by Lygia Lovelace
The first time I saw her, she
was sitting on the front pew, hands over her face. I wasn't
sure what to think…we were new in the church, and I hadn't
yet met this "diamond in the rough." No one seemed
even to notice her that morning. The lady in the group I
was with kept right on talking. But when I saw this praying
woman, I stopped and let the other ladies move on. I approached
her, but I did not want to disturb her. This lady was obviously
in deep conversation with her Father. She was on holy ground.
She rocked back and forth and
was whispering a prayer that I knew had to be sweet incense
to the Father. I longed to sit by her and to listen to her
prayer, even to pray with her -- but I didn't want to interfere.
I looked at the clock. Worship
would begin soon -- the Sunday school hour was coming to
a close. As people began filtering in to the worship center,
the woman got up and took a seat a few rows back. I quickly
introduced myself. Her name was Beth.
Week after week before the
worship hour, I would find Beth there, in the quiet sanctuary,
whispering her petition to God. Sometimes her prayers could
be heard by others as she forgot herself, and sat talking
to her Heavenly Father. I admired her boldness, her oblivion
to the "norm," her sweet devotion to her Father.
You see, according to the world's
standards, she wasn't much at all. She was poor, hard of
hearing, and at times, a slow thinker. She was just a woman
who loved Jesus, loved her church, and her family. And she
had such a burden for those without Christ.
Beth was the Father's precious
daughter. She went home to be with Him, just a short time
Though I hadn't even known
it, Beth was terminally ill -- with a disease that was taking
over her health little by little. She died quietly, even
a little unexpectedly.
Beth is home now. She no longer
sits on the front pew. Now she sits at the throne!
I have written her name in
my book. Do you have a book? Since I have committed to knowing
more and more about prayer, I have begun taking note of
those whose prayer lives I admire -- great heroes of the
faith, both then and now.
In my "prayer warrior"
search, I started with the Word of God. I have gone through
my Bible and marked the prayer of every person throughout
the Word -- everyone who lived before Jesus was here, during
his lifetime, and after. Regularly, I pray their prayers,
and study their lives -- longing to gain wisdom from their
relationship with Him.
Have you ever done this? I've
learned to be open and honest in my prayer time through
Moses' words -- as he went to God every time he didn't know
what to do, or the people upset him.
Joshua has taught me the importance
of going to the Father during every battle. Joshua didn't
say as much to the Lord as Moses did, but he followed the
Father unwaveringly and courageously.
I want a heart like Solomon
had in his youth -- one of seeking God -- one of deep humility.
Solomon was also a young man of worship.
Oh, that someday my prayers
would be repentant and trusting as were David's! He started
out as just a shepherd -- a boy of insignificance -- who
grew to be a king and a mighty warrior before God.
What about Jeremiah? Elijah?
Daniel? Mary? Paul? Their prayers are in the Bible to teach
us, as are the prayers of our own Messiah, our Son of God,
the King of Kings.
I have also searched to find
men and women outside the Bible whose prayers were as a
sweet incense to the Father…Brother Lawrence, Susanna Wesley,
Brother Andrew, Corrie Ten Boom, R.A. Torrey, Oswald Chambers,
E. M. Bounds, T.W. Hunt...the list goes on. My friend, in
each of these people's lives there has been insignificance,
suffering…they've made mistakes, suffered consequences,
yet persevered with unwavering determination and prayer.
Do you know about David Brainerd?
Like my friend Beth, he was poor and sickly. He lived in
the 1700's and had such a burden for Native Americans that
he walked for miles in the woods, looking for Indian villages,
that he might share Christ with these precious people. He
suffered endlessly with tuberculosis, but he trudged on,
through the rain and cold and danger of many dark nights.
The natives called him the "palest of all palefaces."
One night Mr. Brainerd approached
an Indian village notorious for its fierce warriors. He
approached their camp in the evening and determined to spend
the night in prayer close to the village. The warriors of
the village knew he was there. They had been following him
for hours, thinking to kill him that very night!
These fierce killers watched
David as he knelt on the cold damp ground and began interceding
for their tribe. What was he doing? Though they didn't understand
his praying, they felt a sense of hush and awe as David
knelt there. They watched, unbelieving, as a serpent appeared
before David, coming right up into his face as he prayed.
The serpent pulled itself up and hissed, as if to strike,
almost touching David's face with its forked tongue! David,
feeling so compelled to pray, was completely unaware of
this peril. As he continued to plead to the Father for the
salvation of the natives, the serpent drew back, slinking
into the darkness.
There were many more souls
kneeling before the Father, in those very woods, on that
very ground, the very next morning. Countless Native Americans
gave their lives to Christ as a result of this man, praying,
whispering before a holy God.
Just like Beth.
The Sunday after her funeral,
I walked slowly into the worship center at the close of
the Sunday School hour, not wanting to see the empty pew
there. Beth was no longer here. She was finally well --
and so happy.
I rejoiced for her! But I grieved
for our church. Who would pray? Who would pick up the torch
and carry it for this particular bride of Christ?
I walked to the back of the
church, not yet feeling adequate enough to fill the front
pew as Beth had always done.
Falling on my knees before
the throne in an insignificant back-row pew, I began to
…for our church family,
for the many empty pews each
for the lost souls of St. Louis
-- so needy for a Savior.
I will do it, Father.
I will carry Beth's torch.
I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice
when I cry out to You.
Let my prayer be set before You as incense…
Psalm 141…a Prayer of David
© 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights