“I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,” 2 Timothy 1:3
In December, Mom will turn 94 years of age, and in March of next year, Dad will celebrate 93 years. For 64 years the one over-riding blessing my parents have made on my life has been their constant prayers for me. This is The Legacy that means the most to me. For 60 years my parents planted churches, and travelled all over the world conducting prayer conferences in over a thousand churches.
Today my parent’s ministry centers on their retirement center, but from their small apartment they are still in touch with a great God. They continue to invest their prayers in me, my family, and in the next Great Awakening. Mom’s classic response to all the chaos of the world, and the challenges of aging is, “It’s all going to work out.” Dad still prays with a smile on his face, and a childlike expectancy in his heart saying, “The best is yet to come.” I want to be like them when I grow up, and never forget The Legacy of Prayer.
“I thank God…” Paul’s prayer life was marked by gratitude to God. Thankless people and prayerless people both have an attitude of ingratitude. Paul was not among them. The Legacy of Paul’s life is his attitude of gratitude for what God had done in his life, and for what God was doing in the lives of those he loved.
“...Whom I serve with a clear conscience…” Through prayer, Paul kept short accounts with God. There was not one thing that he would allow to stand between him and intimacy with God. Prayer settled his accounts, because Paul didn’t offer God any excuses to God for a debt of sin. He cleared his account by forgiving others and by asking forgiveness from God.
Paul didn’t allow anything to stand between him and God. A clear conscience before God comes from having sin confessed up to date to God. You may not begin praying with clean hands, and a clear conscience, but if you are honest to God, before you finish praying, God will make sure you have both.
“…The way my forefathers did…” If Paul’s prayer life stood out among his peers, it was because he was standing on the shoulders of his forefathers. Paul prayed with power for those around him, in no small measure, because of The Legacy of the faithful prayers of those who came before him. Paul knew of their investment in prayer, and their faithful service to God, and he was faithful to carry on their legacy.
“…As I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.”
Paul’s served God with a clear conscience, by offering prayer with a constant confession for himself, and an intense entreaty for Timothy. Through prayer, he sought provision from God for what Timothy needed most, personal courage.
Like any good parent, Paul’s prayers for his son in the ministry over-rode any desire Paul had for personal comfort. Regardless of the time of day, or the dark of night, Paul prayed for Timothy. Wise parents pray constantly for their children to become intimately familiar with the ways and the will of The Father.
Answered prayer is a rare experience for prayerless people. Those unwilling to be regularly inconvenienced by prayer will never know the constant relief of answered prayer. My father, Don Miller, has often called his kind of praying, “Prayer with a price.”
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5
Prayer was a key component of Paul’s value system, and he invested in it sacrificially on behalf of Timothy. He also honored the root system for Timothy’s “sincere faith.” He recognized that it was rooted in the prayers of his mother and grandmother. They too had paid the price to pray for him, until there was fruit in him.
The fruit of Timothy’s sincere faith was grounded in the soil of a praying preacher, a praying parent and a praying grandparent. Prayer is God’s plan for developing a sincere faith in the heart of one of His children facing genuine fear in the face of the enemy.
Prayer was The Legacy of Pastor Jonathan Edwards, one of the key leaders of America’s First Great Awakening. Writing about the pre-revival state of his church and community he said, “Family government has failed in this town.” Reflecting on the surprising change that took place in Northampton, in answer to his prayers, Edwards recorded, “It was a time of joy as families on account of salvation’s being brought unto them; parent’s rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands.”
NOTE TO SELF: Pray for your family, friends and fellow ministers. They need it. You need the practice. When you pray for and with your children on a daily basis, you make a powerful and productive investment in their lives, and the future of this nation. The dividends of prayer far outweigh your investment in it. When you pray, God surprises you with His grace in your life, and in the lives of others. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!