Praying for Your Family

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What’s up team?  We’re in week three of our February theme of relationships and I hope by now you’ve gotten to have some good conversations about the greatest relationships in your life.  No earthly relationship is more important than the ones we build at home.  So I hope you’re being intentional about the time you invest in your spouse and kids.  This week, we’re talking again about or families, but in a slightly different way.

We’re gonna talk about how we pray for them.

I’m not going to waste any breath on the importance of prayer.  You guys know that already.  You’ve seen the power and difference it can make.  But how many of us really devote time to praying for our family?  Now I’m not talking about the generic, “God bless my family” or “God, take care of my family.”  That prayer is weak.  And if I hear it, I call it out.  Seriously.  I really do.  Every night, we pray together as a family and we take turns leading it.  Just the other night, Owen was tired and gave one of those half-hearted prayers.  And without even waiting for him to finish, I interrupted and blurted out, “Weak!”  It led to a short, but good conversation about what we give to God.  Do we give Him our best or do we give Him our leftovers?  And when we pray, are we having a conversation or are we just saying words.  A good litmus test is asking yourself this question: would anyone enjoy this conversation?  If it’s not good enough for a friend, why would we offer it up to God?

…I’m getting off track.  Anyway…

So often, when we pray for our family, we’ll pray generalities.  Keep them safe.  Keep them happy.  (Like safety and happiness are God’s ultimate concern for us).  But our prayers often look like a list of things we want.  And so often, it’s hard to pray this way.  Because we wonder, does this honor God?  Could this move His heart?  Am I even moved by what I’m praying?

A couple weeks ago, we had a conversation as a staff about bold prayers.  What they look like and why we don’t pray them enough.  And one of the things that was brought up was that we often don’t pray boldly because we’re afraid they won’t be answered and we don’t know if it’s what God desires.  And that led to another cool conversation about prayer that I want to share with you.

Of course we want our kids to be safe and happy.  Of course we want them to grow.  We want them to have good relationships, we want them to be challenged, …fill in whatever blank you want here.  But what does God want?  How can I pray God’s will for my child when I’m not even sure what God’s will is for me?

One of the greatest things that we can do is pray scripture over our family.  Because here’s the cool thing with that: it always honors God.  We don’t have to question, “does God want this?”  They’re His words!  It’s what He’s telling us He desires for us!  So when we pray scripture over our kids, we’re not asking God for things that He may or may not want.  We’re asking for things that God delights to give!  We’re not strong-arming God into getting our way, we’re asking for His will to be done.

So thanks to the help of Pastor Jeff, here’s a list of prayers that God delights to answer.  There’s one for your spouse and one for your kids.  And I encourage you to make this a part of your daily prayers.  That every morning, you cover your family with prayer, not just prayer that benefits them, but also honors God.  And watch how God will move as you do this.  Bonus points to the parents who also pray these over their kids’ future spouses!  It’s never too early!  And feel free to copy and paste this.  Print it out and put it on your nightstand.  Or bookmark this page so you can access it easily every morning.  But if we say we believe in the power of prayer, let’s put our money where our mouth is.  Nothing has the power to benefit our family  more than this.  So join me and lets get after it!


17 Prayers for your spouse:

Pray For His/Her Strength  “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (Psalm 28:7)

Pray For Increased Faith  “And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain,‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21)

Pray For His/Her Peace  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Pray For His/Her Work  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Pray For Encouragement  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Pray For Freedom From Fear  “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Pray For His/Her Health  “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1:2)

Pray For Self-Control  “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28)

Pray For Grace  “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:15)

Pray For Confidence  “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Pray For His/Her To Recognize Her Purpose  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Pray For His/Her Needs  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Pray For His/Her Influence  “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8)

Pray For Transformation  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Pray For Sexual Intimacy  “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:5)

Pray For Rejuvenation  “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Pray For A Humble Spirit  “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2)


8 Prayers for your kids

Bless and keep them throughout the day  “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Let your light will shine through them  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Give them a spirit of power, love, and sound mind  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

They will not be anxious about anything  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

They will know that You are with them  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

They will grow in the grace and knowledge of God  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

They will stand for what is right  “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place” (Ephesians 6:14).

