“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” —Ephesians 6:19
They called him Grandpa Rogers. I first met him when he was about seventy-seven at my first Thanksgiving dinner in the Newcombs’ home overlooking Millerton Lake in the Sierra Mountains above Madera, California. He was a brilliant successful lawyer and land developer. He was an avowed agnostic. A staunch advocate of evolution, he had neither desire nor time for God, and he most certainly did not believe in creation. However, through his relationship with the Newcomb family, Fred became a friend of mine. He took me duck hunting and fishing. We had wonderful times together, talking about law, politics, farming, hunting, fishing, psychology, current events, and education. But as I moved the conversation toward Christ, he would move it in a different direction. So, for fifteen years, the Newcombs and I prayed for him.
Eleanor said Grandpa Rogers had cancer and that we needed to visit him. As we entered, Eleanor said, with urgency, “Grandpa, I brought Pastor Sam to see you. He’s going to tell you how to ask Jesus into your life so you can go to heaven. Listen carefully to what he says, because heaven will not be complete for us if you’re not there!” He broke in to her sentence and patted her on the cheek, and said with a smile, “My dear, I already have!” I said, “Eleanor, listen to what he’s saying. He’s already invited Jesus into his life!”
I talked to him, explaining the plan of salvation, and giving him some scriptural assurances to make certain he understood. He did! Over the next few days we visited and prayed with him several times. Soon the doctors told Russ that he should take Fred to a convalescent home where he could receive better care during his last days. Knowing that he would not be able to attend church again, I suggested that we have a baptism and Communion service in his room. The Newcombs and his family all came. After the service, Grandpa told his daughter Pat, “Honey, all across the years, you have been a creationist and I have been an evolutionist; you have been a believer and I have been an agnostic. You have been a Christian, I have been a sinner. I have now joined the ranks of Christianity! I too am a creationist and a believer.” A few days later, he was home with Jesus. I officiated at his funeral service, which was a beautiful tribute to a special man.
This is a testimony of the awesome power of intercessory prayer. The Newcombs and I prayed for, and witnessed to, Grandpa for nearly twenty years. We never gave up on him. He was ninety- two when he was born as a babe in Christ. As long as people draw breath, there’s hope. Intercessory prayer keeps persons we love before the throne of the God, whose purpose is to draw them to himself in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The true spirit of intercession keeps us praying for those who are dear to us until…until we see our prayers in their behalf answered.
Lord, this kind of prayer isn’t easy. It’s difficult to follow through with a commitment to pray for others, for I often face more difficulties and setbacks of my own than I can handle. Yet it’s true that when I enter deeply into the needs, hurts and concerns of others, I begin to find my own needs, hurts, and concerns being met, healed, and fulfilled. For when I bring other persons before your throne, I too am escorted into your healing presence where I can be touched at the very core of my being. Since your heart, Lord, is large enough to embrace the entire universe” certainly there is room there for me and for those you have entrusted to my care. Empower me, Lord, to be faithful in intercessory prayer. In the name of the One who is my strength, my help, my shield, my source—my Lord Jesus Christ, I pray. It’s about Transforming Hearts…Transforming Lives! Amen.
Dr. Sam Bruce; President, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; Pastor, Hope Point Church, Pearl, Mississippi; Online Instructor, Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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