By Joyce L. C. Keith –
My courageous wife, Joy (husband to Pappy, mom of three, and grandmother of one), has decided to join in the fray and weigh in with her own blog post this week. I love her little post. She originally entitled it “Wish, Hope, or Pray?” But, her post makes me think of that M. C. Hammer song, so I renamed it “That’s Why We Pray”! I hope you enjoy Joy’s contribution to The Jagged Word!
I am one of those people… I can walk up to anyone, anytime and start a conversation. One of my old bosses said that I have the “Gift of Gab,” but in a right way. I can get rolling in a rich and flowing conversation with the person next to me on a plane, in the grocery line, and at the bank as if we were old friends who haven’t seen each other in years. I love people. I love all people. I’ll literally talk to the homeless man or the man in the tuxedo or the woman who is loading her car full of groceries next to me in a parking lot.
We are all just sinners, right? I know this is the case, and so I very much even seek out how I can say a few nice words. Dr. Jeff Mallinson wears a t-shirt that says something like, “Be nice to people, we are all going through something at any given moment,” or some such thing. You get the gist. I believe this, and I’m not even sure why I do just talk to people. I talk. A lot. My husband will tell you it’s why he asks me to sit in the middle seat on a plane.
When I finally listen to the person I’m conversing with, I try hard not to interrupt because I usually have five things I could interject with. I’ve learned not to make every conversation about me or find motivation from the sound of my voice. I know I’ll get my get my chance, but golly, I need to let the oxygen levels in my body regain momentum, and so I listen. I listen for as long as I can hold it in, but then when I hear of their pain or struggle or happy things, the weirdest feeling comes over me. I have the immediate urge to pray for this person in front of me. And so I do. I pray for them, their son who they’ve just told me about, their grandchild, their dog, spouse, or whatever it is they are wishing and hoping would happen in their life. I’m dead serious! I pray! Right then and there.
You see, several years ago, my husband’s Doctor Father, Dr. Jim Nestingen, and his incredible wife, Carolyn, came into our lives during a very hard time. We lost several family members, and then the earthly things we all like to have started to disappear before our very eyes. Was I being tested? Nah! I’m not Job. But, tragic things were happening every time I’d turn around.
And so Jim and Scott would frequently talk to discuss his doctoral dissertation, which was happening simultaneously (why not?). He would, every so often, quote a Bible verse to Scott that was pertinent to the day’s discussion. One verse stuck out with me back then, “You are more than a bird of the air.” He was talking about Matthew 6:26-34. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more?” And so from that day on I remember that I am covered in Christ and that I do have so much more than those lovely birds.
But around this same time, something happened that has forever changed my perspective on this earthly life. Scott told me that Jim said that he and Carolyn were praying for us and that he believed that they actively were. Someone was really and truly praying (probably out loud) together for us! Wow, people really just pray? Why were they doing that? It blew my mind. I mean, I knew that you could pray, whenever, wherever, but I just didn’t. And I didn’t know anyone who actually did, at least not outside of church on Sunday morning when the Pastor led the prayers.
And so I started to say small prayers here and there. I started saying Luther’s evening prayer most nights. Then the ball started to roll and become bigger and stronger. Practice makes perfect, right? Every day when I would run the dog, I would pray out loud, unless of course I saw people headed my way. Then I would just bid them a beautiful day as I smiled my happiest smile and went on. Then it occurred to me that I could pray for them! And so I did. I do. I pray constantly. Why not? Why shouldn’t we? We can, after all. Jesus himself tells us to ask in His name. Matthew and Luke both tell us about Jesus’ words regarding how we should ask. He’s no liar! He’s my Savior, and I believe Him, and so I ask. I ask boldly!
Why do I pray? I truly want to bring a ray of light into every face that I meet. I can’t remember not wanting to. My smile is one way, but why not pray for them? I want to ask for it for them because they don’t know, or can’t, or just don’t, or whatever. I pray because I am freed by my Lord to do so. I write this to let you know that you are forgiven on account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You have His imputed righteousness, and so you can too! So when you have a free moment today, maybe even right now, I urge you to pray. Pray for anything! Pray in thanksgiving or in sorrow. Pray in times of need or confusion. Even pray for things you want. Pray for health and peace. Pray because you are free in Christ to do so.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” (John 16:23)
So, why are you just hoping or wishing upon a star? Let me know if you need me to pray for you. I’m ready Baby! I’ve got all day.