With school starting and daily schedules getting more regular, fall is a great time to consider joining the FAM club. We got this encouraging email from a club member last week:
I’ve been a part of the FAM club since the beginning of the year. I’ve been praying for the salvation of my sister and spiritual growth—in particular an interest in baptism—in my brother. Well though I haven’t been as faithful in fasting as I should be, I still prayed for them every week. I just wanted to let y’all know that I’ve seen spiritual growth in my brother and he will be getting baptized soon!!!
I’m praising the Lord! This has given me a renewed strength to pray for my sister!
For more information and FAM club testimonies, check out our club page.
The FAM Club is all about praying and fasting one meal a week for the salvation of family members—whether they be children, parents, siblings, nieces or nephews. To encourage your participation, we have two stories to share with you. The first we received just the other day from Rachel:
My mom was a great mom. Loved God, her husband & her 4 kids. God in His wisdom took her home sooner than anyone would have expected, instantly in a car accident during my freshman year of college (1996). She was 44. I was 18. At her funeral service, several ladies contributed to her eulogy, most of the things they shared to honor her I already knew being her daughter. I was surprised when a close friend who lived with us shared something none of us kids ever knew! I’ll spare the long details of how our houseguest discovered the secret, but my Mom spent every Monday lunch for years fasting & praying for us kids & my dad. Once the friend discovered Mom’s secret, she was sworn to secrecy too. It was the best inheritance anyone could have handed me at her funeral. Many times as I see God at work in my life and my siblings, I wonder how many prayers my Mom didn’t know the answers to but prayed anyway and I am so glad she served us in that way! I can’t wait to “catch up” with her on the details!
What a legacy this godly mother left for her children! Rachel, thank you so much for sharing her story with us. I want to follow her example!
And I want to emulate the faith and faithful prayers of this mother, who prayed and fasted for her daughters’ salvation:
In a seaport town of New England lived a pious mother of six daughters. At the age of sixty, she had been for many years subject to disease and infirmity, which confined her to her house, and almost to her room. In an interview one day with a friend, she said—“I had not for many years enjoyed the pleasure of going to the house of God with his people, and taking sweet counsel with them. But I have another source of grief greater than this—one that weighs down my spirits day and night! while disease and pain bear my body toward the grave.” Her friend tenderly inquired the cause of this peculiar grief. She replied, “I have six daughters; two are married and live near me, and four are with me; but not one of them gives any evidence of piety. I am alone. I have no one for a Christian companion. O that even one of them were pious, that I might walk alone no longer.” Such was her language. Yet she seemed submissive to the will of God, whatever it might be, having strong confidence, that in his own good time, he would answer her daily prayers, and in a way which would best advance his glory.
Not long after the above interview, a revival of religion commenced in the town in which she lived. Among the first subjects of this work were four of her daughters. A fifth was soon added to their number, but the other, the eldest, remained unmoved. One day one of the young converts proposed to her mother and her converted sisters to observe a day of fasting and prayer for the sister who remained so insensible. The agreement was made, and a day observed. Of this the subject of their prayers had no knowledge. But on the same day, while engaged in her domestic concerns at home, her mind was solemnly arrested; and she was soon added to the Christian sisterhood.
The praying mother lived a few years to enjoy their Christian society. They surrounded her dying bed, received her last blessing, and unitedly commended her spirit to God.
Our hope and prayer for The FAM Club is that God would mercifully grant us many such testimonies of His saving power in the lives of family members. We hope you will join us!
—from the archives
Because this is the time to start to thinking about New Year’s resolutions, we want to remind you about our clubs.
The 5 O’Clock Club is for those who want to rise early (it doesn’t have to be 5 O’clock, that’s just the name of the club) to meet with God.
The FAM Club (Fast A Meal) is for those who want to fast one meal a week to pray for a family member’s salvation.
At our club pages, you can put your name on the rolls, share testimonies, and read about God’s grace through these spiritual disciplines.
Many of you are long-time members of one or both of these clubs. Or maybe you’ve let your “membership” lapse. But all of us need reminding and refreshing. So for the next few days we’re going to post encouragement to rise early to sit at Jesus’ feet and to bring unsaved family members before his throne of grace.
As you read, we hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining one or both of our clubs this year.
Nicole’s post from last week reminded me of what my long-time friend Nancy Loftness calls “praying work.”
Nancy’s a woman who loves God’s Word, loves to pray, and deeply cares for people. When she found that she didn’t have time to pray for everyone she wanted to pray for during her morning quiet time, she came up with a plan.
She thought about her regular chores that didn’t require any thinking or talking—such as ironing, cleaning the bathroom, or driving by herself—and she turned those into times for prayer on behalf of friends, family, members of her church and the unsaved. Praying work.
Just imagine how many requests Nancy has brought before the throne of grace while in her car or working around her house!
Consider your week: what tasks can you turn into “praying work”?
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” Ephesians 5:16
“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Charles Spurgeon
Great news—Dawn’s kids aren’t in The 5 O’Clock Club anymore!
