Many of you, I am sure, will be aware that today is Remembrance Day. A day to commemorate the lives of men and women who’ve lost their lives defending our freedom. These men and women, whether willingly or from a sense of duty, or forcibly conscripted, found themselves on the battlefield engaging with the enemy.
Remembrance Day is a time not only to remember the fallen dead but also celebrate our war veterans and heroes and consider the members of our armed forces, who are currently away from their home and their loved ones, fighting for the cause of justice.
We salute these courageous men and women (both dead and alive, young and old).
But let us not stop there.
Let us turn our attention to a group of unsung heroes.
Allow me to highlight the contribution of certain Christian women (mothers and grandmothers), who throughout the history of the Church assumed positions on the spiritual frontline, to pray for their loved ones.
These mighty prayer warriors, these sanctified soldiers, voluntarily enrolled within the ‘Intercessors’ Infantry’ and fought for the spiritual lives and freedom of their families. Many of these warriors have long since passed from this earth into God’s presence. However, their legacy of fervent, effective prayer and intercession should never be taken for granted and certainly never forgotten.
I refer to women such as Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Her fervent prayer for a son, whom she then dedicated to the Lord, for life, meant that this young boy who ministered to the Lord under Eli’s supervision, was described as one who “…grew in stature, and in favour both with the Lord and men” (1 Samuel 2:26). Coincidentally, we read a similar statement in Luke 2:52, made about none other than God’s only begotten son, Jesus!
I believe that because of Hannah’s prayers, this young servant of the Lord (mentored in an environment where other priests—Eli’s own sons—were corrupt, disobedient and disrespectful to God’s commands), was able to enjoy a close relationship with the Lord, in a context where the word and revelation of God, had become rare. Samuel continued to grow and flourish in the service of God and became an influential figure in the history of the Children of Israel.
Next, let us consider Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In his autobiography, Confessions, Saint Augustine recalls how his mother wept and wept for him, distressed over his wayward and unrepentant heart. In fact, Augustine reveals, that his mother wept more tears for him over the prospect of his spiritual death, than other mothers had wept over the physical demise of their children. I wonder, would we have been able to benefit from the writings of this early theologian and philosopher, had Monica not persisted in prayer for her son?
Again, we cannot forget Susanna Wesley, mother to John and Charles Wesley, two of our church history’s most notable evangelists. The difficulties and busyness of Susanna’s life, meant that her only means of escape to the prayer closet was to throw her apron over her head, warning her large brood of children that whenever they observed her in this state, she was praying and therefore not to be disturbed. Given this wonderful example from a woman who bore 19 children, dare we say of ourselves, that we do not have enough time to pray?
Let me take this opportunity to issue a challenge. Speaking to those amongst us called to prayer and intercession (and that is everyone in the Body of Christ), let me suggest that if we are constantly making excuses about our prayerlessness, we need to be honest before God and with ourselves. Let us admit that it is not time we lack, but the inclination!
I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words and prayers of my Christian mother. It was a custom while we were children to sit around the table and read the Scripture verse by verse while Mother explained it to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading with God.
His account evokes memories of my own childhood, when my recently deceased mother gathered her children for weekly Bible study and prayer. I can also testify to my mother’s diligence in interceding for the salvation of her offspring, which resulted in five of her seven children, turning their lives over to Christ. Alas, not all five continued their walk with the Lord but, over a period of 40 plus years, my mother’s intercession for her children never flagged—until she became incapacitated with dementia.
And how can we forget Catherine Booth, a spiritual general and trailblazer of her era? Along with her husband, William Booth, this spiritual heroine co-founded the Salvation Army. Catherine’s diligent prayers meant that every one of her eight children became active in the Salvation Army, two of which became generals.
All these women, whose voluntary enrolment in the army of God, whose selfless engagement on the frontline of a spiritual battlefield, produced men and women of valour and distinction, through their fervent prayers and intercessory warfare. Their prayers secured a rich legacy of theological writings, sermons and hymns. Without these ladies and other praying women throughout the history of the Church, our Christian heritage would not be the calibre that it is today.
Women of God and women of prayer throughout the ages, we salute you!
I turn now to the matter of ourselves in this time of fear, uncertainty and perplexity. I turn now to the need for modern-day saints, for committed men and women to take their place on the battlefield of prayer. If ever there was a time where intercessory prayer and spiritual warfare is needed, it is right now.
So let me ask, did you, or do you have a praying mother or grandmother? Why not take some time out today to thank God for them… to remember and celebrate their lives?
And, let me further ask—are you a mother, or a grandmother? If so, are you regularly praying for those children within your sphere of influence? Make no mistake, their spiritual future and welfare, and the spiritual freedom and heritage of generations to come, might well depend on you!
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