My friend and I talked quietly as we walked toward her bedroom. I knew I was on holy ground because supernatural grace flowed from her as she lived out the sovereignty of God in this very difficult pathway of life. Her young husband would soon be gone, his body taken by cancer, his soul carried by Christ's sacrifice into the presence of his savior. His fourteen-month battle against this terrible disease was ending yet there was no blanket of doom suffocating this household. I commented on the courage and strength they reflected and she responded, "I'm following my husband's example. Even with every bit of bad news he kept his sense of humor and strong faith that God is sovereign and we can trust Him. That doesn't mean we don't cry but right now I will be for him what he needs. He has a strong legacy of praying women that have guided us. I wish you could have known his grandmother. I know her prayers protected our marriage. In fact, when she died I knew there was a hole in our protection - I could feel it. And you've met his mother. You can see her faith."
I understood my friend's description of the hole in our umbrella of protection created by the deaths of faithful prayer warriors. I think of my friend, Thelma, who told me that she prayed every morning for our family. Thelma died about two years ago and after almost thirty years of having this precious woman quietly praying every day, I felt more vulnerable to the enemy's attacks. I once approached two older men in our church and asked them to pray for our son, Chuck, as he embarked on his new ministry position. They walked every morning and smiled at my request, saying, "We already do. And for your husband and you and each member of your family." When John died, I again felt a weakening in the fabric of our spiritual protection.
The greatest rip in our umbrella of prayer came when God came for my mother. When long term illness forced her to spend many hours in her bedroom, isolated from her children and grandchildren, she would sometimes express her disappointment that she didn't have purpose anymore. Yet when we walked through some of the toughest years in our lives, she was growing deep roots in Christ through praying for us. We have a long letter she wrote to my husband when we faced terrible church conflict. She didn't say she was praying for the conflict to be over but rather that she was praying for Chuck to reflect Christ in every way. Because of his deep respect for her, he knew this was a message from God and recommitted himself to godliness when his natural response was to angrily react.
Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, often struggled in a bed of physical pain and weakness. She said that when people told her that maybe God put her there so that she could pray she knew they didn't understand the hard work of prayer. Real prayer exhausts the pray-er so praying in a bed of illness is even more precious to those being prayed for. My mother's prayers for us transformed her bedroom into a sanctuary of worship. And her time with God through His Word transformed her into a woman whose last prayer, the last night of her life, was, "Be at peace once more, oh my soul, for the Lord has been good to me." Yes, when she left, we all felt spiritually vulnerable.
My heart's desire is to mend the hole in our prayer umbrella by the legacy of protecting our family through the gift of talking with God. In this season of life, prayer takes on new meaning and power. We are never more powerful, than when we are pouring out our hearts to our God, and listening for His response. Prayer makes us so much more aware of His presence and work.
Is there a hole in your prayer umbrella? Perhaps it’s time to patch the hole by taking up the call to prayer yourself.
In His grip
Sharon W. Betters
For more of Sharon’s encouragement, check out her blog and resources for women at www.treasuresofencouragement.org!