Thanks so much again for answering my mail about the 5 O’Clock Club. Things have been going better. Thanks so much for the phone under the pillow idea. I have also worked on not stepping on the top step of our stairs and that helps a lot too. I have been able to get up and not wake the children this last week.
Yeah! We’re so glad to hear God is helping your kids sleep and you wake up.
But, says Dawn, “I have one remaining problem—how to stay awake during prayer. (I have tried praying aloud—well, in a whisper—but somehow I still fall asleep.) But you have encouraged me to think creatively so I am sure I will find the answer.”
Been there too, Dawn. Creativity is certainly called for. Here are a few things we’ve tried—
- Pray while you exercise. Mom used to prop her prayer list up on the treadmill console and pray while she exercised.
- Pray in the shower. From an idea Mom gave me, I printed my prayer list, put it in a sheet protector and taped it to the wall of my shower. I had some of my best prayer times there—although our water bill probably went up!
- Pray on a walk. When Tori was a baby, I would sometimes walk around the block with her in the stroller. This idea doesn’t work with toddlers though.
- Pray as you pace. This might not work with light sleepers in the house, but Janelle gets up and walks around if she feels sleepy during prayer.
- Pray after you wake up. Sometimes it helps me to pray after an activity that really wakes me up—taking a shower, emptying the dishwasher, etc. My husband often goes running sometimes before his quiet time.
- Pray after coffee (or caffeinated beverage of choice). The 5 O’Clock club runs on coffee.
- Pray before you pray. Ask God for grace to stay awake and pray!
Hope those simple ideas get you started. We’re confident God is eager to help you grow in prayer!
Sunday concludes our 28-day challenge for the 5 O’Clock Club and the FAM Club. As of today, we have 959 members of The 5 O’Clock Club and 378 members of The FAM Club. Even if you didn’t participate in the challenge, you can still join the clubs at any time.
It’s been so exciting to hear from so many of you about how God has given you grace in your times of meeting with Him and in praying for your family. Please continue to share your testimonies for the encouragement of us all. You can submit a testimony for the clubs, and we’ll post them periodically as well.
Whatever growth in grace we’ve experienced this past month, may God receive all the glory!
“We glorify God, when we give God the glory of all that we do. So when we have done anything praiseworthy, we must hide ourselves under the veil of humility, and transfer the glory of all we have done to God.” Thomas Watson
“Lord…all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” Isaiah 26:12
(Friday Funnies coming later today)
A reader, also named Nicole, sent in this FAM Club testimony:
Today has been such an amazing day. As a matter of fact, this week in general has been the highlight of my walk with the Lord (besides my conversion).
I am always asking the Lord to reveal himself to me, “Lord show me who you are, show me your glory.” I really believe the Lord has answered those prayers many times, but I haven’t always been paying attention.
On this 28-day FAM Club challenge, I am just in amazement of what the Lord has revealed to me. Its amazing what fasting does—this week I have been so sensitive to so many things in my life due to this time of discipline and prayer.
Just last night, as I was fighting away hunger pains and trying to go to sleep, I begin to pray for my family, calling some by name, some not. About 30 minutes later, I get a text around one o’clock in the morning from a cousin I was just praying for! She begins to share with me how she is running from the Lord and really wants to become a Christian. I am in awe. The Lord hears my prayers!
I know every case may not work out in this way, but mine did. The Lord revealed himself again, except this time I was so focused on prayer and fasting, that I was sensitive to pay attention. I shared the gospel with her again and invited her to come hang out with me and another young girl whom I meet with for Bible study.
It was neat to see her today, I have not seen her in 8 years! I shared my testimony of what my life was really like before Christ and even heard her story of wanting to walk with the Lord and not knowing how to let go of all of her competing loves. Oh, please pray she would be set free by knowing the truth—that God can change her, she can’t change herself!
We spent hours talking, even after Starbucks was closed. God has indeed reminded me that His arm is not to short to save. He has a plan for my cousin’s life. I can’t wait to watch it unfold!
Sometimes, we can grow weary of praying for our loved ones. We get discouraged, or begin to doubt God’s desire or ability to save. We must prepare for such temptations and be ready to fight for faith and persevere in prayer.
Two wise pastors are here to help! A.W. Tozer and C.H. Spurgeon remind us to look to Christ and His work in our lives to strengthen our faith:
“Unbelief says, ‘Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us.’ Faith says, ‘Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us!’” A.W. Tozer
“Mighty to Save” Isaiah 63:1
“Christ is not only ‘mighty to save’ those who repent, but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of His name to bend the knee before Him….Believer, here is encouragement. Art thou praying for some beloved one? Oh, give not up thy prayers, for Christ is ‘mighty to save.’ You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm and rouse it to put forth its strength…Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is ‘mighty to save;’ the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has saved you.” Charles Spurgeon
Put these “keepers” (and other faith-building verses) where you will see them often. Regular reminders of God’s power and faithfulness will spur us on in expectant prayer!
