Over the past few weeks, my pastor, Craig Groeschel, has been talking about Winning the War in Your Mind. He challenged us to come up with daily declarations to wage war on the lies we believe, and I was inspired to create my own family prayers and declarations. Read on for five of them—and how I got there.
Last year, I finally got to claim the title “Mom.” This was something I’d dreamed of for decades. I’d always wanted a baby of my own to hold, to cuddle, and to laugh with. But I’d never given much thought to what kind of parent I actually wanted to be.
That is, until my husband and I found out we were pregnant. I think a natural next step when you start family planning is to reflect on your own family and upbringing. What did your parents model growing up and what did you like about your childhood? What do you want to do that your family did and what do you not want to do?
Your thought life
These are amazing questions to ask. We found ourselves also wondering: How does your thought life affect your parenting? Who will you be as parents, and what family prayers will you pray? What memories will your kids hang onto throughout their adult years? How will you shape your children based on your actions?
In fact, it’s almost a joke in movies at this point. You hear parents-to-be talk all the time about their children’s futures. You’ll see a mom and dad create a list of aspirations they hope their child will accomplish. The all-star list includes:
- Star soccer player
- Bilingual by age four
- Ivy League recruit by 14
- Nobel Peace Prize recipient by 18
- A household name by 25
Though this list may be heavy on humor and light on realism, it’s true that most of us like to wonder about what the future could hold when it comes to our kids. As Pastor Craig says, “Lots of people get somewhere, but few people get there on purpose.”
So, how do we make aspirations for our children and our families come true? How can we be intentional with family prayers to shape what’s important to us? And how do we overcome lies we might have grown up believing so that we can build a family culture we’re proud of?
My husband and I decided it was important to lay a solid foundation for what our family would stand for—beyond just our accomplishments. We wanted to be intentional about the mark we’re leaving on the world as the Chandlers—instead of hoping, when our youngest child turns 18, we’ll like what our family has become. Hope isn’t a strategy, and we didn’t want to just hope our family’s culture would be a life-giving one.
As Pastor Craig says in Winning the War in Your Mind, the battle is won or lost in the mind. But how in the world do you win the war when there are so many obstacles and distractions in life?
Everyone wants to be a present parent, but you get distracted each time your phone buzzes. You tell yourself you won’t yell at your kids anymore, but they wear you down so much that you find yourself raising your voice again. You try to instill kindness in their hearts, but they keep bickering with their siblings.
It’s challenging to renew our minds sometimes. It can be easy to talk about overcoming negative thought patterns, but in practice, how do we live it out? By declaring truth.
Here are 5 declarations and family prayers:
1. Declaration: Our family serves the Lord in all we do. It’s not circumstantial or situational. It’s who we are.
Prayer: God, help us remember You in all things. We serve You no matter what. That means when the kids are arguing, when the chores feel like they’re piling up, when the bills get stressful, we still serve You. Our obedience doesn’t change based on what happens in life. Following You with our whole hearts is the most important thing to us, and we ask that You help us live that out. It’s in Your Son’s name we pray, amen.
2. Declaration: People will know we love Jesus by the way we treat them. We are an extension of His love.
Prayer: Lord, no matter what happens, let our actions show that we are Christ followers. Help our family be a representation of Your love everywhere we go, with everyone we meet. We trust You, and we put our faith in You. We ask that You help us live out Your example each and every day. It’s in Your Son’s name we pray, amen.
3. Declaration: Neither failures nor successes define our worth. Our identity is found in Christ alone.
Prayer: God, help our family focus on Your approval and no one else’s. Please remind our children that it’s not about what others think of them or what peers say about them. This life is short, and You gave us this day so that we can make a positive impact on the world while serving only You. Thank You for this life. Help us to live it for You and You alone. Amen.
4. Declaration: We let love guide our decisions. When we don’t know what to do, we do what love requires of us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, no matter what we face on earth, help us respond in love. Let our family be a representation of Your love, kindness, and gentleness. Help us respond to each and every situation lovingly, because that’s what You do. That’s who You are. You are love, Lord, and with Your help, our family will model that love as well. Amen.
5. Declaration: We keep no record of wrongs. With God’s model of forgiveness, there’s no room for blame or grudges. In our family, we release resentment and replace it with kindness.
Prayer: Jesus, we ask that You would help us release resentment. Help us be a family that doesn’t keep score but rather offers forgiveness freely and openly. Remind us daily, every single moment, of the many times You’ve forgiven us, and give us the strength and maturity to do the same for others. We are a family who forgives like You. It’s in Your name we pray, amen.
And remember, these declarations are just a start! Use what serves your family’s individual needs. You can expand on these family prayers or even write your own.
Pray together about what will best serve you and your children. Or, if you’re planning for a family in the future, consider what kind of family prayers and culture you want to build with God’s help.
For more about how to overcome life’s battles in your thought life, check out the Life.Church series, Winning the War in Your Mind.
Of course, one of the best ways to renew your mind and take hold of your thinking is to be part of a church and surround yourself with friends who can hold you accountable. And you can stay near to God on a regular basis through prayer.