But, life goes on. I lost an uncle in August, someone very important to me growing up, my mother’s only sibling. Later that month we took our twin daughters to college for the first time. It all has made me think of my grandfather, who taught me many lessons, but especially this one about prayer.
He used to love to tell me the story of the day he became a Christian. As a farmer in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, he knew hardship. He knew the burden of heavy labor. “So when that preacher started a revival meeting at the far end of the holler back in 1923, and he started to talk about Jesus, how his burden was light, and his yoke was easy, I knew I had found my Savior.” He had found his Savior. A deacon of the Southern Baptist church in Rutherwood, North Carolina for four decades, he never preached a sermon. But without knowing it, he taught me the power of prayer.
He died on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1983. I had almost completed my first semester in seminary. My grandmother asked me to speak at his funeral, something I had never done. I wanted to say no. I didn’t know what I could possibly say. I felt utterly without words to express what was inside me. Yet, my grandmother was insistent. So that afternoon at the funeral, I climbed the pulpit of Rutherwood Baptist Church to speak words I could not find.
As I stood there, advice that my grandfather often gave me flooded my heart. He told me that any time I faced a difficult decision or a hard place in my life, I should soak it in prayer. It always seemed like a funny image to me, to “soak” something in prayer. But I knew at that moment that is what I had to do—that is what I needed to say. So I spoke of my grandfather’s advice, and suggested that those of us gathered there to mourn our painful loss could soak our hurt in prayer.
Soaking doesn’t immediately fix something; it requires stillness and waiting—listening. I listened that afternoon for my grandfather. And God heard me listening. That is prayer. Thank you, Grandpa Brown, for teaching me that lesson. I’ll be soaking the world in prayer.