One trait all my Dad’s family is sure to mention regarding Eli Conrad, is his reliance on prayer. Grandpa’s bad heart meant he couldn’t work with the same gusto other men. I’m sure this must have been very hard for him. Every man wants to provide for his family by his own efforts, but because he was unable to do so, the rest of the family had to pitch in. My dad was able to hire himself out to neighboring farmers in order to bring in extra income. Conrad must have felt very ambivalent about that, but the nature of the culture during those days was that every family member had work to do. Dad gained much more than pay from working, though, and I’ll tell some of those stories later.
Since Conrad was acutely aware of his own physical weakness, he instead called on a much more effective power Source. He was still capable of doing some chores around wherever they were living, so he spent time outside and could be seen walking from chore to chore. While he walked, Conrad would pray. Dad told about passing a window and catching a glimpse of his father, traversing the yard with his arm raised out from his side, elbow at a 90 degree angle, and hand pointed straight towards the sky. “I knew that Daddy was in touch with Heaven,” Dad would explain.
On one occasion, Eli Conrad’s propensity to pray became a family witness to the power and presence of God in our lives. Before I was born, while my family was in another state in evangelism, my mother came down with a life threatening illness. Since she was unable to care for herself, let alone two small children, Conrad and Mary planned to take a train to stay with Dad and the family. The doctor’s prognosis was dire, and Conrad and Mary would provide the practical care and comfort Dad and the kids would need while Mom was in the hospital.
It was winter, the train station was 35 miles away, and an infrequent blizzard had just passed through the day before, so the pastor of the church Mary and Conrad attended told them he would drive them. The pastor had a Model A Ford with a small heater in the front seat, so Mary sat up front, huddled under it for warmth. Conrad sat silently in the back seat while the pastor raced along icy roads, trying to get them to the train station as quickly as possible… it was an emergency.
Suddenly, quietly, a voice spoke from the back seat, “Pastor, you can slow down. I’ve just said a prayer for Helen, and she’s going to be alright.” Conrad’s voice wasn’t excited, just matter-of-fact. So the pastor slowed down. And Mom got well.
Conrad’s family always spoke about his prayer life. They spoke with a reverance and respect that reached deeper than if he had been a man of great physical or financial strength. He was a man who knew God, and learned how to converse with Him. I believe it isn’t coincidental that he also was a very quiet man. He was deliberate. When he spoke, you had to be patient, because it took him t.i.m.e. to relay the message. I am learning how important it is to be unrushed when we spend time with God. The point of prayer, is to know the Father. As a result, we learn what is important to Him.
“Meditation is the necessary prelude to intercession. The work of intercession, sometimes called the prayer of faith, presupposes that the prayer of guidance is perpetually ascending to the Father. We must hear, know and obey the will of God before we pray it into the lives of others. The prayer of guidance constantly precedes and surrounds the prayer of faith.” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline.
Conrad’s ongoing habit of talking with God during the everydayness of life gave him the confidence that God would grant his request. God wasn’t changed by the habit, Conrad was.
And the change was a conduit for God’s blessing to his family in hard times…