When Mama prayed, she would sit down on the rug with her feet drawn up under her and lean over on her elbows, then drop her head into her hands. By the time her forehead touched her open palms, she would be in the Kingdom. I’ve been around a lot of folks who prayed, but she could reach beyond this present world and into the presence of Jesus faster than any of them. And let me tell you, if you were in the house when she talked to Jesus, you either tried to join her quickly or else found a way to get out of there quickly. For Mom, praying was not something you only did in a crisis, or as a ritual in church, instead it was the sustaining flow of life itself.
I once asked her if she learned to pray by watching her mother like we learned by watching her. She gave me a strange smile and said, “ When you were about 2 years old, I had a dream that my mother came to visit me, and I was praying when she walked in the house. In the dream she came up to me and slapped me to make me stop. I thought it was a strange dream. Then a few weeks later, I was in the living room praying in the Spirit, and she and Daddy came in the house. I didn’t hear them. My first awareness of them was mother calling my name so I slowed down and opened my eyes, and there she stood, just like the dream. She said, “ Barbara, you’re disgusting,” and then slapped me hard.”
This was developing into a most interesting conversation, and I urged her on “what did you do?” “Well, I just turned my face to the other side so she could give me another one, but nothing happened. I looked up at her, and she was white as a ghost and finally sat down on the couch. If I had not had the dream, I’m not sure what would have happened, but Jesus warned me and after that she never again said anything about the way I prayed.”
One time we were all riding in the back of Daddy’s pickup and had a bunch of cousins with us when our dog, Thirsty, somehow got under the rear tire. We ran over her. Thirsty was a very fruitful mother dog who usually gave us a dozen or so puppies each year and was ready to deliver. That old rear tire hit her square in the middle. Dad carried Thirsty into the kitchen and laid her down by the table. We were all standing around crying so Mom wiped her hands on her apron and gathered us all up. “Okay, lets all put our hands on Thirsty and ask Jesus to make her well.” No problem there, we all knew if Mama said Jesus would fix her that would happen. If I remember correctly, there were five of us at the time, and we prayed like she taught us. The next morning Thirsty gave us her usual big litter and not a blemish was found on any of them.
Then there was the time Daddy was working out of town and Mama loaded us all in the car for the weekly ladies’ prayer meeting in Burnet. On the way we stopped and picked up Sister Halbert who was all stooped and older than dirt, with one of those bonnet things on her head, but she was a prayer warrior from whom demons fled. I do not remember anything special about the prayer meeting, but on the way home the car died. Mama and Sister Halbert got out and lifted the hood, and all us kids followed to watch the action.
Of course, they knew nothing about mechanics and eventually closed the hood back down. Sister Halbert said, “Sister Barbara, let’s pray for it. I’m sure there were some double takes from the passing motorist who saw a little old granny, a young mother, and a bunch of kids standing around the car with our eyes closed, one hand in the air and the other on the car. After we prayed we all got back in and Mama turned the key, and it started right up. That really wasn’t a big deal, just the way we lived. However, when Daddy came back home three days later he heard the story and went out to check the car. I remember him sputtering a bit and finally admitting that the only thing wrong with the car was it was out of gas and would not start. I think even Mama was surprised that Jesus could make a car run for three days with no gas.
When I was about 12, we lived in an old farmhouse in Oklahoma and my brother, Randy, and I shared a bedroom up a very steep flight of stairs on the 2nd floor. One night after we went to bed, I woke up and noticed the light was on, but when I tried to get up, I discovered that I was frozen in place. I was on my side looking across the room at Randy, who was asleep, and no matter how I tried, not one muscle would respond. Shear stark terror engulfed my whole being, and then I heard Mom praying downstairs. As soon as I herd her praying, something even weirder happened.
Randy was dead centered in my line of sight. As Mom prayed, I saw a blue man superimposed over Randy, and he sat up and then stood up. He was staring directly at me, was aware of me, but never acknowledged me in any way. I noticed that he was bald headed and even stranger, I could sort of see through him. He turned and walked through the bedroom door. At that exact moment, my body returned to normal. I let out a scream and shot to the stairs, which I leaped down in two bounds, then crashed into the wall at the bottom. When I came back to my senses I was crying and trying to tell Dad what had happened, and all I could say was there is a man upstairs.
When Dad heard that, he went up the stirs in a couple of bounds, and we could hear doors crashing open and shut as he searched the rooms. When he stopped running around, he noticed that Randy was still lying on the bed, but something was not right; he was having some kind of a seizure. They immediately called the pastor and other folks who prayed, and a collective prayer meeting started up. I remember Mom on the floor in the living room praying for Randy and me at the same time. That night she vowed to God that if He would heal Randy she would give Him her iced tea. Mom loved iced tea, but from that day on she never drank it again to my knowledge. Randy never had another seizure either.
Mom’s praying sometimes made us uncomfortable, and we never wanted our friends to hear her. It was kind of a love/hate deal. If we needed God‘s help, mom‘s prayers were a wonderful source of comfort, but when we flirted with the dark side of things, beware; Mom would have a dream and start praying for us. It was crazy how something like a car wreck would happen to get our attention.
Mom doesn’t have to pray anymore, that torch has been passed to us. How we carry it will determine the course of the next generation.
…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16