The Power of Prayer (May 2017)

One of my best friends for many years was a woman named Sue. I passed her office every day as I walked to the meetinghouse, and I stopped in to see her often to talk or to laugh together.

Sue was a delightful person. She had a thousand-watt smile that would light up a whole room. She had an infectious enthusiasm and a “can do!” attitude for everything in life. Sue wasn’t afraid to try new things. She loved to travel and see new parts of the world.

She played for a contra dance band. She bought a run-down house in a poor neighborhood, and made it a place of friendliness and beauty, and reached out to all of the people nearby.

Sue had an earthiness and a no-nonsense frankness that took everyone by surprise. Sue had no pretense whatsoever. As a young woman, she had wrestled with alcoholism and addiction, and even after 30 years of sobriety she still went to 12-step meetings to support other people who were trying to live straight and sober. Sue was one of the best Christians I have ever known.

She became a registered nurse, and saw people at their best and worst. She hated cruelty and injustice and violence, but she was never offended or scandalized. She took people as they came.

One of the most important things in Sue’s life was prayer. She had a very deep and active prayer life. She knew the Bible well, and all the stories, good and bad, of people in the Bible who had prayed and struggled and fought and lost battles of faith. She had a well-chosen collection of books on prayer, journals of people of faith, and inspiring articles and quotations always at hand.

One of the things that always made Sue different was how direct she was about praying for things. If we were talking about a need or a problem, an illness or an issue of any kind, she would stop the conversation and say, “Let’s pray for that right now!”

Then she would gather up what we’d been talking about, and find a few words and put them into a direct, simple, prayer, asking Jesus to help with whatever it was.

So many people say, “I’ll be praying for you,” and you don’t know whether it’s real or if they’re just being polite. Sue was someone everyone loved, because we all knew how often and how deeply she prayed.

She often spoke during open worship at meeting. She prayed, and gave thanks to God for all the gifts and miracles she had received and experienced. Sometimes she sang a verse from a hymn. She talked about fears and frustrations and disappointed hopes, but mostly she was upbeat and filled with hope. Sue’s prayers could bring light to a whole church full of people.

Sue’s whole life was a testimony to the power of love and prayer. Somewhere along the way, she decided she was going to live the way Jesus lived, to believe and trust and hope and pray the way Jesus did. As Paul said, nothing could separate her from the love of God. One person of prayer – one person who prays constantly from the heart – can change everyone around them.

– Josh Brown