Today is my Mamaw Grace’s birthday. I am sure she is having a great celebration in heaven, but my heart longs to be able to sit down and talk with her and to hear her praying. I miss her wisdom and advice. I only hope that some of what she poured into me remains today and I ask that God will allow me to recall it in difficult situations. She taught me to make chicken dressing, to make the best tasting sweet rolls you could ever want, to sew the required: shirt, skirt, and dress, and to pick and shell black-eyed peas and butter beans. But the most important thing she taught me was to pray and to believe that God would answer my prayers. There have been many moments this year when I have taken her Bible and held it and knelt by my bed and poured my heart out to God.
So, in honor of her memory and her birthday, I am reposting this previous blog. It is still something I read and something I do when there is nothing else to do. Happy Birthday, Mamaw Grace!
It seemed cold and empty as she walked into the old fashioned bedroom. There was nothing pretentious about the room, yet at one time it held so many treasures. The small glass swan that she used as a crown when she was playing princess still ruled over the silver brush, comb, and mirror on the dresser. Inside it held a treasure, a quarter-sized pin in hues of pink and green, many little flowers held together that could be clipped onto a plain dress for a bit of elegance. It was just a bit of costume jewelry, but to a young girl, it was priceless.
These things were sacred to the girl. They were old friends she had known most of her life. They represented many happy hours spent in play. She smiled as she remembered picking leaves from the mimosa tree to use as fans when she deemed herself an Egyptian princess. The little pink blooms always made her sneeze. So many memories.
She stepped further into the room and stopped beside the bed. She tripped lightly on the small area rug placed beside the bed and caused the house shoes resting there to roll forward. One edge of the rug flipped up as she stubbed her toe on it, and she noticed the carpet seemed discolored underneath. Gently she picked up the rug and moved it a bit to the side. The sun filtered in through the windows playing tag with shadow and light and she glanced at the carpet she had uncovered. She stepped back and looked again. Why was the carpet so worn in that one place? It puzzled her. She walked around to the other side of the bed and then to the foot of the bed looking to see if there were any more threadbare places. No, it mostly seemed consistent everywhere else.
She sat on the edge of the bed and let her mind wander back to the days when she was just a child. She could remember the afternoons the big yellow school bus would drop her off at this house. It was always a treat. There would be a special snack waiting…something she loved…and then she would proceed to engage herself in whatever pretend play happened to strike her fancy for the day. This could consist of moving the dining chairs to create a chaise lounge or throne, or rummaging through closets for dress up clothes and hats. It didn’t matter, she could mostly do what she wanted and it was accepted with fond indulgence.
She thought about the nights when she was able to stay over and sleep in the big king size bed. They would always have their nightly routine and then a prayer… That was it! The worn patch. Her grandmother had always knelt there. Could it be that she had spent so many hours on her knees praying the carpet had become threadbare? Tears began to roll down the girl’s cheeks. She could hear her praying now listing every family member, friend, loved one, pastor, church member that had asked for prayer, and when the list became too long, those words: “God please bless everyone that said ‘Pray for me.’” Those words were a blanket to cover just in case she happened to forget.
More memories came flooding back and the girl began to envision the many family gatherings with both sets of grandparents where someone was traveling and how everyone would kneel before departing to pray safety and guidance on that loved one. She remembered every morning before beginning the day, they would kneel and ask God’s protection through the day. As the years went by there were so many family members and friends that at times there was no more room to kneel, but they would stand and hold hands and pray.
Special occasions came and many more years passed by and the prayers became more tearful when the family gathered bringing close the memory of those who previously lead the family in prayer and were no longer present. Eventually, the family grew apart and became little satellite families caught up in their own children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The family gatherings grew less frequent and the precious memories were packed away to be brought out with the photographs when convenient, or enjoyed over coffee when a brief passing lunch was scheduled or a visit from one of the cousins.
The girl glanced once again at the threadbare carpet. She thought about the time when her brother was in a car accident and how God had spared his life and helped to heal his hand. She thought about her dad and how God had healed him so many times and when he had strayed away how God gently lead him back to a relationship with Him. She thought about what some of those earlier prayers might have been during World War II when her grandfather was enlisted and then injured. She wondered how many threads had broken in the carpet during the months he was gone?
