On April 9, 2014, Edith spoke on the topic of prayer at Aspen Grove Community Church prayer meeting. I have not been able to get the video to upload to this blog, but here is the text of her talk:
I’m glad to be here and share about my prayer journey with you people, because it’s a delight to be able do that. When I was 6 years old, I went to a revival meeting at my aunt and uncle’s church, and there was a young revivalist, a young girl, 18 years old, her name was Uldeen Utley. I’ll never forget it. And she preached the gospel. Well, I was much too shy to go forward in that church, but when I went to bed that night I remember laying on the bed and crying my eyes out because Jesus had had to die for me. And so I know that that’s when He came into my life. And it’s been a steady, sweet walk with him for 86 years. And you don’t have to stop and do the figuring, I’ll tell I’m 92 and I’ll be 93 next month. So that was my initial introduction. No, that wasn’t my initial introduction, because my daddy read the Bible . . .
(here there are a couple of sentences left out while the phone camera was being reset to get the focus right)
The conviction came to me that I was just not spending enough time in prayer. And I wondered what to do about that, and finally I promised the Lord — and you better be careful when you make a promise to the Lord, you’d better keep it, you know. And I thought, well, how much time should I tell him? And I thought, I don’t want to say too much, because I might not be able to do it, and I said, “Lord, I promise…5 minutes a day?” Which was almost a disgrace. But I didn’t want to promise too much. But of course now, 5 minutes is a joke. But, anyway, that was my beginning.
Over the years I developed a kind of a plan for prayer which really works for me. I have a prayer journal and I have a method that I use each day which just works fine. And if you — I don’t want to take the time to share all of that, because we came here to pray — but if you would be interested in learning that, if you could stay a few minutes after the prayer service ends, I would be happy to share that with you. So, we’ll see about that.
Well, what is prayer, anyway? Well, you all know what prayer is, but, actually, it is supposed to be a conversation with God. You know, you have a friend, you have a conversation with them and you share things, and I think our prayers are oftentimes kind of one-sided because we do most of the talking. Well, I have gotten so that I don’t do that so much any more. I will say something to the Lord, and then I stop and wait to see if He has anything to say to me. Sometimes He will give me an additional thought and I will put that into my prayer. Once in a while He will speak to me. And that’s such a thrill.
There was one day, in fact that song we sang tonight reminded me of this–one day I was worshipping the Lord and I stopped and I said “Lord, I’m supposed to worship you for all eternity, and I’ve run out of words in 5 minutes! How am I going to worship you for all eternity?” And in my spirit, he said, not with an audible voice of course, but when he speaks in your spirit you know what he’s saying. He said “when you get to heaven, I am going to share something with you about myself that you have never known before, and you are going to worship me. And then I’m going to share something else with you, and you will worship. And I will never run out of things to share with you, for all eternity.” So I don’t think I have to worry about worshipping Him for all eternity.
But it’s really a two-way street. I knew a girl one time who said, “When I go to prayer, I always put a chair in front of me and I visualize God in that chair and it helps me to talk with him.” So that’s one thing that would be helpful.
Well, why do we pray anyway? What’s the purpose? A man said one time, “I don’t see the point in prayin’. God’s got this whole thing planned out. He knows what he’s going to do. It’s going to happen, so why should we pray? Well, he was right on one part of it, because God does know what he’s doing and he has it all planned out. But he missed the point completely in another way, because prayer is God calling us into a partnership with what He is doing in the world, in our lives, in our families’ lives, in our church life; He’s calling us into a partnership. I can illustrate that to you with something that I experienced.
One night I went to bed — we had missionaries that were in Guatemala, a young couple — I had gone to bed and was waiting to go to sleep and all of a sudden I saw David’s face, just as clearly as I see your faces, and he looked so worried. Then all of a sudden his face was gone and I saw Carol’s face, and she was crying. And I thought, well I wonder if something is wrong, that they’re having this problem. And so I began to pray for them and I said, “Lord, I have no idea what David and Carol might be needing, but you know and I just pray that you will enter into the problem that they are having and, Oh, God, don’t let her lose the baby!” Well, as far as I knew Carol wasn’t even pregnant. Well the next day I went to my mailbox and there was a letter in there from Carol, which of course she had written several weeks before, and she said “I’m pregnant again and I’ve been threatening to lose the baby.” Well I sat right down and wrote them a letter and told them what had happened the night before. I got a letter back from David and he said “Now we understand what we could not understand before. He said, “When the Lord led you to pray, Carol had come down with Typhoid fever, and she was so bad. And all night I kept saying, “Carol, I don’t understand why you haven’t lost that baby.” But he said, “Now, we know.” Well, when that baby was about three months old they came home on furlough. David was a big tall man and he stood there holding that little boy in his arms, and of course the people at church had all gathered around; they wanted to see that new baby. David saw me standing on the fringes of the crowd. He just simply lifted that baby over everybody’s heads and put him in my arms. And I couldn’t see that baby’s face for my tears. Now that baby is a missionary himself; he’s married and is a missionary in Guatemala. So God intended for that little boy to be alive and to be safe. Because God had plans for him. And it was going to happen. But God allowed me to be in partnership with him in this thing. So I have a very real part in this little boy’s life. What a blessing that was!
