#788. INVOLVING THE WHOLE FAMILY (7/4/23)
This week, we continue our nine-week series, 'Praying Together,' which delves into the power and significance of communal prayer. Inspired by the teachings of Mike Betts and his book and course, 'The Prayers of Many,' our series aims to strengthen our understanding and practice of praying together. In this week's devotionals, we draw from the analogy of a family to illustrate how our identity as children of God should foster a confident and beautiful unity in prayer.
Summary: Let our identity as God’s family lead us to plan and be creative in how we can include people of all ages and backgrounds in our prayer meetings.
To watch this devotional please go to:
This week, as we have been looking the theme of praying together as a family, it’s vital that we consider how we may teach all ages about prayer and include all ages in prayer.
Children learn most effectively through our example. If we pray at home, they will learn to pray at home. If they see us praying with the church, they will learn to pray with the church. Mike Betts writes of the power of example for learning in all spheres:
‘I learnt how to preach (with a little classroom help) from watching and listening to good preaching. I learnt how to pray by watching and listening to the saints pray. Here I learned about simple child-like faith that knew God, knew His heart and knew how to gain a hearing. The best way to raise a church to be a praying community is by seizing every of opportunity to practice together.’ (Betts, Mike. The Prayers of Many)
Jesus sets us an example of the value He places on praying with children:
‘Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.’ (Matthew 19:13-15)
Firstly, we see the good example set by these parents; they brought their children to Jesus so that He could pray for them. The disciples who, it seems, should have known better, rebuke the parents. Why do they do this? It seems obvious to us, I hope, that bringing children to Jesus for prayer is a good thing. Perhaps the disciples thought that Jesus was too busy and important to be bothered by children. In Jewish culture at the time, children were considered to be of low social status and were often treated as insignificant. Da Carson writes:
‘Although children in the Judaism of the time were deeply cherished, they were thought in some ways to be negligible members of society.’ (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
It's possible that the disciples shared this view and did not think it was appropriate for children to be bothering Jesus. However, Jesus uses this incident to teach us the value of children and that they were important to God. In the previous chapter, we read about the model that children are for us of faith and humility:
‘At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’ (Matthew 18:1-5)
D. A Carson writes of Matthew 18 that children are shown to be ‘an excellent object lesson in the kind of humility and faith [God] finds acceptable.’ Children have a natural trust and dependence on those who care for them, and we should strive to have a similar trust and dependence on God. In our narrative from Matthew 19, we see that the children have no problem in being brought to Jesus for prayer. Some parents (and disciples) understand that Jesus wants to pray with their children and so bring them to Him. Some disciples (and parents), however, don’t understand the value of bringing their children to Jesus so don’t do so. Do we value bringing our children to Jesus in prayer? Do we bring them to gatherings in which they can learn and participate in prayer?
At CCP, we run a prayer meeting on most Sunday from 3:00-4:00pm. It’s encouraging to see a number of parents bringing their children on occasion and perhaps you, if you are a parent, could get involved with this.
Praying as family is not just about literal families, but it’s important that we do address this important group. However, the church prays as a family when all, regardless of age and marital status gather to pray together. This unity in Christ is a beautiful thing in a world that unites and divides over so many things.
Are we all participating in praying with the family of God? Do we have a good attitude toward people of all ages and status? We should learn to value, welcome and pray with the marginalised. Just as the children were seen as insignificant and less important in the eyes of society, there are many people today who are marginalised and overlooked - this should not be the case in the church!
If we are parents, are we bringing our children to Jesus in prayer? Do we prioritise less important things? Can we involve them in church prayer gatherings in order for them to learn and grow?
Let our identity as God’s family lead us to plan and be creative in how we can include people of all ages and backgrounds in our prayer meetings.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Good Friday Services 10:30-11:30
Easter Sunday Service
Beginning at 10:00 with hot cross buns
‘What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?’
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
During this series, we will be using the 'Prayers of Many' course by Mike Betts.
I encourage you to buy a copy of the book from: https://prayersofmany.org/book#buybook
If you need assistance in buying a book please send an email to the church office and we will happily purchase you a copy.
Please download the course handbook from: