prayer. Not one reference points to their private prayer time; the focus is on God’s people praying together.
· The apostles learned their leadership patterns from the Master, Jesus Christ. Ransack the Gospels for Jesus’ teaching and practice of prayer, and you will identify 37 verses, sometimes repeated in more than one Gospel. Of those 37 instances in which Jesus refers to prayer, 33 of them were addressed to a plural rather than singular audience. In other words, Jesus’ instruction decisively leaned toward praying with others, not just praying in private.
Prayer as a Couple
· … according to the Southern Baptist Convention poll in 2001, (see note at the end of this article) of Christian couples who actively pray together, the divorce rate is less than one percent
· When Vickie (my wife) hears me pray as we pray together, it lets her know what aspects of my life concern me and it shows her how to pray for me. I also listen to what Vickie is praying about and I know better how to pray for her. We also get to pray together about issues that concern both of us. We draw strength from praying together. It is also enjoyable to watch how God answers our joint prayers. *This works with children as well, you can hear what is really on their mind*
· One of the problems that couples have is pride. The result of this pride is the refusal to acknowledge any weaknesses, or needs, to one another. Allow your spouse to hear you confess your needs openly and let your spouse pray for those needs. You can’t help but be drawn closer to God and closer to each other as a result. *Also, allows you to model supplication for your children, so they know where to turn when they have a need*
· If you are one the 92% of Christian couples who do not pray together, you may be wondering how to start praying together. I firmly believe that the husbands should take the lead in this matter. As the spiritual head of the family, it is your responsibility, husbands, to lead. So stop shirking your responsibilities and make the decision to pray together as a couple. Once you have made that verbal commitment to each other that you will pray as a couple, you have taken the first step.
§ Find a mutually agreeable time.
§ Keep the prayer time short. One of the mistakes that you can make when beginning a prayer time together is that of trying to immediately pray for an extended period of time. If you want to successfully change your habits, begin with a short time together at first, possibly just a few minutes.
§ Keep your turn to pray short. It will keep you more focused on what you are praying about.
§ Therefore, get to the point and pray what you need or want to pray and then be silent. This gives your spouse the opportunity to add any postscript to your prayer that will bring further agreement together.
§ Keep your prayer personal.
§ Pray for your marriage. To encourage more honest and open prayer with your mate, take the next step of praying for your marriage.
Prayer as a Family
· 5) A.C.T.S. Prayer. This is a well-known form of prayer that is easy to remember:
§ A: stands for “Adoration.” Begin the prayer by simply adoring God for who He is.
§ C: stands for “Confession.” Spend some time confessing your sins.
§ T: stands for “Thanksgiving.” Take time to thank God for the blessings that He has given to you and your family.
§ S: stands for “Supplication.” Lift up specific areas of your life in which you need God to supply for your needs.
· What does intentionally showing your child how to live God’s way look like? It looks like tiny steps taken every single day. It requires joyfully showing and telling them some of the same things over and over. It is being transparent with them from day one so they not only understand what the goal is, but they will also desire it themselves. It starts with the faith in your own heart. It starts today, whether your children are tiny or taller than you are.
§ Let your children see you read God’s Word and pray.
§ Tell your children how you are growing and learning new things.
§ Enjoy getting together with other believers.
§ Pray with your children every day. Begin today
· Eli instructed Samuel, ““Go and lie down. If he calls you, say ‘Speak, LORD. Your servant is listening.’” (1 Samuel 3:9).
The story does not end there, for God was indeed calling Samuel to give him quite a message to deliver to Eli. The news was not good: Eli’s sons had blasphemed God and would be punished. Samuel was reluctant to give the message to Eli, but at Eli’s insistence, told him all that God had said.
Our children do have a relationship with God. Often what they need from us is help in recognizing God’s presence and words to say in response. Like Eli, we may be slow in recognizing what is happening.
Our responsibility and opportunity is not so much to teach our children how to pray, but to joln them in praying and to learn from their alertness and spontaneity. To do that well, we must be pray-ers ourselves. We must be in a current relationship with God.
I think this counts as a “link round up”. An attempt at a different style post for me. Therefore, I am stretching my blogging muscle. What do you think?