FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: To pray as my friend Doug prayed will be enough
Welcome this week to the “front porch.”
Reading on the power of prayer recently, I thought of Doug Miller.
Doug was a great West-Virginia prayer-man we knew for a long time, until he left us all prematurely a couple of years ago.
When I think of men who have an uncanny ability to say a prayer, Doug is the first to come to mind.
Several years ago, the amazin’ blonde and I had the privilege of a couple of visits with Doug and Karen for several nights of preaching up in their West Virginia hills. We stayed at their home on the side of a mountain, and we sat for many meals at their table.
I found that the only thing better than Karen’s exquisite downhome cooking was Doug’s deep, downhome prayers. He could say a prayer at the table that made you feel as if the Lord were sitting right there beside you.
I had never heard anyone pray quite like that before.
I read recently an account of a pioneer preacher from two centuries past named Jacob Creath who sounded a great deal like Doug. I expect he, too, gained quite a reputation as a prayer-man.
A Mr. L.B. Wilkes wrote of a time he spent in the preacher’s home. It rained all that night, he said, but had cleared by morning, which was the Lord’s Day. Being the Lord’s Day, Creath was meditative all morning, until he said, abruptly, “Let’s go for a walk.”
They walked for quite a ways, taking in the odors of the freshly-drenched flowers and the music of the morning birds, when Brother Creath, said, “Yonder is a good place,” pointing to a fallen tree off the beaten path. The two stepped over to the tree, and – without a word – Creath bowed on his knees to pray. He blessed the Lord for the beauties of nature around them that spoke of God’s glory and omnipresence. He called upon his soul and all that was within him to bless the Lord, quoting from the one-hundredth and third psalm.
Wilkes later writes, “I never heard such a prayer before, and now thirty years have passed since that remarkable experience, and yet I have heard no such prayer since.”
After a while, Creath asked his friend to pray – and while Wilkes prayed, Creath would break out every few moments with expressions of thanksgiving and praise, saying, “Oh, bless the Lord, oh my soul.”
Reading of the old brother, I could almost feel the spirit on their walk together that Lord’s Day morning. I can feel it, to no small degree, because I have knelt beside a similar prayer-man myself up in those West-Virginia hills.
On our last visit to Doug’s home – it was Springtime, just a few years ago – Doug was growing weaker from his battle with cancer. His powerful, eloquent voice had weakened by that time. In its place, his voice took on a sort of pleading sound, as if each word of his prayer was a deep supplication, and each word of thanksgiving emanated from a deep longing down in his soul.
As I think of him again now, I can't help but smile at the glory of so-often sitting beside such a prayer man. Thinking on it, I guess I will never be able to pray the way Elijah of old prayed for the rain to come, or the fervent way our Lord prayed down in old Gethsemane. I may never even pray as old Brother Creath did down by that fallen tree centuries ago.
But, Lord, if you will – Will you give me a small portion of that ability to pray the way my friend prayed around a simple country West-Virginia table those years ago?
A small portion, Lord, will be enough.
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 972-824-5197.