For many years, I took part in ministry weekends in which a team of us would go into churches and share our testimonies. We saw God do many wonderful things in the dozens of these I was blessed to participate in.
As you might guess, we became close after working together for so long. This week I was thinking about prayer and what I learned from one of the beloved women on the team.
It may have been the first time I ever saw her that she stood up in a group session and introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Mr. Willard Taylor.” We laughed hard. Since her name was traditionally a man’s name churches often mixed up the titles on the correspondence they sent her. Willard’s wit was unparalleled and so was her wisdom. We leaned in close whenever she shared.
But often, it was the thing she spoke at the very end of her talk that grabbed us. She said it every time she shared, but it never lost its effect on me. She mentioned a prayer list she used and then declared, “I’m going to pray for this church every day as long as I live.”
Many times, there was an audible gasp.
You see, that’s a commitment. One that many of us would be reluctant to take on especially for people we didn’t even know.
Willard was not reluctant to take on something BIG in prayer. Something that might cost her. But she also knew her prayers would make a difference, and that God would help her follow through on her declaration. There was no other human looking over her shoulder to check that she did what she said. But because I knew Willard’s faithful character, I know she did it out of love. And maybe Willard’s contribution to the kingdom didn’t make front page headlines, but I’m sure if there’s a Heavenly Chronicle, her devotion to the Lord was in bold font there. I don't know if she ever learned here how her prayers might have been used, but I imagine that on her arrival in heaven she was brought up to speed. And God only knows how big and how vast that influence was.
When Willard passed, I thought about the dozens of churches representing thousands of people for whom she prayed and knew her prayers would be missed.
As I’m remembering my beloved friend Willard, and God is bringing all this to mind. I’m wondering what big thing he might ask of us. And maybe you’re wondering that, too. Perhaps something that no one else sees but will make an enduring difference.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Who knows what God might want to do through any of us who would fully surrender to His purpose?
So, here’s to Mr. Willard Taylor and all she taught me about laughing, and loving, and doing something big in prayer. In this season of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the privilege I had to know her.