We were dodging coal trucks on the winding mountain roads of West Virginia. I was invited to preach at the evening service of a remote little country church. Sharie and I had to lug our two little ones and a guitar, across a swollen creek, over a sketchy rope bridge and then find the building nestled in a holler. I believe the name was End of Earth Baptist Church (or it should have been).
The house was full, and the service was bustling with activity. The people were sweet mountain folk but there was one lady who stood out to me. She had a doily secured with a bobby pin to her hair.
A doily! I kinda wanted to get my Grandma’s knick knack and set it on her doily.
She was evidently trying her best to follow the words of 1 Corinthians 11. A head covering was a physical sign that she honored the authorities that God had placed in her life.
I was wondering if she might have been at odds with the Deacons. She was the only woman in that congregation of about 100 with a head covering.
That was also the night I was introduced to what they called, “family prayer.” When the pastor said, “Let’s pray!” everyone, with robust voices, prayed in English, out loud and all at the same time.
The man to my right was asking for revival; the woman behind me wanted healing; the boy to my left asked God to help him with his grades. It was planned chaos – more noisy than the snake handling church farther up the creek.
The way it ended was quite interesting. After 3 minutes or so, folks concluded their prayers – one-by-one and the din would ebb until all were silent – except – the lady with doily on top.
With great fervor she prayed on, for every need on that mountain with special mention of the pastor and the deacons. It took her another 2 minutes to finish. Whatever happened to unspoken requests?
The pastor led us in 3 different family prayer sessions and every time the lady with the doily – would pray on until she decided it was finally time for her to say Amen.
It was clear me who was in control of that meeting. I guess there is more than one way to defy and dishonor those who are over us.
Then again, most of us have mixed feelings about those in authority over us.
And yet Paul wrote, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1
He argued that God has established the authorities around us. You don’t like your teacher? Talk to God about it. Dislike your mayor? Your beef is with God.
He gave us authorities to create order and promote the general welfare. Without authority we have anarchy – whether it be at church, work, school or in government. God expects us to comply with those authorities.
We Christians are appalled, “Oh my, that person has abused their authority.” And “Oh that other person, well, he is denigrating the authorities.” Well OK – we should be appalled.
But here’s the thing, we may be the one wearing the doily.
Our first obligation to authority is to pray. Paul wrote, “First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2
We are to pray for “all who are in authority” (not just the ones we like) says Paul. Pray when we meet for worship, when we say our prayers at night, and when we gather for the purpose of prayer.
They need wisdom and compassion and to be guided by justice. They must have strength, resources and moral centeredness. They need the Lord’s help.
Paul says that when we pray in this way, it produces a society that provides for a “peaceful and quiet life.” I am certainly ready for a lot more of that.
We Christians believe in prayer and in the authority of the Word of God – and yet this kind of prayer sometimes, but seldom happens today.
Hmm, time to take the doily from our heads and get to praying.
A PRAYER: Lord, help me to honor the authorities in my life – by honoring the authority of your Word – and doing some serious praying for them.
Scripture references from the NET Bible ®