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Opinion: Skinned knees can be a good thing

An alarm on my phone sounds at 8 p.m. every night. It plays a portion of “Paranoia” by Black Sabbath, because it’s loud and gets my attention.

The alarm sounds because I set it to do so. I set it do so because my brother asked me to do it almost three years ago.

He challenged the members of the church he pastors in Cuba, Alabama, to pray collectively at 8 p.m. for our nation’s leadership and spiritual state. He also challenged anyone else to join in, for the set period of time the church had planned.

We just decided to keep doing it.

So, as I said, we’ve been praying nightly for almost three years for the spiritual health of our nation, and specifically for America’s leaders. We also pray for members of the armed forces, law enforcement, medical and safety personnel.

E. M. Bounds reportedly prayed every day for three hours, beginning at 4 a.m. Edward Payson, a minister during the Second Great Awakening, spent so much time kneeling in prayer by his bedside that over the years grooves were worn into his hardwood floor by his knees. The Reformationist Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

James, a disciple of Jesus Christ, wrote, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years” (James 5:17).

So many great examples of prayer and pray-ers throughout history and the pages of the Bible. My own father is still a great example of one who prays with all his heart, strength and soul.

I recall my brother-in-law saying that he was so deeply troubled about something one night that he called my dad to wake him up and ask him to pray. “I knew if Poppa prayed,” he said, “everything would be alright.”

With all these examples and encouragements, I spend just a few minutes praying each evening. I mean, I pray all the time. I talk to God all throughout the day, and I hope I listen well.

Each time I pray, I’m aware that the God to whom I pray is the universe’s creator and the one who cared when my little girl skinned her knee. It’s so amazing to be able to talk to him, to know that he hears me, and to know that he answers.

He answers in so many ways, I don’t dare try to identify them all. He has thrown pebbles against the windows of my heart, shaken my house with storms, and whispered so low I wasn’t sure I heard.

He’s also been silent, which is answer in itself, isn’t it?

The 8 o’clock prayers are an important time in our family. If we’re in the middle of something important, we still stop. If I don’t, I’m quickly corrected.

I was with my daughters in Wal-mart one evening when my alarm went off. Was that the prayer alarm? Are we going to pray? I said we would when we got back to the car. “No,” said Emma, my 12-year-old. “We can pray right now, right here.” So my three girls and I stood hand-in-hand in a circle and prayed for our nation in front of the frozen foods.

I was a proud dad. I pray that my children will keep up the practice of prayer. I don’t care that they pray at a given time, or even for a specific thing, necessarily. Just that they stay in continual conversation with their Father.

And if they still get skinned knees, I hope it’s from time spent kneeling in prayer.

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at 601-265-5307 or brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.