Thanks to the automatic drip feature, the coffee was ready when I woke up. Wrapping my hands around the heat of the cup, I made my way back upstairs to the little room in the far corner of the house that serves as a study. Having turned on the lamp on my desk and situated myself in my chair, I looked at the assigned Bible reading for the day: Micah 7.
I was disappointed. That seems like a strange thing to say. How does one manage to feel disappointed over a Bible reading? It would sound much better to report to you that I came eagerly to God’s word. I hear other people talk like that, and I’d like to be that kind of person. It’s the least someone should expect from pastor. But that’s not how it was for me this morning. I wasn’t too jazzed about reading Micah 7.
What challenges me most about someone like Micah is the fact that prophets have a tendency to make lengthy use of poetic speech. Poetry is hard. I prefer stories, following the action and not just seeing the images. I grew up singing a hymn, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” I never sang anything that said “Read Me the Poems of Micah.”
At any rate, I began making my way through Micah 7, and there at verse 6 I came across these words.
For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.
The prophet is describing and lamenting a godless age, a period of time in which people are skilled in doing evil and governments are corrupt and bloodshed is common. Not unlike what you’ll see and hear on the news every night. In such an age, families are fractured and in trouble. Trust and intimacy are losing out to conflict and hostility. But then Micah adds these words:
But as for me I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my savior. My God will hear me (Micah 7:7).
After these weeks of reflecting on the family, I couldn’t escape the pairing of the description of family turmoil with the statement of patient and confident prayer. I pray for my family, but it hit me hard that I don’t pray for my family nearly enough. Prayer is a way of fighting for the well being of our home and our children and our churches. We combat the erosion of family life with prayer.
Not long ago I read a wonderful book by Patricia Rayborn, I Told the Mountain to Move. I could see that the book was about prayer, but as I read it, it became obvious that prayer was a means by which she fought for her family in the midst of her husband’s life threatening illness and her daughter’s decision to reject the Christian faith.
For families in trouble prayer is a weapon. There are other good weapons in counseling and conferences and books. But we’re not fighting against flesh and blood and the culture. There’s more involved. You can do nothing better today than to fight for the well being of your family by praying persistently and patiently. God will hear you.
We pray today, O God, for troubled families. Teach us to pray with confidence and patience, and make us diligent in our praying. We pray for our own families, knowing that apart from your grace we cannot love each other as you taught us to love; apart from grace we will not show that love to the world. Hear our prayers, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.