A dear godly lady passed this week. She lived a long life, but it wasn’t wasted.
Not even in her golden years.
Especially not in her golden years.
Most of you don’t know Grandma Schaeffer. She wasn’t actually my grandmother. She was the grandmother of my friend. And she was a long time member of the church I spent many of my growing up years in. But through the years, she was just Grandma Schaeffer.
Over the last few months, her health declined, but I am sure her spiritual life did not. I am sure the list of people she prayed for was long. And I was on it.
From the time I left home twenty years ago until the last time I saw her this past Christmas Eve, each time I saw her, which was not very often in recent years, she asked about my church and my family. She wanted to know how things were going, how the family was, how the church was.
And each time I saw her, she assured me that she was praying for me.
I believed her. I was encouraged by it.
I don’t think for one minute she said, “I’m praying for you” like I say it sometimes, which is probably the same way you say it sometimes—because it sounds like the right thing to say and it closes out a conversation so you can move on to other things. It’s a promise that quickly fades from memory.
No, I think she actually prayed for me.
Because that’s the kind of lady she was.
This past Christmas Eve, our family went on a surprise visit to see Grandma Schaeffer at her daughter’s house where she was recuperating. We talked with her for a bit. The kids gave her hugs and sat on her lap. We sang some Christmas carols to her, and the kids recited a couple of verses for her (at least the two kids that can talk did).
I’m glad we did. It’s something I would have regretted if we hadn’t. It was a small act of love for a lady who had done so much praying.
And she seemed to enjoy it.
Then, two weeks ago, she took a turn for the worse. And then, suddenly almost, Old Death came, and took her. And now she’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Grandma Schaeffer reminds me that no one is too old, too ill, too immobile, or too far away to minister to others. There are some kinds of ministry that require no face-to-face interaction, no exchange of smiles, or hugs, or material goods. They require no study, no outlines, and no public speaking. In fact, you may rarely even see the people to whom you minister.
You see, the simple ministry of prayer requires none of that. It only requires someone with the willingness to bombard heaven with the names of people in need.
It’s a lesson worth learning.
It’s a ministry worth having.
It reminds me of the great missionary Paul, who prayed all the time, as we can see in his letters to his churches (Romans 1:9-10; Romans 10:1; 2 Corinthians 13:7; Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:3-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:11; and more).
Why did he pray? Because he believed prayer works.
This same Paul also frequently requested that others pray for him (Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2Thessalonians 3:1; and more).
Why did he make such a request? Because he believed that more prayer works.
Too often, “I am praying for you” is a noun. It is just something we say. It should be a verb—something we do. For Paul, it was definitely a verb, and he encouraged others to make it a verb in their own lives.
Would that the world were filled with Grandma Schaeffers spending time in prayer, following both the example and the request of Paul.
Surely the mission of the church would be more fruitful, and the name of God more famous because of simple prayer.