They will know Jesus Christ more intimately  “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

 

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Marriage as a Verb

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Kelly Kapowski.  My first love.  The first girl I ever truly wanted to marry.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Turns out she’s not real.

I did however learn alot about relationships from these two.  Being a kid from the 90’s, Zack and Kelly was my Ross & Rachel, Cory & Topanga, Carrie & Mr. Big, Jim & Pam, and Kevin & Winnie all rolled into one.  I thought they were it and wanted my relationship to be just like theirs.  So this blond haired high schooler found himself a brunette cheerleader and they lived happily ever after.

…except that’s not quite true.  Marriage, it turns out, isn’t as easy as putting one and one together.

But I’m not going to tell you how hard it can be.  You already know.  And I’m not going to give you failure statistics.  You know that too.  I’m not even going to give you a list of “don’ts” because you’ve seen all those.  And I’ve far too often seen marriage compared to war.  Heard about the battle.  Seen remarks about dominance over women and the emasculation of husbands.  That’s all crap.

What I want to do is allow you to see again just how awesome marriage is!  Because the goal isn’t to not get divorced.  If that’s as high as your aspirations go, good luck.  Maybe you should just test your loyalty with your favorite brand of toothpaste.  The goal is to grow together, have lots and lots of mind blowing sex, laugh really often, and while all this is going on, cheer each other on toward love and good deeds.

So a good marriage takes action.  And I want us to start thinking of our marriages, not as a thing that needs constant care and attention, but as a daily adventure that you get to experience.  That we don’t think loving, we act loving.  We don’t care for them, we give care.  There’s a big difference.  So often love is internalized.  But marriage isn’t lived out in your head.  It’s lived out in the world.

SHOW Appreciation

The other week, I watched a documentary on slavery and the Civil War.  And when it was over, I was swept with this overwhelming guilt that even though I am so blessed, I’m not nearly as thankful as I should be.  So I decided the next day I would fast.  And during that time, I’d pray and make a list of all the things I was thankful for.  So I started making the list and the first 25 things I wrote were all about my wife.  And what struck me wasn’t the fact that she was so prominent on my list.  What struck me was how clueless she would probably be that I would write those things down.  I doubted that she even knew how much her character and her care mean to me.

I typically make an assumption that Megan knows what I love about her because the things she does are worthy of love and gratitude.  Like it doesn’t need to be spoken.  So I make assumptions based on assumptions and expect that to see me through an exceptional marriage.  But the truth is, we spouses can go for weeks wondering why we’re loved at all.  And even though we may not admit and we definitely wouldn’t say it, we’re dying to hear from our other what it is they love about us.  We want that care and that affirmation.  So give that away.  Share that.  We don’t need to hold it close to our vest.  We need to lay all that out on the table.

The cool thing is that this creates a deeper bond in both people.  For them, it reassures them and gives them security and positive feedback.  For us, it reminds us of all the little things we take for granted.  Pastor Brian asked the question once: What if God only gave you tomorrow what you thanked Him for today?  Think about your marriage with that regard.  So make a list.  What is it you love so much about your husband/wife?  Got a list?  Tell them!  Write a letter.  Give a passionate monologue.  Send daily texts.  Take gratitude one step further and express it!

BE Intimate

Every single day, we slowly fall more in love with some things, while we fall away from others.

This isn’t rocket science, it’s just life.  But it’s still a profound statement.  Every single day, we slowly fall more in love with some things, while we fall away from others.  I used to love Kelly Kapowski.  I used to love baseball cards.  I used to love playing video games.  I used to love pizza.  I used to love being single.  I used to love a whole lot of things.  But as I grew, I fell away from those in favor of falling more in love with other things.  I turned my attention away from them and onto others.  Now I love reading.  I love steak and sushi.  I love watching documentaries.  I love my kids.  And these may be simple and silly things, but think about life.  That emotional attachment to a coworker didn’t just spring up overnight.  It developed.  You grew closer to that and further from your spouse.  That getaway used to be a hobby, now it’s an excuse to be away from the family.  It was slow and it was intentional.

