Prayer: An Untapped Power Tool for Successful Living

Let me tell you about my Uncle Fred and one of the ways he influenced my life.  Uncle Fred lived with us when I was very young.

Uncle Fred

Photo used with Permission

I loved to watch Uncle Fred come through the doorway for any reason. He stood about 6’ 5” and always had to stoop down to get through.   He was a man of few words and had a dry humor that rumbled just below the surface all the time.  His favorite thing to do with me was to pick me up in his strong arms, flip me upside down and let me walk around on the ceiling.  With my vivid imagination, this was magical and made Uncle Fred my hero.

Our parents, uncle and grandmother were in the ministry and prayer was a large part of our daily lives.  When Uncle Fred prayed, he bowed his head kind of to one side, folded his hands behind his back, drooped his shoulders and the first words out of his mouth were always “Great God, Almighty!!”.  When he said that so fervently, I just knew, without a doubt that God was GREAT, and God was ALMIGHTY and probably could do anything Uncle Fred was going to bring up for His review.

Over the years I have naturally continued to believe in the power of serving others through prayer.  People who are religious and people who are not usually have no trouble agreeing with this point of view and have some anecdote they can look back upon where prayer saved the day for them.  Others, when filled with joy, can speak of their gratitude for the blessings they are experiencing.

 Prayer

*Removes barriers between people for a common cause

*Verbalizes and gives focus to a problem

*Creates hope in a source of power to act on a matter out of our control

*Creates a sense of support in the accomplishment of a goal

*Builds relationships

*Provides a vehicle for expressing thankfulness when the prayer is “answered”

Prayer removes barriers by exposing vulnerabilities in a safe, private loving way to the person praying with you.  It lifts them up to an outside, powerful source Who can and desires to help.

By verbalizing and focusing on a problem, we open ourselves up to the possibility of change and unknowingly free ourselves from some of the self -defeating attitudes that keep us from growing and changing.

Discouragement obviously accompanies seemingly insurmountable problems. This is squashed at least a little when someone, a stranger or a friend, comes along side you.  An offer of prayer creates hope that someone more powerful than you can fix things.

Receiving the gift of prayer creates that sense of support in knowing that another human being is agreeing with us. This opens our heart and mind to the possibility of things improving and belief in the desired end result.

Praying together over the need or concern of another is an act of selfless giving.  It is investing in the ultimate success of that other individual.  It is a core value of building a true and lasting relationship…giving with no expectation of personal gain.

My heart can’t imagine how those who believe in nothing but their own personal power know what to do with gratitude.

Prayer provides a perfect vehicle for expressing thankfulness.  When we are in alignment with God and at least one other human being over a situation or need and focused, we are better able to receive the answer.  We actually cooperate in the creation of the answer and will recognize it when it comes.  When it does come to fruition, we cannot but be filled with joy and gratitude.  The best place for this to be expressed is again in prayer, the original source of focus while it was still a problem.

Recently my church pastor exposed us to some refreshing concepts from a book by Gary Tyra called Holy Spirit in Mission. Here is what I took away from those views:

  • Everyone in the world is in need of prayer for something
  • A very small number of those people will cross my path each day
  • Of those I meet, I will sense the need to offer to pray with or for one or more of them
  • Almost no one will refuse and all who say yes will feel encouraged or supported and uplifted in some way

Perhaps you’ve had someone in your life like my Uncle Fred whose prayers were strong and sure and encouraged you to pray the same way.  Or was there someone with a sweet quiet voice, but no less sure that they were heard–who helped you realize a prayer can also be the smallest whisper?

Or, have you had the experience of a stranger praying for you and it was the catalyst to change, growth or success in overcoming an insurmountable problem?

