Christmas can be a wonderful time – and it can also be a miserable time. No family is perfect or free from difficulty, whether it’s a strained relationship, a family member who always causes issues, a recent loss, financial strain or separation from loved ones who aren’t able to be with you for Christmas.
It’s impossible to hide or completely ignore those things, so how do we push past them and have sweet fellowship in spite of the mess? I have personally received such a blessing from praying specific Bible passages in my own quiet time before family gatherings. Let me walk you through three of them – make sure you read to the end if this is a new concept for you. It’s easier than you think!
#1 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Several months ago our Pastor mentioned this in his message, and it really stuck with me. He said that each morning he begins his day by asking God to help him be most concerned with pleasing Him.
Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
I tend to pray things like “Help me to do well at work.” “Help me to be kind to my family.” “Help me to know what to do about _____.” Those are not bad things to pray, but sometimes I ask for those things because I want the people involved to respond in a certain way. I think, “If I do a good job, they will notice.” “If I’m kind to my relatives, they will like me.”
The struggle is often in our inability to control circumstances, people and the relationships that come with them. If you go into a holiday with the goal of pleasing the Lord, your day can be a success no matter how anyone else behaves.
#2 Colossians 2:2-3
This is a wonderful passage to pray as you prepare to be together with family: “That [our] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3
Invite Jesus to be present! Whether you have a calm, loving family that usually always gets along or a crazy, dysfunctional family with little in common – God will honor your desire to worship Him and encourage others with your family time.
Read More: The Best Kind of Family Gathering
#3 James 3:16-18
“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
Can you imagine how much sweeter your family gatherings would be if everyone was peace loving, gentle and willing to yield to others? That’s a tall order – even when I think about applying those things to my own life. But the rewards of peace and righteousness are certainly worth it!
If you’ve never prayed through a verse or passage of Scripture, here’s an idea of how you can take those words and say them back to God.
“Lord, would you help me to not have any jealousy and selfish ambition in my heart today? Please give me your wisdom as I respond to _____. Please help me to be peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. I want my life to be full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. Please help me not to show favoritism and to be sincere. Thank you that you’ve promised that those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
Please understand that praying these verses isn’t like waving a magic wand over your family gatherings. It might not bring change to anyone but you – but that’s the “magic,” if you will. I have found that the transformation of my own heart as God’s Word brings hope and joy is something so much greater than making everyone behave the way I think they should. ❤