5 Prayers for When Your Family Is Struggling
5 Prayers for When Your Family Is Struggling
Jennifer Slattery JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
In 2009, our family hit a crisis. Initially, I retreated within myself, allowed bitterness to fester, and began to slip into depression. But then one morning while reading my Bible, a truth gripped my heart: I had an opportunity to show our daughter what true faith looked like. I could model how family can lean on one another and Jesus when life hurt.
God spoke to my spirit that day and called me to find strength in Him. I did. We all did. We came together as a family, centered our hearts and relationships on Christ, and trusted Him to carry us through. He did, and brought us through stronger than before our difficulties hit.
He taught us to anchor ourselves deeply in His love and grace. If you’re going through a painful time, I encourage you to do the same. Here are five prayers that can encourage and equip you to deepen your faith, unite your hearts, and find everything you need to rise victorious above your circumstances.
This year our family hit a crisis. Initially, I retreated within myself, allowed bitterness to fester, and began to slip into depression. But then one morning while reading my Bible, a truth gripped my heart: I had an opportunity to show our daughter what true faith looked like. I began to pray for our family. I began to seek God's guidance in prayer. I realized I could model how family can lean on one another and Jesus when life hurt.
God spoke to my spirit that day and called me to find strength in Him. I began to pray for our family daily. We all did. We came together as a family, centered our hearts and relationships on Christ, and trusted Him to carry us through. He did, and brought us through stronger than before our difficulties hit.
He taught us to anchor ourselves deeply in His love and grace. If you’re going through a painful time as a family, I encourage you to do the same - find time starting right now to pray alone and pray togoether over your family. Here are five prayers for your family that can encourage and equip you to deepen your faith, unite your hearts, and find everything you need to rise victorious above your circumstances.
1. A Prayer for the Lord's Presence in Your Family
Lord, holy my family tight. If my relationship with Christ depended on my faithfulness, I’d be in trouble. There’ve been period when I’ve been so hurt, so sad, or so angry, I couldn’t bring myself to pray. When a dear friend was dying from brain cancer, my conversations with God were far from “faith-filled.” I was mad. I knew He had the power to heal her, should He choose. I struggled to understand why He didn’t. But God held me through that time and brought me to a place where I could receive and rest in His comfort. He longs to do the same for you and your family.
When you’re struggling and your emotions are raging beyond your control, praise God for His enduring love and ask Him to draw you near. Recognize that your loved ones may feel overwhelmed with anger and sorrow as well. Pray on their behalf. Ask God, their Creator and the lover of their souls, to gather them close to His heart.
2. A Prayer for Family Unity
God, unite our family. When chaos hits, we can act as if our loved ones are our enemies. We may attack them with hurtful words or behaviors. But what if we stood shoulder-to-shoulder and fought with them against whatever was threatening to tear our family apart? What if we made our loved ones our allies and intentionally came together during difficult times? What if God wants to use the event that has the capacity to destroy our family to strengthen and unite us instead?
When trouble comes, recognize the relational danger ahead and pray for God’s protective, uniting intervention. Ask Him to unite your hearts, help you see the best in each other, and to cast out any thoughts that might pit you against one another. This is a great prayer to say as a family. Not only is that a request God loves to honor, but it also encourages everyone to adopt and maintain the same focus.
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3. Prayer for Family Wisdom
Father God, give our family wisdom. Our brains can shut down when we feel afraid, uncertain, or are hurting. The problems before us may feel bigger than everything we know to be true. In our own strength, we might doubt that which we held to with certainty during times of tranquility.
In our weakened state, we’re more prone to deception, faulty perceptions, and poor decisions. Anxiety can grow beyond the crisis to cover all areas of life. Sorrow can cause us to set and reach for low expectations. When we’re angry and afraid, we’re much more likely to make rash, high-risk decisions and much less apt to self-regulate.
God longs to guide us through our most difficult situations. In fact, in James 2-5, He invites us to come to Him in the middle of our trials. First, He tells us to expect problems but not to allow them to defeat us. Instead, we should view them with joy, knowing God is using them for our good. To help us gain a Christ-centered perspective, He says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5 NIV).
I love the phrase, “who gives generously to all without finding fault.” God doesn’t get upset when we’re confused or uncertain. He doesn’t stand distant with arms crossed, waiting for us to figure everything out. Instead, He draws us near and urges us to seek Him in the middle of our most painful or frightening situations. Why? Because He loves us, knows what’s best for us, has a plan for us, and is at that moment working out His plan.
God wants to use every situation, our hardships included, to grow us and deepen our trust. All we need to do is listen for His voice, surrender to what we hear, and obey.
4. A Prayer for Family Joy
Lord, grant us joy. The beginning of that verse from James quoted above begins with,“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2, NIV). For years, those words made me cringe, and more often than not, left me feeling guilty. Joy? When my friend was dying? When chronic illness challenged my identity and way of life? When my daughter struggled with depression and I felt powerless to help? Was I really to have joy during those situations?
Yes, though perhaps not the type of joy most of us think of when we hear the word. Biblical joy, chara in the original Greek, isn’t some euphoric emotion. Instead, sharing the same root from which we get the word grace, it’s a deep assurance and awareness of God’s grace. It’s knowing and trusting that God is working out all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
This is precisely what James 1:2-4 is saying. If I were to paraphrase the passage in my own words, it might read something like this:
Rest assured that God is in this and has your good in mind. He is growing your perseverance and bringing you to a place of maturity, of completion, where you will lack nothing. So hold tight and stay close to Him. He’ll show you what to do and when. But most importantly, know He’s got this, and He’s got you.
The knowledge of God’s unending grace and perfect faithfulness can anchor our souls and hold us steady through the most turbulent times.
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5. Proclaim God’s goodness over our family.
Many of us have probably heard Philippians 4:6-7, which tells us not to worry but to relinquish our concerns to God. However, we often miss the crucial parenthetical insert sandwiched between the first and last part of that passage: “with thanksgiving.” As we present our requests to God, may we pause to thank Him for all the ways He’s helped us in the past, all the ways He’ll help us today and tomorrow, and His unchanging nature that drives Him to do so.
When a crisis hits, praise may feel like the last thing you want to do. But there’s great strength in verbally acknowledging all we know to be true about God. As we speak words of adoration for God’s perfect wisdom, unending love, and unfathomable power, our problems don’t feel quite so daunting. They’re put into perspective when we remember, through prayers of praise, that they’re in God’s hands.
Difficulties will come and, when faced alone, they can destroy our families. But they don’t have to. In fact, God can use every struggle and heartache to draw us closer to Himself, deepen our faith, and strengthen our bonds with Him and with one another.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Hometown Healing and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Mike Scheid