Alfred, Lord Tennyson famously said that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams.” How true this is! In fact, the longer I live the more I have come to recognize that nothing important happens apart from prayer. I grew up in a home where prayer was central. My mother, in particular, was (and continues to be) a great prayer warrior. She begins every day with a focused, extended time of prayer and intercession before God. Only in heaven will we realize how many glorious things have happened and how much evil has been restrained because of my mother’s prayers. Let me share just two examples of how her prayers have changed my life.
For many Christians, the Bible feels like the federal tax code: complicated, contradictory, and awkwardly cobbled together over many years. Small wonder that our libraries are filled with commentaries promising to decode the puzzles we stumble over as we read.
But if we press on, we will discover that the trail sometimes rises up to a high point, to a lookout with a panoramic view of everything below. Standing above it all, we can now see that the maze of twisting trails actually makes sense. A meaningful, unified landscape emerges.
Every year thousands of Christians make their way on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. There is something awe-inspiring about walking where Jesus walked and seeing places from the Bible come alive in fresh ways. To re-trace the steps of Jesus from the Praetorium where he was falsely condemned and scourged, to the traditional site of the crucifixion outside the city gate is an unforgettable experience.
In 1755, John Wesley wrote, “I want to know one thing–the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O, give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God. I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”
We first met Tim and Julie Tennent in 1987 while they were serving as pastors of four small Methodist congregations in north-eastern Georgia. This was their first pastoral appointment. At the very first meeting, I knew that these were special people. Though very young and new in ministry, Tim and Julie impressed me with their spiritual maturity and love for the Lord and His Church. I still vividly remember going for very early morning prayer with Tim to one of the sanctuaries, just the two of us. It was February and very cold and the sanctuary was not heated! When I saw Tim kneeling and praying in that cold sanctuary at 5 AM or so I knew he was serious about serving the Lord.
What does hearing great Christ-centered preaching, canoeing in the Okefenokee swamp, spelunking in caves in North Carolina, riding horses with my friends, roasting marshmallows and performing impromptu skits by the fire, attending inspiring retreats at Camp Glisson, musical events at Lake Junaluksa, wood carving classes, and inspiring worship all have in common? They are just a few of the activities which filled my life growing up as a member of Grace United Methodist church in Atlanta, Georgia.