Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Ever since we were married, “family dinner” was instituted in our home. No matter what everyone is doing the television is turned off (most of the time), the cellphones are left behind, and we join each other to eat our evening meal even to this day. This may sound a bit old-fashioned and too routine for the fast-paced families of today. But I regret to inform you that if this is not an ongoing event in your home, you are missing out on one of the biggest benefits and blessings your family will ever know. The American Family has become more like roommates and carpoolers who simply use one another to co-exist rather than developing the deep bond of unity that empowers growth in relationships and respect. When the kids were small, they did not necessarily appreciate the nightly intrusion into their lives but we did more than eat at the crowded little table. We talked. To each other. About everything.
More than half of our brood are grown and gone now, but they know that each night there is a family gathering around the table. They will call and ask what time or what’s for dinner knowing that there is always room for them there. Now that the older children are gone, I find that the younger two are more vocal. The no longer must compete with their older siblings. My husband and I laugh a lot about our fourth child who has come out of her shell as the oldest in our home now. She talks about everything all the time. When you consider that she is almost fifteen years old, it is evident what a rare treasure this is. Most teenagers hide away from their parents until they decide they are smarter than they once thought. We love this time together each night. Sometimes it is a struggle when I am late leaving work, overwhelmed by my day, and must hurry home and rush to get dinner on the table but it is always worth the sacrifice when I finally fall into the chair. The Lord has invited us to pray about everything. I think we can sum up this invitation subtly as He is saying, “Talk to me…” That is one of the things family dinner does at our home, it is an invitation to take to each other.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
“Always” and “never” are definitive words. They leave no room for compromise. How can you always be joyful? How can we never stop praying? We are instructed to “be” thankful in “all” circumstances. Again, definitive words. Why? This is God’s Will for our life in Jesus Christ. Joy and thankfulness are a product of a life spent in prayer. But who has time for that? I barely have enough time in the day to do the things that I “have” to do. Maybe if we looked at prayer more as conversation with God like the one experienced each night when families have dinner together, we will get a better idea of what our prayer life could be like.
People have to eat to survive. Now all my people are big enough to fend for themselves in the kitchen with a refrigerator and pantry filled with food not to mention a freezer in the garage. Everything they need to sustain life is in one of those three places and the kitchen has all the tools and utensils to make it all happen. This is how one might survive without family dinner. However, when a meal is prepared and shared something happens as we talk together. Laughing, talking, and voicing concerns over our day. We build one another up together while we eat together. As believers, we have everything we need to survive. God supplies it all. (Philippians 4:19) It is the fellowship with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that empowers our life. When we decide to “talk” to God about everything and never stop praying. We become joyful. We are thankful. Our prayer life is simply conversing with God. As we become friends of God trusting Him and believing in Him, we will confide in Him. Causal conversations with the Lord tend to reveal His Will and Power in our life just as when we talk and share with our family! This is what it means to pray without ceasing or never stopping. The Lord whispers just talk to me…
Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Our family is not perfect. There are times when there is a disagreement or falling out. It is still required to come to the table when called for dinner. This is a place of healing and restoration as suddenly the offense is forgotten over food and family. The Lord invites us to keep asking, seeking and knocking with the promise that you keep on pursing Him, it will eventually come to pass in our life according to His Will. Jesus said, “If we believe, we ask and will receive.” (John 14:12-14) The results that we are asking for, searching for and knocking on Heaven’s door are all found in our relationship with Jesus. These promises are where He is. When we call to the Lord from where we are expecting Him to meet us where we want to be, we miss the connection found when we gather in the Lord’s Presence. Everything we want must be in line with the Will of God. How can we do that?
John 1:1-5 (NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:14 (NLT)
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Jesus Christ the Word of God. He is God’s Will for our life. To live in relationship with Jesus allows all of God’s Promises, Blessing and Inheritance to become ours. If we do what the Word says, follow His Instructions and pray the Word over our life, we will have the outcomes we desire. Although we often think of things that we desire, what we are really after is contentment and satisfaction which means our wants may already exist in our life – we just haven’t discovered them yet. The Word and Will of God for our life was established before we were created. People were created through the Word who is Jesus. Hard to wrap our head around I know, but if we can just get Him into our heart. He will change our mind and impact our thoughts and empower our lives. To know Jesus we must know the Word. To have what Jesus left for us means that we must pray the Word over our lives.
Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
After it says pray about everything, it goes on to tell us to fix our thoughts. I believe prayer fixes our thoughts. Just like talking about our day with one other over dinner offers insight to each other and to us as parents. We see into our children’s lives and can offer wisdom. It tells us what they want and what they are thinking giving us perspective. I believe that prayer can actually “fix” our thoughts. It does mine anyway. When I am overwhelmed, overcome, exhausted and frustrated rather than telling the Lord what I want Him to do about it, I simply spill my guts to Him like I would my husband or best friend. He didn’t ask me to fix it. Prepackage it with a fancy discourse. Get on my knees. Fall on my face. Head off to church. He said, “Ask me. Seek me. Pursue me. Just believe in me enough to bring it to me…” That’s when the Holy Spirit puts a spin on things that might just change my perspective without changing any natural circumstance in my life. Faith that moves mountains begins by moving men (and women) from outside of His Presence shouting through the door to stepping boldly into His Presence for a chat.
Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT)
“Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
I love these verses. They describe the kind of relationship that Jesus wants with each one of us. We pray from afar, but He says, “Come and talk with me.” This is the kind of prayer that the Lord desires. He just wants to talk with you. The Lord desires intimacy with you. He wants a relationship with you. Jesus wants to live in an ongoing conversation with you. You can only hear Him with your heart. A superficial acquaintance or one-night stand with a quick trip to the altar will never change your life. We walk through life together. When our daughter got married, family dinner was a bit awkward at first. One less person to fill our table. I was afraid that now she was gone and we might be forgotten. Well, that was not the case our conversation continued from the moment she left her wedding reception and through her married life. We live in a lifelong relationship. It’s funny because she still expects us to have family dinner each night and will call to see if the two of them can join us. I love that. Our table is not getting smaller but growing in our midst. This is how conversational prayer changes our life in Christ. Rather than surviving, we begin to thrive in the Love of God. (Jude 1:20-21) The Lord is calling you back home to the table. He wants you to join Him. Fellowship with Him. Talk to Him. Know Him. Believe Him. God loves you! He wants to bless you. He says, “Come and talk with me.” May your heart respond…”Lord, I am coming!”
Revelation 3:20 (NLT)
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”