Praying with Your Family in the New Year


Photo Credit: Lauren Manning via Compfight cc

Want an easy way to get your family praying together in 2014?  Hang on to the Christmas cards you receive this season and use them as a fun excuse to pray for others throughout the new year.

Just collect the cards in a box or basket and keep them close to the dinner table.   A couple of times a week, let one of your kids pull out a card at random during dinner and take a few minutes to pray over it.  Before you know it, your family will have built in a regular rhythm of praying for others.  Easy peasy.

Not sure what to pray?  Brainstorm with your kids or pick a couple of the following ideas to get you started:

  • Pray that they would know how much God loves them.
  • Pray that they would hear from God and recognize his voice.
  • Pray for physical protection and health.
  • Pray for spiritual protection and strength.
  • Pray for their relationships (family, friends, work, etc.)
  • Pray that the hard things in their life would draw them closer to God.
  • Pray that their faith would get bigger.
  • Pray that they would have the courage to do what God wants them to do.
  • Pray that God would send them fun surprises in their day.

Remember, kids may tune out long, boring prayers and confusing, churchy language so keep the prayers short, simple and real.  You want kids to learn to pray like they normally talk so that it becomes a natural part of their day.

Also, try to give everyone a chance to participate without putting anyone on the spot.  You may want to take turns by having someone different pray each night or just let anyone who wants to pray go for it.

If you make this a fun part of your dinner tradition, your kids will start to look forward to it and may end up pestering you to keep it going long after the Christmas cards run out.

How to Become an Action Hero

It’s a new year and for many of us that means it’s time to lose some weight.   There’s something magical about January, isn’t there?  It’s full of new possibilities, new resolve and a new pants size thanks to a month of eating nothing but Christmas fudge.

Well, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve lost about 200 pounds myself.  Unfortunately, it’s the same ten pounds I’ve lost and regained twenty different times.

Much like a wild animal stores fat for the lean months of winter hibernation, I like to pack on some extra weight just to get me through football season.  It generally starts with Halloween candy and culminates in an all-out snack fest on Superbowl Sunday.  At that point, I emerge like a groundhog from my hole, see how large my shadow has grown and resolve to do something about it.

I have about a month before Superbowl, but for any of you eager beavers who are ready to get a jump-start on shedding those holiday pounds, I have great news.  I have discovered a miraculous, sure fire way to lose all the weight you want.  I’m not kidding.

Are you ready for it?  Prepare to have your mind blown.

If you want to lose weight, get this, you need to burn more calories with your body than you take in with your mouth.  Gasp. Crazy, right?  I know it sounds too good to be true, but the word on the street is, it actually works!  The only catch is, of course, it involves discipline and moderation, and if I had a handle on those, I wouldn’t have the extra pounds to begin with.

As with so many other areas of my life, the problem isn’t that I don’t know the right thing to do.  The problem is that I don’t actually do it.  Wisdom is only helpful when it’s backed up by action.

But the truth is I don’t always want to take action, because action is hard and scary and often costs me something.  That’s why fad diets and trendy exercise DVDs rake in bazillions of dollars a year.  We all want a shortcut that requires less pain and sacrifice.

Yet, pain and sacrifice are often the currency that buys us passage to a changed life.  Ask anyone who’s ever overcome an addiction or written a novel or repaired a dying marriage or built a business from scratch.  The life you’ve always dreamed of doesn’t come cheap.

Don’t get me wrong.  Grace is free.  God loves us, forgives us and accepts us in the midst of our mess.  He paid the price for that.  That gift of eternal life is on the house for anyone who asks for it.  But if we want to see our lives change this side of heaven, we have to ante up.  We have to be willing to cooperate with God on our own personal, spiritual make-overs.  We have to be willing to take action, even when it hurts.  Especially when it hurts.

Maybe for you that means breaking off an unhealthy relationship, standing up for yourself or admitting you were wrong.  It could mean getting marriage counseling or asking some friends to help you overcome a bad habit.  It could mean getting up a little early just to hang out with God.

What’s the one action you could take this week – big or small – that would make the most positive difference in your life?  Is there any situation you’re facing where you know the right thing to do, but you just aren’t doing it?  What would it cost you to take that action today and, more importantly, what would it cost you if you don’t?

As for me, I may give that whole exercise and moderate eating thing a shot.  But more importantly I have some spiritual and relational steps I know I need to take in 2013 that could help me become more of the person I long to be.

Will they cost me?  Of course.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  Will I actually do it?   Only time will tell . . . for me and for you.