“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”—Deuteronomy 6:6-7
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”—Malachi 4:5,6
Take a moment and respond to this challenge: say the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word, “father.” Was the descriptive word you used positive or negative? Perhaps you answered: “dedicated,” or “preoccupied”, or “harsh,” or even “abusive.” Or perhaps you never knew your father so you would have said, “absent.” At any rate, how you answer that question tells me much about you. Even if you never met your father, he still has power over you; his influence in your life continues for good or for ill.
Mike Singletary, former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, often speaks in prisons and asks this question of the inmates: how many of you can say you had a warm relationship with your father? In an article I read, he said he is still waiting for the first hand to be raised! With 20 million children in America going to bed each night without a father in the home, we can only imagine what the consequences will be—both now and in future generations.
In the above Scriptures, God clearly holds the father responsible for being both the lawgiver and the grace-giver in the home. He is to teach the children and model for them what walking with God looks like. And as the verses from Malachi indicate, there is to be mutual reconciliation and fellowship between a father and his family. The heart of the father should be turned toward the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. If not, there are drastic consequences.
The prayer that we will be praying this week is one that both intercedes for those fathers who are good examples for their children, but also for the fathers who have neglected their families; fathers who are abusive, harsh, and uncaring. We will also pray for those children who either don’t know their fathers, or if they do, they have lingering bitterness for his misdeeds. In short, we will be praying for our dysfunctional families, whether they have a father in the home or not.
So, even if your father is no longer living, I want you to pray this week’s prayer. You can either pray for a father you know, or more generally, for a dysfunctional family. Or you can pray for your own family.
Let Us Pray
Father, I want to thank You for my father; whether he lived up to my expectations or not, he was chosen to give me physical life; I was chosen to be born at a place and time designated by You. Thank You for my parents, for their strengths and their weaknesses.
And now, Father I pray for the children who are struggling because of their relationship with their father. I pray for ______. I pray that they might be reconciled to their father. Take away the bitterness and the anger that exists in that home, and bring peace to the family. And as for ____ who either has failed or is failing as a father, bring him to his senses that he might become Your servant and see his need to become the role model You intended. Break the power of addictions, hate, and rejection that have deeply wounded this family. Help fathers to confess their failures to their children, and children confess to their fathers. At all costs, bring them into a right relationship with You and with each other.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.