My dad's secret gift

Dad and Jill Jill's WeddingI don't think a girl every truly stops missing her dad. It's been three years, and I can still see his smile when I would walk into his room at the nursing home. I hated that he had to live there due to his care needs that we could not meet, but I loved being with him, taking him for walks outside if the weather permitted, bringing McDonald's lunch each Wednesday, and listening to his wry sense of humor that never failed to brighten my day. I could go on for hours telling you stories of my dad, like how he would take me to lunch on my birthday, just him and me, or how when I was in school, he would take off work and show up at assemblies because parents were allowed to be there, or how he would meet me for lunch at home when I was in grade school to let me in and how we would eat Friday dinners together, just us, because my siblings were married and my mom worked late. But that would just touch the surface of my memories.

His secret gift is the one I now find most precious. And my dad gave that gift to each and every one of his children and grandchildren, every single day he lived.

My dad knew how to pray.

I never thought all that much about the importance of a prayer ministry back then. I knew it was something the elderly could do when they couldn't get out much, but I didn't realize what a costly gift it was at the time.

I remember telling my dad this or that child needed a job or was sick or something, whatever thing seemed like a reasonable need, and I would ask him to pray. And he would say, "I pray for every one of my kids and grandkids every day."

The other day I realized that I've kind of picked up that gauntlet for my family and friends now that my dad isn't here to carry it. Prayer matters more to me than probably any other form of ministry--even writing. And of course, without prayer, I'm no good at writing anyway. But prayer...that matters. It is like incense floating from our hearts to God's nostrils. (That's a biblical picture, by the way, in case it sounds strange.)

We make a difference when we pray. God hears the fervent prayers of His people. The Psalms are filled with the prayers of King David and Solomon and Moses and the Sons of Korah and more. And in the New Testament we are commanded to pray for everyone - from kings to the "least of these."

Do you pray?

To my dad, prayer was like breathing. And I understand that now. I didn't pray for my family and friends back then like I do now. Maybe it's because I'm older. Maybe it's because life is harder. But I think the main reason I pray is because I need to. Because that secret my dad passed on to me is that prayer will change me and make me more like Jesus. And in the process, perhaps it will do some good in the world.

Our Creator longs to hear our prayers. He wants us to ask for His help, and to talk to Him as a man would to His friend.

Rather than look at all that is wrong in the world, perhaps it is time we thank Him for what is right and true. For what He's done for us. And then ask Him to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Then perhaps He will make us into the people we were intended to be--like Him.