You decide what you’re falling more in love with and what you’re falling away from.  So…

Have lots of sex.  Husbands, you’re welcome.  But do it!  Alot!  Tired?  Drink a Red Bull.  Stomach hurting?  Stop eating nachos and ice cream before bed.  I don’t care what you need to do.  Take care of it and… well… take care of it.  Because lets be real, we men are different people when our wife takes care of us.  We hold our heads higher and our eyes stay focused.  You ladies even look different when you’re well loved and confident you’re treasured.  So have fun.  Let your freak flag fly.

Date each other.  Get away from your kids.  Shirk responsibilities.  Act like teenagers.  I’ve heard it said that marriage is falling in love over and over again with the same person.  We people change as we grow older.  None of us are the same person we were ten years ago.  None of us will be the same ten years from now.  As couples, our relationship needs to grow in the same way the individual does.  And it can only happen when we intentionally make it happen.  So whether it’s sandwiches in a park or drinks in the city, date.  As often as possible.  And even when it’s not.  One night on a winter retreat with the teens, Megan and I met in the hotel lobby for a 30 minute date over vending machine snacks at 1am.  It wasn’t much, but it ended up being one of our favorite memories from the trip.

Flirt, joke, hold hands, tease, act dumb, tickle, kiss in public, woo.  These were all things you loved doing at the beginning.  These were all the things that led to the two of you falling in love.  Let them also be what sustains you.  And don’t make excuses.  You’re either falling more in love or falling away.  It’s your call.

WORK Together

What’s crazy to me is how little couples work together.  They’re involved in the most intimate relationship present on Earth, but they really just run into each other at morning and at night.  Life happens, they react, and get by.  Life happens again, they react again, and get by again.  But living the same 100 years over and over isn’t life.  Life is dreaming and creating and building.  It’s growing something that in turn grows you.  And when we dream and build with our spouse, we unlock potential that’s long been dormant.  So begin working together in these couple ways…

Volunteer: Be a part of something bigger than the both of you.  Impact the world as a team.  I love that Megan volunteers in the youth ministry.  And getting to see her in action is amazing!  I get to see her laugh and goof off, building relationships with the teen girls.  I get to see her heart when she’s crying late at night, while texting girls who are going through tough circumstances.  I get to see her care and attention pay off when a girl lays her head on Megan’s shoulder while she’s worshiping at church.  Seeing her do these things fills me with awe.  She’s amazing!  And on top of that, we get to introduce teens to Christ.  We get to work together on how we want to influence the schools for Christ.  But it doesn’t have to be that.  Maybe you want to build homes for Habitat for Humanity or work in a soup kitchen or tutor at schools.  Whatever it is, influence the world and stand in awe of the amazing person God made in your spouse

Experience Life: Find a hobby and do new things together.  Stretch yourself and discover new passions.  Being a part of each other’s growing is so gratifying!  Take a cooking class, go hiking, join her knitting group (seriously!).  Be a part of each other’s happy place.  Recharge together.  Because lets be real, you and your other don’t have enough fun together.

Cheer on Growth:  It’s easy to get lazy and become stagnant.  And I told the youth group this last Wednesday and I become more and more certain of it: that maybe God didn’t give us marriage just to be happy.  Maybe he gave us marriage to be holy.  Several years ago, I was stuck in a bad place.  And one night, Megan had enough.  She called me out with tears in her eyes and accused me of being a bad leader.  Not that I was leading poorly, but I wasn’t leading at all.  And I had to sit there and eat it, because she was exactly right.  But Megan wasn’t nagging at all.  She was fighting for the family.  Her voice woke me up.  Years later, Megan felt led to start a women’s Bible study.  She was scared and unsure of herself.  I challenged her and helped her and she got to see 40 or so women walk closer with Christ.  My voice gave her courage.  Paul says in 1st Corinthians (One Corinthians, if you’re a Trump supporter) Chapter 7, verse 2 “…since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”  And here, he’s talking directly about immorality that leads to adulterous sin.  He said it’s better to marry than to burn with lust.  But I wonder if even Paul realized how profound this statement is.  Because Megan’s voice in my life has led me to be a better man than I ever would have been on my own.  This world has so many things to turn our attention to, but we get to navigate it together.  We have to be speak with love and we have to be open to guidance.  But how awesome is it to grow closer to Christ with our spouse!