She thought about that baby girl that never entered this life as a breathing, living daughter and how the grandmother had longed for a daughter. She thought about the story her mom told about when her brother was a baby and he stood up in the high chair and reached for something and fell and hit his head and was unconscious. She thought about how her grandmother had brought him here and laid him out on the bed and knelt down and began to pray. She thought about how her mom said he woke up and he was fine.
She thought about her grandfather and smiled at the rascal he could be and then she wondered how many threads had broken from nights alone praying that he would find God. Her grandmother had never wavered in her faith and God heard her prayer and brought him around…but it had taken many years.
The tears continued to spill down her cheeks as she sat back down on the bed. Her mind questioned: When did we stop kneeling down to pray? I know the family increased, but we always had enough room to sit and eat. Why didn’t we have enough room to kneel? Did we become too busy? Did Satan creep in and steal something precious from us when we weren’t looking? Did life take up too much of our time and the tradition seem a bit foolish to the newcomers in the family who might have been a bit less charismatic in their make up? What changed? What was lost?
Words so clear as if they had been spoken directly to the girl filled her mind:
“If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face…”
Was that it? Was kneeling down so humbling that we decided we couldn’t do it, or just didn’t want to make the effort? Was it that those who used to kneel could no longer do it, so we just stopped as well? What made the difference?
She remembered learning about the whole armor of God and how we don’t fight our battles against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Before someone is knighted, they have to kneel. It is a sign of submission and loyalty. Then, they are given their armor. God has promised us armor. Ephesians 6 lays it all out for us:
“10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”
Aren’t our battles fought in our mind and through our conversations with God? Isn’t He the only one that can robe us with the armor necessary to meet the foe? Doesn’t that mean we need to kneel before Him to show our willingness to take on that armor? Once that armor is on, the battle is already won. Who could win against such force?
Yet, so much of our time is spent running around trying to manage our time, trying to get one more minute’s work or sleep in and falling into bed at times with a mumbled prayer and a verse or two read between drooping eyelids. Prayers to our children often consist of rhyming words that ask for basic blessings and peaceful sleep. We rush out trying to show Jesus to the world when we have not taken the time to equip ourselves with our armor.
The armor reflects Jesus. It is everything He wants us to have in order to be victorious. It is everything we need to win every battle. Yet, we just don’t stop long enough to grab it each morning and sometimes we may even think it is a bit too heavy to try to put on…or that we won’t be facing anything where we might need that particular piece of equipment. How could that be useful to us? Then, nine times out of ten, we take a direct hit in the very area we did not cover ourselves. With the armor, at least when we believe we don’t have the power to fight back we are still equipped to stand because we know we are covered.
My family has fought many wars on their knees. What was done so frequently in past generations may not have trickled down as much as it should to the next generation and so on, but today I am striving to change that, at least in my life. One of the cousins who is going through a particularly difficult time right now posted an old song today. It is my heart and I have listened to it so many times and cried. I have included the words and the link below. Now, I think it is time to put it into action. The carpet fibers may not be worn by the time I leave this place, but I hope I make a dent in them because I truly believe everything I need to win for every possible battle and for the overall war against those who seek to destroy me can be found when I am on my knees humbly submitted to God.
Until next time,
War On My Knees
I’ve had my trials
Fought many battles
But prayer is the only thing
I’ve found to win the war
When the enemy approaches
On the battle ground
I use faith as my shield
And God’s word as my sword
And I go war on my knees
It’s not flesh and blood I battle
I’m fighting for my loved ones
And my family
So with my face before God
I go to war on my knees
Now we’re not the only ones
With battlefield experience
They mocked Him and they beat Him
A cruel cross He bore
Oh but back in that garden
Before He ever died on Calvary
He cried, “Not mine but thine, Lord.”
And on His knees He fought the war
He fought the war on His knees
It wasn’t flesh and blood He battled
He partook of that bitter cup
For our sins and iniquities
Before He died on the cross
He won the war on His knees
We go to war on our knees
It’s not flesh and blood we battle
I’m fighting for my loved ones
And my family
So with my face before God
I go to war on my knees.
With my face before God
I go to war on my knees.