My dad is pretty amazing. People look at him and see a strong, Alpha male, principled, a bloke not afraid to speak his mind (and heart). And it’s true, he’s all of those things and much more. He loves his family (and the dog!), is passionate about the truth, the Gospel and his first knee-jerk reaction to everything in life is, ‘let’s pray’.
As kids, he would lead us in Saturday morning Bible reading times. We’d sit (fidgeting) around the table while dad would read the Bible (always using different voices for the characters) and he’d teach us to pray. As little ones, our hearts were noticeably more interested in getting back to whatever game we were playing, but now I’m older, I know just how important prayer and reading my Bible is.
Sometimes, life can throw us curveballs which literally knock the stuffing out of us. We can feel almost like a goldfish which has accidentally leapt from the confines of its glassy bowl and is now left on the side, flapping about, trying to breathe. There’s been a few times in my life where I’ve felt like that…and I can honestly say that the foundation instilled in me by my dad of, ‘let’s pray’ is the thing which has brought oxygen to my lungs. My dad knows this too. He’s had a long battle with severe health problems, and yet even now, on truly rotten days, he still prays for us, for others who are worse off.
Thanks to his example, I’ve learned that I can pray without actually praying; it’s a process of opening up my heart and inviting God to be in the middle of the muddle. Other times, it’s a chin tilted upward, with a simple, ‘Help me’. That’s as much a prayer, as getting on my knees and saying something out loud.
In my parents’ house, prayer has always been the first thing they did, whether it’s a conflict or problem one of us was facing, a hyperactive dog who was stressing us out (oh yes, he’s been prayed over too) or just a situation where one of us needed a different perspective – prayer is the first thought, not the after-thought.
Thanks to my dad’s insight, I feel the same about my Bible. He’s taught us that it has words and wisdom for anything we might be facing. Growing up, (while still living at home), my dad would often ask us, ‘have you spent some time with the Lord this morning?’ He wasn’t trying to make us religious or create protégées, he just wanted us to love Jesus as much as he did.
My dad’s looked some pretty big life challenges in the eye. And even recently, despite recovering from a bout of ill-health, he got up and preached a powerful sermon on not being defined by life’s circumstances.
‘My life is in God’s hands’ he said. ‘The world says, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings…well, with apologies to any fat ladies, it’s God who controls my destiny’.
He wasn’t just saying that, he knows it, he believes it and it’s all down to prayer, walking every day with God at his side.
I’m thankful for my dad, who taught us (and still teaches us every day) how to pray.