Prayer, A Legacy

Posted: January 10, 2020 in Meditations
photo of child reading holy bible

Photo by nappy on

I was born into privilege, my father barely 21, my mother 19. My parents had no money, Dad left for Germany months after I was born, a draftee into the army. Mother moved from Colorado back home to Wisconsin. My privilege wasn’t money – everybody in the extended family was poor. They worked in mills, on farms, and in the trades. They got married, stayed married, and raised a family best they knew how. Their bond was their word and the local neighborhoods recognized their goodwill. But it was faith in Christ that stood out on both sides of my family. That is the privilege I was born into. That is the legacy that buttressed my life. I am who I am because of the prayer and nurture of family.

The world outside the church understands nurture. Who doesn’t respond to love, generosity of spirit, and encouragement. But prayer? Few understand prayer beyond a moment of crisis or the formality at solemn events. Prayer gets mocked as a behavior of the deluded. God might as well be the fictional rabbit, Harvey. The Christian life will never be understood apart from prayer. Worship, celebration, thanksgiving, petition, whining, intercession: every element of the human experience gets carried into prayer. Why? Prayer is the privilege of relationship with the Great God, Infinite Goodness. Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15  The God who created all that is condescends to be my friend and senior partner. He wants me to be successful in this life because I was uniquely created to serve and honor him, he loves me.

As a young boy, Grandpa Sheveland picked me up every Wednesday night for Prayer meeting. Each Wednesday, our church gathered for a time of singing and a short teaching before the men and women separated into rooms for prayer. The men sat in a large circle. I was so proud to sit next to my grandpa, a deacon in our church. The men prayed in earnest. I knew this was serious stuff. They fought for the well being of family, church members, their community, and missionaries around the globe. In essence, they went to war for the kingdom of God. A young boy doesn’t understand many of the specific petitions but he does learn a valuable lesson, prayer is the heart of a church.

My father’s mother prayed as no other I know. Grandma Brown was a disciplined intercessor, a woman who prayed on my behalf to her dying breath. To understand my grandma, let me quote the Apostle Paul regarding a fellow believer named Epaphras, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12  I wish you could hear the song in my mind, it is the voice of my grandma wrestling in prayer for others, it is the voice of praise and worship for the God she knew intimately. If you knew our family, now four generations beyond grandma, you would be awed by her legacy of prayer. Her investment in prayer now literally impacts the globe for the cause of Christ. An orphanage in the Ukraine bears her name. And we pray, we wrestle for others, we go to war in the name of Jesus.

Paul begins his letter to the Romans, “This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus”. Powerful words, I too am a slave of Christ. I know that I know, there is no life worth living apart from as full surrender to Christ. Much of that understanding and conviction has been steeled on my knees. Prayer is not primarily an exercise in words. Prayer allows the Holy Spirit to shape our hearts, to give us his eyes. Prayer exposes my sin and leads me into righteousness. Prayer births and intensifies love for others. Prayer unveils the possible in the impossible. Faith born in prayer enervates our ministries, it puts boots and vitality to the plow of life, God’s hand extended. So be bold, pray and obey. In the end, Christ is all that matters.

  1. John Mayer says:

    YouRe so fortunate to be in such a legacyof spiritualgiants inthe faith. Its an honor to get toknow you brother! Looking forward to more times of fellowship and to see whats up with God bring us together for such a time as this.

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