In this week's sermon I told the story of, "long-prayer Louie." He is a man who gets in front of the church and says extremely long prayers. We saw how the book of James can transform a prayer from, "Lord, help him," to "Lord, help me."
Here's a recap and an outline that you can use at home and with your families.
I created an outline in google forms as well, you can access it HERE.
1st - What do you want? James 4:1-2 says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God."
Hopefully there's no one killing anyone else in your household, although it may feel like somedays that is not far off. Quarrels and fights? Yeah, you are probably experiencing that on some level. James identifies the underlying reason behind most of those fights - we want something that we don't have. A good first step in pursuing peace is taking the time to identify what it is that you actually want. What do you desire?
2nd - Are you asking God? This might seem trivial in the world of parenting because if child #1 wants the toy child #2 is playing with, we are not going to stop that kid and have them pray to God for the toy!
That being said, we cannot start too early instilling in our children that God is the giver of all good things. The Lord is generous, and we should "ask, seek, and knock."
3rd - Check Yourself The next verse in James 4 says, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
Later in the chapter we are told to submit to the Lord (verse 7) and humble ourselves (verse 10).
The thing that I want - is that what I really want? What desires are battling within me? Am I asking God? Is what I'm asking in submission to God? Am I asking humbly or for my own gain and pleasure?
4th - Pray It could be easy to go through a checklist, ask yourself a bunch of questions and determine NOT to pray. That would be a mistake. James concludes the letter by asking, "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray" (James 5:13). Rather than just thinking, "OK, I shouldn't pray for THAT," what should you be praying for?
In our example on Sunday we started by praying that Long-prayer Louie would start saying shorter prayers. We ended up praying that we would be better listeners with longer attention spans. We could ask that we could learn from Louie, that we would grow in our spiritual maturity. Then, we can still pray that those prayers would be a little shorter, but we can do so because now we are asking God from a humble place and with better motives.
+ Parents, try applying some of these principles in your own prayer life, especially regarding your attitudes toward each other and toward your children.
+ Consider ways we can fuse prayer into our regular, as we go activities... are you in trouble? Pray. Are you happy? Sing songs of praise, etc.