Back to School Prayers

Clogged up parking lots. Fresh, clean backpacks. Crisp new clothes. Sharp pencils. Eager young faces… Yup, it’s back-to-school time!

No matter what form of education you choose for your child—homeschool, private school, or public school—we need to pray diligently through this season of life. The education process is indeed challenging.

I realize that many children are already in school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shift your focus toward school-time prayers!

 

Below are links to some PDFs with prayers for you, your child’s teachers and (of course) your children. Some of you have only one child in these situations,some of you have multiple children. Your child may have special needs. These printables are merely springboards to guide your thoughts. I have made three PDFs; one for homeschoolers, school-aged kids (for public or private school), and college students.

I welcome additional suggestions in the comments below!

For those of you teaching, may the Lord grant you a calm spirit, a heart of patience, and diligent hands. Thank you for your efforts to teach the children entrusted to your care!

For Homeschool, click here.

For School-Aged Kids (Attending Public or Private Schools) click here.

For College Students, click here.

I hope these are beneficial to you!

 

Who do I tell?

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Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

~ Psalm‬ ‭55:22‬, ‭NASB

Have you ever had your heart crushed by someone who was supposed to be a friend? Enemies can attack and leave some bruising, but nothing is as devastating as being hurt, neglected, ignored or betrayed by a loved one. Enemy attacks are like surface wounds; friend’s attacks cut to the bone.

When you feel this way, where do you take your pain? To whom do you relay your frustration? I used to tell other people my feelings with the unfortunate consequence of it being relayed back to the perpetrator and more strife being created. There is a better way: take it to the Lord.

The Burden of Anger.

There are going to be times we are full to bursting with frustration and we have to get it off our chest. We may feel like we can’t take our negative, angry feelings to God because it’s too much like complaining.

When you think this way, remind yourself of the above passage: “Cast your burden on the Lord…”

Casting off is to shed some load that you are carrying. Anger is a burden. Some call this “baggage.” It’s a heavy load. Over time, we may not notice it’s weight, but it weakens our soul, morphing into resentment. Imagine being stooped for a long period of time with a weight on your back. At some point, the back won’t straighten up again because it’s permanently fixed in that position. Don’t allow your soul to be permanently stooped with bitterness. Cast your burden off!

Unloading your baggage.

If you feel the weight of anger/pain/frustration, pause for a moment and pray, “Lord, I am so angry with [insert name]. They did [this] to me. It made me feel [insert emotion]. I know that you desire me to forgive as you have forgiven me. I need to extend grace to this person and have the mind of Christ. Help me to overcome, to be holy as you are holy. I can’t let go of this without your aid.”

The Lord already knows what the person did and how you feel about it, but it is critical that you lay it all out as to Him as you would to a friend. You know that gnawing sensation you feel when you need to get something off your chest? That’s what you are doing when you pray this way to God. Get it off your chest. There is something innately helpful about talking something through. Unload your baggage. Don’t tell someone else who may go and share what you want concealed; tell the One who can actually handle the load.

Taking on Forgiveness.

Onice you have unloaded your pain, it’s time to pick up forgiveness. Carrying an attitude of forgiveness is a much lighter load than the leaden backpack of anger. It is not easy to forgive, which is why it is important to seek the Lord’s help. Do you believe in the statement of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”? If you believe it, then ask Him for help! Do not doubt His promises.

Keep asking, seeking and knocking.

You may or may not feel better immediately after confiding in the Lord. If you are still wounded, you need to keep going back to God. Remember, He can handle your heartache. It is not useless repetition, it’s like physical therapy. One trip to a physical therapist won’t fix an injury. It takes several visits to get back into shape. This is no different. Keep asking in faith. The Lord is calling us to be like Him, it is His will. If you desire to be like Him, then you need His assistance and you need it constantly.

Has someone slighted you today? Are you feeling wounded? Don’t tell another person, tell God—He can handle it!

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

~ 1 Peter 5.6-7, NKJV

[Please Note: There are instances, such as cases of sexual, verbal, or physical abuse in which it would be necessary to seek counseling/therapy. Trauma affects the brain just as violently as a being physically hit by a bus and the recovery takes just as long or longer. If you are a victim of trauma, seek help from a qualified Christian counselor AND the Lord. I have found that it is sometimes necessary to get counseling from someone who does not know you personally, because they are not biased towards you or the offending party. God puts people like this in our lives as His tools, just like doctors and nurses. There is no shame in getting help from a neutral party and it does not negate or weaken the hand of God.]

3 Steps to Daily Prayer in 2016

image taken from warroommovie.com
image taken from warroommovie.com

One of my goals for 2016 is to develop regular, quality prayer time alone with God.

How do we get in the habit of praying daily like Jesus?

Step 1: Set up a regular time.

If you do not pray regularly at all and are trying to get into the habit, I suggest that you start by praying at meal times because meals are regular. If you are already doing that, it’s time to advance to the next level.

