A few years ago when Thelma and I celebrated sixty-two years together as a family, my pastor asked me what advice I would give to others. My answer was: “The family that prays together stays together.” Raising a family is no easy task. It is difficult, demanding, and exhausting. On one hand, we need to keep our spiritual batteries fully charged. But on the other hand, we all need time to rest and play. I would like to share some thoughts from God’s Word to help us see the importance of praying and playing together.
David, in Psalm 133:1 NIV exclaims: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, reminds us to be grateful for what we have, whether it is much or little. Since life is short, God wants us to enjoy our work and advantages. And if He has given you wealth, possessions, and power to enjoy, rejoice because this is a gift from God. As a result, you will not have to worry about the brevity of life because God will keep you busy with doing what you enjoy and love (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 MSG). As we turn to the New Testament, the words of the apostle Paul declare so briefly that whatever we eat or drink, or whatever we do, let us do it for the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31 NIV). Our prayers, our pastime, our devotion, and our diversion belong together as we worship and rest in God.
Let us look first at praying together.
It is crucial that families pray together and for one another because the home today is under attack. Satan is out to destroy what God intended the family to be. The disintegration of the home in America can be identified in a perpetual catalog of sins: Abortion, addiction, assisted suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, gender identity, homosexuality, cohabitation, divorce, fatherless homes, Ad nauseum. Sadly, even some churches today do not seem to worship as much as entertain, and some have been reduced to a social gathering. We should all worship individually, but families should also worship together.
When our girls were little, we had family devotions together. That included prayer and sometimes these little ones would pray for a new bicycle, a sick animal, or a lost article because King David said: “You [Jehovah] have taught the little children to praise You perfectly” (Psalm 8:2 TLB). On occasions we all had a good time just laughing together. I usually read a passage from Scripture and maybe shared a Bible story, asking questions to see if everyone was listening and understood. At times we might sing a hymn or spiritual song together. After our children left home, Thelma and I often had our devotions privately and prayed together at bedtime. How we thank and praise the Lord for the way He has instilled spiritual values in the lives of our children.
Now, let us look at playing together.
The disciples had just returned from ministry and no doubt were exhausted. Jesus invited them to take a break together somewhere in a quiet place since there was so much commotion going on they had not had time to eat (Mark 6:31 MSG). On another occasion, Jesus, weary from His ministry and travel, went to Cana of Galilee to a wedding. Even though He worked a miracle there, I believe His purpose was also to have enjoyment, rest, and pleasure in the fellowship of others.
Every year our family gathers at a resort with some of my relatives for a family reunion. The kids love playing, and we adults enjoy talking together. Everyone delights in eating meals and playing games like bingo and name that song.
Recreation, rest, and play can give us vitality and life. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The joy that God has in Himself is the joy He gives to His children. Beloved, my prayer for all of us is that our children will remember us for the times we spent with them in prayer and play, not just seeing us glued to our television sets or cell phones!
Recreation relieves us of the tensions of life. Missionaries have a grueling time living and ministering on foreign fields, but I have noticed that most of them have a wonderful sense of humor. We all ought to be able to laugh at ourselves occasionally. If you are cheerful, you feel good; if you are sad, you hurt all over (Proverbs 17:22 CEV).
Recreation unites the family. The early church did not begin in a fancy building but in homes (Acts 2:46 NIV). Dear reader, what do you remember about home? Do you have memories of happy, enjoyable occasions? Were there times when everyone, even Mom and Dad, rolled in the floor laughing? If you came from a fatherless home or a hostile environment, get with your caregiver or a friend and bring your praises and needs to God.
Someone once asked Aunt Jemima how, at her old age, was she so energetic. She answered, “Honey, when I works, I works hard, and when I sits, I sits loose.” We all need to sit loose at times. Have an enjoyable time together in whatever you do. Parents, if you have a family reunion or vacation, when you get back home, take a day off with the family, find a playtime with the kids, and ask the Lord to let yours be a household that prays and plays together. And He will see that you stay together! Amen?