She hobbled around her room a bit. The arthritis in her knees had been flaring up with painful intensity in recent months. Another morning for this 92 year-old. She reaches down to a bookshelf to retrieve a treat for her pet fluffy mutt dog – her constant companion in these vintage years. She notices a box of letters and smiles, Taking the most recent one out of the envelope again she reads and rereads the quickly penned message. The elderly little “elf” only standing 4 feet 10 inches closes her eyes in prayer as she does each day to pray for each of her children and their families. Putting the letter box back on the shelf, she picks up the white worn leather “birthday book”. It is a gold mine of family, friends, dates, remembrances. Anyone’s birthday coming up soon, she wonders? It is the Spring of 1990, and events will soon transpire that will usher this little lady into heaven. The cancer, undetected, had started it’s toll on her frail little body, but it could not touch her Spirit.
Six months later we stood in her room. So many memories… My husband and I noticed each framed picture and trinket that meant so much to his Mom. It was only a few weeks ago that our toddler was playing on her lap. What delight a 2 ½ year old can bring. But today, were getting dressed for Mom’s funeral. I was blessed to have such a mother-in-law.
My eyes glanced down to a shelf and to my surprise I noticed a box of letters. Each letter had our return address with my handwriting up in the corner. She had kept every one of my letters! I picked up the box. It was obvious that she had read them over and over again. Those letters… Just quick, “hi, how are you, we are doing good” kind of letters. A wave of sadness swept over me. If I had realized how much those quickly scrawled words from us had meant to her, I would have taken more time with those letters. I would have said deeper things, and expressed our love for her more, even more. I just didn’t realize the preciousness of those letters to her.
Do you know that God counts our prayers to Him as absolutely precious? In Revelations 5:8 we read about a heavenly scene. “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
How do you like the imagery of your prayers being preserved as something precious, carefully kept in a golden bowl in heaven, and being likened to incense – something sweet and fragrant before the God of the universe? What a powerful statement about God’s feelings about our communications with Him. He loves us so much and longs to hear from us so much that He keeps our prayers – even our quick “hi God, how are you, I need your help” kind of prayers.
If we truly understood the magnitude of what our prayers mean to Him, would it not change the way we pray? Would we not be compelled to take more time, to be more real, and to express our love to God more fervently? Our Heavenly Father is like the father portrayed in Luke 15 – the dad always watching the horizon for the return of his run-away child, who will rejoice when we turn to Him with a repentant heart. He longs to hear from us. The father in ‘The Prodigals Son’ was not concerned with fancy speeches from his wayward son, only the words and intent of his heart. Likewise our Heavenly Father loves our real, unvarnished prayers.
In Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” Matthew 6:9-13 is presented in down-to-earth language.
‘Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are,
Set the world right;
Do what’s best –
As above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.’