The most practical thing you can do for your family

We moved to Iowa and listed our house in Indiana for sale. For almost a year we paid a mortgage and rent. Not fun. Then one day I believed in Jesus. A few days later Brenda asked if I’d prayed for the house to sell.

“Uh, no.” I was new at the prayer thing. “Oh, you can actually pick what to pray for?” So I did.

The next day we got a call from our Realtor about interest in the house. Not much later it sold. From that, I was convinced God was saying, “I just want you to know what you’re dealing with here.”

I wish I could say I honored that conviction and have lived a life of prayer ever since. Ha!

Prayer is the most practical thing you can do for your family

Prayer is not abstract theory or an idea or philosophy or strategy. You think of prayer as a spiritual thing, and it is, but it’s a spiritual thing in action with practical results.

When our girls were little, Brenda began praying for their husbands. Years later it was freaky at the wedding rehearsal dinner seeing the tables with the pictures of the Nester and Chad growing up separately, thinking so that’s what he looked like and was doing when she was this age . . . and realizing Brenda was praying for him all that time without knowing who he was.

A few years ago we felt we needed to pray more consistently. So we made it as easy and automatic as we could: we don’t get up from eating together at home without praying. So most every morning (and evening) we hold hands at the table between the cereal and hard-boiled egg scraps and pray for five or ten minutes. We keep it short, simple, and consistent.

Our peace and confidence have gone way up

Our peace and confidence don’t come from getting results. Most of the time I’m surprised when my prayers are answered positively. Many are not and that seems normal.

Our peace comes from the practical act of cooperating with God in reaching out after the unseen, and knowing he will do something. 

Last year we prayed for three months every day to know what to do in an area I was restless about. It was a big deal to me. I wrote bullet points on what we were praying for, and why, and printed a copy for each of us. I never got a direct answer but the restlessness ceased and I’ve moved on with peace and confidence.

Then there was that day six months ago when I wanted some family members to talk about something I thought was important. But I was busy and stressed and had no time or words to try to start a conversation. In frustration I prayed and gave it to God and headed to work. When I got home they had talked.

When the Nester and Chad made an offer on their property this past summer I felt a compulsion to pray. It seemed like an assignment. I couldn’t help myself. For ten weeks I would drive past the property or I’d park at the end of the driveway, and pray for their family and for anyone who would drive up that driveway in the future. It didn’t feel like my idea or a sacrifice – just something I needed to do.

They moved in almost two months ago. I still raise my hand in the car when I get close to the farm, symbolizing the presence of God’s hand over the property. I felt that presence from the beginning and prayer was my way of cooperating with it. 

Ooops – there’s that PWD thing

You prayer life can be defeated by PWD: Prayer Warrior Disease. PWD convinces you that no matter how often or how long you pray, it’s never enough and so it is wasted and you’re a lame loser. So you’re discouraged from doing it. Seriously – this is as common as the cold.

So if you suffer from PWD here’s the cure: When you’re watching TV or a movie, during a commercial or a break, turn the sound down and pray for one minute. If you’re married, hold hands and pray out loud and thank God for your spouse. That’s ALL, stop.

Then tomorrow do the same thing and pray for something else about your family for one minute. This is the cure for PWD. Once it’s cured, you can move on with the prayer life that’s natural for you and your family.

How has prayer made a practical difference in your family?

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A Family Like Yours is 31 Days of encouragement to help you appreciate, influence, and love the family you have (no matter what).

This is day 30.

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About the Author


Gary Morland helps you feel better about your most challenging family relationships, and helps you actually improve those relationships - all by adopting simple attitudes, perspectives, expectations, and actions (the same ones that changed him and his family).


  1. Wonderful encouragement! I pray with our girls every morning as I drive them to school… and though they may not remember what I prayed over them, I know God’s peace as they walk up those steps and through those doors. Thank you for sharing the words given to you…

  2. Robin Williams

    Prayer is truly a mysterious thing and we can so complicate the whole process. Just like we complicate our relationships with our family with misunderstandings and assumptions, we complicate this conversation with God. Like today, I begin to feel like I’ve failed because I didn’t get an early start. But then I remember I just asked God to help 3 women who lost their husbands and tears filled my eyes. Surely He was touched as I was by their suffering. We REALLY complicate the whole process.

  3. M

    We homeschool & start each morning with Prayer & Praise:) I’m now trying to teach my babes to pray on their own, as we have family prayer (like y’all) most every morn & eve! PRAY: praise, repent, ask & yeild…an acronym we use!!! Thx G, this has been a wonderful series…blessings & <3 M

  4. Pam Cason

    Oh my, Gary! We experienced God answering our prayers in some miraculous ways during my husband’s unemployment. We were inspired by George Muller’s story in how he prayed for absolutely everything (Christian Heroes: Then & Now series). We decided to do the same. We saw God provide for house payments, shoes, groceries, etc. through blessings in the mail when the bills were due, bags of groceries delivered to our doorstep when the pantry was empty, and through cash anonymously given at just the right time. Prayer does work and God answers sometimes in ways we can see and other times in ways we cannot see. HE taught us during that season to go to HIM for everything and trust HIM with the outcome. A powerful lesson we are try to remember even now.

  5. Bonnie-Jean Newman

    Thanks for this gentle & honest encouragement to pray. I talk with God daily -mostly ‘breath prayers’ as I go about my crazy day with young kids. I am however, extremely reluctant to ask God for anything specifically for myself or for others and even more particularly when it comes to healing. I’ve seen so many unanswered prayers in the last few years.

    While I know there can be a plan and purpose in this – I’ve had a small degree of physical suffering myself that has actually strengthened my relationship with God and increased my compassion for others – I just can’t bring myself to ask God specifically for things as I feel that I have no idea if it is God’s will. I know this is more about who I am rather than who God is. I know that he is able and I’m just worried about getting it wrong when I pray.

    I did find it helpful where you wrote about not getting a direct answer but that you were able to move on in peace. Thanks for getting me thinking on this again.

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