PRAY: Legacy of Faith
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share about the legacy of young missionary BJ Higgins, the subject of I Would Die for You (Revell, 2008). As I began, I mentioned a dear friend who went to be with the Lord this week.
When I think about prayer, the first person on my mind and heart is Anne Clary Nigels. Anne was a wife, a mother, a grand- and great-grandmother, a teacher, an artist, a comedienne, and especially a prayer warrior and faithful disciple of Christ. When our family first came to Fort Johnson Baptist Church in Charleston, SC, people kept telling me, “Oh, you need to get to know Anne Nigels. You’ll love her!” For some reason, it took us several months to meet (it’s a large church with multiple services).
My friends were right. When Anne and I met, we became instant and forever friends. We spoke often because of our mutual leadership in the prayer chain. And we prayed together often—over the phone and in person. Even after our move to Florida, we stayed in touch and never had a conversation that didn’t also include a prayer.
What did Anne teach me? I can think of at least a few lessons.
•LOVE GOD: Anne had a passion for the things of God. If I dropped by for a visit, I usually found her on her couch or on her back porch, God’s Word in hand. She studied the Word, she knew the Word, and she taught the Word. If you knew Anne, you knew that Jesus came first.
•LOVE PEOPLE: I’ve never met a woman who loved her family more. When they triumphed, she rejoiced. When they hurt, she cried. And when her beloved husband Mac died a few months after his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, she grieved. But Anne’s love spread far beyond her family. Everyone who knew her experienced the warmth of her heart and the personal interest she took in their lives.
•JUST PRAY IT: Anne not only received prayer requests—she prayed. Her rule was that if you wanted to become part of our church prayer chain, you had to be willing to pray out loud when a need was shared. This bothered some people, but Anne didn’t care. She taught me by example to pray passionately, fervently, and immediately. These days, I’m much less likely to tell someone, “I’ll pray for you” and much more likely to pray over them right away. That’s to Anne’s credit and God’s glory.
•KEEP PRAYING: I don’t think it ever failed. If I mentioned a need she and I had discussed months before, Anne would say, “Oh, yes. I was just praying about that!” and ask for an update. She had an entire half-bathroom plastered with pictures of missionaries so she could remember to lift them and their needs before the Lord. Anne not only talked about prayer—she lived it.
•IT’S NOT ABOUT ME: I never saw Anne point to herself or her reputation. In grief, she saw God’s mercy. In sickness (Anne had lupus and other physical issues) she found ways to point to God’s glory. She never met a stranger, and her many friends testify to her consistent efforts to draw them closer to the God she loved so much.
•HAVE FUN: Anne took God very seriously and herself not seriously at all. She turned almost every compliment into a joke. In fact, she turned almost every situation and circumstance (including her physical weakness) into a joke. She hid her tender heart under a pseudo-gruff exterior (“If you don’t show up for Sunday School, I’m gonna beat you with a stick!”).
Anne, just to let you know—you didn’t fool anybody. We all loved you and we knew you loved us. But we especially knew you loved your Jesus and your Mac.
I never felt more blessed than when you prayed for me. And I never felt more loved than when you called me your friend. As I sit here in tears, I’m sure you’re rejoicing with the angels and drawing your amazing pictures all over heaven. I miss you terribly, but I’m thankful God answered one of your persistent prayers. He let you leave that broken body behind and join dear Mr. Mac. I know you were shouting “Hallelujah!” as your spirit took flight.
Beyond all these lessons, your legacy in my life is a brand-new prayer. Jesus, can I please be like Anne Clary Nigels when I grow up?