May 7, 2019
Prayers from My Great-Great-Grandmother
The letter was dated March 26, 1914. I unfolded the fragile, yellowed paper and struggled to read the faded ink.
I found this letter and several others in an old metal box at my parents' house. Addressed to Howell Adam Shouse, my maternal great-grandfather, they were written by his mother, Mary Dozier Shouse, more than a century ago.
Much of the news was what you'd expect: who'd been sick, gotten married, and been to visit. She wrote about a fall she had six weeks earlier but assured him she was doing better.
One paragraph made me chuckle. Mary Dozier praised God that Howell had "quit whiskey," then in the next breath, she encouraged him to also "quit tobacco." I smiled. Like most mothers, she wanted what was best for her son.
Mary Dozier asked about Howell's wife and young daughter (my grandmother) and expressed her love for each. She also wrote how she longed to see her "dear son." But one paragraph brought tears to my eyes:
"Oh, how much I do pray for you every single morning and night. I pray mightily to the Lord that you, Howell, and your children, may be convicted and converted and sanctified. Never a day do I miss. May God hear and answer my prayers and save us all in heaven."
This amazing discovery thrilled me. Mary Dozier, my great-great-grandmother, prayed daily for the spiritual well-being of her son and his children. She faithfully petitioned God to make her son and his family aware of their need for a Savior (convict), to draw them into a saving relationship with Jesus (convert) and to grow them up into the likeness of Christ (sanctify).
As I read those words, I knew her prayers also covered me. Long before I was born, my great-great-grandmother prayed for me and my eternal, spiritual good.
I don’t know the spiritual condition of Howell Adam Shouse, but I do know his daughter, my grandmother, loved Jesus. She consistently pointed me toward the Lord, and my mother has done the same. My faith reflects the faith of my great-great-grandmother.
Praying women can impact generations. For example, our key verse points out how much the faith of a grandmother and mother influenced Timothy, one of the key leaders in the early church. The Apostle Paul acknowledged these women when he wrote to Timothy: "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also" (2 Timothy 1:5).
What a blessing to know that my grandmother's grandmother prayed for the spiritual condition of her descendants. Her faith impacted the generations that followed her, including me.
But the letter also challenged me. Just like Mary Dozier - and just like Lois and Eunice in today's key verse - the way I live out my faith will affect my children, grandchildren and beyond.
I long to be as faithful as my great-great-grandmother, praying for my children and their children. To that end, I often use the prayers in Paul's letters as prompts for my family. One in particular reminds me of Mary Dozier's prayer:
"We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God ..." (Colossians 1:9b-10, NIV).
I will continue to pray for the practical needs of my children and grandchildren. But I also recommit to pray for their spiritual well-being, and that they will be useful in God's kingdom. And maybe one day my great-great-granddaughter will find my prayer journal and be blessed by the discovery that I prayed for her.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of prayer. Help us to be faithful in praying for our families. Teach us how to pray for them in ways that matter eternally. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Timothy 3:14-15, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are some practical ways you can encourage the faith of your children, grandchildren or other young people in your life? Share your ideas in our comments section!
Make a list of specific ways you can pray for their spiritual well-being and usefulness in God's kingdom.
© 2019 by Kathy Howard. All rights reserved.