Perservering in Prayer for Those We Love
About the Guest
Praying for future generations yields results! Evangelist Sammy Tippit believed he had no spiritual heritage. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that his great-grandparents were church planters, and that his grandmother was a woman of prayer who interceded for her children and grandchildren.
Praying for future generations yields results!
Perservering in Prayer for Those We Love
Sammy: My grandmother died in 1942, five years before I was born.
Bob: He didn't know much about her until many years after he had become a Christian. That's when he learned she was a praying woman.
Sammy: Twenty-three years after my grandmother died, her grandson that she had never met, walks into a church and gave his heart to Christ and three years later, through that grandson, the son of hers comes to know Jesus. Twenty-five years after my grandmother died, God answered her prayers.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 6th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. You may not live long enough to see the answers to your prayer, but that doesn't mean your prayers won't be answered. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Today is Day 2 of our 40-day Love Dare that we put in place this week to walk us up to Valentine's Day. I know a lot of you saw the movie, "Fireproof," when it was in theaters back in the fall, and the Love Dare was featured in that movie, and the book became a New York Times bestseller and, in fact, we've got in on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. But we thought we ought to rally our listeners to take the Love Dare and each day for the next 40 days listen for your assignment and then execute.
So here is your assignment on Day 2 of the 40-day Love Dare. Ephesians 4 says "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." So your assignment for today, today's dare, is in addition to saying nothing negative about your spouse – that was yesterday's assignment – in addition to doing that again today, find at least one unexpected gesture that you can make as an act of kindness toward your spouse.
So yesterday the assignment was "say nothing negative." Today – find a gesture, an unexpected gesture of kindness that you can show toward your spouse, okay? You got the dare? If you need to review it, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and the information is there. You can get a copy of the Love Dare book from our website, FamilyLifeToday.com as well, and then keep listening throughout the month as we continue to give you Love Dare assignments each day so that we can learn how to love like we mean it, right? That's our theme for the month, and all the way up to Valentine's Day.
Today, though, we're talking about praying for your family, for your children, and for the generations to come, and I don't know if you've thought about this, but it is possible that we will, one day, arrive in heaven, and there we will have the chance to be introduced to a relative, a great-great-great-great-great-great – you know, I don't know how far back you want to go, but grandparents, uncles, aunts – and …
Dennis: Are you hoping you're going to be related to somebody famous, is that what you're trying to say?
Bob: No – I'm thinking that I may meet somebody who says …
Dennis: George Whitfield, Martin Luther – what are you wanting, Bob? Tell us what you're wanting.
Bob: I may meet somebody who says, "You know what? I prayed for you 300 years before you were born, I prayed for you." What a thrill to think that there may be relatives in our past who prayed for us and that God honored their prayers in how He's been at work in our lives.
Dennis: Two thoughts on that, Bob. One, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and a good friend of mine, used to say, "I am praying for the staff's children, grandchildren, and great-great-great grandchildren to a number of generations," because he wanted to see the work of God continue on in the future.
When you couple that with a statement I heard about prayer that all Christian ministry is the result of someone's prayers, it kind of puts it in context that maybe if you are having an impact for Jesus Christ today in your marriage, in your family, in your community, perhaps, maybe, just perhaps someone in your past prayed for you and prayed for your faith.
We have a gentleman with us on FamilyLife Today who I just happen to know …
Bob: He could testify to [inaudible].
Dennis: He believes this. Sammy Tippit joins us again. Sammy, welcome back.
Sammy: It's great to be back again.
Dennis: Sammy is an international evangelist and conference speaker. He has ministered in more than 80 countries, authored 12 books, has two children, four grandchildren, and a wife called "Tex."
Sammy: That's right, and we just celebrated our 40th anniversary.
Bob: Congratulations, that's great.
Dennis: Way to go. You believe this, though, because you actually went on a quest to really find out about your spiritual roots.
Sammy: Yes, I was actually forced into it. I didn't go on in voluntarily. I was forced into it because a man called me from Portugal, of all places, and said, "I have evidence that we are brothers and that we come from the same Native American Indian tribe." And I said, "Well, sir, obviously, you've never seen me, because I'm not an Indian," and I said, "Secondly, what evidence do you have?" And he said that he had evidence that my father and his mother had an affair during World War II, and that he was the product of that affair, and that his mother had committed suicide as a result of her relationship with my father.