Pray in the morning before going about your daily routine and in the evening before you sleep. This level is particularly challenging because we don’t always hop out of bed. Sometimes we fall back asleep and hit the snooze button a few times. Set your alarm ahead by 15-20 minutes and get out of bed. I know it’s hard, especially when it’s so cold this time of year, but get on your knees and pray next to your bed. If you think you’ll be undisturbed, make yourself a cup of coffee first, have a few sips and then pray. In the evening, try to pray before you lay down so that you don’t fall asleep mid-prayer. Again, this might be challenging. Find a routine that works for you.

Step 2: Setup a prayer minder

The scriptures say nothing about Jesus carrying around a scroll of prayer requests, but we are not Jesus. He had divine insight and power. We are far weaker and constantly inundated with distractions. We need reminders.

When I took Speech 101, the class was encouraged to write the highlights of our speech on a notecard and then give our speech from memory using the note card as a reference. Certain specificities—like statistics—that would be difficult to remember were also written on this card. While prayer isn’t exactly a speech, it is a time when we approach the throne of grace to lay our petitions before the Lord. Imagine if you were to stand before the Queen of England or the President of the United States and bring them a request. You wouldn’t just wing it, would you? You might, depending on the circumstance, but if you had a formal audience with them, I’d bet you’d take time to write it down.

Bring your 3×5 or 4×6 card or prayer journal with your specific requests so you don’t forget to talk to God about them. Sometimes you might be reading your prayer from the cards, but I prefer to think of these lists as the critical points I need to address so I don’t leave them out. I’m going to pour forth what’s in my heart with or without it, but I don’t want to forget that person or two relying on me and other brethren to make petition on their behalf.

Here are 3 types of Prayer minders:

A Prayer Box. My good friend Sheena shared this with me several months ago. This is a regular old index card box with a prayer request on each card and two dividers: Requests and Answered. As the cards pile up behind the answered tab, you’ll see more and more what the Lord has done.

A Prayer Journal. This is similar to the prayer box. Writing down requests, the date you began your requests and writing the date those requests were answered.

A War Room. I absolutely loved the concept laid out in the movie War Room of having a small, quiet space to pray with specific prayer requests pinned to the wall. I, unfortunately, do not have a closet that large, so I will be using one of the other two options this year.

No matter which method you prefer, get one that fits your personality and run with it. The idea is to help you be more effective in your prayers to God.

Step 3: Fight

You may have noticed that this is a step I referred to in my post on Setting Goals that Last. There is a reason I use such a violent word. When we start taking steps to draw closer to God, Satan is going to do whatever he can to stop us. He might bring random distractions, tempt us to sleep, tantalize us with entertainment or, worse still, tickle our pride and cause us to start thinking that we are oh-so-righteous because we pray regularly.

Fight. Fight with all your might.

Fight your weakness, fight your sleepiness, fight the inertia and fight Satan. Prayer is so critical to drawing close to God. Don’t neglect it.

In your Bible study, take time to notice how important it was to God for people to ask Him about things. When the Gibeonites tried to deceive the Israelites, they succeeded not because of their cleverness, but because the Israelities failed to consult with God! In my reading this year in Chronicles this passage jumped off the page: “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.” 1 Chronicles 10.13-14, ESV He had ample opportunity to turn back to God, but instead he consulted a phony—a spiritualist! Why didn’t he ask God??

 Prayer is not to be taken lightly. Take your decisions to the Lord and ask for his guidance.

Jesus—God’s own Son—prayed regularly and for hours at a time. Take note of that also. God’s own son spent hours in prayer. Do you think there is a reason that such a thing is recorded for us? It tells me that making time for prayer is vital.

Do you think prayer is important? If something is important, make time for it.

How do you plan to make time for prayer in  2016? I’d love to hear your suggestions about what works for you in the comments below. Let’s help each other grow closer to God.

For more guidance on how to pray, here are some older posts for reference:

Reader question: Would you be interested in an e-book on prayer? I was thinking about putting one together in 2016 that used material from the above posts as well as 52 weeks of printable prayer focus sheets (like my effective prayer posts in 2015). Thanks for the feedback!

Praying for wives [The Effective Prayer – October 27, 2015]

This post is part of a biweekly series on effective prayer. To read the original post on effective prayer, click here.

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An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

~ Proverbs 31.10-11, ESV

In our previous effective prayer post, we talked about praying for husbands and the challenges of marriage. If you have not read it, please click here. This post is built on the same principles.

As I mentioned in that post, marriage is about sacrifice made from a deeply committed, unconditional love. A lasting marriage takes effort, you can’t simply get married, hit auto pilot and expect smooth sailing. Turbulence, storms, low fuel and other variables require the couple to be attentive in order to stay intact.

There are many passages about wives in the Bible. Let’s dive in to a few before looking at focus points for prayer.