Be a Team:  Andy Stanley says it better than I ever could, so watch this…

So marriage is awesome!  Make yours more awesome!  All it takes is a little intention and a whole lot of action.  Take that to mean whatever you want.

I love you guys and I’m cheering for you!  Make sure your spouse reads this too and talk about how you want be an even better couple.  Because you guys aren’t just going to make it, you’re going to love it!

The one about the questions you ask to fall in love…

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The other night, Megan and I were at home watching the first episode of this season’s The Bachelor. I think of that show the same way I do American Idol. I have no interest in it.

…except the first couple shows.

Is it okay to admit that? The first few episodes are downright hilarious. There’s something inside of me that takes an unusual amount of joy from seeing a train wreck. And that’s exactly what this show is. So anyway, we’re watching this show and I’m cruising news sites on my phone and I come across this article that says any two people that talk through a list of 36 questions can fall in love. Well, Bachelor was on the tv, love was in the air, and my curiosity was piqued. So I looked into it a little bit.

The story goes like this:
In 1997, a psychologist named Arthur Aaron was able to make two complete strangers fall in love in his laboratory. He had a man and woman enter his lab from two separate doors, where they sat across from each other and answered a series of questions. The result: rainbows, unicorns, and l-o-v-e. Arthur went on to publish his studies, which flew under the radar. Only recently did the study find popularity, after an article in the New York Times. The article, written by a university professor named Mandy Len Catron, tells of her interest in the topic. She then persuades a pseudo-stranger she knows from the gym to try it out with her. In her article, she talks about the series of questions (they start simple and get more and more intimate) and the final instruction to stare into each others eyes silently for 4 minutes (scary, right???). Her results? Wedding bells.

You can read Mandy’s article here…

Now I’m not saying that any couple who does this will fall in love. Many of the couples in the lab didn’t. And I’m not trying to offer pointers to singles who desperately (Bachelor style) want to find love. But what I’m saying (specifically to the couples from my church who are really my only audience) is that taking the time to be with someone is always thrilling. But too often, couples spend far more time maintaining life than they do just enjoying each other. I could go on and on about the importance of dating your spouse, but you’ve read all the research and blogs and “Top 10 Reasons Why…” already. I find it incredibly sad though, that no one dates less than a married couple.

…except a married couple with children.

So my challenge to you is this: clear out your weekend schedule. This weekend. Next weekend if you’re too lame to make it happen now. But date your spouse. Make it fun. Get dressed up like you would if it were a first date. Girls, put them sassy heels on. Guys, take a shower. Maybe even wear cologne. Go to a nice restaurant and spend a couple hours falling in love again. Take your time. Order appetizers. Smile. Eat dinner. Laugh. Don’t skip dessert. Blush. Stick around for drinks afterward. Bask in each other. And make it fun by taking these 36 questions with you.

Think this all sounds stupid? So did I. Out of curiosity though, I talked Megan into going over them with me. Wanna know what happened? We fell in love to a degree that man has never seen. The heaven’s parted and we saw the face of God, who smiled, winked at us, and sang love songs over us, in his deep baritone voice, while we slow danced on a cloud.

Okay, that’s a lie.

But it was fun! Some of it, we could answer for each other. Some of it surprised us. But it was fun! And if you’re honest with yourself, you and your spouse don’t have enough fun. And that’s just not right. You married because life wasn’t the same without them. Now life is just the same every day. Break out! Do something fun!  Do something romantic!  Do something silly!   Just do something!

Here’s the thing. You married your spouse when they were one person. We age, we grow, we mature (some of us), and we change. The beauty in marriage is changing together. We don’t stay in love with the same person for years and years and years. Rather, we fall in love with that person over and over and over. But this is a very intentional act.

I’ve heard the story too many times. A couple goes through life maintaining and 30 years later, don’t even recognize each other. The husband has changed. The wife has changed. They didn’t do it together.

But you’re not that couple. That’s not your marriage. You’re meant for the long haul. So rediscover your spouse this weekend. Enjoy them. Let yourself get butterflies again. Find today’s new reason to love them. And just for kicks and giggles, ask these questions…

Set I
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set III
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling …”
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Grand Finale
Stare into each other’s eyes silently for four minutes.

Have fun, you crazy couples!!!!