Tuesday, July 14, 2015
A Righteous Man
Seeing a particularly difficult stretch ahead, I found myself asking some folks to pray. I did not just throw out a blanket request, but instead started thinking about people I knew who took praying seriously. A truism I have embraced over the years guided me: "If you want someone to teach you how to hunt rabbits, find someone with fur in their teeth." So, I asked the people I knew who had callouses on their knees, who knew prayer to be more than ritual, who believed in its power, and who not only talked about it, but gave strong witness to practicing it.
One of the persons I asked was a church member of my first appointment and who has stuck with me as a friend for over forty years. His witness and his praying has strengthened me in an immeasurable way over the years of our journey together. Years ago this early riser told me of his morning conversations with God while he walked around his place before going to work. Even before I knew it, he was calling my name and my wife's name in his early morning meetings with God. Recently, he told me again, "Every morning I pray for you." In a conversation shared not too many days ago, he spoke of that James passage about the power of the prayers of a righteous man and then added, "...however, I am not so sure I am a righteous man." I told my friend not to worry. When the Bible uses the term righteous, it is not in reference to some super spiritual giant, but one who lives in a right relationship with God and those around him.
As I told him my understanding of Biblical righteousness, I assured him he had always been pointed in that direction. When he responded by saying, "Jesus did say the most important thing was loving God and loving your neighbor," I sensed that the assurance I sought to offer him had found a receptive place in his heart. I have always believed that James had it right when he wrote, "The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) I will always be thankful for this life long friend and the other righteous people who prayed simply because I asked.