Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I have written before about my dear, sweet Mother's prayer life and the example it has become to me of God's ability to hear and answer prayer. How many times I have been blessed and encouraged by my Mother's persistence in keeping my needs before the Lord in prayer. When I could not pray for myself---when life was too much for me to handle--when I felt so far from God--Mother was there to pray for me. How often I would lay in my bed as a teenager and, even then, hear her call my name in prayer. How precious are those memories to me.
As Mother grew older, she felt the need to begin to write down the names of those in need and the specific request that was most urgent in their lives. It began as a list of needs for her family. She often would write down the needs of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She would pray over each need until God answered the prayer she offered to Him. Then she would make a note of the date and way in which God answered. In essence, it became a record of how God was moving, through prayer, in meeting the needs of her family. Though a prayer list is not a new concept, it became new to Mother. It became her tangible evidence of the power of prayer.
On a recent trip home to visit my parents, I asked Mother if I could take a photograph of her prayer list. Mother is not one to share things that are of a private nature to her and so it surprised me when she agreed to my request. Her prayer list is kept on a side chair in her guest room, along with her Bible and a book of devotions. When I came near the chair to take the picture, I felt as if I were entering a holy place. I knew this was the place where Mother met with the Lord on a daily basis. It seemed more than just a chair with a notepad and Bible. Tears filled my eyes as I saw my name at the top of the list. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I pictured my dear Mother on her knees, calling out to God on my behalf. I felt almost unworthy of such devotion.
As I looked at her list, I noticed there were small notes in the left margin of the page. I looked closer and saw they were abbreviations--letters of the state in which the individual lived. There was a notation for North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and, of course, Ohio. Beside each of these notations was the name and need for which she prayed. There were requests for healing, for financial needs, for jobs, for encouragement, for direction in life and for prosperity. Each need was one she took to heart---one for which she prayed as if she were praying for herself. Speaking of which, I found not one notation of anything for herself. All the needs she had written there were for the needs of family and friends. I found entries for members of my congregation--people whom she had never met but for whom she sought God as if they were her personal friends. I tell you, I could not hold back the tears.
I have often said that my Daddy gave me my love for the Word of God but it was my Mother who taught me how to pray. Now she has taken that teaching to a new level. Now, I am learning that it is both a blessing and an honor to pray for others. It enables us to take our eyes off of ourselves and focus on the needs of others. We see more clearly how the Body of Christ is knit together. We are not bound only by our common beliefs or our particular interpretation of the Gospel. We are not held together by mere fellowship alone. We are bound together when we begin to pray for one another as fervently and intensely as we pray for ourselves. It becomes the tie that binds us together---the cord which cannot be broken.
I ask each of you who read this, to pray for me. Pray that I may learn the selflessness of praying for others. Pray that I may, deep within my heart and soul, learn to make the needs of the Body as important, or perhaps more important, than my own. Pray that I may reap the reward of seeing my prayers answered in this lifetime. Please ask God to help Marie learn the power of prayer for herself. I pray that someday my own children and grandchildren will see a prayer list---a list that holds their names and the names of countless others as a testimony of the power of prayer. A power revealed to me when I read my Mama's List.