Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Setting Their Hope

Welcome to Whatsoever Wednesday!  In the middle of the week, we like to share what we are reading, watching, listening to, and otherwise filling our minds with to fulfill the command in Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Sometimes my prayers stink.  I think God must get tired of me saying the same things over and over.  I start with the obvious address, I do the "intercession" time (You know, please bless my kids, my husband, our family...), I say thanks for this and that and I'm done.  I know there must be more to prayer than that.  Something more than the dry, methodical, self-centered, obligatory phrases I have been saying since I was 10.  I love God, but I am shallow! Or maybe I am simply out of words.  As if this wasn't bad enough, I'm a chronic emergency pray-er. When I am sad, hurt, or frightened, I can pray like a fiend. When things are sailing along, I forget everything I learned; my passion wanes and I become inconsistent again. 

That confession holds true for the whole of my life, however this year has been particularly bad.  These twelve months, while we were far from home, we have lost my papaw, one mom broke her arm and the other mom has been going through disturbing medical tests, our niece had surgery, my grandmother has fallen repeatedly and one of our youngest cousins has been diagnosed with a slow moving but terminal illness.  My heart aches.  I need to pray more.  I need to pray better.  And emergency prayer is not going to do the trick.

Enter a new book. Although the book is a book specifically about praying for your children, it has taught me an enormous amount through example about prayer.   I ran across Setting Their Hope in God: Biblical Intercession for Your Children by Andrew Case as a free download - here.

I downloaded the book originally because the preface was so well reviewed here, at the Thriving Home Blog.  Although I don't love prefaces this one focuses on why and how parents should pray for their children. Then the book itself has hundreds of paraphrased prayers. Each one is taken almost word for word from the Scriptures and they cover a number of different topics.   The prayers are suitable for reading aloud, sharing with your children, or for praying quietly one at a time.

When I first began to read, I devoured it.  Page after page I read late into that first night.  Later, I settled down into a rhythm of praying two or three a day, substituting my daughters' names into the phrase "my children."

Andrew Case's book has challenged me in wonderful ways.  As I pray the scripture directly into my daughters' lives, I am called to be less selfish with them.  Today I read, "...may they pour themselves out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, for then shall their light rise in the darkness and their gloom be as the noonday." (Case 264-Isaiah 58:7-8) How often have I prayed that my children would be people who "pour themselves out?"  I pray for their comfort and their safety instead.  I need the uncomfortable reminder that the path to glory, not just for myself but for my children, runs through the worst kinds of neighborhoods.

Covering both New and Old Testament passages, the book challenges my priorities for my daughters and helps my prayers be deep and wide. I was especially struck by one prayer from the gospels that confessed that my children are rich in the things of this world. Compared to the underdeveloped and impoverished nations around us, they certainly are. I knew that it is as difficult for the rich to come to the Kingdom of God as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. (Mark 10:25)  But I never thought to pray for them because our very abundance is a spiritual danger.

Besides the enormous aid the book has given me in praying for my daughters, it has also given me insight into the solution to my other prayer problems.  Indeed I am out of words, and the solution is to borrow some of God's.  I am shallow. That is not an excuse it is a confession.  I need to pray widely and deeply.  So having learned from Case's excellent book, when I read my Bible these days, I often stop to pray the words over some person or situation.

I am also learning consistency in my prayers.  Beside "read Bible" on my all important to-do list is now "read two or three prayers." The act of sitting down with a cup of coffee and praying for my girls makes me a more patient mother, and it often sets the tone for other prayers I need to offer.  The discipline of praying for them, with the aid of this little book, has developed into a deeper discipline of prayer.

I hope my Father is more pleased these days with the quality of our conversations.  I wonder, do you struggle with your prayers?  What do you do?  If you go and download the book, leave me a comment here and let me know what you think. 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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