The “Submission” Issue

Ephesians 5:22 is probably one of the most controversial passages for women in today’s culture of female independence and dominance:

Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22, ESV

Yes. It actually says that in the Bible.

“Submit” is viewed as one of those dirty words. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “to yield oneself to the authority or will of another; surrender. To defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.” So many pop songs talk about surrendering to the one we love, but the real-world application is far more elusive. Consider the rest of the context surrounding Ephesians 5:22:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

Ephesians‬ ‭5:15-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I included the verses leading up to 22 because I want you to notice that in the context, the passage talks about submitting to each other in the church. Submission is not a suggestion. It’s a requirement for every Christian.

Does this mean that wives should be a doormat—trampled on, wiped with mud and treated as common? Absolutely not! Notice that the immediate words following the instructions to wives are “husbands, love your wives.” I’ve never seen anyone shower their doormat with affection, have you? (Well, maybe at Pier 1.) So what does healthy submission look like for the Christian wife?

I will share my penny-worth thoughts: a submissive wife is the life-force of the home. She and her husband have agreed on the goals of their home and she does her part to help those goals be achieved. She discusses issues with her husband and he either delegates to her or takes on the task himself, but the success or failure lands on his shoulders. She honors her husband in front of their children and doesn’t run him down behind his back. He consults her because she is a pillar in the home and shows her love and affection. She supports her husband in the training of their children—they do not undermine each other.

Jesus submitted to God’s will in going to the cross. He prayed, “not my will, but Thine be done.” We submit to Christ when we are baptized into His death and raised to walk in newness of life. Our life is to be in submission to His will. The Church submits to Christ because He is the authority. Does He crush, berate, and belittle His church? No! He loves the church just as husbands are to love their wives.

Is it hard to submit to Christ? Are we willing to surrender ourselves to Him by changing our ways and walking with Him? It takes effort doesn’t it? We make every effort to do so because we love Him, we respect Him, and we trust Him.

Transfer those concepts to the marriage relationship as a wife. What does it mean to submit? Love. Respect. Trust.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

~ Ephesians‬ ‭5:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Do you love your husband? If you do, show him some respect. Don’t bash him behind his back, don’t perpetually roll your eyes at his every enthusiasm and don’t make him look like a fool. That behavior is cultural, worldly, and selfish. Don’t be conformed to the world. Be like Christ.

Does respect imply the absence of disagreement? By no means! If a wife is a true helpmeet to her husband, she will speak up if she sees as decision as a poor choice that will be detrimental to her husband or the family as a whole. It’s how she goes about disagreeing that is significant. For instance, if the husband decides that the family needs a boat, but the wife realizes that buying the boat will put the family in debt and under considerable financial strain, she’s going to hit the brakes. The wife approaches him and says, “I like that you want to create memories with the family and give us something for enjoyment, but I am concerned about the impact to our budget. We have our son’s braces to pay for next year and our daughter is going to need the next size violin in a few months…” Reasonable reminders, gentle persuasion. A good leader/husband will consider the rationality of his wife’s statement, concur with it and make the responsible decision.

A wife should speak well of her husband both to his face and behind his back. She should highlight his positive attributes and praise him in front of their children. She can also demonstrate respect by showing interest in his activities.

What if the husband isn’t a good leader and/or is not a Christian? 

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

~‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is no easy task and will be in the focus points for our prayers. It is no easy thing being married to a spouse who doesn’t obey God. The best thing for a wife in this situation is to focus on doing what God requires of her.

Live the way God wants you to live, love the way Christ loves and your example may have a powerful impact on your husband. Remember that he will stand before God on judgement day to answer for his choices as a husband and father. I do not encourage remaining in an abusive home as it can do great harm physically and mentally to a woman and children. When it is simply poor leadership or apathy toward God, remain and live for Jesus. Pray constantly for your husband.

If you are single, pray these things for your married friends! If you are a man hoping to be married one day, pray that you will find these qualities in a wife. If you are a woman hoping to be married one day, pray these qualities for yourself, paying particular attention to proverbs 31.

Dont fail to pray for the “strong” wives. Even if someone seems to have it all together, they are still human and subject to temptation and trial. They need your prayers to remain faithful and true.

What should we pray for wives?

  • Pray they will be devoted to God in prayer and study.
  • Pray they will learn to submit to their husbands in a healthy, Christ-like way and pray  their husbands will in turn show love toward them.
  • Pray they will be respectful toward their husbands both publicly and at home.
  • Pray for them to stand against temptation.
  • Pray they will honor the Lord in their marriage.

If a wife is in a difficult relationship with a poor leader or unbeliever, pray for her to remain strong in the Lord and have a positive impact on her husband that will lead him to Christ.


FREE PDF prayer guide. Includes bible verses and a few lines to add notes/names. Download by clicking here.

Pray with purpose.

Pray effectively.

Reach out and encourage!

Please leave feedback in the comments section re: the PDF download. I am still trying to format this effectively to be a tool for your use and mine. Thank you in advance for your help!

