Prayer Thought: Family Ties
If you were breathing in America in the mid 80’s you’d remember a very popular show called Family Ties. The whole premise of the show was about the lives of an upper middle-class family known as the Keatons. More importantly for me Alex P. Keaton played by Michael J. Fox.
I can remember watching this show thinking Alex Keaton was one of the coolest characters on TV. Why would I think that, you ask? Because it just so happened that Alex was a high school student who wore slacks, a sweater vest, and a tie to school every day…with a real brief case! You know, the kind that had the combination lock and spring-loaded clasps (need I say more about why he was the coolest 😊)? I thought, “Now this guy’s going places. He knows who he is and is completely unapologetic about it!”
As the show progressed, I was wrong about a few things, of course. Alex dealt with his fair share of drama along with the rest of his siblings and two very busy, working parents. But it was a clean show with family values and, as much as fake fiction families go, they seemed to really care for one another.
This show and the smashing success of The Cosby Show catapulted fictional, strong family relationships right into the middle of our living room. Which gave way to other spin off shows like Growing Pains, Family Matters, and Step by Step, to name a few.
It wasn’t necessarily anything new that Hollywood was trying to throw at the public. Leave it to Beaver, the Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy. These came well before the 80’s and were the beloved families of their time…and still are to this day. Why did these shows become so loved, so appreciated, so captivating, so inspiring? I think much of it has to do with how much we can identify emotionally and mentally with the characters portrayed in these shows. I also believe that these were the idyllic families that so many young and old alike desperately wanted as THEIR family. And, although these were fictional characters and stories many people around the country and even the world knew there were real-life families who loved one another deeply, respected, forgave, gave selflessly, understood one another’s views and opinions without going off the rails. Which is why we invest time in them to begin with.
So, why start off a missions prayer post talking about television families? There are a number of reasons, but I’ll just give a couple. First and foremost, as believers, WE are the family of God. Meaning just like some of the characters on these TV shows portrayed, we are to be the most loving, compassionate, forgiving, selfless people in the world. It stands to reason that if we are to aspire to these qualities and a host of others (i.e. the Fruit of the Spirit) as we live in relationship with each other, we certainly must make it a huge priority to pray for one another. And, if you’re a sinner in need of God’s grace like me, you definitely need to ask the Lord for strength and wisdom for yourself as you live out the First and Second Great Commandments in real time.
Next, thinking this way gives us ample opportunity to pray for our immediate family, which will be some of the most intimate relationships we will have on this side of Heaven. Christie and I just had a wonderful time with my brother and his amazing family for the past 4 days. I found myself any number of times as we went shopping, went to dinner, had a fire pit outside in our backyard etc. praising the Lord for such an incredible blessing to have a relationship with these people I get to call family. The prayers were simple and direct, but fervent and real. I was in awe of God’s grace and kindness in allowing me the opportunity to share life with these people.
Finally, at least for this post, we have a great opportunity to pray for our missionary families all across Europe and the rest of the world. These amazing people are speaking the name of Jesus to a dying world and we have an awesome task to saturate their whole beings in prayer and petition before the Lord. Not only do we have opportunity to do this, but we get to bring others along with us to pray for these people we have grown to know and love…our family! I’ve talked to any number of missionaries who believe prayer is THE essential ingredient to the success of the ministry that God has put before them. So, they make it a priority to have weekly prayer gatherings, as well as personal prayer time on a daily basis.
And then it struck me, if I’m able to spend so much time with these people that I love and that God has blessed me with, how much more do I need to desire to spend uninterrupted time with the Lord in prayer myself? This was a tremendously convicting thought. How do I write about prayer, talk about prayer, think about prayer, and ask people to be about prayer if I’m not doing it myself…as I should? Obviously, the answer is I CAN’T…or I SHOULDN’T!
This week, take inventory of how you spend your time praying for the family God has blessed you to be a part of. As believers we have a spiritual family, immediate family, and along with our spiritual family is the great need to pray for our missions family. I wonder what would happen if we decided just during our coffee prep time at home, or in the drive through at Starbucks, we turned off the radio or our podcast and spent those moments praying deeply for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our families, how God would divinely answer some pretty incredible things we weren’t expecting? I don’t know about you, but this would certainly bolster my faith and walk with the Lord Jesus!
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Director of Pastoral Ministries and Prayer