The Transforming Power of Family Prayer
As a youngster, I remember very well the countless times I passed by my parents’ bedroom, and with the door partially open, I would see my father on his knees beside his bed in prayer. Those were mental photos that were indelibly developed into my memory. Though I’m quite sure he never thought of his prayer time as a time to model prayer for his son, on his knees he did that very eloquently without saying a word.
My mother and father both encouraged my brother and me to pray. Since my parents were converts from the Catholic faith, they were familiar with memorized prayers. So when they became members of the Adventist Church, the first prayer they taught us and the first prayer we memorized was the Lord’s Prayer—in Ukrainian. A few years later I recall memorizing the Lord’s Prayer again, this time in English. As a child, I recall no bite of food was ever taken without all of us first standing up around the table and someone reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
Those were special moments. We may have been engaged in laughter, or some serious conversation, or even in heated disagreement, but when it was time to pray, the atmosphere would suddenly change. We knew we were all now going before the Lord and a spirit of reverence and respect would prevail. Whether we were tickled about something or upset with each other, standing or kneeling in prayer (we never sat for prayer) would remind us that in the presence of God we could no longer allow personal feelings of disagreement or resentment to drive a wedge in our relationship with each other. Prayer had a way of binding us together.
At the close of the Sabbath hours, I recall my father expressing thanksgiving for the material blessings of life and asking God to give us physical strength for the new week ahead, but he would always follow that with a request for spiritual strength and power to be able to meet the challenges and temptations of life. It was in those times of family prayer that I began to sense a strengthening of my relationship with my Heavenly Father as well as a greater closeness with all of my family. I don’t know that it was ever some strategic plan of my parents to have prayer as the way in which our family would grow together spiritually, yet for me it was a reality that took place. I praise God for the transforming power of family prayer.