Six Requests for Praying Dads

Jesus' prayer in John 17 is not your typical Father's Day Bible passage. It's a prayer of Jesus for himself, his disciples, and all believers as he approached his crucifixion. Following my last post about praying women, let's turn to men.

In this amazing prayer of our Lord Jesus, I see a model. Following the verbs and Jesus' direct requests of the Heavenly Father, here are six requests every Christ following father can pray for his family.

Request #1: May my family Glorify God

Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You.—John 17:1 

Start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. Start with God. Every one of your prayers should begin with an acknowledgement of God such as, "Father in Heaven" or "Dear God," and even the content of your prayer for your family starts with God. "God, would you grant that I and my family could bring you glory in everything we do." And name some ways. Offer specifics.

Request #2: May my family Grow in Knowledge

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent — Jesus Christ.—John 17:3

This idea of knowing God is constant and continuous. You are praying your children and family members will establish and continually grow in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Your prayer is that they would abound more and more in the love of Jesus that transforms them. Talk to them Model for them. Teach them.

Request #3: May my family Guard the Faith

I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one.—John 17:11

This a prayer of protection. What kind of protection? Our clue is in the end of the veres where Jesus prays "so that they may be one." In my experience it not so much the offense of others—we're all sinners and people will hurt me—but my own attitudes in reaction to others that brings division. My unforgiveness, if unconfessed, will grow into bitterness and worse. Pray humility and grace for your family; protection from their own attitudes that may divide and hinder their faith and others. Be humble. Be forgiving.

Request #4: May my family Get Set Apart 

Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.—John 17:17

Be holy as I am holy, God calls. This is a request that our families would be sanctified, holy, set apart. This is a tough one in the media rich, time crunched, privacy invasive world we live in, but it is totally possible. Turn off the TV. Put down the electronic device or magazine. And read your Bible. Pray that your family members, especially your kids, will learn a life-long habit of Bible engagement. And model it. It will change their life. And yours.

Request #5: May my family Gather Together 

I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.—John 17:23

This is a prayer that we would be closer to God and closer to one another. It's about unity. It's rooted in the requests that precede it. Being completely one with folks so different than us seems like such an impossibility until you have felt it in worship, in service, and in fellowship with one another. And there is a bonus: The world will know Jesus through our love for one another. Spend the time. Give your life. Gather together. Love one another.

Request #6: May my family Gain Eternity

Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.—John 17:24

To be where Jesus is—that's Heaven. Jesus has gone to prepare a place there for all who have committed their lives to him to be with him forever. That's our hope. That's our goal. But we've got work to do in serving him and loving others while we are here. As he prays above—and you know his words are faithful and true—the love of our families and Christ followers for one another will lead others to trust him too.

So, Dad, I know you got tons to pray about. Don't mean to add too much. I pray these requests serve as inspiration for you to pray like Jesus. Glorify, grow, guard, get, gather, and gain. For your family. For the Lord.

Be a Praying Dad!

The Power of Praying Women

Having a vision of a Macedonian begging him to come over and help us, Paul and his missionary band set out across the sea. Notice the powerful influence of women in prayer and one woman’s response.

11 Then, setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. 15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.—Acts 16:11-15

Many women in prayer opened the way for the Gospel. These ladies were meeting before Paula and Company even had the vision. God was at work within them, before he even called Paul. We can learn from both parties. From Paul: Be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s leading even if it comes in an unconventional way. From the women of Philippi: Be faithful in prayer; God will answer.  

How is my faith?

How is my prayer life?

One women in worship responded to the Gospel. Lydia is described as worshipper of God, yet she did not yet have saving faith through Jesus Christ. In her faithful worship, God revealed Himself to her. We learn God calls all people to Himself. We learn to persist in prayer. 

How consistently do I pray?

How am I open to God through worship?

That woman of influence shared the Gospel. Lydia, apparently, when straight home and shared her new, saving faith in Jesus with her whole household. The Greek word is oikos, that means family, friends, employees—her sphere of influence. 

Who is my oikos?

How am I sharing Jesus with them? 

That woman of hospitality cared for the Gospel messengers. Not only did Lydia share her faith with her entire household, she shared all that she had in her household with Paul’s missionary band. She exercised hospitality.  As a brand new Christian, she extended Christian love. 

Where can I be more gracious?

Who can I show hospitality to?

Women change the world. Prayerful, worshipful, influential, hospitable. Powerful. These Philippian women in general and Lydia in specific loved God and others. Powerful.

The Wonder Of It

Twenty years ago—man, that makes me sound old—I served as a Journeyman Missionary with what was then the Foreign Mission Board and is now imbConnecting outside Johannesburg, South Africa. I worked in Soweto near daily doing relief work, church planting, theological education, and my primary role as a regional youth worker assisting our Baptist churches around Joburg.

At my first youth rallies I met Aaron Maselwane (pictured here). Yes, the name helped, but there it more to it. Gregarious, talented, intelligent and articulate, Aaron is a leader by nature. Just over ten years ago he came to the states in a singing group. My family had the pleasure of hosting him then. And since the explosion of Facebook we've reconnected therein. Enduring friendships with brothers in Christ bring such joy.

When I needed to recall the lyrics of South African Gospel song for a writing project this week, I thought, "I'll message Aaron."

Yesterday afternoon he wrote back. I noticed he was online right then and wrote, "Hey, you're online now!" He shot back, "Yes I am. We could even Skype for posterity of the music." So we did.

Within minutes we were connected on Skype. Face-to-face, over two decades since first meeting, over 9000 miles, over seven time zones. What a joy not only to hear my friend but to see him as well! (And for free. Thank you, Skype.)

Aaron and I both observed the wonder of it. All the time and space between us and here we were. He on his desktop PC outside Joburg. Me on my MacBook Pro in Nebraska. We talked about life, work, friends, and family. We squeezed a lot in until we lost connection. He had warned that might happen on his end. It was a joy! And throughout it it we expressed the wonder of it.

The wonder of technology. The wonder of friendship. The wonder of unity in Christ. The wonder of it all.

It got me to thinking. We both needed computers and high speed internet to have that conversation and it worked best when we were both awake given the time difference. Yet I can pray anytime, anywhere, about anything. No special equipment. No time difference. No concern for losing the connection on the other end. Our God is faithful. He calls us to pray. Make the connection. Live in the wonder of it.

And, by the way, the reason I couldn't remember the verses to that song: There are none. Maybe I'm not so old after all...