40 Days of Prayer: Beware Little Old Ladies Praying

For Lent, we are in a sermon series on prayer. Pastor Aaron will be sharing some stories about prayer on the blog that we hope will encourage you during your Lenten journey.

When I was a child, I lived across the street from a little old lady named Mrs. Fisk. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I was allowed to cross the street by myself and visit Mrs. Fisk. She was a white-haired widow with kind eyes and a soft smile. She would always offer me cookies and we would talk for a few minutes. She was curious and she took my little life seriously.

Before I would leave to go home, she would always pray with me. While praying, she would always keep her eyes wide open, which I found kind of funny. Surely by now Mrs. Fisk knew how to properly pray.

So one day, I asked Mrs. Fisk, “Why do you always pray with your eyes open?”

She replied: “Oh, sweet boy. I pray with my eyes open so I can see all the things that I can be thankful for. And you are one of those things.”

Pastor and author Tyler Staton said: “Gratitude is the God-given reward for those who can stomach praying for small things.” Mrs. Fisk had cultivated a life of gratitude and contentment through praying with her eyes wide open to the gifts of God all around her.

James 1:17 tell us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”

Prayer is done best with eyes wide open. Wide open to all the good and perfect gifts from God you can be thankful for. Prayer is best done with eyes wide open to the pain and problems of your neighbor, no matter how small. True prayer takes these things seriously, like Mrs. Fisk took my 7-year-old life seriously.

But don’t get the idea that little old ladies only pray about little things.

Theologian William Willimon tells a story about a friend who visited Russia in the late 70s during the Cold War. The friend dismissively said: “The church is just a bunch of little old ladies praying.”

Willimon told this story in the 90s when statues of Stalin and Lenin had been reduced to rubble, and he credits the perseverance and prayer of those little old ladies.

Mark Buchanan, in his book Your God is Too Safe, writes about that story: “Beware little old ladies praying. Secretly they’re revolutionaries who make Bolsheviks look like kindergarteners. They compromise a veritable bomb-making factory.”

Whether they are toppling empires or blessing a 7-year-old child, beware the prayers of little old ladies.

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