PRAYER — My Heart Must Kneel Too
I knelt to pray:
But prayer did not come.
My proud and independent heart,
Defying man’s humility and need,
Stood still unbowed in the presence
And I could not pray
Until my heart knelt too.
These thoughts open the book My Heart Kneels Too by Carolyn Rhea. Mrs. Rhea is the wife of Claude Rhea, a member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team. The words brought back to me thoughts of bereft periods in my life when I was unable to pray. I would seek and find a quiet place, read my Bible, think of what I had read, and, believing myself to be in a spirit for prayer, I would try to pray. No words came. I simply could not pray — although I felt deeply the need for prayer and longed for the peace of having talked with God. Eventually, after several months of unrest and frustration, I sought the counsel of one in whom I had much confidence. I poured out my heart, and we sat quietly and talked of prayer and how meaningful it is in the life of a Christian. We talked of people to whom we had entrusted our heartfelt yearnings because we believed them to be persons of prayer. At the conclusion of our conversation, the advice and suggestion to me was that I continue to try and by no means give up the effort. It was sound advice. I regained this vital area of my life as a Christian. I found in my struggle that, although I had not realized it, my heart must also kneel as I pray.
My favorite time for Bible reading and prayer is the early morning. Perhaps being able to take this time alone is one of the advantages of being older and having fewer family members at home. Sometimes, however, as in many households, one after another distractions come before I have been able to slip apart for this time with God. One morning this past fall as I walked my soul hungered for a time with Him which had been impossible earlier. I left the blacktop road and ventured a short distance down a farm road. Thinking I was alone and out of sight, I sat down on a ledge and God met me there. I was so completely engaged in our exchange I did not hear the neighbor’s truck coming up the hill. He stopped and explained that he had seen me at a distance and wanted to be sure I was all right. I almost said, "Yes, I’m fine— I was just enjoying the scenery." On second thought I was more honest and said I had just stopped for a time to pray. I shared with him my feeling of need. It bothered me that I had been reluctant at first to admit that I was praying when it is one of the most significant areas in my life. I admire in reverence the colorful sky seen from a busy shopping-mall parking lot just after a brilliant sunset. I listen in wonder to the song of the mockingbird just before dawn. I look in amazement at the jet stream across the blue of the sky. I stand in awe of the of the power of prayer. Dr. R. G. Lee said, "The only thing which lies outside the reach of prayer is that which lies outside the will of God."
My prayer life was strengthened under the leadership of a former pastor who believed in the power of prayer to the fullest extent. I consider his leadership in prayer development to have been one of the greatest strengths of his ministry. He encouraged us to pray from a list and I began this practice. From time to time as I update my list I simply transfer petitions not answered but joyfully leave off others that have been answered. My favorite devotional books are prayer diaries too. As I read year after year I am always interested in the marginal notes, made in my own rusty shorthand so only I can read, which show what I was praying about from year to year. I am reminded of Dr. Lee’s statement since I know some areas of life could have been different had I prayed through them.
Although I realize that we are not to envy, I do so wish I was like those people whose ability to pray and so completely give themselves to that act that they seem unmindful of place or people. They bless the lives of others as they commune with God. At the same time I know this relationship came about as a result of much prayer and of being so spiritually attuned to God that they are as one. This blessing could also be mine if I, as Enoch of old, "walked with God."
Some prayers will always be imprinted upon my mind. My Uncle Toy Denton was not a Christian until the early days of the Delay Baptist Church. He was saved and made his profession of faith during a weekday morning revival service. The minister and Uncle Toy knelt there at the front of the church and Uncle Toy prayed the prayer of benediction. The words did not flow out with eloquence but it was one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard. Uncle Toy had always had a soft, gentle facial expression. After this experience his eyes seemed to have a special glow. The night my brother Jim died I stood outside Daddy’s bedroom door as he and his pastor prayed. Daddy prayed, "Lord, we don’t understand, but we thank you for letting us have him as long as we did." This prayer has been an admonishment to me many times when I have not understood the whys of life.
Since the inner-ear noises have worsened and I am often awakened during the night, I have felt this time could be the time God has for me to pray for another who may be awake, hurting with loneliness for a loved one now gone. This could be the time to lift up in prayer the family anxiously waiting beside a dear one. Even though I am not regularly at the funeral home now, I keep in constant contact and know of the deaths and services being held. It seems I am even more conscious of praying for each family we serve. Frequently my first thought of a day is for one who may need strength to get through that dreaded day — the day of the funeral. God again reminds me that He can use whatever circumstances exist.
We acknowledge that we do not pray to be heard of men; however, one of the saddest statements I have heard and one expressed in a voice of agony came from a young man who said, "I have never heard my daddy pray." As parents we pray at bedtime with little ones who insist on blessing everyone they can name along with pets and other objects, and we should continue to pray with and for these as they grow into other stages of life. Some of the world’s greatest leaders attribute their accomplishments to the prayers of a dedicated parent.
Several years ago when I broke my hip in the early morning and the surgery was not done until late afternoon, I could feel the prayer support of family and friends. Throughout the day and then immediately following the surgery I wanted to pray. Perhaps I wanted to be able to share that God had spoken and removed all fear — which had not happened — or that I had experienced a very special time of prayer. I found myself beginning to pray then not actually praying, just drifting along. I had heard others describe how they asked the surgeon and those assisting for a time of prayer before surgery began and how some had shared a time of prayer with their families. Later, as I thought about this day, I remembered reading of Hudson Taylor when he was so feeble in the closing months of his life that he wrote to a dear friend: "I am so weak I cannot write; I cannot read my Bible; I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust." I realized that God knew my heart and that sometimes he simply asks that we be still and know that He is God and that He will keep us and bring us through our trials. True, these conditions are not just happenstance. As James Allen says in As a Man Thinketh, "A noble and Christ-like character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts."