Praying for husbands. [The Effective Prayer 10.15.15]

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Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…

Ephesians 5.25-26

Spoiler alert: Do not read if you think that marriage is all about living happily ever after on easy street.

If you’re ready for some harsh reality, read on.

Marriage is hard. It takes real commitment. It takes guts, endurance, and sacrifice.

Marriage teaches a person how to stick it out through thick and thin. The relationship shapes the man and woman into different people. Marriage is about sacrifice made from a deeply committed, unconditional love.

Marriage requires work.

Marriage has been devalued in the past 100 years (even more so in the last several months!). Divorce is rampant, pornography invades, distractions abound. Husbands are portrayed as buffoons who can’t change a light bulb let alone be sensitive enough for their wives. Husbands have to find the delicate balance of being a breadwinner and a helper; the tough guy with the romantic (read: sensitive) side. They’ve got to be climbing the ladder of success while making time for the demands of their family. They are expected to be all things to all people.

Is it any wonder that so many marriages fail? Nobody can be that perfect 24/7!

The passage quoted above is taken from Ephesians 5. Note the first two verses of that chapter:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5.1-2

It all begins with love. Not a gooey cinnabon type of love, but a sacrificial love. That means you don’t go to the football game when your wife is throwing up every 5 minutes and the kids are running amuck. It means refraining from buying that boat/car/tool/computer when the kids need braces. It means letting go of things important to you in the interests of the one you love. (This goes for both the husband and the wife).

Husbands are to be leaders in the home. Not domineering, overbearing arrogant leaders, but leaders who guide by example, who lay down their wants and needs for their families, who love through action. A good leader corrects error and guards the lives and souls of his wife and children. It is my perception that this concept has been sneered upon to the point that men feel like they need to be spectators in their marriage because as active participants they will never be appreciated.

There is a reason that Christ’s sacrificial love is used to compare the husband/wife relationship. Christ is the leader of the church. He Demonstrated his love and commitment to his bride by giving up heaven, suffering on earth, forsaking earthly power, and enduring shame through a bitter death.

Do husbands love their wives in a similar way?

People are imperfect. Not one of us can do exactly what Christ did, but we can follow his beautiful example. Write down names of husbands you are acquainted with using this free PDF template and pray for each man by name. There may not be enough room! Lay it out before the Lord as Hezekiah rolled out the letter of the Rabshakeh. (Isaiah 37.14)

If you are a husband: pray these principles for yourself (and for your married friends!). Ask God to help you fulfill the role of husband in a way that will please him.

Wives: it’s easy to become so focused on the praying for your children daily that you fail to pray for your spouse daily. He may seem like he can take care of himself, but he desperately needs God’s strength and protection like all people. Pray diligently for your husband.

Important note: Do not fail to pray for strong husbands. Remember King David, the “man after God’s heart”? He was strong in the Lord and yet he succumbed to temptation with Bathsheba. Remember, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5.8) Lions are not afraid to attack other lions; so Satan is not afraid to attack strong Christians. Pray for the strong and the struggling.

Here are some focus points for your prayers:

  • Pray that they will be courageous. Yes, this is inspired by the movie of the same name. It takes courage to defend. It takes courage to love knowing that you will get hurt. They need to fight the devil who seeks to devour their family.
  • Pray for them to lead with strength and humility. Do you think Christ was weak or strong? It takes a great deal of strength not to lash out against attackers or defend one’s self against false accusation. Christ did that. He knew He was God, yet he stooped down and washed the feet of humble fisherman. Pray for these husbands to act in the same manner toward their families.
  • Pray for them to hold on to their integrity for dear life. Husbands must abstain from pornography, keep from lusting after other women, choose their situations with wisdom and be truthful with their wife. Fiercely protect that integrity!
  • Pray for them to love their wives. This may seem like a no-brainer, but over time those initial euphoric feelings fade away to (hopefully) be replaced by a deeper, more lasting love. People mistake the absence of “feelings” as indicative of absent love. Pray that they will strive to keep their marriage strong by showing their wife love in ways that she will recognize and in ways she may not. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages is a great resource to really pinpoint the best ways to show love to your spouse.
  • Pray for them to be strong against temptation. Temptation gallops. It’s hard to look in any direction without seeing some form of it. It’s all lies. Read Proverbs 5.3-4: For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.” She may look great, but the result of succumbing to temptation will not be good for anybody.
  • Pray for them to be immersed in the Word. I can think of no better way for husbands to be strong than to be intimately connected with the Word of God and diligent in prayer.

FREE PDF prayer guide. Includes bible verses and a few lines to add notes/names. Download by clicking here.

Pray with purpose.

Pray effectively.

Reach out and encourage!

Please leave feedback in the comments section re: the PDF download. I am still trying to format this effectively to be a tool for your use and mine. Thank you in advance for your help!

Daily prayers for our children

Good morning!

