By Rachel Britton
As a child, and even into my teens, I would stay with my grandparents for a few days each summer vacation. I have fond memories from these visits; playing Scrabble, being taken out for lunch in a restaurant, and playing with my cousins whose home adjoined my grandparent’s property.
These visits also impressed on me the value of prayer — in particular the importance of praying consistently for family — as I watched and listened to my grandmother pray.
Each evening, as daylight dwindled, I would take my place on the large green sofa in the bay window of my grandparent’s living room ready for their daily quiet time. My grandfather would lean back in his armchair on the right-hand side of the fireplace. One leg crossed the other; his foot swinging as he absent-mindedly picked at his well-manicured hands.
After serving us steaming mugs of cocoa and cookies, my grandmother would sit forward in her armchair and begin reading from the Bible. Grandad listened intently, while my mind drifted off. To be honest, I found it boring.
Eventually, my grandparents bowed their heads and Grandma would pray. She prayed for missionaries I did know who served in faraway lands I would never visit. Then, she would pray for me. Of course, I wasn’t the only one she prayed for -— other evenings she prayed for my siblings, my parents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles.
My grandmother’s regular prayers for her family made a lasting impression, and not only on me. When my grandmother died some years later, my mom and my aunt stood in the kitchen of our home and wailed: “Who’s going to pray for us now?” Of course, they knew the answer. They were the ones who now had to pray.
My mother compiled a monthly family prayer calendar. Each day of the month had two to three names written next to it. These were the family members to pray for that day — either my brothers and sister and their spouses, my nieces and nephews, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my husband and myself, and our children.
The Bible doesn’t prescribe that we should pray for our families, but it does teach us to be faithful in prayer, to pray at all times and for all people. And, it does contain plenty of examples, through the stories of its characters, that praying for family members can be powerful and effective.
Issac prayed for Rebekah to conceive and she became pregnant. Jacob prayed about his reunion with Esau. His fear of attack turned into a loving embrace. Manoah prayed for understanding of how to raise his son, Samson. David prayed that Ahithophel’’s advice would appear foolish to Absalom, which it did. Then, in the New Testament, there are examples of those who came to Jesus for blessing and healing — parents with their children, Jairus whose daughter was sick, Peter for his sick mother-in-law, the Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed daughter, and Mary and Joseph who presented Jesus to God at the temple. All of these people model how we should pray for those we are related to.
Perhaps you can instantly think of one or two of your relatives who are in desperate need of prayer. Others may not be in need but could still benefit from being brought before the Lord. Some of your family members may never have anyone pray for them, unless you do.
The baton of prayer has now been passed to my older sister and myself. I keep our monthly family prayer calendar in the bathroom. I’ve placed it in the drawer alongside my contact lenses, toothpaste, and other toiletries. Each morning, as I put in a new pair of lenses and brush my teeth, I am reminded to pray. And so, like my daily routine for getting ready in the morning, prayer for my extended family has become part of my daily practice. I would like to say I have prayed consistently each day but I have not. In the overall scheme of things though, my family is constantly brought before the Lord.
Do you sense the urgency of praying for those you love, and for those you sometimes find hard to love, but who are your family through birth, adoption, or marriage? Is your heart stirred to step out and start a prayer legacy for your family — just like my grandmother — or to take the baton that is being held out to you?
There is power in prayer. Let’s bring God’s power into the lives of our families. Praying regularly for your family is simple to put into practice and is a beautiful legacy to give them for eternity.
Rachel Britton is a British-born writer, author, and speaker whose passion is to help women become comfortable and confident in their conversation with God. Her blog “Praying Naturally” offers an extensive library of free prayer resources to help you deepen and develop your prayer life. Sign up to receive a fillable Monthly Family Prayer Calendar with scriptural prayer prompts. Rachel is available through the by design ministries Speakers Directory to speak at your event. She is a wife and mom to three young adults, and cannot live without a mug of English tea. Connect with Rachel on Facebook.