We know much about men who prayed. However, there are not so many women of prayer recorded in the Bible. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:6-7)
I am blessed because my late mother was a prayer warrior. First thing I used to hear when I opened my eyes as a child in the morning, was my mother praying as she was knelt in prayer by the open bedroom window . It was memorable as I saw her when I peered through the mosquito net that my sister and I shared, when air conditioners were not available and mosqitoes and malaria was prevalent in Singapore in the 1950’s. Be it at 5am or 6 am when I awakened, I knew she was filling her spiritual tank for her days’ responsibilities. There were times when I listened to her pray instead of continuing in my sleep. What did she pray about?
1. Thanksgiving and praise – she knew that in thanksgiving and praise she acknowledged and invited our great God into her and her family’s day. In thanksgiving she knew that she was renewed and refreshed and empowered. I Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus – for all temporal good things; for our beings, the preservation of our family, food and raiment, and all the mercies of life; for the means of grace, the word and ordinances, and the ministers of the Gospel; for spiritual blessings, for electing, redeeming, regenerating, adopting, pardoning, justifying, and persevering grace: for our qualification for heaven through Jesus Christ our Saviour, a right unto heaven, and a good hope of it; and especially for Jesus Christ, for such an husband, such an head, such a surety and Saviour, and advocate with the Father, as he is; and for life, peace, joy, comfort, righteousness, and salvation in him: and thanks given to God in every circumstance of life; in adversity, as Job did; when not in so comfortable and agreeable a frame of soul as to be wished for, since it might be worse, and is not black despair; even under the temptations of Satan, since they might be greater and heavier, and since the grace of God is sufficient to bear up under them, and deliverance out of them, and for such a sympathizing high priest and Saviour; and in afflictions of every kind, since they are all for good, temporal, or spiritual, or eternal.
2. For herself, she sought God first as her refuge and strength. She knew just as the airlines acknowledge today, that when in danger e.g. when an oxygen mask is needed in the aeroplane, as far as possible a mother had to be fit and have her mask on first, in order to help her young children put on the theirs. Psalm 46 was a favorite of hers – 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear,though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. “Selah” 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her,she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
3. In faith on her knees – prayer in faith, depending, trusting in Him and believing that He will hear her prayers and for peace about every situation that she faced. That quite simply is the power of prayer. She knew that prayer is important as it is mentioned over 500 times in the Bible and that she must humble herself before God in prayer knowing He loves, is able and will aid her as His child, His channel of blessing and His blessing, to fulfil His purpore for her life – as His child, as wife, mother and later as grandmother, as Sunday School teacher and Sunday School Superintendant, missionary supporter, pioneer planter, children’s evangelist and developer.
4, She dared to ask for everything.’Your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask him.’ (Matthew 6:8) Every day I heard her pray the Lord’s prayer at the end of her personal prayer. Jesus teaches us that prayer is an essential part of having a relationship with God. Jesus himself prayed on many occasions recorded in the Bible and teaches us how to pray. ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ (Matthew 6:9-13)
a. She prayed when she was at probably the lowest points in her life and desperate as was Hannah for a man child. “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly, Hannah was praying in her heart.” Only God could answer her prayers for a baby boy in Chinese tradition, and He did giving her a baby boy after a first still -born baby boy . I think the most important thing to remember here was that no matter how low she felt or how troubled, God was there and listened to her prayers. Talking to friends helped, but only God has the true answers. God may not have answered her prayers as she chose and sometimes when she asked for things His answer was to wait or the answer was even no. God sees the bigger picture, so she trusted in Him.
b. The example of Anna’s faithful prayer life, is one which I think encouraged her to persevere with her prayers. She had the perfect excuse to give up when her firstborn baby boy was still born, she clung on to the promises in God’s word and she received her answer in my younger brother in God’s time.
c. She interceded through many nights with my young brother who frequently suffered from asthma as a child, and struggled to breathe through sleepness nights. She prayed when my sister suffered from typhoid, when the western and Chinese doctors gave up hope, and she fasted and prayed with her pastor, when for three days I lay unconscious on my bed as the doctors feared moving me to hospital would result in brain damage after I fell out of a window. The Lord was and is our Healer.
d. Like Lois’ influence on her grandson Timothy, my mother interceded for her grandchildren (and their yet unborn children,) even while they were in the womb, that the Lord would deliver them from satan and sin’s hold and that they would love the Lord with all their hearts and serve Him all the days of their lives, which is answered prayer today.
e. During her last days on earth in sickness and pain, prayers were not for herself as she looked forward to laying her burdens down in peace and to wait only for the Lord’s time to take her home. Her intercessions were for her husband, children, grandchildren, for the Sunday School children she led to Christ and influenced to be workers for the Lord, and for the workers in the field whom she had supported in prayer and financially through the years, that they would remain faithful in faith and service to the Lord to the end.
5. She prayed throughout the day. Prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s life. It helped her to grow in her relationship with God. I think the lyrics of her old favourite hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” sums up the benefits of prayer to her as she found the Lord as her friend. Prayer sustained her ; it kept her going and gave her strength. She knew the lyrics below from the original by Joseph M. Scriven …“Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear; May we ever, Lord, be bringing All to Thee in earnest prayer. Soon in glory bright, unclouded, There will be no need for prayer – Rapture, praise, and endless worship Will be our sweet portion there” and now has found her rest in heaven .
So my mother fulfilled the role and responsibility of a virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31: 10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her lessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. Amen.
And we did not know how influential she was in her quiet prayerful ways till we saw the many who attended her wake and funeral – it was a real surprise. Praise The Lord.
Whatever role the Lord has assigned to you, you can pray, you must pray to know that greater is He in you than He that is in the world.