The alarm pierces the darkness.
Jean softly stirs and asks, “Eddie, are you going to prayer meeting?”
The 80-year-old retired shepherd rolls out of bed with hardly a word. The Friday men’s prayer meeting is a natural routine for him.
Though Eddie is suffering from Alzheimer’s, his wife knows there are three places he can find: the house, the Moose-is-Loose Bakery and the church.
As the disease continues to roll into his mind like a heavy fog, the shepherd finds himself remembering less all the time.
He looks at his watch, counting the numbers, and then kneels to pray with the prayer list that is provided:
“Lord, I glory in you. All that I am has been as a result of calling you Lord. You brought me out of a blind drunk’s home and grafted me into the family of God. I am so grateful.
“Thank you for so many blessings. Thank you for my wife and her family who brought me to you ... for my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
“Thank you for ...”
The prayer can be heard by those closest to him. He continues to work through the prayer list.
“... for Rosie, Johnnie, Margaret, those with leukemia, cancer and the lost. Lord, I pray for the lost; send young workers into the field.”
After 40 minutes or so, the shepherd stands to begin a prayer walk around the sanctuary.
Then, suddenly he is behind his spiritual progeny and lays hands upon his shoulders.
By this time the spirit has taken over, the list is set aside and the fog has lifted from his mind.
The prayer is clear, concise and anointed.
The younger shepherd is deeply touched and recognizes that the familiar prayer of his mentor comes from the wellspring of the spirit.
Fridays with Eddie are a study in praying with your understanding vs. praying in the spirit, as taught in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15.
We who are in control of our faculties often do not know how we ought to pray.
If that’s true, then how much more so for those who are at levels six, seven or eight of Alzheimer’s?
And yet the spirit of God is not limited by the natural deterioration or diseases of this world.
Some might say he is praying out of the repetition of his 50-plus years of living a Christian life, which is not bad.
My objective for this article is to encourage all of us to create a prayer habit. When we get to the age when others must lead us, I trust we can still pray like Eddie.
When we get to a point that memory is fleeting, may we rely on the familiar working of the spirit of God to direct our prayer life.
Start this new year off with a focus on communion with God.
Your church is probably having a prayer emphasis for the first week in January. Join in!
Find a prayer partner who already has developed an ability to commune with God.
Can I also remind you not to underestimate the ability of some seniors to teach us to pray?
Jim D. Duncan is senior pastor of Peninsula Christian Center and Matrix Church, on the Kenai Spur Highway two blocks from the Soldotna “Y.” Sunday services are at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
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