Over the weekend, one of my readers sent me a link to a great tool for parents and others who are praying for children. I inserted a screen shot below. She posts this on a refrigerator as a reminder of what to pray for her own little boy. To download the PDF click here.

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We can never pray too often for our children. We need the Lord’s help to raise them because we certainly aren’t perfect. Our children our surrounded by a never-ending  war for their hearts and minds.  They need the Lord and they need us to make regular intercession for them.

I hope you find this tool as useful as I do. My prayers can get a bit repetitious and tools like this one help me to refresh and retool my prayers to be more effective.

Thank you, Samantha, for the excellent link!

Let’s pray to great effect today and everyday.

Stuck, alone and helpless. [The Effective Prayer 9.29.15]

woman-453014_1280

Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day’s useless energy spent.

Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colors from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white;
but we decide which is right,
And which is an illusion?

~ Graeme Edge, Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed

Night, peaceful night.

Peaceful, at least, for some of us…

What do you feel when you find yourself in a still and silent place? Do you feel panic, anxiety, peace or joy?

I crave stillness. Life is so hectic. I yearn for those quiet moments when I don’t have to do or be anything. It is a human foible to constantly crave that which eludes us.

Here’s a little perspective:

Imagine for a moment being on end-of-life care or severely immobilized. You’re stuck in a wheelchair or confined to a hospital bed. You have no driver’s license. You don’t have the physical capability to get anywhere on your own.

You feel like a caged bird.

A world that used to brim with possibility is suddenly beyond reach. You can’t strike out on a new adventure unless someone is willing to take you along. You feel Stuck. Alone. Helpless.

Welcome to the life of the shut-in.

In the twilight of life, it is common to struggle to find purpose for those remaining days. People who are confined due to age or illness long for a kind word or a friendly visit. They feel forgotten, isolated. Some grow bitter in their loneliness. Others have physical ailments that cause embarrassment or discomfort. Sometimes, they aren’t elderly. Relatively young men and women struck with cancer or like illness may find themselves in a hospital bed, drawing closer to death far sooner than they’d expected.

Do we just cast them aside and pretend they don’t exist? Are they less deserving of our compassion than the vibrant, healthy and young? On the contrary, they are in desperate need of compassion and encouragement before they meet the Maker.

An example of compassion and purpose

Even though my mother worked full-time, she tried to find ways to visit the elderly ladies from church who were in the hospital or shut-in. During my junior year of high school, we gave a plate of cookies to an elderly couple at church that we didn’t know very well.

We all became fast friends.

A short time later, the man passed on leaving behind his wife. Their children lived elsewhere. She was all alone. Without her husband, she was unable to drive. Nearly every Friday afternoon, my mother would take Mary while she made deliveries for work so that they could visit with each other and pick up some groceries. It was an edifying experience for all of us. I observed that one could grow old and still have joy. One could be shut-in and still find purpose. Helping others could be helpful to you. Mary was a talented lady and she would knit and crochet blankets, sweaters and stuffed animals for new moms and needy folks. She made several of our baby blankets and I still have them today. Mary was a beautiful example of growing old with grace.

It all started with a plate of cookies and ended with a beautiful friendship.

Praying for the shut-ins.

This week’s prayer requires you to reach out a little. If you are an introvert like me, this may be a  difficult task. People are unpredictable and it can be a bit daunting. Remember, God does not call us to do only that which is easy or comfortable; He calls us to be compassionate regardless of circumstances.

If you have a similar personality to mine, I recommend starting out slowly. Begin by sending a card in the mail. Next, find someone who has experience ministering to the elderly and ask to accompany them when the visit people.

Here is a list of specific requests for the shut-ins:

  • Pray that they will seek the Lord until the end. I have observed the effects of debilitating disease and injuries. It either fosters a closer with God or triggers bitterness toward God. Pray that their eyes will be open to the Lord and that they won’t reject Him in their pain, loneliness and fear.
  • Ask the Lord to send them friendship. (This could be you!)
  • Pray that they will be comforted by the Lord’s presence.
  • Pray for those caring for them—both family and health professionals. Pray for those who are making decisions for this individual; pray that decisions will not be motivated by convenience, frustration, exhaustion or selfish desire, but rather what is best for the one cared for.
  • For those Christians suffering from dementia, pray that the Lord will remind them that He has not forsaken them. I have shared a story in the past about a lady I knew who suffered from Alzheimers. Even in that fog of confusion, she always spoke to me of God’s faithfulness. You can read that post here. It is a prayer that offer up for myself at times. I hope I am lucid until I die, but if I should get Alzheimer’s or dementia, I pray that I am like the examples I have seen of people who remember the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord even when all else is forgotten.

FREE PDF list of what to pray for shut-ins. Includes bible verses and a few lines to add notes/names. Download by clicking here.

Pray with purpose.

Pray effectively.

Reach out and encourage!

