photo by nancybcrow
A typical Sunday finds us getting home from church around 11:30am, where I get a nice lunch ready for us while my husband gets ready for work. As we’re finishing lunch my husband, Bill, will usually open his Bible and read a little from it, pausing occasionally to explain or ask a question.
At the end of the reading he’ll pull out the blue insert from our church bulletin we received that morning. It contains the names of people requesting prayer for themselves or loved ones. Down the list we’ll go, looking for new people on the list or updates from missionaries our church supports.
Then, as a family, we pray over these people, asking for God’s strength, His intervention where it’s His will, His provision for those who serve Him on the mission field and protection for those serving in the armed forces from our church.
It’s really a very simple thing, not taking more than a few minutes to do. I have found, however, that doing this simple thing has produced some good results:
- Our children learned that prayer involves more than praying for yourself. By praying for others we’ve taken the focus off of God doing for us and put it on being intercessory people for the sake of others in need.
- Our church became a smaller community. Although we live in a rural area, our church holds three services with an average of 600 people in attendance on any given Sunday. We’ve been attending there for about two years and are still amazed at the new faces we meet, only to find out they’ve been attending for years and years. Praying for specific people makes our church not so big and crowded.
- Our church became a place of real people. We used to go over the prayer list with our church directory in front of us so we could match faces with names. It made the praying more personal when we realized we’d seen the person we were praying for. For those of you who have a teen who hasn’t invested in the church experience yet, it can also create a greater sense of family instead of the list of names being just, well, a list of names.
- It’s given us a chance to discuss the meaning of certain things, to help our children realize when some situations call for dire prayer. There’s a difference in prayer intensity for someone getting rotator cuff surgery and someone who’s asked for prayer for a loved one in end stage terminal cancer who doesn’t know Jesus as their Savior.
- It’s allowed our children to learn to communicate with people at church about their prayer needs. Although we’re still working on this one, we will try to get updates on someone’s condition/situation so we can pray more specifically, letting the person/family know we’ve been praying as a family over their request.
- Our children see how our praying for others has an impact. Frequently we will send out a note of encouragement to let a person know they have a family praying over their need. Sometimes on the following Sunday that person will come up to us to personally, and sometimes tearfully, thank us for praying. Our children learn that praying for others is vital to loving the family of Christ that we belong to.
These bulletin inserts are often tossed aside by many people, never looked at or considered. However, they can be a wonderful ministry and devotion idea that you can share with your children. Your family can have an amazing impact on the world just by praying for those people in need right in front of you.
Your church's prayer request list may not come as an insert in your Sunday morning bulletin, but you can still use what your church provides to bring your family together in prayer over others.
The Circle Prayer
Learning To Pray Out Loud The Hard Way
What Do We Teach Our Children To Pray For?