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Prayer – “The Shift from Membership to Discipleship”
“Prayers continually.” I Thessalonians 5:28
Every Wednesday night, I listened to my grandpa, my grandma, my uncle, my aunt, my mom, my dad and a few other saints in the church pray. Wednesday night was Prayer Meeting night. After one song, my uncle led a brief devotion and then we spent the next 45 minutes taking turns praying out loud. It was my grandpa’s prayers that impacted my life the most. I was blessed growing up hearing my grandpa pray. He prayed before our family meals, he prayed each morning before he opened his Bible to study it and during the winter that I lived with my grandparents while grandpa was healing from back surgery, he prayed with me every night. On occasion, I over heard my grandparent’s prayers as they knelt every night that they were not in church in front of their chairs in the living room. My grandpa spent about one hour praying for his family and whatever else was on his heart. When he finished praying, he would wake Grandma up and she would pray and then they both headed off to bed. When I was at Grandpa’s house on those nights, I heard a man plead with God for those he loved.
“The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.” James 5:16b
I watched my grandpa’s prayer life change him, change my family and change me. My earliest memories of my grandpa were just after he retired. During those early years of my life, Grandpa and I would drive all over St. Louis running errands for Grandma. We rode in his old Chevy with our windows down if the weather allowed. Anytime that someone pulled out in front of Grandpa, cut Grandpa off or engaged in any other move that impeded him, he would yell out “kraut head,” “cabbage head,” “carrot head,” or “turnip head.” That was Grandpa’s extent of cursing. One day after someone had angered Grandpa and he blurted out “cabbage head,” I saw my opportunity to help Grandpa express his dissatisfaction. We pulled up beside the offender at the stop light and I yelled at him, “cabbage head!” I cannot remember Grandpa ever calling anyone after that a name!
I do not know if Grandpa prayed much at night before or at that time. I assume that he did. But, it was a few years later when I started noticing Grandpa praying and started noticing changes in him and my family. I saw a man who got upset often at others actions and called them names become a man who was tender and compassionate with a smile on his face and love in his heart. Over this time, I also noticed changes in my family. My uncles went from not attending church very often to becoming leaders in their churches. I will never forget the conversation that I had with one of my uncles just before he died. It was one in which he praised God and expressed his gratitude to a God who loves and forgives. What a difference those words were from the words that came out of his mouth a couple of decades earlier. What a transformation God had done not just in him but in all of our family! Grandpa’s prayers changed him, changed my family and are still changing lives. Prayer changes things!
This Sunday as we look at prayer, we will focus on how to pray so that we, our families and the future will be changed. Remember, Prayer changes things! I hope to see you this Sunday.