Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What If I Don't Pray?

"What is it then?
I will pray with the spirit,
and I will pray with the understanding also..."
1 Corinthians 14:15
(KJV)

I was in my usual early morning spot...praying.
There was so much to talk to God about.
So many who were sick and suffering and in need of prayer.

I felt the weight of it all.
It was heavy.
If I failed to pray, 
who would pick up the burden?
Who would mention the needs....
to our Heavenly Father?

Not that He doesn't know.
Not that He doesn't see.
For nothing escapes His all-seeing eye.

But, He told us to bear one another's burdens.
He taught us to pray.
To be faithful...
to call upon Him...
and ask for the things we need...
and for the needs of others.

The ones I had on my mind were depending upon me.
They felt a sense of reliance...
upon my faithfulness to intercede....
on their behalf.
I know for an almost certainty
that at least a few of the ones depending on my prayers
have very few, possibly no other, praying people in their lives.

I keep a list.
I am very forgetful,
so I know I need to.

My list not only reminds me of who needs prayer,
but it also serves as a great faith-booster...
down the line...
after the prayer has been answered and the need has been met.
I can look back in review
and realize once again that God is faithful.
He is absolutely worthy...
of our complete trust.
And prayer is never a waste of time.

As I began to name the names along with the needs,
I became weary.
I felt a very strong impulse...
to just stop praying.
To pray for our own needs
and the things I usually pray for every day
on a regular basis,
and to just let it go at that.
To stop being so diligent...
and faithful.
To take a break.
To slack off.
After all, I've prayed for some of these needs
for a very long time...
and nothing seems to be happening.
I see no change.
Am I really getting through?

Then a certain person came to my mind.
Then another.
And another.
On and on they came.
Family members, loved ones, cherished friends,
strangers I've never met....
 all of them counting on the fact
that I promised to pray....for them.

What if I get tired of praying?
What if I decide to be selfish...
for a day...
or longer?
What if I just lay the burden down...
with the hope that someone, somewhere
will pick it up and carry it with the same fervency I do?
Will they?
Is there someone else in their lives who cares?

What if I don't pray?
What if you don't?
Who is dependent upon your daily prayers...
your consistent intercession...
on their behalf?

If you stop,
will there be someone else?
To take your place?
To carry their load?
To stand in the gap?
For them?

What if there is no one else?
What if no one cares as much as you do?
Can you afford to drop the ball?

We all get tired.
We've all heard Galatians 6:9 quoted and preached countless times.
"And let us not be weary in well doing:
for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Ideally, in a perfect world,
with perfectly healthy bodies,
and zero emotional strain,
we would never become weary in well doing.
We would always feel physically energized,
spiritually charged,
and emotionally strong.
But, life gets in the way sometimes.
We become overwhelmed.
We feel we cannot bear one more burden.
We are tempted to take the easy route
and leave the praying to someone else.

What if someone had stopped praying for me?
And you?
Where would we be?
Of whose prayers are we now reaping blessings and benefits?

I don't need to wonder who carried a burden for me.
How I thank God for my praying mother!
Oh, dear, precious Lord,
how much I miss her prayers.
I don't believe anyone has ever carried a burden for me...
the way Mom did.
There are no words to express the pain I feel
when I realize she will never pray for me again.
I have wanted...
needed....
her prayers...
so many times since she left this world.
I have felt the sting of hot, bitter tears countless times
as I started to dial her number,
only to realize she is not there...
to call upon...
to depend on...
to know she will pray through the night
for my needs and problems.

Mom was truly the most faithful prayer warrior
I have ever known.
She prayed about everything.
She prayed often.
She prayed with a sincere burden.
She took it seriously when one of her children,
grandchildren,
great-grandchildren,
siblings,
friends,
or other loved ones
had a need.