And a second thing happened — my son and his wife were missionaries in Irian Jaya, Indonesia. One day I was praying for them and all of a sudden I said, “God, please open up a hole in the clouds so they can see where to go.” And I didn’t know why I was praying that. So I wrote a letter to my son and I said, “By any chance were you up in a plane on that particular day?” And he wrote back and said “Yes, we were flying from Anggi to Yawsakor and when we took off the sky was clear; we hadn’t gone far before the clouds rolled in and we couldn’t see the ground, we couldn’t see if were flying into a mountain (‘course those little MAF planes don’t have all the bells and whistles that the big planes have), and he said they were really pretty uptight, the pilot included. And he said “All of a sudden there was a hole opened in the clouds, and there was the Yawsakor landing strip right in the middle of that hole, and we landed safely.” So I still have the letter from the pilot that he wrote to me. But you see, God didn’t want that plane to crash. He wanted to still use my son and his wife on the mission field. And he had every intention of taking them safely. But he allowed me to partner with him in that. That’s one of the big things about the privilege of prayer, is partnering with God for what he wants to do anyway. Letting us have a share in his ministries upon the earth and wherever.
Another thing about prayer — It frustrates our enemy! The devil doesn’t want us to pray. He just will do anything to keep us from a time of prayer. It got so I was so annoyed with it, I thought ‘What am I going to do about this?” So I finally took a pencil and paper to my prayer time with me and when some of these thoughts would come to my mind after I started praying, like “That birthday card, it’s got to go in the mail today and you haven’t even written it yet! You’ve got to fix that; that’s got to be done immediately! What about that phone call? You forgot to return that phone call and that’s important.” He’ll try to do anything to keep us from praying, or stop us. So I finally took this pencil and paper with me to my prayer time, and whenever some of those thoughts would come I would quickly jot it down and go right back to prayer. Well, by the time I would get done praying my whole agenda for the day was nicely laid out for it. So, that sort of squelched that. So, we frustrate the enemy with our prayers.
Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for. I have people on my prayer list that I just really don’t know how to pray for. But I am so comforted by the scripture that says, “The Spirit also helps our infirmities, for we don’t know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us, with groanings which can’t be uttered.” He prays with such deep emotion. “And He, God who searches the hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints, according to God’s will.” So when we don’t know what to pray for. . . .Sometimes I’ll say “Holy Spirit, I just don’t know. Would you bring this to the Lord for me?” Because, I oftentimes will address the Holy Spirit. Or, depending on what I’m praying, I might pray to Jesus or pray to God or pray to the Holy Spirit. Because it’s all God, but depending on what the situation is, I will address any one of them.
You might say, well, do you have to be super-spiritual to have experiences like this? Well, I know probably many of you have had them. And you don’t have to be super-spiritual. If it took somebody that was super-spiritual I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you, because I wouldn’t have had those experiences. You know, it’s like a tool, a hammer. That hammer lays on the workbench and it can’t do anything by itself. But when the craftsman picks that hammer up and begins to use it, then beautiful things come out. Well that’s…we’re like God’s tool. And really, we aren’t worth much until that Craftsman picks us up in His hand, and then some beautiful things start to happen.
Well, there’s one other reason why we need to pray. And it’s because it brings God so much pleasure. The reason I know that is because it says in scripture, “There was an angel came and stood by the altar, having a golden censor, and there was given unto that angel much incense, that he should offer it, along with the prayers of all the saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” So our prayers go up as a beautiful incense to give God pleasure. Is it worth it, then, to pray? You bet it is. You bet it is.
So, we thwart the enemy, we enter into a partnership with God with what He is wanting to accomplish, we give God pleasure. So it is worthwhile to pray.
I’m going to turn it back over to Mike so that we can go into partnership with God over the things that need to be done here at Aspen Grove.