This past Sunday after the Ecclesia service we handed out prayer cards as part of our Collaborative Church series. These cards are a guide for us to pray through the spiritual gifts listed in Ephesians 4 and an invitation for us to grow in these gifts as individuals and as a community. I thought I’d share a bit about one possible application for the card.
Like most parents, I struggle with my kids’ nightly bedtime routine. It is the perfect nexus of parental fatigue and childhood rambunctiousness. Yet, my wife and I are committed to spending those last moments of our children’s days with them knowing that they often yield our best spiritual conversations. Over the years I have tried many strategies to pray for my kids as I put them to bed: different character traits for each day of the month, soliciting personal prayer request from them, even asking them to pray for me at times. In preparation of our Collaborative Church series I wondered if the five functions of the church, as outlined in Ephesians 4, would make a meaningful prayer guide. I took home a version of the prayer card we handed out this past Sunday and put it in my kids’ room by their beds. At night, I pray through each of the five modes of Christ’s presence in my kids’ lives and in the life of our family. I try to filter the events and opportunities of the week through the five functions. I am amazed how each night the Spirit leads me to specific behaviors, character qualities, and habitual practices that I want to see become evident in our life as a family. As these prayers begin to bear fruit, I believe we will become a more effective example of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to the world around us.
Here is a copy of the prayer card as well as some examples of how I have been praying.
- Give our family the courage to take risks rooted in the Spirit’s leading. Help us to step out into adventure and liminality where real growth most often occurs.
- Thank you for my daughter’s bravery to try new things and may she not lose that innovative and creative passion as she enters Middle School.
- Help our family to see systems that need reforming in Hollywood so that we can advocate for those with less influence then us.
- Grow in my son a heart that is willing to tell the truth when confronted about his behavior.
- Give us a deep love for those living around us in our apartment complex and provide space and opportunity for us to be Jesus to our neighbors through hospitality and friendship.
- Help my kids to always see those on the margins, the left out, and the looked over and let them be leaders at including them at school.
- Thank you for my son’s tenderheartedness and empathy for others. Help him to know how to use that gift to serve others but also protect him from those who seek to harm him because of his generosity.
- Deepen within my kids a heart to help and serve each other and their friends first before they seek their own interests.
- Create a passion for your Word in our life. Help us to learn and live out your truth, especially our memory verses.
- Help my kids to retain their French language skills that they learned in Brussels.
If you are looking to refresh your nightly routine, try printing out the guide or pick up the prayer card available at the info counter during this Sunday’s service. Then put it in your home and using it for the next 30 days. Read Ephesians 4 together as a family the first night and as the kids become familiar with the 5 gifts, invite them to pray along as you move through each letter of gifts. Even one sentence or two for each of the five gifts will help reinforce them in your spirit and invite God’s full work in your family’s life.