On a trip some time ago as we flew above the snowcapped mountains and on above the clouds, I looked out the window of the plan and said to myself, "Well, God, I must be getting close to where you are." Wasn’t that foolish?! God isn’t necessarily up, although we seem to feel an upward pull in association to Him. He is wherever I am and there to the extent that I permit Him to be.
In recalling the people, experiences, and reading that have affected my prayer life, I must include mention of Peter Marshall, the Scottish immigrant who became Chaplain of the United States Senate. His prayers have been among my favorite readings for many years. He never lost the common touch from which he came and he seemed to have an innate ability to convey most ordinary thoughts in a beautiful bringing together of words.
Bringing together these thoughts on prayer has strengthened my prayer life. As I seek to become all I can be with God’s help in my spiritual life and other relationships, I struggle to claim the promise God made through Paul to the Christians in Philipi:
"Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a grateful heart. And God’s peace, which is far above human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6,7 Good News Bible).
I pray you also will claim this promise for yourself.
We dedicate this issue of SEASONS to those who have died and whose families we have served from November 29, 1988 to February 20, 1989.
Mr. Charles Edwin Ray 11/29/88
Mrs. Lilian McElroy Burgin 11/30/88
Mr. Enoch V. Patton 12/2/88
Mrs. Sallie Jane Stewart Riales 12/3/88
Mrs. Evie Gatlin Weeks 12/13/88
Mrs. Alice F. Jones 12/8/88
Mr. Cebert H. Keel 12/14/88
Mr. George Alonzo Weeks 12/21/88
Mrs. Mamie B. Lowe 12/25/88
Mrs. Forrest T. Johnson 12/25/88
Mr. William Jackson Williams 12/28/88
Mr. Herman Dewell Hill 12/28/88
Mr. J.D. "Jake" Harrison 1/1/89
Mr. Charles Lewis Williams 1/2/89
Mr. Joe Harold Capell 1/6/89
Mrs. Benoit Stafford Walker 1/7/89
Mr. Chester Guy Cooke, Jr. 1/7/89
Mrs. Zula Taylor Ferrell 1/8/89
Mr. Dwain "Pee Wee" Klepzig 1/10/89
Mr. John Sykes Hartin, Sr. 1/10/89
Mr. David Elvin Thweatt 1/11/89
Mrs. Ruth Hale Cady 1/11/89
Mrs. lnez McElreath Brummett 1/12/89
Mr. John Morgan Fuller, Jr. 1/12/89
Mr. James Arthur Brite 1/13/89
Mrs. Oleta Maude Wingo Grisham 1/13/89
Mr. James D. Haralson 1/16/89
Mr. Carl Ervin Langham 1/22/89
Mr. John Sharpe Williams 1/25/89
Mrs. Lola Crouch Watson 1/26/89
Mr. James Newt King 1/29/89
Mr. Orby Prentiss Moore 1/31/89
Mr. Rembert Melvin Hinton, Sr. 2/8/89
Mr. Lundie M. Inmon 2/9/89
Mrs. Myra Coleman Till 2/13/89
The Code of Good Funeral Practice
National Selected Morticians
(NOTE: In March 1988, Waller Funeral Home was invited and accepted into membership of National Selected Morticians. As a member of this association, we affirm and pledge to the following Code of Good Funeral Practice.)
As funeral directors, our calling imposes upon us special responsibilities to those we serve and to the public at large. An important obligation is to provide information so that everyone can make knowledgeable decisions about funerals and funeral directors.
In acceptance of our responsibilities, and as a condition of our membership in National Selected Morticians, we affirm the following standards of good funeral practice and hereby pledge:
•To provide the public with information about funerals, including
prices, and about the functions, services and responsibilities of funeral directors.
•To afford a continuing opportunity to all persons to discuss or arrange funerals in advance.
•To make funerals available in as wide a range of price categories as necessary to meet the needs of all segments of the community, and affirmatively to extend to everyone the right of inspecting and freely considering all of them.
•To quote conspicuously in writing the charges for every funeral offered and to identify clearly the services, facilities, equipment and merchan-dise included in such quotations.
•To furnish each family at the time funeral arrangements are made, a written memorandum of charges and to make no additional charge without the approval of the purchaser.
•To make no representation, written or oral, which may be false or misleading, and to apply a standard of honesty in all dealings.
•To respect all faiths, creeds and customs, and to give full effect to the role of the clergy.
•To maintain a qualified and competent staff, complete facilities and suitable equipment required for comprehensive funeral service.
•To assure those we serve the right of personal choice and decision in making funeral arrangements.
•To be responsive to the needs of the poor, serving them within their means.
•To comply fully with the requirements of the FTC Trade Regulation Rule on funeral practices.
We pledge to conduct ourselves in every way and at all times in such a manner as to deserve the public trust, and to place of copy of this Code of Good Funeral Practice in the possession of a representative of all parties with whom we arrange funerals.
The time to make funeral arrange-ments is while health is good. As health deteriorates, family members find it more and more difficult to discuss arrangements.
In previous issues of Seasons we have discussed at length the advantages of prepayment, which are important; often, however, the financing of the funeral is not the most urgent reason for pre-arrangement. At the time of need, being confronted with the details of the funeral service can be overwhelming. The press of time and grief makes planning to assure an appro-priate commemoration of the life of one we loved very difficult.
Why not take time now to offer some suggestions? Set down information which will be helpful when death occurs. A member of our staff is available at your convenience, either here at the funeral home or in the privacy of your home, to provide whatever assistance you desire. This prearranging might be the most thoughtful thing you can do for your family.