Friday, January 31, 2014

Parents: Armed and Loaded with Prayer by Dutch Sheets

       I believe prayer is the most important thing we can do for our children, our friends & neighbors, our community, and for our nation.  Nevertheless, it seems to be one of our last resorts--something we turn to when we're desperate.  But what if we, like the examples in the following article, made prayer a habit?  What if we set aside a time each day to pray specifically for God's plan for all those around us?  I believe we would see many amazing results, don't you?
       Have you had an amazing answer to prayer as a result of your perseverence?  I would love to hear about it.

Dutch SheetsWhen George McCluskey married and started a family, he decided to invest one hour a day in prayer, because he wanted his kids to follow Christ. After a time, he expanded his prayers to include his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Every day between 11:00 A.M. and noon, he prayed for the next three generations.

As the years went by, his two daughters committed their lives to Christ and married men who went into full-time ministry. The two couples produced four girls and one boy. Each of the girls married a minister, and the boy became a pastor.

The first two children born to this generation were both boys. Upon graduation from high school, the two cousins chose the same college and became roommates. During their sophomore year, one boy decided to go into the ministry. The other didn't. He undoubtedly felt some pressure to continue the family legacy, but he chose instead to pursue his interest in Dr. James Dobsonpsychology. He earned his doctorate and eventually wrote books for parents that became bestsellers. He started a radio program heard on more than a thousand stations each day. The man's name—James Dobson.

Talk about the power of prayer! The next time you're blessed by Focus on the Family or one of Dr. Dobson's books, thank God for a generational watchman, George McCluskey. Many kids aren't as blessed with praying fathers.

At a 1994 Promise Keepers' conference in Denton, Texas, Pastor James Ryle told his story:
When he was two-years-old, his father was sent to prison. When he was seven, authorities placed him in an orphanage. At 19, he had a car wreck that killed a friend. He sold drugs to raise money for his legal fee, and the law caught up to him. He was arrested, charged with a felony and sent to prison.

While in prison James accepted Christ, and after he served his time, he eventually went into the ministry. Years later he sought out his father to reconcile with him. When they got together, the conversation turned to prison life.

James's father asked, "Which prison were you in?"
James told him, and his father was taken aback. "I helped build that prison," he said. He had been a welder who went from place to place building penitentiaries.

Pastor Ryle concluded, "I was in the prison my father built."
Indeed! In more ways than one.

These are amazing stories, powerfully contrasting two possibilities. We can either build prisons for our children or through prayer build fruitful lives that bless others.

The same stories could be told by millions around the world. Change the names, a detail here and there, but the bottom lines are the same: success or failure, life or death, fruitfulness or barrenness, bondage or freedom—results that are largely determined by the influence of righteous or unrighteous parents. Never underestimate the power of a praying parent!

As we think about the importance of watching intercession for individuals, most of us probably think immediately of our families, as well we should. Our personal gardens, as our opening stories reveal, are where we must begin. Quin Sherrer has taught much on the subject of praying for family members. In her book Good Night, Lord, she relates an occasion of interceding for her son:
"I clearly remember a day when the Lord spoke to me about my teenage son, Keith, as I walked the beach. Deeply concerned about his spiritual condition, I felt he was drifting further and further from the Lord. My only recourse was prayer. I realized that as a parent, I had made so many mistakes. So I asked the Lord to forgive me.

"That afternoon, as I walked alone, I proclaimed aloud Scriptures tucked away in my heart. 'The seed of the righteous shall be delivered,' I shouted into the wind 'Because of Jesus' Blood I am righteous and my children are my seed and they shall be delivered,' I paraphrased. 'All my children shall be taught of the Lord, and great will be their peace,' I paraphrased again (see Proverbs 11:21; Isaiah 54:13, KJV).

"Over and over, I repeated Scriptural promises God had given me for my children. I desperately needed an answer for my son. After more than an hour of this, I reached down and picked up a small brown shell being tossed about by the waves. 'Trust me to polish and perfect your son,' the Lord seemed to whisper to my spirit as I turned the shell over in my hand.

"I took my shell home, cleaned it and set it where I could see it whenever I cooked. 'Lord, You promised,' I would say some days as I cradled it in my palm. Even after Keith left for college and I saw little change, I thanked God for His word that He and He alone would perfect my son whom I loved so very much.

"Our prayer battle ended one night when Keith called to ask his father and me to forgive him; we asked him to forgive us, too. He had started his pilgrimage back to the Lord. After college and a short career in graphic arts, he enrolled in Bible school.

"Not long ago, Keith finished seven years of service with the Youth With A Mission organization (YWAM)...Today he's a godly husband to a wonderful wife and the father of two young daughters. My 'promise shell' still sits in my kitchen, testimony to a prayer answer God gave me so many years ago. That promise shell is also a watchman shell, for that is the watchman anointing!"

Quin also shares prayer steps she uses in being a watchman for her children:
• Be specific;
• Pray Scripture passages aloud;
• Write down your prayers;
• Pray in accordance with God's will;
• Pray for your children's future.

In another of her books, The Spiritual Warrior's Prayer Guide, she and Ruthanne Garlock give Biblical examples of how to do this by offering the following Scriptural prayers:
• That Jesus Christ be formed in our children (see Galatians 4:19);
• That our children—the seed of the righteous—will be delivered from the evil one (see Proverbs 11:21, KJV; Matthew 6:13);
• That our children will be taught of the Lord and their peace will be great (see Isaiah 54:13);
• That they will train themselves to discern good from evil and have a good conscience toward God (see Hebrews 5:14; 1 Peter 3:21);
• That God's laws will be in their minds and on their hearts (see Hebrews 8:10);
• That they will choose companions who are wise—not fools, nor sexually immoral, nor drunkards, nor idolaters, nor slanderers, nor swindlers (see Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 5:11);
• That they will remain sexually pure and keep themselves only for their spouse, asking God for His grace to keep such a commitment (see Ephesians 5:3,31-33);
• That they will honor their parents (see Ephesians 6:1-3).

My fellow watchman, most of us will never be called to lay our lives down in a literal sense. But every Believer is called to a life of prayer. In fact, we are called to be our brothers keeper—yes, the word is watchman. How much more should we keep "watch" for our own children whom the Lord has entrusted to us? I encourage you to pick up the serpent-killing mantle God is offering. Use it daily!

This article is derived from the book, Watchman Prayer, by Dutch Sheets.
This article was originally published in The Voice, a magazine publication of Christ For the Nations, where Dutch Sheets currently serves as Executive Director of the Institute. For more information, visit
Dutch Sheets
Dutch Sheets Ministries

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