Gray Haired Saints

Last week I spoke at a “Men’s Prayer Breakfast”; actually, there were two women mixed in with the 35 or so men—so let’s just call it a prayer breakfast. This group represents several different churches throughout Tacoma and has been meeting for 43 years. That’s no typo. Every Wednesday except for the occasional holiday that disrupts the week, this group has met. The average age of the attendee has got to be pushing 75.

Here’s the flow of the morning. They meet in a local hotel conference room. They are served the same buffet breakfast each Wednesday. It’s overpriced but not bad. While they eat, they pass around prayer cards; first to write down requests on behalf of people they know; and second, to sign so the one prayed for can see all the people who petitioned God on their behalf (the card is mailed to them that day).

Then the leader welcomes everybody and sprinkles in a joke or two he must have read from Reader’s Digest or from a Guidepost’s devotional that morning. Next a guy stands up and starts singing, encouraging everyone to join him belting a verse from a hymn or old chorus. I don’t sing well so I fitted right in. The MC then gets back up behind the mic and goes table by table asking for explanations needed for the prayer requests still circulating amongst the tables to be signed. One of the ladies present stood up and spoke warmly about her son (50+ years old) who was attending with her that morning. Apparently, the group had been praying for him for years. He appeared uncomfortable and out of place but there he was, sitting next to his proud mother. Most of the requests were for those with cancer or some other kind of ailment and for wayward children and grandchildren. Someone then comes up front and prays through all the cards.

Up to this point, the gathering had taken about an hour. I was introduced at 7:30 a.m. I was told a trap door opened at 8 a.m. sharp that would whisk me away from the podium if I wasn’t done. I think they were kidding. I noticed I was being recorded on a small cassette deck to my right—yes, a cassette deck.

I began by thanking them for their decades of serving Jesus and representing the Kingdom of God in Tacoma. I reminded them that God often does His best work in us and through us when we face sickness, difficulty, and hardship. And then I closed with a challenge: “You have walked with Jesus for years. You have grown and matured in the faith. Before passing the baton of faith to Tacoma’s next generation of church leaders, please make sure, as best as you are able, that your church hasn’t changed. Is it faithful from the pulpit? Is the Gospel clear? Are the sermons expositional and still carry the weight of “thus says the Lord”?

A few shook their heads in the affirmative. Many of them, however, appeared melancholy. It was my sense that some of their churches had changed—and they weren’t happy or proud about it.

I closed before 8 a.m., not wanting to test the “trap door” rule. As I did, one of them yelled out, “Let’s pray for the pastor.” I sat in a chair as these old saints came around me and asked God to be my strength and to bless me.

Their prayer had already been answered. I had been blessed. God used this collection of gray-haired saints to do just that.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

October 30, 2014

1 comment

  1. I like the yelling to pray for the pastor part. Sounds like more pastor appreciation to me. Looking forward to next October.

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