Please leave feedback in the comments section re: the PDF download. I am still trying to format this effectively to be a tool for your use and mine. Thank you in advance for your help.

It’s tough being a parent. [The Effective Prayer 9.12.15]

Copyright 2014. The Erwin Brothers Mom's Night Out
Copyright 2014. The Erwin Brothers Mom’s Night Out

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced any of the following:

  • Discovered your two-year old in the bathroom, eyes covered in black smears with the offending mascara brush still clutched in her chubby hand.
  • Discovered purple permanent marker scribbled on the carpet and wood flooring.
  • Cleaned up vomit from all three children from the bed and floor of your hotel room… the night before your big trip to Disneyland.
  • Sat in the nursery of the church building with a screaming toddler, knowing that everyone can hear the ruckus over the preaching.
  • Listened with horror as your child shouted at the top of their lungs how mean you are and how much they hate you.
  • Listened brokenly while they retract the previous statement.
  • Felt fear that your child will make the wrong friends.
  • Felt fear that your child won’t make any friends.
  • Felt utterly helpless because none of your parenting strategies seem to be working.
  • Chucked most of your parenting manuals in the garbage

Ok, now… raise your hand if you’ve ever had this expression on your face:

horrified mom look
Copyright 2014. The Erwin Brothers Mom’s Night Out

I’d raise both hands, but I’m typing.

People told me college would be hard. College was cake compared to raising children.

College is a 4 to 5 year commitment. Raising children is a minimum 18-year commitment (it’s really a lifetime commitment).

College has checklists. Parenting… wait, are there checklists?

College comes with guarantees. Parenting comes with few guarantees.

The bottom line?

Parenting is NOT for cowards.

Cowards run away.* Cowards refuse to face conflict. Cowards won’t do the hard thing and fight for what is right. Good parenting takes guts, requires courage and absolutely demands a warrior spirit.

(*Note: I know that divorce often makes it impossible for some parents to be with their children regularly. I am not referring to that situation in the “run away” comment.)

Over Labor Day weekend, we went to see War Room. While the movie primarily focuses on the husband-wife relationship, the principles of prayer could also be applied to the parent-child relationship. At one point, the main character exclaims, “I feel like my husband is the enemy!” The elderly woman replies, “He’s not your enemy! Satan is your enemy! You been fighting’ the wrong adversary!”

If you have ever raised (or are in the process of raising) a strong-willed, down-right difficult kid, you know that there are moments in which you want to cry out, “Why are we enemies?!?!”

Take a calming breath, and read on: your child is NOT the enemy. 

Let me repeat that: Your child is NOT the enemy. 

Just like that feisty old lady said: The devil is our enemy. He is what we fight against. He is the one we are training our children to resist. In your prayers, pray that the devil’s plans for your children will be defeated and that you will be able to have a healthy, loving relationship with them.

Parenting gives us a glimpse of how God sees us as His children. He loves us with a deep, unconditional love, even when we turn our back on Him.

Have you ever stood and watched a child sleep?

I love peeking on my little ones at night and saying a very short prayer for them as I make sure they’re tucked in and covered up. It is in those quiet moments that, unbeknownst to them, I am looking out for their simplest needs. No conflict. No chatter. No questions. No emergencies. I treasure those  moments.

Now, think of our heavenly Father. Doesn’t He watch over us even when we are unaware of His presence? Doesn’t He tend to our needs and care for us, even while we sleep? Doesn’t He gaze on us with affection, knowing our faults and imperfections?

Being a parent offers us insights into God’s relationship with us. Being a parent teaches us how to love our children the way that God loves us. He loves us with a love that is tough, unconditional and seeks the best for us. Is that the way we love our children?

My fellow parents—keep on fighting! This is one of the most important battles we will face! Don’t face the battle without first facing the Lord in prayer.

This week, let’s turn our focus to praying for parents. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not—your prayers are needed! If you are a parent, pray for other parents and especially pray for your spouse (isn’t he or she your fellow soldier in the parenting trenches?).

Pray that they will be strong and firm.

Pray for them to do everything with a loving, intentional spirit.

Pray that they will be consistent in discipline and training.

Pray that they will teach their children to love the Lord.

Pray for the divorced parents: If a couple is divorced, there may be acrimony between them and their divorced spouse. Judges often award joint custody (usually in favor of the mother, regardless of the situation) and the children end up shuttled between parents from time to time. If you are a parent who is divorced from your child’s mother or father, it may be difficult to pray for your ex-husband/ex-wife; they likely feel like your bitterest enemy and may even treat you as such. The fact of the matter is, they are still part of your children’s lives in some way. Pray that they will not have a negative influence on your children’s life, but a positive one. I know it may seem like an exercise in futility, but we do need to pray for our enemies and people who curse us. Pray that the Lord will soften their heart and establish a good relationship with your children and will be respectful of your wishes.


New this week!