Countless times,
our phone would ring,
I would pick it up to hear her voice on the other end
and her first words to me would be,
"Cheryl, we need to go right to prayer"...
for this person or that person.
Sometimes, she and I would pray together on the phone.
Sometimes, I would head down to her apartment,
and we would pray together in person.
Zachary and I rarely left her at night,
without having first knelt in her living room...
so the three of us could agree together in prayer...
before she waved good-bye,
closed her door,
and we drove away.

I am eternally grateful that Mom did not lay her burdens down prematurely.
Even though I felt such concern for her being so burdened, at times,
I am so thankful she was faithful to the end.
I know she grew tired.
Her last years on earth were not the best quality.
Many days, she suffered more than anyone will ever comprehend.
She had trouble sleeping at night,
due to the chronic pain in her body.
She utilized that time in the most needful way possible.
She prayed.
All hours of the night.
It didn't matter when I called her,
she would almost always say,
"Oh, honey, you didn't bother me.
I wasn't asleep.
I was praying."

Bless her dear heart!
What I would give to hear her pray...
just one...more...time.
What I would give just to know she is there
in her apartment praying for us...
as we sleep.
I miss her so much.
There are moments the pain is almost unbearable.

Where does one find a substitute...
for such as her?

Who would ever love us that much?
Or care that deeply?
Or sacrifice that unselfishly?

People like Mom are few...
and hard to find.

She was faithful.
She never faltered...
from believing in God and interceding on behalf
of the ones she loved...
no matter the personal cost...
to her.

I was 12 years old when Papaw,
(Bro. McCoy),
Mom's Dad died.
One of the hardest parts of Papaw
for Mom to let go of...
was his faithful, diligent, earnest prayers...
for her..
and for all of us.
Mom missed Papaw's prayers so much.
I have heard her mention it so many times through the years.
It touched me,
but I never really understood the depths of her loss.
Until now.

Papaw was a man of great faith
and a very devout prayer warrior.
Uncle John talks of how he remembers being a little boy,
walking down the hall at 3:30 or 4:00 am,
walking past Papaw and Mimmie's door,
looking in,
and seeing Papaw there...
kneeling by his bed...
pouring out his heart to God.

He got his prayers through.
We all saw and felt the results...
of Papaw's faithful, faith-filled prayers.

Mom learned from him...
to be that person...
for us.

Where do you find people like that?

Now what?
Who will bear the load?
Who will pray?
I mean, really pray.
Do you know what I mean?

I don't know about you,
but I feel a responsibility.
To listen.
To be there for the ones who depended upon Mom.
To take those phone calls.
To not become weary...
in well doing.
To pray...faithfully....
like Mom did.

She set a shining example.
I can still see her there...
so many, many times...
seated in her favorite recliner chair...
heart burdened...
head bowed

It was just after midnight...
on New Year's...
two years ago...
January 1, 2011.



Mom and Dad Smith were visiting from West Virginia,
and Mom Smith, Zachary, and I had driven to Mom's apartment
to pray the old year out and the new year in.
Mom and I did that together just about every year of my life.
For some reason, Zach took pictures while we were praying.
I am SO glad he did.




Mom hadn't been physically able to kneel in years.
She prayed sitting in her chair,
or lying on her bed.
The position doesn't matter.
It is the matter of the heart that counts.

I am SO blessed to now own that chair.
I call it Mom's praying chair.
How many times did she feel His presence there?
How many times did she rise with a lightened heart...
after leaving that chair...
and her burdens at Jesus' feet?

I love to kneel at Mom's chair
and pray for the very ones Mom used to pray for.

And though I could never in a million years take Mom's place,
though I could never be the spiritual person she was,
though I could never fill her precious shoes,
I am determined to do my personal best.
I am resolved to stand firm...
to not leave my post of duty...
no matter how weary I get.

What if I stop?
What if I don't pray?

Who do you pray for on a consistent basis?
What are the names you call out
each and every day?
What if you stop?
What if you don't pray?

2 comments:

  1. I cannot express the depth of my heart that was touched by this post. I am so grateful for you sharing your wisdom.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, Trish! I cannot thank you enough for your sweet visits and words of encouragement today. SO very grateful you stopped by. :)

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