This past week, our church began 120 days of intensive “returning to prayer” in our homes. The goal is not simply to bless our meals, although that will be done. It is not to make a list of requests and burn through them, although that might be done also. As parents we wonder how to “pass on” our faith to our children and their children in a way that isn’t simply “teaching them doctrine, and how to nod in approval to it”.
Prayer is one of the main streams of faith in which Christ flows to our children, grandchildren, and beyond.
But what if we don’t know how to pray ourselves? How much prayer is “enough” to make a difference? If we start praying regularly now, won’t we/they feel hypocritical?
The answers are more simple than we may guess. Jesus actually gives us a prayer himself (Matthew 6:9-13) and there are many Psalms available. Beyond that, it’s okay to grow in our ability to pray…start where you are. As for “enough”, we’ll get to that. As for hypocritical, we need to get over our fear of being labeled “hypocrite”.
All Christians will be labeled “hypocrite” on their journey, hopefully. The Greek word “ὑποκρίνομαι” (hupokrinomai) literally means “play-acting”, and comes from the words “under” and “decide”. Actors are unable to decide for themselves in a play, because they are acting out a role.
At some point, Christ transforms us, and we begin to act out the new role He has given us. For a while, it may feel un-natural, like we’re acting. But as God transforms our nature, we find ourselves speaking the language of His Kingdom more naturally.
So how much prayer is “enough”? I doubt we can ever pray “too much”. 1 Thess. 5:17 reminds us “Pray Continually.” But our church has stolen (with permission) the “7-5-2” concept as a great place to start. It means each week we commit to praying at least:
7 – times a week FOR our families, on our own. Anyone can do this. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin living by yourself, whatever. You have family and people you love that you can pray for.
5 – times a week WITH our families. This includes meal times and bedtimes. Yes, even grandparents. With phones, internet, e-mails, texting, etc…it’s completely possible to connect with someone in your family 5 times a week to let them know you’re praying with them.
2 – times a week WITH/FOR our spouses or someone close. Sharing requests and our hearts. For single people, or widows, or divorced parents, this may be harder. But not impossible. Find someone you are close to (if you’re married, it’s your spouse!!), and share prayer requests and hold one another in prayer at least twice a week. This may be the most challenging, if prayer is not yet an assumed pattern in your home. But this is WORTH it!!!
Maybe you hear that and gasp, for such a small amount of prayer. Good. 🙂 But for the majority of homes, statistics indicate this would be an increase of prayer, and we believe God can do some great things in our midst through these commitments to prayer.