Do your prayers matter—not just for today or this year—but for generations? Can the prayers you pray today and the faith steps you take this week impact your descendants 100 years from now? Yes, they can!
We all want to know our prayers matter, but sometimes our greatest prayers may not be answered until our life on earth is done. In fact, you may think you're praying about one thing, but God might use those prayers greater in the lives of your descendants than your own. How do I know?
I have a few stories to share.
The first is about a woman named Corrie ten Boom. The second is my own.
Many may know Corrie's story from the book The Hiding Place. (If you haven't read The Hiding Plan, run—don't walk—to read it.) It's one of my all-time favorite books.
Corrie was a single woman living with her family in The Netherlands during World War II. When the Nazis occupied Holland Corrie and her family hid hundreds of Jewish people in their home and helped them to safety. Because of their efforts, countless lives were saved.
I'd like to think that if I was in Corrie's shoes I'd do the same. But would I? Putting oneself at risk to save others is unnatural. Corrie saved lives, but she also saw her own family lose their lives because of these actions. Corrie's father died not long after his arrest. Corrie and her sister Betsy were placed into a concentration camp where Betsy lost her life. Only Corrie was released from the concentration camp due to a clerical error.
What does Corrie's story have to do with us today? God has a plan for our families, and sometimes those plans take a generation of prayers for preparation. Here is more of the story I wrote in my book Prayers that Changed History:
Prayer came naturally to Corrie. Her parents made prayer an important part of her life. Her parents taught her to pray, and they lived an example of prayer. Corrie’s grandfather, Willem ten Boom, felt the need to pray for Jewish people after a movie worship service. The ten Boom family, along with friends and neighbors, started a weekly prayer meeting for Jewish people in 1844. Every week they specifically prayed for the peace of Jerusalem as talked about in Psalm 122:6. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (KJV). These meetings took place every week for one hundred years. They stopped on February 28, 1944, when Nazi soldiers came to the house to take the family away.
I get goosebumps when I read that! God knew what the ten Boom family would face in 1944, and he started preparing them in 1844! The strength this family exhibited during a crisis in their country is a direct result from generations of prayer.
I love this story because it's reflective of my life, too. I was born to a single mom in 1971, and my mother and grandmother became Christians when I was in second grade. I didn't know my biological father until I was 28 years old, and for most of my life I believed it was only in this century my family became God-followers. I was wrong.
When talking with my biological grandfather after I met him, I discovered an amazing Christian heritage. On my paternal side my great-grandparents were missionaries and church planters, as they had been for GENERATIONS. My great-great-great-great-great grandfather FCD Wyneken was a pastor and missionary who helped found Concordia Theological Seminary.
And according to Wikipedia, “The Wyneken family had an established Lutheran heritage long before Friedrich arrived in America. Heinrich Wyneken's father, grandfather, and one brother were pastors in Hanover. Two of Friedrich Wyneken's older brothers also became pastors. Significant numbers of more distant relatives and in-laws were also Lutheran clergy members.”
I'd like to think that somewhere in that long line of pastors and missionaries, someone was praying for future generations. I am a direct result of those prayers, as are my kids. And who knows how MY prayers will impact generations to come.
Knowing this about the ten Boom family and my own makes me want to become more proactive about praying for my descendants. I'll never know how my prayers will impact history. Or how yours will, too.
If you're interested in praying for your descendants, here are some prayers to start:
Praying for Descendants
- Pray for their Salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
- Pray for them to follow God's call on their lives. (Romans 11:29)
- Pray for them to be witnesses for Christ in all the world (Acts 1:8)
- Pray they will live for God and turn from the draw of this world (Romans 12:2)
- Pray they will be able to stand strong in their faith no matter what they face in their generation (1 Corinthians 16:13)
Print this list (click on the image below for a printable PDF) and pray these prayers often. You never know who they will impact or how!