FREE PDF list of what to pray for parents. Includes bible verses and a few lines to add notes/names Download here.

I intend to provide a PDF download with each Effective Prayer post going forward so that you can keep a list of these things with you wherever you pray.

I would love some feedback on whether the document downloaded properly and if you like the layout (too busy, too ugly, too big, too small, just right… etcetera. I debated doing a 3×5 size, but was concerned about the extra step of cutting it out). Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Remember the widowed… [The Effective Prayer 8.31.15]

This post is part of a weekly series on Effective Prayer.cafe-569349_1920

They were quite a pair
The way that love should be
They still held hands
For all the world to see
She’s thankful that she had him all those years
But she still has days she can’t hold back the tears

She misses their Monday night bowling league
When they’d wear their matching shirts
She misses their Wednesday night dinner out
As soon as he got home from work
Saturday morning sleeping late
Holding each other close
But she misses him on Sunday the most

She sits alone on that same old pew again
His tenor voice still echoes now and then
It brings back all those memories of him there by her side
What she’d give for one more Sunday drive

She misses their Monday night bowling league
When they’d wear their matching shirts
She misses their Wednesday night dinner out
As soon as he got home from work
Saturday morning sleeping late
Holding each other close
But she misses him on Sunday the most
But she misses him on Sunday the most

~Diamond Rio, She Misses Him On Sunday The Most

You see them often: the elderly man sitting on a pew alone; the elderly woman who walks in and out unnoticed; the young woman juggling kids, still wearing black; the middle-aged man with the vacant, overwhelmed stare trying to help his elementary-aged children. They have to go home to an empty bed or quiet house. In the case of the elderly, their income is fixed, many of their dearest friends have passed on and they are engulfed by loneliness. In the case of the young mother or father, they are not only grappling with unexpected loss, but they are facing a future of uncertainty and the daunting task of raising children on their own.

At times, people walk hesitantly towards them, unsure what words to use and then keep on walking past to avoid discomfort.

They are the widowed.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

~ James 1:27, ESV

The Lord knows that there are people who need extra help. He has always made provision for those bereft of care. The New Testament has several scriptures regarding widows and the church.

In Acts 6, men were appointed to make sure that the widows in the church would get their daily portion of food, because they had been neglected up to that point.

In Acts 9, a woman named Tabitha cared for the widows; when she died they were deeply grieved and Peter raised her from the dead.

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul gives instructions for the church to care for widows who are in need and do not have family to help them.

Imagine if you were in the shoes of the widowed (maybe you are that person). It’s daunting!

I came very near to that point two years ago when I learned my spouse had been in a deadly situation. We had three children under the age of six that day, and I very nearly became their sole caretaker. It’s a frightening prospect to be struck with grief and raising children solo. Incidents like these give you a new appreciation for military spouses with husbands/wives overseas and cop’s spouses who never know from day-to-day if their husband or wife will make it home from work.

Imagine being an elderly man or woman who has been married anywhere from forty to sixty years. Suddenly, you have nobody in bed next to you when you wake up. The house is quiet. Everything you used to do with that person, you now do alone. Just thinking about that prospect makes my heart ache!

We need to wake up to the needs of those around us who are bereft of their spouses. They need our prayers, but they also need our help.

  • Ask to help them go shopping once a week.
  • Offer to take them to lunch and visit with them every so often.
  • Offer to bring them to group events.
  • Look for them on Sundays and make a point of talking with them each week.

They need us—their brothers and sisters in Christ—to show them love and compassion. I will warn you, it may not always be taken warmly or gratefully. I offered to help an elderly lady once shortly after she’d lost her husband and she said, “oh yes, you are doing what James said, ‘take care of the widows and orphans'” It was said sarcastically. Your care and concern will not always be received well, but we need to make the effort just the same. I have to admit that after being pushed away so bitterly, I was more hesitant to approach anyone who was widowed. Keep on trying; remember that they are hurting and people handle their pain differently.

Pray for them.

I write these Effective Prayer posts as an encouragement to myself and to you. I tend to be very self-focused in my prayers (praying for my needs and the needs of immediate family) and I truly believe that I need to be more outwardly focused on the needs of others, not only in my activities, but my prayers.

Here are some suggestions to help focus your prayer:

Pray for them to be comforted.

This will not happen overnight. They pain will be with them for years; it may never fully dissipate. They need our prayers, and our presence.

Pray for them to have friendship.

Don’t we all need friends? Pray that the Lord will send them solid friends who will not take advantage of them (this could be you!).

Pray for them to lean on the Lord.

Where should we always go in our need? Too often we seek outside comfort in a bottle, or medication, or in other dangerous places. Pray that they will seek healthy comfort from God and be fulfilled.

Pray for their protection.

Elderly people are particularly prone to being taken advantage of. They need help, contract work etcetera and people are more than happy to do things half way and ask for double the payment, or steal from them when they aren’t looking. Pray that the Lord will protect them.

