Martin Wiles

His whispers were barely audible, but I detected them through the slightly-ajar door.

“Where is Daddy,” I asked Mom?

“In his office, saying his prayers,” she responded.

I peeped through the crack. Dad sat behind his large desk, head bowed, hands folded, a small spiral bound notebook draped across his lap, lips barely moving. I had no need to wonder what was in the book. I had peeked.

One day when he was gone, I slipped into his office, saw the book lying on his desk, and opened it. What I found was simple. Seven pages were occupied with writing -- one page for each day. Below the day’s name was a list of things and people Daddy prayed for. I had always thought there must be something magic in the book. Some type of spiritual incantation. But there wasn’t. Just a modest prayer list.

For 30 minutes every morning, Dad poured over the list. Sometimes, his prayer time interfered with my needs -- or so I thought. When I confronted Mom with my dilemma, she told me I could try interrupting him. No guarantee, I thought.

Regardless of where we lived, Dad’s office doors squeaked. I never knew what might happen when I pushed it open. He might open his eyes and look at me with that “What do you want” look. If so, I could ask my question. More often than not, he kept his eyes closed and continued praying. I’d have to wait. What he was doing was more important.

Prior to retiring for the night, Dad entered his office again. Not for 30 minutes, but for a 10-minute sort of wrap-up prayer for the blessings and opportunities of the day. For as long as he was alive, Dad continued his regimen.

Daniel was a man of prayer, too. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God (Daniel 6:10 NLT).

Daniel didn’t let the fact that he was a captive to a foreign ruler and lived among pagan people stop him from his daily ritual. Three times daily, he opened his window toward Jerusalem and prayed to his God. An order from the king to cease praying to any other god for 30 days didn’t stop Daniel. Nor did being tossed into the lion’s den.

I’ve learned a lot from my dad -- and Daniel -- about prayer. Praying continuously is important. Daddy had his designated times, but he remained in an attitude of prayer throughout every day. How he operated his life made this evident.

My dad also prayed consistently. Although he had a morning and evening ritual, his prayers were never ritualized. He prayed believing the God he prayed to had the ability to answer his prayers -- and would if he prayed in His will.

Dad often used the ACTS acronym when praying: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. He didn’t care if his sons -- or anyone else --made fun of him over his prayer program. He believed it pleased God, and that’s all that mattered.

Dad’s prayer example stuck. While I don’t follow it precisely, I adhere to it generally. And yes, I had a spiral bound book. Even though I’ve discarded it, my mind still sees what’s on each page, and I pray for those things and people religiously.

Dad’s been gone for eight years, but the example he gave me for praying remains. I hope to pass that down to my children and grandchildren, just as Dad did.

Martin Wiles is managing editor of Christian Devotions, assistant editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and author of "Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church" and "Grits & Grace & God." His work is featured at thttp://lovelinesfromgod.blogspot.com/.

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