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What Happens When Families Pray?

“Families that pray together, stay together!”
Fa. Patrick Peyton – 1954

(pg. 90 – 40 DPC Book)

Here’s an uplifting story of a family who has been weaving the principles of speaking, believing, and expecting into every aspect of their marriage for more than thirty years. It began with Jim and Karen praying as a couple, then extended to their two sons. 

Jim and Karen’s Family Prayer Journey

We are excited to tell you about our journey of praying together as a couple for the past 11,322 days; or, exactly thirty-one years ago today, March 3, 2015. (How’s that for a godwink?

How did our incredible marriage begin?

It started with an intense set of external circumstances, just after our honeymoon, that forced us to get on our knees in front of our living room couch, which became our “prayer couch” for decades to come.

Praying together soon became the foundation of our marriage, and, our job as parents.

We have not stopped praying and never will. In fact, our Family Motto is: Never Give Up, Never Surrender to the issues facing us.

In addition to praying together as a couple, we have also prayed with and for our children every day, starting before they were born. We prayed over their cribs, as infants. As they got older, our nightly ritual was to kneel by their beds and pray together as a family. For many years we recited, nightly, the 23rd Psalm.

Our attitude was that only way to teach our kids how to pray, was to do it with them. We never said, “You have to pray,” we just prayed with them every day.

In the evolution of the Covell nightly prayer times, we chose to make it fun and interactive for our two boys. We wanted prayer to be lighthearted, engaging, and sometimes even silly; for them to learn that talking to God is not only important, and often serious, but fun!

Sometimes we prayed only three to five words each, creating the challenge to choose three words that represented the three most important prayer needs of that day, without wasting additional words of description.

Amazingly, we all knew what the other was asking in prayer in just three to five words. Of course, God knew about all the details!

Sometimes the four of us would speak a “round-robin” prayer. Each person would contribute just one word until the prayer was finished. The net effect was that we were writing the prayer together but never knowing where it was going. It was always beautiful!

On other occasions we would have a time of just listening silently to God or taking turns to pray for one another.

Who got to start depended on whether it was an even or an odd day. That way, no one argued about who started.

We had the “No Agenda Praying Rule”, meaning that no one was allowed to complain about another family member’s prayer, nor to suggest to God that another person needed to change! At times that rule came in handy.

We had fun with grace at dinner, as well. Often we would say the Lord’s Prayer uniquely, inserting the main course of that night’s dinner into the line, “Give us our daily bread.”

The result was, “Give us this day our daily pasta . . .” or “chicken” or “tacos.”

Every day before our two boys got out of the car to go to school we would pray with them. We asked blessing of their day, for their teachers and friends.

Often we would gather other parents and walk the perimeter of the school and pray for the teachers, principal, and students.

We adhere to the belief that though the Supreme Court stripped prayer from our public schools, as long as there are final exams, there will always be prayer in schools!

Our boys have now left the nest. Our oldest is out of college, and our youngest is still attending college. But when we’re together, we still pray as a family, for our needs, our joys, other family members and friends. This cherished practice, we know and trust, will last through the end of our days together.

As a couple, we continue to pray every day; praising God and asking for wisdom, guidance, and direction. We also pray together every night before going to sleep.

To help keep our nightly prayers fresh, avoiding their becoming rote, we’ve developed a pattern of switching off; one of us prays for the boys with the other praying for family members and friends.

Together, we have prayed through unemployment, broken family relationships, poor health, breakthroughs, and even our son’s brain tumor. God has been faithful all along.

We pray because we can’t live without it. We bring God into everything we do and everything we are. We live by the quote, “Prayer is not preparation for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”

Our evidence is an amazing marriage and two wonderful boys. We truly believe it’s because of our lifelong commitment to prayer.

This we know: with God everything is possible; if we did everything on our own, we would just mess it up!

—Jim and Karen Covell


The biblical counsel to “start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not depart from it”[1] is sage advice. Jim and Karen Covell can rest assured that by making prayer a part of their boys’ everyday life, they have given them sharp weapons to take into the world.

Their prayer together also instigated an amazing organization, the Hollywood Prayer Network, which was started as a ministry to pray for people who are working in the film and television industry—hopefully bringing many of them into a walk with God.

Fifteen years later, HPN has tabulated that there are more than ten thousand Christians working in the industry. And at this writing there are ninety local chapters of Hollywood Prayer Network in thirty countries.

Karen Covell, who serves as executive director of HPN, says she is most excited to witness a great new uprising among young people who are seeking Jesus and are now overflowing the many new churches aimed at them.

Again and again parents like Jim and Karen Covell will joyfully testify that prayer in the family has been at the center of not only family happiness, but in guiding their entire lives.

And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6; KJV


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[1]   Proverbs 22:6.