Family Prayer In The Last Days
By Kim Butts
"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (1 Pet. 4:7).
Peter emphatically stated, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that prayer is the key to living effective lives in the last days. It is obvious that the Lord wants our prayer lives to be powerful and effective as we face what lies ahead. Clear minded Christian families should have clearly defined, purpose-filled lives that are characterized by wise choices and mature decisions made from a relationship with Jesus in prayer. However, if the enemy can successfully see to it that our minds are cluttered with the unproductive excesses of our culture, then we can be turned off of the course Christ has set before us.
Peter said that we must be self-controlled so that we can pray. Self-control is difficult at best! However, if we ask ourselves one simple question we can put this issue into God’s perspective: Who is controlling us? Is it God, our Father, who loves us and wants what is best for us...or Satan, our enemy, who would seek to destroy us? As a family, look at the activities you are engaged in, the habits you have, and the things that you hold tightly to. Are all of these things bringing honor and glory to God because they are lived out through you under His control? Or, are you trapped by the vise-like grip of the deceiver in things that do not please the Father?
If the enemy can dissuade us, distract us, or damage us in some way to keep us from praying – especially in our families – he will! A lack of self-control will allow us to be distracted by worldly things or ungodly pursuits. As a result, we will certainly not be prayer minded, watchful or aware. "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control" (Prov. 25:28). Walls that are broken down are defenseless and open to attack from the enemy. When we lack clear minded self-control, we open ourselves up for attack.
Are the walls around your family built up and well defended? Are you praying with and for one another? Are you holding one another accountable to behave like Christ, and confessing sin to one another? (Jas. 5:13-16).
Without self-control our prayer lives will be weak, erratic, powerless and useless to the Lord! When we are able, with His help, to bring every area of our lives under control, our prayers will increase in power and effectiveness. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7). Listed below are some of the many prayer commands the Lord has given us in His Word. If your family will take the time to study, meditate upon, and obey each of these commands, you will be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
• Pray so that you might not fall into temptation. Prayer is the Lord’s way of protecting us from the enemy. If we are not clear minded and self-controlled, we can easily fall into the traps that Satan sets for us. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matt. 26:41). In the last days, it is important that we are prayerfully watchful! Teach your children how easily sins such as anger and unforgiveness (Mark 11:25) can hinder our prayers. Have family members make a list of the things that tempt them. Determine to "watch and pray" about these things. Making a family covenant to pray for one another in these areas will be of great help to avoid temptation, as will the accountability that goes with it!
• Pray so that all might be saved. Prayer is the Lord’s strategy for bringing the lost into His kingdom (1 Tim. 2:1-4). We must obediently pray for all people – even those who persecute us or mistreat us (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:28). And it is critical to pray for those in authority over us! As a family, begin to pray for government leaders, co-workers, teachers, etc. Make a list of neighbors, friends and family members who don’t know Christ and begin to intercede for them!
• Devote yourselves to faithful prayer – "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Col. 4:2). When we have thankful hearts, and minds that are alert (watchful) to the enemy’s schemes, we will be better able to maintain the faithful practice of prayer. "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Rom. 12:12). Your family can determine to obey this command by setting aside time each day to pray individually and together. The Father will reward your faithfulness. If this time is difficult to find, sit down together and plan what activities are taking away opportunities to spend time in prayer together. It may only take a few minor adjustments to find a segment of time to pray together daily. Perhaps all it will take is to turn off the television or give up excess time at the computer, etc. Talk about what being devoted means. Ask yourselves if you are more devoted to other activities than to prayer. Determine to change your priorities if this is the case.
• Pray continually because it is God’s will for you – "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thes. 5:16-18). It is never easy to be joyful and to give thanks in the midst of circumstances that are difficult. Why would God state that His will is for us to do so? Because He knows that we grow stronger through the rough spots in life. He can give us victory over the darkest circumstance if we will turn it over to Him in prayer. Teach your family that as we obediently lay every concern, difficulty, frustration and sorrow at His feet, He will bring peace to guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:6-7).
Family Prayer: Father, enable us to be clear minded in these last days. Help us to live wisely, and with purpose. Make clear to us the areas where we are lacking in self-control and help us to resist the enemy. Help us to know how to pray what is on Your heart. We desire powerful, Spirit-filled lives of prayer that will bring You glory in these last days. Teach us to pray, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.