I asked a wise lady, a widowed veteran missionary, a question. Her answer took me by surprise.
We were sitting, enjoying iced tea, and catching up on each other’s lives when I asked about her kids and grandkids. What followed was an account of pain and difficulty. My heart broke as I listened to the ongoing drama of what some may consider a parents/grandparents worst nightmare. And she no longer had her husband to walk this trail of tears with her.
Knowing her to be a praying woman, I wanted the inside scoop of how such a woman of faith talks to God about this
With solemn sincerity, I asked, “So, how do you pray for your grandchildren?”
I expected to hear the chess-game-strategy prayer: “God I pray you move this person to this spot, get rid of that player, surprise attack another, then corner the enemy with a final check-mate so we win. Amen.” After all, isn’t that how most of us pray? We call the moves that we believe will win us the outcome of healing and wholeness in broken situations.
What I heard, instead, as she fixed her eyes upon me and said with a confidence born of trials, was, “I pray that they would love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength; that they would love their neighbor as themselves, and that they would fear God and keep his commands.”
The lump in my throat held me momentarily silent as I pondered the radical perspective she had – radical, but right on. Another needed reminder of the greatest power available to us in prayer: God’s Word, the Truth that supersedes.
With that prayer, she not only embodied the whole of scripture (Matt. 22:37-40*) but also applied the wise preachers words, that everything in life is meaningless except fearing God and keeping what He commanded (Ecclesiastes 12:13**).
With that prayer, she went straight to the eternal, the critical. For what shall it profit our loved ones to have everything work out in this world, and in the end lose their soul?
Is it wrong then to pray for specifics, for things to be worked out in our favor? Not necessarily. God in His infinite kindness, goodness, and mercy has indeed answered many such prayers for us, and I assume for you as well. However, when my prayers are born with God’s Word at the core, the chaff prayers are blown away and a sense of praying God’s will, which is perfect and lasting, comes into focus.
It’s been some time since this wise woman and I have spoken in person, yet her example speaks to me daily. I pray it does you as well.
*Matthew 22:37-40 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And h a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend k all the Law and the Prophets.” ESV
**Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” ESV