family prayer, praying, praying before a meal

If I were your enemy, I'd seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it. 

I'd want to tear away at your trust and unity and turn everyone's love inward on themselves. I would make sure your family didn't look anything like it's supposed to. Because then people would look at your Christian marriage, your Christian kids and see you're no different, no stronger than anybody else—that God, underneath it all, really doesn't change anything.

My husband, Jerry, and I recently faced this enemy challenge head-on. With my family's blessing I had accepted, much to even my own surprise, a part in a major faith-based film. I was shocked to be invited to participate and shocked even more, after the directors saw my acting abilities, that they still wanted me to take the role.

Took me about as far out of my comfort zone as this girl had been in a long, long time, maybe ever. The movie (War Room), is about prayer—the power of strategic prayer, the kind of prayer power that God can activate in His people, and specifically the kind of prayer that can rescue a family before it careens off a cliff of near certain destruction.

The directors of the film wrote me a long e-mail before shooting began, filling me in on details to help me prepare for what was ahead. And among their many notes was a warning. They wanted to make me aware of Satan's penchant for targeting the people who'd been involved in their previous films and how he'd taken aim at the areas of their personal lives that were connected to the message of that movie. Since this particular project was on the theme of prayer and family, they encouraged me to be vigilant about praying for my own family.

When the Enemy Attacked My Family

Finally, summer arrived and I was on set. Even having been forewarned, I didn't fully realize how that summer of on-site shooting would affect some of the dynamics in my family.

We were just having fun in our new surroundings, soaking up the fresh adventure of it, not really thinking about the unique set of stressors placed on all of us—being away from home, out of our element, out of our usual rhythms. But pretty soon the slightest things would set off a disagreement. Hot feelings. Short fuses. By the time we made it through our final wrap on the film set, we were exhausted, not just physically but relationally.

Just as we'd been told to expect, the enemy attacked. But since we knew who was behind the tension, we made the deliberate choice to stop fighting with each other and to fight instead with the enemy. We vigilantly asked God to make our marriage and family bulletproof against these incessant attacks. Too much was at stake. It was a big deal.

But you know what? All of our marriages and families are a big deal . . . because each one is a billboard for the eternal, unchangeable love story between God and humankind. Each of their successes or failures is of great importance, both in God's eyes and, therefore, in our enemy's eyes.

So what do we do? How do we pray?

According to Scripture, the number-one purpose of marriage is how it represents the mystery of the gospel in active, living form. A man chooses a bride, loves her, makes a covenant with her and gives himself completely to her. The woman responds by receiving his love, surrendering to him, entering into this covenant bond with him and becoming one flesh with him.

It's not a perfect representation, of course, since the best marriage we can possibly make on earth still involves a pair of fallen, broken people. But in its deepest sense, at its deepest level, this primary human relationship between husband and wife is meant to be a living witness to others of the love of Christ for His church (Eph. 5:22–33).

1. Place your frustration in the right place.

Instead of directing your anger or frustration at individual members of your family, direct it at the enemy who has targeted the family you love.

2. Trust the Holy Spirit.

Quit trying to be the Holy Spirit in your relationship, responsible for poking and prodding that husband of yours until he finally sees things the same way you see them. Nowhere in 1 Corinthians 12, or anywhere else in Scripture where the divinely infused gifts of God's Spirit are listed, does “improving thy husband” appear as even a footnoted selection.

3. Pray for your spouse, don't seek to improve.

The more you pray for your husband, the more the Spirit will shine a spotlight on the places in your own heart and actions that need a bit of work, too. The only effective way to fight in marriage is to pray.

The family is one of the key axis points of God's purposes on earth. And your family, at the point of your sphere of influence, is a major component of what He is doing right here where you live. In order to make sure you're fully cooperating with Him and with the enormous opportunity embodied in your family structure and its people, they need you to not be on their backs, not be up in their faces, but be down on your knees.

Pray These Verses for Your Family

Consider praying the following verses for yourself and your family:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Cor. 13:4–7

When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD,  He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Prov. 16:7

Excerpted from Fervent. © 2015 B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.

Whether in packed-out arenas or intimate Bible study group settings, Priscilla Shirer’s influence has been steady and trusted. For more than 20 years her voice has resonated with raw power and unapologetic clarity to teach God’s Word. Through her speaking ministry, best-selling books, and Bible studies, or even on a movie screen, Priscilla’s primary ambition is clear—to lift up Jesus and equip His children to live victoriously. Priscilla has been married to Jerry Shirer for 21 years. Together they lead Going Beyond Ministries, which exists to serve believers across the spectrum of the church. To date, the ministry has released more than a dozen video-driven studies for women and teens on a myriad of biblical characters (like Jonah and Gideon), as well as topical studies like Discerning the Voice of God, The Armor of God, and others. Priscilla has also written a fiction series called The Prince Warriors, in addition to award-winning books like Fervent and The Resolution for Women. She and her family make their home near Dallas, Texas, where between her writing and studying, Priscilla spends her days trying to clean up after (and satisfy the appetites of) her three rapidly growing teenage sons.