I Wish I’d Prayed More

My family grew up watching Billy Graham specials around the television. The nights that he was preaching were the only nights that the children were allowed to stay up late on a school night. My husband and I have continued that tradition with our own children. If Rev. Graham is on, we watch him.

Several years ago, Rev. Billy Graham did a sit down interview before one of his sermons. Out of everything he said, the one thing I most remember was “I wish I’d prayed more.” I was in awe that he would humbly admit that and I wrote the quote and the date on a piece of paper and stuck it on my fridge. Two moves later, I’m not quite sure where that paper went. Perhaps it isn’t hanging on my fridge anymore but it has been permenantly etched on my heart nonetheless.

Prayer is my talking time with God. He does not speak to me through a burning bush but He speaks to me all the same. I hear His voice as if He was sitting beside me drinking a cup of coffee and having a morning chat. Sometimes, unfortunately, I tend to give him the same answers I might give my husband or children if I am occupied with other thoughts. Uh-huh. Yeah. OK, dear. That is when He must get my attention and sometimes the methods are painful. It’s my own fault. I know that. I mean, God tried to talk to me gently and I wouldn’t listen. Occasionally, I need that swift kick in the pants because I’m too caught up in my own life otherwise. Being a Marine wife, I’ve come to understand that shock and awe are the only things that seem to be able to remind me of that!

Ephesians 6:18 (amplified)
18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

Needless to say, God has been working on guiding me in my prayer time with Him for quite some time now. He uses real life instances to prod me in moving towards obedience in prayer and I’d like to share one such instance with you. My in-laws were visiting us in Arizona earlier this year. We were sitting in church and a young man was going to have to leave service as soon as his dad sang to go back to Iraq. I felt a huge serge of grief and God saying “tell the church to pray for Philip”. I sat in my seat arguing in my head with God that I wasn’t supposed to call out in the middle of a church service, it would be disrespectful, and I was a girl so wasn’t I supposed to be quiet (only an excuse I use when I want to get out of something apparently), what would they think, ask someone else who prayed better because wouldn’t they then be expecting me to pray if I called for it, and blahblahblah. I started bawling and had to leave church service but I could not bring myself to stand up and say we need to pray before that young man walks out the door.

I thank God everyday that Philip is still alive.

It is as if God was telling me, this man needs a lot of prayer for protection and if you ask now, people will realize and pray. I didn’t and so the whole lot is now at my feet. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had to fall on my knees to ask forgiveness for not being in a continued state of prayer over him. Shortly after Philip arrived in Iraq, his convoy hit an IED. By the divine Hand of God, all of them survived. The gunner in the vehicle had just sat down inside the MRAP seconds before the explosion happened. He would have died had he still been standing up out of the vehicle. I felt compelled to write his father and mother — we had just moved to NC — and tell them about what had happened that day in church and ask their forgiveness for not asking prayer for their son in church.

Philips unit has had several mortar attacks at their base as well. I think about and pray for him often but, too often, “out of sight out of mind” is a disease that I’ve allowed to set in; something that happens with all of us I think. I have been once again filled with my own life happenings recently and have not been praying for Philip like I should. I emailed his father the other day and asked how he was. He told me Phillip had just “escaped” a sniper attack. Apparently the guy had been a bad aim… I’m sure at least that’s what the Army or press would say. His family and I know God was protecting Him. I once again had that swift kick in the pants of ‘you need to be praying because maybe the next time the hedge won’t be there’. Philip has suffered through sprained bones, and concussions but he is the only medic in his platoon so he gets up and goes out everyday one more time. God continues to remind me that I am Philips spiritual medic and I need to get up and do my job everyday!

Do good and bad people both die in war? Yes. Do we understand why some might live and some might die? No. If Philip lives through his deployment to Iraq will it be because I prayed Him through?  In the end, I  know that only God can know the plans He has made for Phillip and they don’t rest on what I have or haven’t done. However, I also know for sure that God asked me to do something and I failed Him but that He has given me a second chance through His mercy and grace to be obediant.

If you wouldn’t mind… if you could spare just a moment… please pray for Philip and the other soldiers (and Marines) he is serving with. If the Lord is willing, Philip will be home VERY soon, but the men in that unit have experienced some first hand trauma in the past year.  Some of them will have visible war wounds. Others will have wounds that run much deeper which will take a longer time to heal. Please join with me in prayer to build up a VERY tall hedge round about them!

At the end of each post on SBC Voices, we suggest related posts from other Southern Baptist websites and blogs. These will often include contrary points of view and should not be understood as endorsements.

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  1. Jay Vance says

    As Philip’s father, words cannot express what this article and the heartfelt attitude behind it mean to our family. Thank you, Sallie, for listening to God, and for reminding all of us of the importance of prayer!

  2. Ted says

    Sallie, thanks for your honesty and your commitment to pray. God knows our hearts, even our repentance. Bless you.

  3. says

    Thanks for the post. Lik the good reverand, I too wish I had prayed more.

    During the first Gulf War, I attended Mass everyday. I was never closer to God than when I was deployed. Hopefully you loved one is experiencing the same closeness with our Lord. I’ll try to pray more and include your loved one.

    God bless… +Timothy

    Timothys last blog post..Christian Apologetics Society Milestones Reached

  4. says

    Sallie: I am praying and will continue to do so. May God indeed encamp His angels about Phillip and the others in his group. I pray for our military but not nearly enough. Thanks for the kick in the pants. selahV

    selahVs last blog post..WHAT I DON’T KNOW…

  5. Jay Vance says

    Just wanted to stop by and let you all know that Philip arrived home at Ft. Drum safe and sound, a day later than expected, but safe and sound nonetheless. Thank you multiple times over for your prayers on behalf of Philip and all the American fighting men and women in harm’s way around the world.