My sister, Janie, died in 1986 at the age of 33. She left her husband, two small children, her parents, five siblings and lots of broken hearts behind.
We think she died of pneumonia. She had called for an ambulance because she could not breathe. When the ambulance got there she was lying on the sidewalk in front of her house. She was not breathing. The ambulance crew inserted a breathing tube in her, but then her heart stopped. They got her heart beating again and took her to the hospital on life support.
She never breathed again on her own. She was in a stage four comma for two weeks before her heart stopped again. Hundreds of people came to her while she was in the coma. They wept and grieved with us. She had been working with Afghan refugees; they came to her bedside in droves.
Janie prayed, and served. One day I will write a blog post just about her, but for now, know that she prayed for me, and thousands of others.
When the roll is called up yonder, many, many will say to her, “Thank you for giving to the Lord.”
Before I learned to trust Jesus, I mocked Christians. I was young and dumb. At age 27 I was convicted of my sin, and radically saved. My conviction came when I realized how cruel I had been to my sister, Janie, while we were growing up. I was not just mean; I was cruel. Janie was the first of us six siblings to come to faith in Jesus. I know she forgave me. I give her credit for praying me in. We know that God can cause all things to work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He even used my cruelty to my sister to convince me that I needed a savior.
See the blog post about my conversion and the debt I owe to Janie here: https://gracegloria.com/2017/01/03/conversion/
Now, whenever I hear someone tell their story about how they came to faith in Jesus, I love to ask:
“Who was praying for you?”
They almost always know
It occurred to me to ask this question when one day I noticed at the end of the letter Paul wrote to the Romans, as he was sending greetings to everyone, he wrote, “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kin and fellow prisoners who are well known among the emissaries. They were in Messiah before me. Romans 16:7. Wow! I realized that some people in Paul’s family prayed for him while he was still persecuting the Christians! This is the power of prayer.
Over the years I have heard some great stories in answer to my question, “Who was praying for you?” I would like to tell you a couple of my favorites.
- A man I met while I selling MSM cream at the Puyallup Fair let me know that he had become a believer as an adult. “Who was praying for you?” I asked. He laughed and said, “Back in those days I worked for FedEx. I had a delivery to make to the Tacoma Dome. I found the room where I was to take the package. When I burst through the door, I found the room full of people with their heads down, praying. I apologized for interrupting them. They said, ‘No problem, come and join us. We are getting ready for the Billy Graham crusade.’ I stood back, pointed at the clock, said, ‘That’s the only god I serve’, and left.” Now we laughed together. “Guess who was praying for me?” he said. “Years later, after I had been a Christian for quite a while, the Lord reminded me of that scene.”
- Another man told this story. When he was a teenager, he couldn’t shake drug and alcohol. He would vow that he would never do it again, then his friends would pick him up for a party. The next thing he knew he would be high, and drunk, again. Finding himself in this condition in the back seat of a moving car one day, he hung his head in despair. “I just don’t know what the answer is,” he said to himself. Just then, he looked up and saw a sign that said, “Jesus is the Answer.” Okay, he thought, if Jesus is the answer, then I want Jesus. He was immediately sober, and saved! He knew it was a miraculous act of God. “Who was praying for you?” I asked. “My Young Life leader,” he said. “I went to find him at his college dorm. When he answered the door I handed him the Bible that he had given me and said, “I don’t need this anymore. I’m a Christian now. You can give it to someone else.” We all know what happened next. The Young Life leader invited this young man into his room and began to disciple him.
I love it!
- Then this story: I heard a Muslim background believer tell her story. She had met Jesus in her bedroom when she was only four years old. She endured tremendous persecution from her family and community. Eventually she had to run for her life. She could not be persuaded to give up her faith in Jesus. “Who was praying for you?” I asked. She took time to look around in the room. She pointed her finger at each of us. “Someone I DON”T even know,” she said.
Recently I was reprimanded by the Lord because I stopped praying for someone in my family. I had a vivid dream about it. I shared the dream with my daughter and told her the story about how I had stopped praying for this person. My daughter said, “Mom, how would you like to get to heaven and have the Lord ask you why you stopped praying for her?”
My daughter told me that I need to get intentional about praying for her. She suggested that I use the number of the month she was born, and the date, as a time to set the alarm on my phone as a reminder to pray. I have done that. I wrote a prayer on the notepad on my phone. Every afternoon when my alarm goes off, I read this prayer out loud.
I pray that the eyes of her heart will be enlightened that the light of the glory of the gospel will shine in her heart, and she will know the hope of your calling, Lord. I pray that she will know the truth and the truth will set her free. You are the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by you. Draw her to you, Lord; You who are able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we can ask or think, to you will be the glory, before all time, now and forever. Amen.
Jesus told us to pray.
Paul told us to pray:
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:16-20