My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:1-6 (ESV)
This passage is one of the most well-known and well-loved in all of the Old Testament. It is one of my favorite passages, and, given that it is a record of a father instructing his son, my appreciation for it has only continued to grow as I have become a father for the first time this year.
As we seek the Lord in fasting and prayer today, I want to reflect on its implications for us in two ways: First, I want to focus on the goodness of God’s commands. Second, I want to highlight the specific means through which this passage is delivered. This second point will be directly in line with our current focus on fasting for the families in America.
One distinctive feature of this passage is that its directives are accompanied by promises of spiritual and physical blessings. Specifically, the father tells his son that his teachings will bring life and peace (v. 2), favor with both God and man (v. 3), and straight paths (v. 6). Later on in this same passage, the father promises his son that obedience to his teaching will also bring the palpable blessings of health and material prosperity (see vv. 8, 10). From all of this, we see that the father’s teaching is not simply right—though it is—but following it is beneficial to us. In short, that his commands direct us not simply to holiness but to happiness, too. Though Scripture does not promise us that our earthly lives will be pain-free, it is essential for us to know God’s commands are life-giving and good. As we fast and pray today, I think we need to remember this fact, because often we are tempted to think the opposite about God’s commands. What step of obedience do you need to take today? Take it! It will bring life and peace to you!
A second important feature of this passage is the manner in which these commands are given to us. This passage is a record of a father’s instruction to his son. Don’t miss this—God’s word is given to us in the form of a father’s instruction. This fact directs us to the importance of fatherly instruction. Tragically, fatherlessness has become a widespread feature of modern America. Many children will grow up in homes without fathers present (one recent analysis of U.S. Department of Education’s data showed that 23% of children are raised by only their birth mother and, generally, only 1 in 2 children in America are being raised by both of their birth parents.
Noting the importance of fatherly instruction from this passage, I’d like to encourage us to fast and pray specifically for fathers—that Christian fathers would follow the model of the father of this passage and teach their children about the goodness of following God’s instruction. In this, they will be good fathers showing God the Father’s love in their homes for the good of our society and the good of the church.
I would ask you to join me in praying for fathers today:
I pray that I would follow You with all of my heart—
that I would not lean on my own understanding,
but that I would trust You with all my heart.
I also come before you praying for fathers and future fathers in America.
I pray that You would be at work in the lives of these men:
For those who do not know You, I pray that they would come to know You
and that they would learn to honor You as their raise their families.
For Christian fathers, I pray that they would not forget Your teaching.
I pray that they would, like this father in Proverbs, instruct their children in Your ways.
Lord, bring revival and renewal to families in America.
Raise up many families who, together, wholeheartedly trust You and follow You.
Teaching Fellow, Christian Union at Princeton