Younger widows/widowers could marry another person who is only seeking to rob them of their money or take advantage of their young children. They need protection, especially in their state of grief.

Pray for and encourage these individuals in their time of pain and vulnerability. They need the Lord and they need our help.

What are they teaching those kids? [The Effective Prayer 8.21.15]

This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.

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Math tests.

Spelling tests.

Reading Tests.

Tests. Tests. Tests!

I listened with weariness as my daughter’s second grade teacher rattled on about how many computer tests the kids had taken in the first four days of school.

In reading alone, the kids had taken ten tests.

Ten tests?!

Good grief!!!

And computer-run tests… sheesh. My poor kid. She didn’t know much about using a computer. We had been focusing on gross and fine motor skills like writing, reading, threading a needle… a computer was one of those things we were planning to get to later.

We have been a homeschool family for the past few years, but, as our oldest child has been locked in constant battle with us over every form of schoolwork, we decided she needed some experiential education. Spending 2-3 hours fighting about completing a simple math or writing worksheet was beyond ridiculous. She would dig her heels in and we would dig our heels in and neither of us would achieve anything but complete exhaustion. She thought that we were cruel for giving her “so much work” and so we decided she needed to see “how the other half lives.”

Within those first four days of school, she was a believer.

As for myself, I had been wondering if certain academic disciplines were lacking in our home education. After that open house, I realized that our home education was far richer than the public school education, but the public school offered something for my daughter that we just couldn’t provide: harsh reality.

I looked at the children and parents at the open house. The parents had that determined look on their face—determined that their kids’ tests results would be exceptional. The kids… well, the kids just looked tired.

Tests, tests, tests… it’s all about the tests.

My daughter’s teacher is a veteran teacher and I can tell she has a strong distaste for the common core education, but she has to administer it nonetheless. I was saddened by the emphasis on numeric performance. What about character development? What about becoming enmeshed in curiosity and exploration? What about critical thinking and analysis?

What are they teaching those kids??

Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not anti-public school. Public school has it’s advantages.

School can teach you how to get along with rude and negative personalities, how to succeed even when your teacher is set against you, how to work the system in your favor, how to work under pressure and how to juggle multiple commitments.

There are advantages to both forms of education. No matter which system your child or grandchild is in, they need a great deal of help, support and supplemental teaching from us. I would not be a writer were it not for my father’s excellent modeling and assistance as a young child. I would have no love for books had I no library to explore. My parents still have a large wall-length shelving unit packed with books. My grandmother taught me basic sewing. My mother let me mess around in the kitchen. My brother taught me how to build strong structures with legos or sand castles on the beach. I had a lot of family support, but not all children are blessed in the same way I was.

Our children need us—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, bible class teachers, mentorsno matter where they go to school.

Above all else, they need God to work on their behalf in spite of circumstance.

They need us to be prayer warriors for them. I am thoroughly convinced that I would have gone down the tubes if someone hadn’t been praying for me.

The first best thing you can do for your children (or grand-children, mentored children etc) whether they are school-age or not is to approach God with humility and prayer on their behalf.

This week, work on praying the following for these children:

1) Pray for their teachers to exercise good judgement towards the children.

Little junior may or may not be a good kid. A solid teacher will work with them (and you) toward their improvement. Teachers can get biased based on older siblings’ performance and treat the younger siblings accordingly.

2) Pray for their teachers to be strong, steady and consistent.

First rule of parenting: consistency, consistency, consistency. First rule of teaching: consistency…

Second: Patience (steadiness)

Third: Strength to keep carrying out numbers 1 & 2 without wavering.

3) Pray for their protection from harm.

Let’s be frank: After Columbine, high school seemed more dangerous than ever. After Sandy Hook, we realized that even our little kindergarteners weren’t safe from danger. School has bullies, drugs, child molesters… I’ll stop there so you don’t hyperventilate. Trust in the Lord to watch over your child. Pray for them and put them in God’s care.

4) Pray for them to be delivered from temptation.

This worries me more than the mean people. This relies on the integrity of your child. Training at home plays a part, but it comes down to the mindset of your child. Pray for the Lord to keep them from being tempted beyond their ability to handle it. (He promises to do that, by the way).

5) Pray for them to be strong in the Lord.

Their faith is going to be attacked at some point, whether the source is another kid or a teacher. Pray that they will stay strong in their faith.

6) Pray for them to be focused and conscientious students.

We want them to succeed in school. It doesn’t happen by accident. Anything you can do to help them physically is good too (i.e. getting enough sleep, eating enough protein (and A LOT LESS sugar), helping them with their homework and encouraging them to be physically active after school).

7) Pray that they will be able to recognize deceitful teaching.

If children have a worldview based on God and His Word, they will hear things that don’t sound right and they will question both sides. Pray that they will always return to the Lord and not get sucked into the deceitfulness of the world.

 Let’s pray together to great effect!

Please share this post with others who have kids in school!