Anne

About Anne

The youngest of 8, I was born in a tiny town in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan in the late 40’s. My minister parents died 6 months apart around the time of my 5th birthday. My older siblings raised us in the family home until all were graduated except me. Gradually only the boys remained, so at the age of 10 I moved to other homes. My childhood was rich with experiences that sparked my young imagination. When I finally read the Anne of Green Gables series, I totally identified with Anne. I have just celebrated my 46th anniversary with my dear husband, Lou. Our daughter, April, 4 grandchildren and one great granddaughter bring our family a lot of joy and reasons to be thankful. I have worked at O’Connor Mortuary since 1996 where I handle the accounting. The Mortuary has become extended family and it is a source of satisfaction as a job I thoroughly enjoy. We attend the Village Church and that is another wonderful extended family, one who not only worships and learns together, but loves and prays for one another at the drop of a hat. We live in a retirement community and enjoy taking our two dogs, a Bernese Mountain Dog and little Cocker Spaniel, to Dana Point Harbor for Sunday jaunts. I absolutely love participating in the Mortuary Blog. I have found my voice! Thanks for following me.
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  • Anne –
    There are so many things in life that we cannot control, yet we think we can control them. At time I truly feel like I am free falling or lost, yet a quick small pray helps me know that I maybe lost yet I am on the right path. I like your thought of praying for others even if you don’t know them, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” You are blessed, thank you for all your support and prayers over the years. XO

    • Thank you, Neil. With you at the helm, this mortuary is becoming more and more wonderful, not only for the families we are serving, but with the sense of purpose, caring and teamwork that occurs daily among the staff. 2012 has already been an amazing year, with much more to come. By the way, I can recall one particular time when you spontaneously prayed for me and my family which blew me away and which I know God answered. Thank you for that. It’s always a two way street. Just because someone prays easily for another, doesn’t mean they don’t also need that gift back.

  • Lori Bristol

    I have the great honor of working with Anne. I have the greater honor of being able to call her friend.
    Anne, we have prayed together and it is obvious that Uncle Fred and others along your life journey have made you the inspiring woman of God you are. I consider you my role model when it comes to praying for others so automatically.
    I love you!!

    • Your sense of humor, quick wit and yet strong faith and ideals right under the surface make you a great friend and co-worker. You know for sure about direct answers to prayer. Look how you got your job??!!?? Oops I bet that will be a future blog of your very own!

      • Lori Bristol

        Maybe…I’m afraid of Neil’s comments on that one. Lol!!

        • Anne Collins

          Huh! You are fearless!

    • Lori,
      You are a treasure to work with. Yes, we have prayed together more than once. I know you have a deep love for the Lord and a strong passion for His work and have volunteered many an hour for your church. Your desire to be there for your friends and family is so obvious. I know you touch many lives every day.
      Love you too.

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Annie
    We have been friends for more than 17 years and there isn’t a day that goes by that I have not been blessed by
    your thoughtfulness and your prayers over me and my family. You truly are a warrior when it comes to those you love and care for. We are all about inspiration and care. It’s at the core of our being here. You, in your quiet way, give us courage and the faith to walk through the hard times. I love you dearly, and I’m blessed to call you my friend.

    • Patricia, I thought when I came here 17 years ago that what my bosses needed most from me was my compassion for families and that I would grieve with them. I thought I would use a lot of tissue personally. Then I found out I was more useful if I did my job well and didn’t cause any additional pain to their already heavy load by any thoughtless errors. You taught me right away how to do that perfect job, how to do it quickly and ahead of time because there would always be more to do right behind it. And yet I found that my compassion did not take a back seat. There will always be a moment, a need, a chance to come along side friends and strangers. Thank you for all you do here for our families and our community. Thank you for being my dear friend as well.

  • Jeff Turner

    Anne,

    You are your uncle Fred to me. I have been on the receiving end of prayers of yours and your dear husband for nearly two decades now. And I only know the the tip of the iceberg of the depth of your prayers on my and my family’s behalf. Thank you my friend.

    P.S. I am up for you helping me walk of the ceiling but perhaps not at work.

    • Thank you, Jeff. Yes, we have prayed you through a lot of things I have never mentioned and did not even know the details of, just knew you you had a big need at the time. That is a cool thing about prayer. We don’t always benefit by knowing details. HE knows, so that is what matters. Jeff, you walk on the ceiling all by yourself every time you hit the mark. You inspire all of us so often around here. Just let yourself “see” where you are walking!!

  • Chuck

    Anne, thanks for the email telling me and Connie about this blog (I don’t know why it’s called that … it makes me visualize a bog with a leak), but since our families have been friends for almost 40 years, we already knew about Uncle Fred and the pioneering ministry of your parents. What a blessing! And your presentation of the prayer life (and all of the responsive comments) remind me of our prayer chain back in the days of Glad Tidings in North Long Beach. It is my prayer that through this venue (please forgive me, I just hate to say ‘blog’) The Spirit will draw more and more people to the saving knowledge of, and a closer and deeper relationship with, ‘The Man in White.’

