As we expand our prayer focus, we want to include our family/household. Now, this can be a tricky one for some of us. Some of us live with family, while others don’t. Some of us are married, some single, some empty nesting, and some caring for our elderly family in our own home. The type of household you may have could vary in any number of ways. What we want you to focus on are your closest familial relationships. If you are married, your spouse is top on your list. If you have children, they take second place on that list. If you have parents and siblings that are still alive, you want to pray for them as well.
In writing to Timothy, the young pastor in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul says:
Give these instructions to the believers, so that they will be above reproach. If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:7-8 (NIV)
These verses are specifically talking about providing for the physical needs of those in the household. The church had an extensive system of providing for the physical needs of people in their congregation (widows, orphans, the poor, the sick, and those in prison) and some people were taking advantage of the generosity by allowing the church to care for members of their household instead of taking care of those needs themselves. The Apostle Paul wasn’t going to stand for that and issues this very strict admonition. However, as we know, the spiritual lives of those in our family/household are equally as important as their physical lives. The assumption on the Apostle Paul’s part is that these household leaders were already caring for the spiritual needs of their homes. We should be doing the same.
If we have members of our family, even extended family, who do not trust in Jesus, that should be a matter of prayer. We should be praying for their needs. This means asking them how best we can pray for them and when possible, praying with them. We have a standing rule to pray before our meals. This could be a great time to ask and pray for specific needs. When the boys were little, we would say our bedtime prayers which was another great time to learn what they wanted to pray about. If they aren’t at home, you can still ask and pray for them. Your elderly parent might just pass out if you ask them how you can pray for them, but it is worth that risk! 🙂
And if you are struggling with what to pray, here is a great prayer, directly from the scriptures:
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 (NIV)
If you want it musically, here is an amazing rendition.