You probably noticed that I spelled the title incorrectly. You knew it should be family altar. Actually, I did that on purpose to make a point: When families pray together, it alters them.
A recent report by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement tells us that when couples regularly pray together it almost divorce-proofs their marriage. Although nearly half of US marriages end in divorce, among those who pray together daily the rate is only 1 out of 1,156. Amazing but not surprising. Although it may be trite, it’s basically true: The family that prays together stays together. (You can read the article here by Dr. David Stoop.)
With that much encouragement you’d think the practice of daily prayer among Christian couples would be nigh universal. But some studies show the percentage is actually about 4%. Pastoral couples lead the way – barely – with about 6% reporting daily prayer with their spouse. I am often suspicious of statistics, as I am of these, but if the reports are anywhere near accurate, it helps us understand why the percentage of divorces inside the Christian church in America is nearly as high as outside.
It might be enlightening to see some studies about the effect on kids of praying parents. I’m sure there are such studies available, I just don’t have access to them as I’m writing this. And my goal is not to chide families for what might have been, but rather to raise a question…
What is happening in your church to urge your families to take advantage of every tool God makes available? There may never have been a time in the history of our planet when the enemy has had an arsenal of distractions as clever as those he uses today. But God has promised that “those who are with us are greater than those who are with them.” Have you built into your church’s discipling strategy some intentional steps to train and motivate your families on the essentials and the delights of praying together as a family?
Personal praying is basic, but there is something about hearing those who love you pray a hedge of protection around you on a regular basis that readies you and steadies you for the hand-to-hand battle with the powers of darkness you will encounter as you begin your day.
Is it too much to assume that that kind of intercession will alter the outcome of the battles we face? Is your church helping build family alters?
By Don Jacobsen