    • I was just remembering those days. Especially remember the time of my kitchen accident and the horrible burn I sustained down my bare leg. Lou called the prayer chain and you two were at the door in minutes. If you recall, by the time you went home much later, we unwrapped and checked the burn again and it was gone!! Skin all restored and barely pink. Compliments of the “Man in White”.

  • GREG FORSTER

    Anne,

    What a thoughtful inspiration your words are! You just sent me on a mini-retreat and once again I experienced your kindness and compassion. You stunned me once last year when you confided in me that you and Elinor were praying for me on your own, without me asking you for such a special favor, because you both so much wanted me to be accomplished here at OCM. I was so affected by your action. Some people offer words, but not much else and go on their way. The two of you acted, and for this I will be always grateful.

    May God always keep you close, Greg Forster

    • Anne Collins

      Thanks Greg. You prove one of my points. I personally have no power to create success for you in a new career, but knowing that Elinor and I wanted you to succeed enough to come along side you with prayer, created friendship, support and the belief that Someone upstairs was also helping. And look at you now! Thanks for all you do for our families!

  • Kari Leslie

    Annie,
    You and I have shared many a prayer together, as a matter of fact, just this week. There is a power that is indescribable when you humble yourself, believe and then speak to God Almighty. Being that yesterday was our country’s National Day of Prayer, I am so moved by your words. Thank you for sharing from your heart, and always being a prayer warrior. You are that “sweet quiet voice” that carries her shield and sword into battle for us all!!
    I love you my friend.

    • I totally did not link the fact that I chose to write on prayer and then Molly published it so close to the National Day of Prayer. Very cool! You above all know personally that a truly humble but simple prayer yields amazing, mighty miracles! (Speaking again of this past week!). I love you, too.

  • Anne, Thank you for your chronic prayers for all you meet and inspiring words above. Earth becomes Heaven in the presence of a person like you~

    • Renee, each in their own way has the power to touch many lives. You are definitely among them. Thank you for all you do for women.

  • Jean Anderson

    Hi Annie,
    What a beautiful message, and Uncle Fred brought many wonderful memories.
    God bless you , I love you.
    Auntie

    • Auntie, Thank you for your words. We could write a book on Uncle Fred and his many kindnesses to family and strangers. Love you, too.

  • Esther

    Anne,

    A beautiful reminder how precious prayer is. Whenever we talk on the phone, so far away from each other, you always say, “Let me pray with you” before we hang up. You and Lou have been an encouragement to Wayne and I as we know you pray for us each day, and those prayers have helped sustain us, even though Wayne is still in hospital after nearly six months. I couldn’t make it without the prayers of others. Thanks for your love and care for us.

    • Well, Wayne lost his long battle with illness this morning and gained his much deserved heavenly reward. The miracle of yesterday morning with all the family there, for him, as a result of prayer, to suddenly open his eyes, be able to speak and sit up and enjoy the entire family and friends and his pastor on into the night is amazing. This, when the nurses said there is no more blood pressure to read, the kidneys and bowels have long since shut down and the heart is barely beating! What a wonderful home-going! Wish I had been there. He WAS my daddy from a young girl.

  • Joan Petrime

    Anne, you have been Tom & myself a great friend. When Tom lost his second battle with cancer, you & Lou were so very compassionate & caring! Oh all the prayers we received!!! I hope the thought of praying for someone else brings them comfort & strength from the Lord. Prayer is a mighty powerful tool whether the outcome is good or bad. My son Tim & I treasure your friendship so very much. May God continue to work through you for that is the biggest compliment! Love, Joan & Tim

    • There are many ways to serve. Every day I see you doing things for others in your family, in the neighborhood, in your church. Every day we touch someone’s life in a good way, God smiles!

  • Maria Fernandez

    Anne,
    Prayer is the most powerful tool we have as believers and yet at times its the last tool we pick up to use. Thank you so much for the beautiful encouragement. May God continue to use you as you write and share words of edification. Through the years you and I have shared some very special moments and I will always cherish those times. Love and miss you so much my friend!

    Maria Fernandez

    • Yes Maria, often the last tool. So true. Your own beautiful Elizabeth, living though only 24 ounces!!! to become the vibrant happy child she is now, growing healthier every day is a huge example of the power of prayer. She should have died sooo many times but she is here and a living testimony. Write your book, as only you could!

