A spiritual legacy of faith is one of the most important gifts we will ever give or receive, and prayer is usually part of that legacy. Today, my guest post is from Kathy Howard as she shares about a legacy of faith from her new book, Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith.
A Century Old Prayer
The letter was dated March 26, 1914. I gently unfolded the fragile, yellowed paper and struggled to read the faded ink. I found this letter among several others in an old metal box at my parents’ house.
Addressed to Howell Adam Shouse, my great-grandfather on my mother’s side, they were written by his mother, Mary Dozier Shouse, more than a century ago.
Much of the news was what you’d expect – who had been sick, who had gotten married, and who had been to visit. Mary Dozier wrote about a fall she had taken six weeks earlier, but assured him she was doing better.
One paragraph made me chuckle. Mary Dozier praised God that Howell had “quit the whiskey,” then in the next breath she encouraged him to also “quit tobacco.” I smiled. Like most mothers, she wanted the best for her son.
Mary Dozier asked about Howell’s wife and young daughter – my grandmother would have only been three at the time. She expressed her love for each of them. Mary Dozier also conveyed her longing to see her “dear son.” But one particular paragraph brought tears to my eyes:
“Oh, how much I do pray for you every single morning and night. I pray mightily to the Lord that you Howell and your children may be convicted and converted and sanctified. Never a day do I miss. May God hear and answer my prayers and save us all in heaven.”
This amazing discovery thrilled me. Mary Dozier, my great-great-grandmother prayed daily for the spiritual well-being of her son and his children. She faithfully petitioned God to make her son and his children aware of their need for a Savior (convict); to draw them into a saving relationship with Jesus (convert); and to grow them up into the likeness of Christ (sanctify).
As I read those words, I knew her prayers covered me too. Although she didn’t know me by name, she petitioned God for her family. Long before I was born, my great-great-grandmother prayed for me and my eternal, spiritual good.
I don’t know the spiritual condition of Howell Adam Shouse, but I do know his daughter – my maternal grandmother – loved Jesus. She talked about Him constantly. She heavily relied on Him through the many trials of her life. She also consistently pointed me toward the Lord. And my mother did the same. Like the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother sparked faith in Timothy, my own faith reflects the faith of my mother, grandmother, and even my great-great-grandmother.
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
Mary Dozier’s prayer encouraged me. My grandmother’s grandmother prayed for the spiritual condition of her descendants. Her faith impacted the generations that followed her, including me.
But her prayer also challenged me. Just like Mary Dozier – and just like Lois and Eunice – the way I live out my faith will affect my children, grandchildren, and even beyond. I want to get it right. I also long to be just as faithful as my great-great-grandmother to lift prayers for my children and their children that matter for eternity.
The prayers of the apostle Paul serve as good examples for us. I often use the prayers in his letters as prayer prompts for my family. One in particular reminds me of Mary Dozier’s prayer:
“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” Colossians 1:9-10 (NIV)
Yes, I will continue to pray for the health and relationships and physical circumstances of my children and grandchildren. But I also recommit to pray for their spiritual well-being and eternal struggles. I will pray that they will be useful in God’s kingdom. And who knows, maybe one day my great-great-granddaughter will find my prayer journal and be blessed by the discovery that I prayed for her.
Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate and richest coffee. She searches for cherished stories of faith that still impact hearts. And, she digs deep into God’s Word, mining His eternal truths for herself and to share with others. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters of Christian Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.
Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the new “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” She writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org.
“Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” tells stories of the past that will impact our faith today. These 52 heart-felt reflections reveal the seeds of our faith―seeds that sprouted and took root, growing through the centuries to today. Heirloom weaves these stories of faith and family history with Scripture, beautiful artwork, and ancestry research tips and techniques. Through these stories of persevering faith you’ll discover the potential your story has to impact future generations. (See “Heirloom” on Amazon.)
A Personal Note from Rebecca
If you’ve ever wanted to live, leave, or receive a spiritual legacy of faith, you will enjoy Kathy’s book. It’s a gem I highly recommend. Filled with inspiring stories and legacies, it also offers 52 keys–legacy and genealogy tips–to help you unlock your family’s history. Combined with Bible verses, prayers, and reflections, this book will both inspire and encourage you as well as help you leave a legacy of faith for your family.
It’s Your Turn
What about you? What kind of spiritual legacy would you like to leave or receive? Have you received a legacy of faith from one of your relatives? What are you doing to help live that legacy of faithy? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
Share This Post with Others
Using only the share buttons below or from my Facebook profile page, please feel free to share this blog post or about my website with others in your social media circles so we can work together in encouraging others toward intimacy with God. Please do not reproduce any of my blog posts without express and written permission from me.
If you haven’t signed up for my weekly posts and newsletter updates, remember to do so soon. I think you’ll enjoy the complimentary ebook that you’ll receive when you sign up. You can also follow me on Goodreads, and if you are visual, like me, you can follow my boards on Pinterest.