If we were to select two dominant themes of discussion in the world and church today, no doubt the current breakdown of the home and the work of the Holy Spirit would rank high. At first glance these two topics seem to be picked at random, but actually there is a very close relationship between the two. The Bible reminds us that “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1a). This verse unites the two themes of Holy Spirit (the Lord) and home. How does the Lord build homes? He does it through His Holy Spirit who works lo the lives of husbands and wives, fathers, mothers, and children, transforming “houses” into homes where love dwells.
Thousands of parents are struggling with their parental task in the home today. Many ignore or resist the power which is not only available to them, but indispensable as well, the power of the Holy Spirit. Other parents seek spiritual help not in God’s Word, but in emotional experiences which eventually produce only exhaustion and a spiritual vacuum. They neglect prescribed way of seeking His presence—the way of prevailing prayer by the power of the Holy Spirit. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). Then there are still others who, because of their background of Christian training, acknowledge the efficacy of prayer intellectually, but have never felt its power, and that for one or more reasons:
• Many pray with anemic faith not really claiming the promises of God which say: “Seek and you shall find”; “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will answer”; “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”
• Many begin to neglect the gift of—praying only at custom ary times of prayer out of habit, or not praying at all—wondering all the while why God’s presence seems so remote, why His blessings are so sparse, why their lives are so joyless and void of abiding peace. The verse, “You have not because you ask not” becomes a stark reality in their lives. Without a doubt, it is this kind of habitual prayer without power which is turning many young people away from the “faith of their fathers.” They do not see that faith live in the lives of their parents. They do not observe the hearts of their parents “beat high with joy whenever they hear that glorious Word” as the beloved old hymn states it. Even a child understands that although there is an electric socket in the wall, one cannot receive the benefit of its power unless he “plugs in” a lamp, a fry pan, a washer, a dryer. And yet, many adults wonder why their lives are so devoid of spiritual power, when they never really “plug in,” never really pursue the avenue of intense, prevailing prayer.
• Then too, many people confess they feel no real communion and fellowship with God in prayer, and the reason is not hard to find. Prayer for them has become a mere repetition of the same words, the same petitions they have heard and repeated for years. There is no freshness, no spontaneity about it—no intimate talking with God as friend with Friend. Can you imagine two people in love, charming each other day after day with the same old cliches the same old expressions of adoration, the same abstract discussions of worn-out topics, the same confessions of weaknesses followed by no attempts to change? Any relationship of love, whether it be between marriage partners, close friends, or parents and children, thrives on warmth, variety, spontaniety, and mutual sharing of the noblest ambitions and deepest recesses of the joy or sorrow of one’s heart. Should it be any less with God? Should we withhold from the infinite what we reveal to the finite? Should we come to Him each day with the monotony of worn-out phrases? When we “behold the heavens, the works of His hands, the moon and the stars which He has made,” can we restrain our lips from shouting His praises? Do we have any happiness which He has not given and for which we should not thank Him? Have we any burden so oppressive that He cannot bear? Have we any sin so grievous that He cannot forgive? Have any of us sunk so low that He cannot restore? Have we any family problem so knotty that He cannot unravel it? Is there any secret that we can hide from Him? No. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:13–16).
The promise which the Lord gives to the homes to the country, to the schools which return to Him in prayer is this: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14). “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). What a God! What a heavenly Father!
• Homes are breaking countless numbers of young people are forsaking the ways of God. The nation and the world is in crisis crippled and powerless to help itself, either by elaborate promotional programs or liberalized legislation. There is only one way out of this maze and that is through the power of the Holy Spirit available to those who seek Him in prayer.
• Our prayer as parents should begin where the Word instructs us to begin: “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Our very first concern in life and in prayer must be to pray for the victory of God’s cause in this world in every sphere of life. Christ teaches this very plainly in the very structure of the Lord’s Prayer which begins with the interests of God—His hallowed name, His coming Kingdom, His will. It ends with the needs of man—bread, forgiveness, help in temptation, and deliverance from evil, all necessary and vital petitions, but secondary to the glory of God.
• We move on in our prayers to pray for ourselves and for our role in the promotion of God’s Kingdom here on this earth. And in our specific task as parents we plead with God to equip us for that tremendous responsibility—to impart wisdom, enlarge our understanding, mold our will, extend our patience, sharpen our discipline, loosen our tongues to witness audibly for Him—all in order to be radiant examples of the indwelling Christ, for our children and others to see, “living epistles” written by the finger of God so that others will observe and be impelled to ask the reason “for the hope which (obviously) dwells in us.”
• Having received assurance from God that He will actually mold us into “fit vessels,” we pray for our children, each one individually, daily, sometimes hourly. We pray for their specific personal, physical and spiritual needs, for their future—their vocation, their life’s partner, for preservation from evil. We pray for “open doors” of opportunity to minister to them spiritually and we pray for “open hearts” to receive such ministry.
• Having been strengthened in our “inner closet” and assured of God’s help, we pray with our children daily, no age excluded. When discipline problems arise, we carefully point out to the children from the Scriptures where they err and pray together to God for His forgiveness for their sin. Together we lay before Him our needs, the needs of the church, the needs of the school, the needs of others. Together we confess our sins and together we bring our thanks to God in words which spring from our hearts, not only our habits. The old adage, “The family that prays together, stays together,” is still true and in it is contained the secret of a strong home and a powerful country. May God equip us for this noble and solemn task!