“How do you pray…?”

That’s what I asked the wise lady, a recently widowed veteran missionary.  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?”

What I expected to hear was the chess-game-strategy prayer: asking God to move this person, get rid of that player, corner the enemy with a final check-mate called in our favor. 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 blinked back a few tears. My mind pondered the radical perspective she had. Radical, but right on. I was again reminded of the greatest power available to us in prayer: God’s Word. Truth that supersedes.

With that prayer, she not only embodied the whole of scripture* but applied the wise preachers words, that everything in life is meaningless except fearing God and keeping what He commanded.**

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 to ask for specifics? For things to be worked out in our favor? I don’t believe so. God certainly has answered us many such prayers; probably for you as well.  But when my prayers have God’s Word at the core, the chaff prayers are removed and a sense of praying God’s will, which is perfect and lasting, comes into focus.

I haven’t heard from this wise woman since our conversation – at least not in person. But her example speaks to me daily. I pray it does you as well.

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* Matt. 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 a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

** 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.”

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© I.K.Hadinger 2010

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