  • Judy Williams

    Such a powerful teaching in so few words! Many have not touched my heart so deeply with thousands of words! Thanks, Anne, and Thanks, LORD for Anne.

    • Judy, coming from a writer like you, I cannot help but be humbled. Thank you for your friendship and support. You definitely are an inspiration.

  • Randy Taylor

    Thank you Anne for sharing this. I worked at OCM 12 years ago and I still think very fondly of all of you. Reading this blog I see that it is an even closer group. I really miss that. I am so blessed to have stumbled upon this.

    • Thanks, Randy. Working here IS a pleasure and a privilege. Keep reading. I think you will find it worth your time. Come back and see us any time you are in the area. Would love to say hi again.

  • Anne, This blog is just a small bit of the wisdom I have learned from you. I sometimes think of you as a saint just a few doors down from me and while I’m sure you’d disagree with that, I mean it sincerely as a compliment to your steadfast dedication to the Lord, his truth, and his power in and through you.
    To answer your question above: You’re my Uncle Fred. I’ve had a few beacons in my life that I consider on that level and I include you with them. I’m so glad we have this time together to learn & share, thank you for the blessing of this blog! Looking forward to the next!

    • Anne Collins

      Technically, we both have saint status according to scripture, but it sure doesn’t fit yet on my shoulders. Many years ago when I was your age, my lofty goal was to somehow, some way impart something to everyone I walked with that would change their life for the better. I have never quite given up on that. And along the way I soon realized that I needed it back just as much from others. Thank YOU for what you have contributed to me. You are a thinker and deeper than most of your peers and I so enjoy that about you.

  • Mark

    Anne….Thank you for some fresh concepts on an old topic that many of us take for granted….Thank you for reminding me that we are never to busy to stop and pray, especially for the families we are working with who are in such great need of prayer, comfort, and support….Thank you for the times you have shared with me that you are praying for me…I always feel like me and my family are one step away from a Dr. Phil show…..I think you understand what the Apostle Paul said when he encouraged us to pray without ceasing….thanks for the example you are….Mark

    • Anne Collins

      I know what you mean about Dr. Phil. Every family has great needs to pray within their own families. I guess it is alway a good reminder. I think the reason it is good to tell someone we are praying for them is to help them become part of the answer God is trying to impart. It opens their heart to the probability that things are going to change and they have support. Thanks for taking time to comment! You are the best!

  • Wade Perry

    Hello Anne,
    What a powerful image Uncle Fred conjures in my mind. I have always taken comfort that my mother Elinor was praying for my safety and well being througout the years. This was especially tested during my time in the Marine Corps when I spent many years in peril. There were times the knowlege of her prayers gave me the courage and fortitude to go on. These days were before I had known Jesus. As my faith has grown and my prayers are directed outward towards the intentions of other as well as inward toward my walk with Christ I have grown fond of the story of St. Monica of Hippo who prayed for 14 years for the conversion of her notorious son Augustine. This story helps me to understand that the time is of His making not my desire and we must persist in our prayers even when it seems to us to be of no avail. I think the power of a mothers prayer for her children is among the most powerful and loving creation of our Lord. Thanks for your witness and the conversation last week.
    God Bless you.

    • Anne Collins

      Thank you Wade. Glad you had the time to read this with your busy life and glad you identify with Uncle Fred. From what I know of you, you would have loved to spend hours listening to him. He was that kind of man. You mom, my dear friend and amazing help at work, was truly faithful to pray you safely back home from the Gulf and ever since. May the blessings He loves to give us all cement your business and direction you take for you and your family.

  • Amy

    Thanks for sharing your story. You are remarkable!

    • Anne Collins

      Thank you, Amy. Actually, very ordinary, though. We have chances in life to touch others, sometimes through a prayer and sometimes through a great, helpful attitude or abounding enthusiasm, which is what I always get from you. Appreciate your taking a minute to post! Hugs!

  • Good article, Anne. Posted to Facebook. You are right. Everyone needs prayer.
    Blessings on your ministry, Coleen in Georgia (the country,at the moment)

    • Anne Collins

      Wow, Coleen
      I am so jazzed that someone (YOU!!) went back and read my first blog. I love that. Wish I could come see you, where you are and your work there. Maybe some day. It IS true. Everyone needs prayer for something. Seems like everyone I know has a need right now, bigger stuff than we humans can carry alone. Enjoy your time in Georgia.
      Love
      Anne