Psalm 127:1 - “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city , the watchman keeps awake in vain.”
James 5:16b - “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
I confess right from the beginning that I need to pray more. I need to read the Bible more; and read it in a fresh way to see how servants of the Lord spent significant time praying. But why is it so easy not to pray? Why does it take a tragedy or something significant that happens in our life bring us to our knees quickly to call out to the Lord?
Over the years, the Lord has impressed many things upon my heart as it relates to my family; but one common theme has been to give myself to prayer for my family. I have been married for almost 13 years and have 4 daughters. Each of my daughters have different personalities with different likes and dislikes. One of my daughter’s has special needs which presents a different dynamic to our family on a daily basis. My wife and I (by the grace of God) have a solid marriage but it certainly isn’t free from its difficulties and trying times. In fact, several months ago my wife and I went through a season of difficulty with regards to communication with one another. It seemed like everything we said upset one another. We were arguing over little things that we normally wouldn’t argue over. Thankfully, the Lord pulled us out of that season and showed both of us areas where we needed to grow in grace. But also areas where we need to be careful that we’re not giving the enemy an opening to come in. Whether that’s through harboring bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, etc.
Being a husband and father is difficult. We are called to lead; but not just lead in any way, but lead in the fashion of Jesus Christ. So our leading will look different than the world and it is hard. It gets so hard that we are tempted to throw in the towel and stop leading as we are called. Behind this temptation is a spiritual war we are in whether we know it or not.
This spiritual war happens daily for our own affections and the affections of our wives and children. What are the things that are pulling on our heart; what’s pulling on our wife’s heart or our children’s hearts? Do we even know? Are we attentive? Are we in tune with the spiritual needs of our family? One way God has called us to battle is through the weapon of prayer. I call ‘prayer’ a weapon for a reason. When a soldier goes into battle, that soldier doesn’t just go with one weapon, but with many. The Lord has also given us many (spiritual) weapons (see Ephesians 6:10-18) with one being prayer. This weapon has been neglected and continues to be neglected by many fathers and husbands including myself. This neglect can come in many forms but mostly manifests itself in apathy. It’s not necessarily that we don’t want to pray...we just don’t. We don’t have much interest in doing it, or there isn’t a heavy concern on our heart. We often don’t want to turn off the game or deny ourself in any way in order to pray.
There’s a great verse in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 that says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Samuel Kisseadoo says, “prayer is what all successful men and women of the Bible and in history engaged in as their major weapon to become victorious in their fights.”
As husbands and fathers, the Lord has given us a mini flock to shepherd. We are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church and to not provoke our children to anger but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of Lord (Ephesians 5:25 and 6:4). We have a great responsibility as husbands and fathers. It is only when the Lord opens our eyes to see this great responsibility, that we realize how great a need it is for us to pray.
So why is it important for us as husbands and fathers to give ourselves to prayer for our family?
In simple terms, God wants us to join Him in praying for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in our marriage and family. Psalm 127:1, says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Our labor in our marriage and parenting must be with the Lord. As husbands and fathers, our desire should be that the Lord build up our home, and one area (of course not the only!) is through prayer. There are many things that are set against the family, marriage, fathers and just us as individual Christians. The enemy lurks continually, seeking an opportunity to attack. He goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Sadly, many fathers and husbands have checked out. They sit on the sideline while the game is being played.
In Ephesians 6:10-12 it says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Brothers, let me be more forceful - there are unseen forces that are vying to rip apart our family and get at our wives, children and ourselves. There are worldly affections that are trying to grab hold of our hearts, our children’s hearts and our wives hearts; there are numerous ‘good’ things to which we are giving too much of our attention. We must stand firm in the Lord. In Ephesians 6:18 it says, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit…” We, as husbands and fathers must not sit on the sidelines and give the enemy an opening into our family. The Lord calls us as Fathers to intercede on behalf of our families. To pray for the salvation of our children. To pray that our children be wholehearted disciples of Jesus Christ. To pray against the pull and deceptive lure of the world; that our children see the world for what it is; fleeting and unsatisfying. To pray for their friends, that the Lord would give them friends that are good for their soul (and vice versa). To pray for their future spouses. As for our wives, to pray that the Lord gives them a heart for the home and a heart for the children. That our wives would continue to grow spiritually and invest in the lives of other young woman. That our families would be Christ-centered. That we as a family would be filled with the knowledge of His will so that we can walk in a manner worthy of our calling. That as husbands and fathers, we would learn to lead by washing the feet of our families. That God would give us hearts of humility. Hearts that do not seek to (promote) put our own interests first but the interests of our families, and ultimately the interests of Christ our Lord, first. That we would be sensitive to what God is calling us to do and when He is calling us to do it. That we would see the value in gathering with other believers of His church.
Brothers, there is so much that we can lay before the Lord in prayer. We want the Lord to build our homes and for our homes to be Christ-centered. Let us be stirred up in this area and may God open our eyes to the urgency and need of prayer in this day. Let us not be those who slumber and sleep, but those who are alert, stay awake, and are vigilant.
Love you brothers.