Here’s Karen’s second question:
On a more practical note I find fasting a meal doesn’t gain me any time to pray. Meal times I usually eat with my kids (4 1/2 and 2) and even if I fast I still have to sit with them and supervise their meal - certainly not conducive to wrestling in prayer. Maybe the answer is to fast from ebay or reading a book or something similar in the time they are resting after lunch as well….
How do we Fast A Meal and find time to pray with little kids (or a busy job etc.)? We could, as Karen suggests, “fast” from something else; Janelle talked about this in her post FAM Club Qualified.
But even if fasting a meal doesn’t open up a chunk of time for prayer, it can still help us seize many moments to pray. I addressed this topic in our original FAM Club series, beginning with a quote from Ian Duguid:
“If we find that we are forgetful to pray for a particular need, fasting will remind us to pray over and over through the alarm clock of our hunger pangs! If we find ourselves short of time for prayer, fasting creates space to pray in the time we would otherwise have been eating.”
Several of you asked how to make time for prayer in the midst of busy lives. It’s great if you are able, like my mom, to take advantage of the “space” a mealtime creates to get away and intercede on behalf of your family. But for me, with small children, that’s a little impractical. I barely have time to eat as it is! And I imagine that if you are on the job or in the classroom, extended prayer time might be difficult to come by.
But my hunger pains, and my sense of weakness from a lack of food are like a snooze alarm ringing throughout the day. Each time I think—“I’m so hungry” or “I want food” (which is pretty often!) I take the opportunity to reaffirm that yes, I am weak, I am powerless and that is why I am appealing to the All-Powerful One on behalf of my family members. I need food. But I need God even more. And so do my loved ones.
By the time I break my fast, I find I’ve prayed for my family members many times—certainly more than if I had not fasted. I’m grateful for the reminder.
Another FAM Club member, Esther, wrote in this week to tell us how she put this idea into practice:
I’ve never really understood how ‘fasting’ works until it was made so simple & yet so empowering when I read what Nicole wrote in ‘A Timely reminder’ on Jan 15,2008. Ever since then, I’ve been excited to fast & pray! Each time the hunger pangs come when I fast, I quickly pray “Lord, I need YOU to help (this family member) love YOU, more than I need food now.” “Lord, I need YOU to help me TRUST that YOU are able & eager to help (x), more than I need food now.” I never knew what a blessing ‘hunger pangs’ can be! They’ve served to remind me ever so persistently during the fast, that we need GOD! Here’s the good news! I’ve been fasting for my brother since then & what a joy it is to finally see the fruits! God has blessed him lately with a godly Christian brother mentor, he’s started doing daily devotions, & to me as a sister, what a joy it is because our relationship as a brother-sister has grown close! This year, I’m excited to fast for another family member. & I’ve invited my mom to join me! By God’s grace, we’ll see yet another breakthrough in HIS time.
Esther’s story can encourage us all to express our desperate need for God through fasting, and to eagerly look for His grace at work in our loved ones!
Karen sent us two great questions about The FAM Club. We’ll take the first one today:
Hi girltalkers – I have just had my first time of prayer and fasting as part of the FAM club and I have to admit to finding myself a little perplexed. I am struggling with knowing how to really pray for those who are unsaved. More than just “Lord please save so and so” which is done in 2 minutes. I know lots of verses to pray for believers but nothing much in the same vein for unbelievers.
I love your desire to pray meaningful, biblical prayers for your loved ones!
Scripture—since it is the story of God’s plan of salvation—is full of verses we can pray back to Him. Any verse that extols God’s saving power, that describes his saving work can be turned into a prayer that He would do the same, through Jesus Christ, for our loved ones.
We’d encourage you, as you read Scripture, to look for verses that celebrate God’s saving work and power, jot them down in a place where you can easily find them again, and turn them into prayers for your loved ones.
Matthew Henry has a wonderful collection of Scriptures for this purpose, and here’s a sampling of verses and Scripture-based prayers we’ve used to help you get started. We hope they inform and invigorate your prayer time for your family:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekial 36:26
“O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred. Let those that are united to me in tender ties be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory…. Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive, fall short of heaven at last; Grant that the promising appearances of a tender conscience, soft heart, the alarms and delights of thy Word, be not finally blotted out, but bring forth judgment unto victory in all whom I love.” -Valley of Vision
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1
“But to the disciples he said, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see.” (Matthew 13:16) Do you have “blessed eyes”? The new birth is the gift of “blessed eyes.” This is what Paul was sent to do in the power of Christ: “I am sending you to open their eyes” (Acts 26:18). And once we have “blessed eyes,” we pray for the fullest use of them every day. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalms 119:18) Nothing is more important for joy and love and worship than the gift of “blessed eyes.” O pray for blessed eyes.” -John Piper
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
“Apply Your redemption to their hearts, by justifying their persons, and sanctifying their natures. Teach them to place their happiness in Thee, the blessed God, never seeking life among the dead things of earth, or asking for that which satisfies the deluded; but may they prize the light of Thy smile, implore the joy of Thy salvation, find their heaven in Thee.” -Valley of Vision
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” Psalm 67:1-2