About thirty years ago, after spending a day touring the sights in San Francisco, I sat down at my Aunt Jeanne Marie’s dining room table while she busied herself in the kitchen.
The table was clear except for a small very thick photo album I’d never seen before. I slid it in front of me and opened it to the first page. There sitting neatly in its plastic sleeve was a picture of my mother. On the next page was a picture of my brother Jim, his wife, and their three kids. Page after page, a new family appeared, including mine. We were all there, including Uncle Eugene’s sister and her families.
Aunt Jeanne Marie came in from the kitchen and sat across from me.
“Oh you found my prayer book. I find it so much easier to pray for someone if I have a picture of them in front of me.
I smiled as I turned the last page to a formal picture of then President Ronald Reagan.
“Oh, you know the bible says we’re to pray for our leaders, so I pray for him too.”
Now I’d like to say I went straight home and made me a prayer book of my family’s photos. And that each day I took it out and prayed diligently over each member. But I didn’t. At that time, my prayer life consisted more of desperate pleas for God to remove me from my latest trial.
But lately, I can’t stop thinking about that little photo album. And the idea that for most of my life, well probably all of it, Aunt Jeanne Marie has prayed for me.
Frank Peretti’s compelling novel, This Present Darkness, tells of a demon invasion of a small American town. And whom do those demons fear? The tiny “remnant” of saints whose greatest weapon is prayer. And the one they fear the most is an old lady named Edith. When she begins to pray for that town, the demons recoil in fear.
The bible says we struggle not with flesh and blood, but with powers of this dark world, and spiritual forces in heavenly realms. Perhaps Frank Peretti’s story is truer than we’d like to think. And if it is, we need more remnants in constant prayer for our families and our towns.
Aunt Jeanne Marie is in her late 80’s. And I’m convinced when she begins her prayers, evil forces in heavenly realms have to withdraw. And the weakening of her physical body does not deter the strength of her spirit. And daily she goes to war for the souls of the ones she loves.
As I contemplate the future of my family, I realize my generation needs to pick up that baton. We need to prepare to do battle in spiritual places. To build remnants who understand the scope of the fight. To prepare to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. Are you in?