Last Sunday, Pastor Mark led men in a vow and asked them to pray over their wives. We wanted to follow up on some practical ways for men to pray for their families.
One of my favorite responsibilities as a husband and dad is to pray for my wife and four daughters. It is also one of the most difficult things to do consistently. But it is something I want to do well for the sake of those I love most. So as a man who needs a good plan to go along with the best intentions, here is what works for me.
1. SCHEDULE PRAYER
I pray for my family on a scheduled basis four times a day. These prayers aren’t wordy or long. And most of the time, they are simply asking Jesus for the same things in the same way. The condition of my heart is the only thing that keeps them from being rote or ritualistic.
2. PRAY FROM BED
I’m one of those strange people who is either blessed or cursed (depending on your perspective) with an internal alarm clock. So I wake up 15 minutes before I need to get out of bed every day of my life. And I devote that time to praying for my family. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14–21 inspires this prayer time. I pray that my wife and girls, out of an experiential awareness of God’s love, will: 1) love him, 2) love his Word, 3) love the church, and 4) love people who don’t yet know him.
3. PRAY BEFORE SCHOOL
My kids have always attended public schools. They have taken the bus, rode in carpools, been driven by me or Mom and have even driven themselves. Before they leave me, I hug them and put my head to their head so that my mouth is near an ear. I then pray that Jesus would protect them. I also pray that they would be mindful of his presence in everything that happens that day whether good, bad, or somewhere in between.
4. PRAY AT DINNER
My family will have dinner together at least four times most weeks. And as we eat, I ask each family member to share her thoughts from her devotional life. A dad with younger kids can share from his study and invite Mom to do the same. It’s amazing what I learn from my family during this time. We focus our conversation on personally obeying Jesus in the power of his finished work and the Holy Spirit. We then pray together that we would be obedient to him, by him and for him. And we pray very specifically for topics that surfaced during the dinner conversation.
5. PRAY BEFORE BED
My favorite prayer time has always been just before bed. When my girls were little, I would pray over them as I tucked them in. Now that they have matured, I pray for them in the den as they head to their room for the evening. I once again hug her so that my mouth is next to an ear. And I pray that she would believe that she belongs to Jesus, that his righteousness is hers, that he is her protector who never sleeps, that she would be refreshed and wake with her first thought being about Jesus.
6. PRAY SPONTANEOUSLY
While scheduled prayer is important, life is mostly unscheduled. And a crisis will never send an iCal invite. This means that I have an opportunity for unscheduled prayer all day every day. So I keep communication lines open with my wife and daughters throughout the day. This opens a door to pray with them and for them over anything at any time. Issues range from tough exams to embarrassing blemishes to friends who are losing parents to death or divorce or friends who are just plain lost. My hope is to use these vulnerable moments to teach them that God is both in control and kind. And he is a Father who cares for my wife and daughters. He is always available. And he connects with them through a conversation that we call prayer.
MY FEAR WITH THIS POST
Now, here is why I have mixed feelings about sharing these things: Some dads put my prayer life to shame. My entire prayer time both scheduled and spontaneous amounts to less than an hour a day. But other dads will feel shame over shortcomings.
So let’s move away from shame and start over by God’s grace. Begin with a simple plan that works for you. Make your first goal to have a daily prayer connection with your wife and kids. And ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you to pray spontaneously. Getting started isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. And your family will love you for caring.
Dave Bruskas is the network pastor for Mars Hill Church.