The first time Mildred Johnson heard the term “prayer warrior,” she knew she had found her calling. It was just the way it sounded. It was her.
Which meant that for forty-six years she hadn’t found it, but there was no point dwelling on that. Finding your calling is a glorious thing, whenever it happens. Think of all the people who just follow their nose through life and never do. What is a person without a calling? She knew all about phones not ringing.
But what would the point of a calling be, if there was nothing for it to call you from? And no, nobody had called, literally. No thunderous voice from above. But her conviction had been just as clear as if a voice had said the words, “You will become a Prayer Warrior.” She had long known that the key to a successful religious life was knowing when to take things literally, and when not. It’s an intuitive thing.
Prayer Warrior. She saw images of the Standing Liberty Lady, with her olive branch, and Lady Justice, with her scales—and, in both cases, swirling robes. But she knew those were just silly pictures running through her head. When she did some research into the matter, she understood that being a Prayer Warrior was just plain hard work. But she knew she was equal to the task.
She didn’t exactly hang out a shingle, but once she had decided to dedicate her life to the warfare of prayer, it became widely known, and the phone started ringing. Who knew of all the pain in the human heart?
It quickly became a full-time job. And she discovered that finding your calling is not the blissful event you had thought, but stress. A lot of stress.
Because there were days when it felt like it would crush her. She suspected it was like having children—supposed to be so joyous and fulfilling, but from what she could tell was mostly just nasty and thankless toil. Not to mention incidents like the time her dear little nephew had vomited into her purse.
Take today: two surgeries, four addicted children, not one but two bad gall bladders, a dented F-250 fender, a wayward husband—one of her least favorites—and an impending hip replacement—not counting the twenty-seven unanswered requests in her in-box—all before noon! She had to continually remind herself that they didn’t understand the energy this vocation took. Not that she pitied herself—she was a Prayer Warrior. She could “mount up with wings as eagles.”
But, truth be told, one reason she was shying away from the twenty-seven old requests was that she already knew what one of them was.
It was hard sometimes to keep in mind that God loves all His children. He doesn’t have favorites. Well, there was Abraham. And Enoch. And Noah. And Daniel. And David—a man after God’s heart! Not to mention the disciple whom Jesus loved. Lucky guy. Okay, so God had some favorites, but mostly he didn’t, and these were Bible people anyway. For regular people it was wrong to want to be a favorite of God—even if you had to admit that wouldn’t be too bad. Regular people, Mildred knew, are all equal in God’s eyes. Even if she could not fathom how God could love Charlotte Bullard—well, that was just it: he was God, and he could see into the very inside of a person. Which is, when you think about it, the worst part—but never mind that.
Not a week, hardly two or three days, went by that something didn’t come in from Charlotte Bullard. No, Mildred hadn’t even looked at this most recent, because she knew what it was about. The same thing it was always about: helping her overcome her pride. Relieving her of the burden of knowing she was a higher grade than everybody else. Oh, what a toll it took on her carrying that knowledge around! How hard it was to humble herself! And usually with a covertly worded plea for her husband to make more money. The Lord knew, her taste being so refined, that she would use it for good. And sometimes she would throw in a plea for understanding in the world. That all people would come to understand their proper place and stay in it. That would make the world so much better.
The danger, for Mildred, was praying that a boulder on one of those mountain roads where the signs say “Beware of falling rocks” would—no! That wasn’t in the spirit of a true Prayer Warrior. Scratch that.
But she did seriously wish that people would just stick to gall bladders.
Ding! Another prayer request. Owen Gardner’s biopsy results were back. Oh dear. Not what they wanted to hear. Time to get busy. Charlotte Bullard could wait. And all the others. So many!
Heal yourselves! she wanted to scream sometimes.
But that wouldn’t be right.
Love is a fragile thing—easy prey to a thousand lusts. Somebody’s got to do the work of keeping it alive.
Ah, the lamb who bears our griefs and carries our sorrows.