Dennis: Whoa! Just out of the clear blue?
Sammy: I mean, out of the clear blue. This was just a few years ago, I got this – actually, my sister got the letter, and then he said that he wanted to talk to both of us, and I thought, "Well, maybe this guy is a scam artist," and I told my sister, I said, "Boy, he didn't do his research because neither one of us have any money."
And so I said, "I'll check it out." So I went on the Internet, Googled this guy's name. Come to find out, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, London Times, every major English-language paper in the world had a feature story on DNA testing, and it began the story by quoting this man saying that he had found his biological father – talking about my father – through DNA testing.
Well, all of a sudden, I mean, the whole world was hearing about my father, and I had to find out – what is this? You know, most people find their long-lost brother in Houston or Dallas, mine is in Portugal. I said, "Oh, man."
Bob: Of course, you had no knowledge of …
Sammy: … of anything.
Bob: Your dad's background related to World War – you knew he'd been in World War II.
Sammy: Right, I knew he'd been in World War II, but I never even talked to him about that. Also, there was a lot of credibility to it because I didn't know until my dad died, that I had to go sign papers that he had only been married to this other woman besides my mother. And I said, "What other woman?" I never knew about it.
And then I found out later, when my mother died, I found papers that the divorce came through right before he left to go to Normandy. So this was all plausible. So I said, "What is the deal here?"
Dennis: Well, especially, too, for you it was not a good heritage to be given to you as a follower of Christ – to have your father …
Sammy: And it didn't match up with what the little that I knew about my father. I mean, my father was – he was a big man, athletic, but he was a very kind and gentle man. And so I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what to – all I knew was I had to find the truth, and the only way I could find the truth about this guy was we had to do DNA testing. We did – we were not brothers.
But everything else he said – I discovered that my aunts, my cousin, were all members of the Nansemond Indian tribe, and that I come from a unique people group called "Red Bones," in Louisiana, and that's a derogatory term that was used for this tri-racial mixture of people – they were English, Indian, and African.
Bob: You're saying American Indian …
Sammy: American Indian, English, and then African – sub-Saharan African – so black African. And so I came from this – I started doing research on trying to find out what the situation was, and as I opened it up, I unraveled this incredible history going back 400 years to a 10 times great-grandfather who left his family and when I found him, it was like I was looking in the mirror – who left his family, lost his inheritance, everything that he had in the Jamestown Colony because he loved the Indians. Everybody else called them "savages," and they were at war, but he didn't. He loved them.
And I found a document calling him "the apostle of the James River," and he preached the Gospel, and the Nansemond tribe, half the tribe was converted to Christ. The tribe today is that half that's – the other half was – they died out, but the half that's in existence today are all a result of John Bass. My grandmother was a Bass, Eliza Bass, and she descended – and you find this long lineage of preachers, and then you come into Louisiana at the time of the Louisiana Purchase, and I found the first Protestant church begun west of the Mississippi River, was begun by my three times great-grandfather and three times great-grandmother, my four times great-grandmother gave the property for this Baptist church, and I find this incredible history, and then I come down to my grandmother, and, of course, I didn't know my grandmother and grandfather – they had died before I was born.
They lived isolated, deep in the forest of Southwest Louisiana with this group of people, this unique people group, and my grandmother, the only thing I could found about her written was that she was a woman of prayer. My aunt wrote about her prayer life, said that one day she heard my grandmother talking to someone about things that were so intimate that she ought not to be telling anybody those things, so she peeped out to see who she was talking to, and she saw her under the trees at her little place of prayer talking to Jesus – crying out to God for my father, crying out to God for her children, and, boy, you know, I just realized that I had this inheritance and what was amazing about that was that I have a place under the trees that I've gone for the past 20 years for my quiet time and didn't even know about my grandmother – didn't know anything about her.
Well, I had to know more. I started contacting my cousins and everybody that I could find out and learn as much as I could and discovered that my grandmother died in 1942, five years before I was born, and I got to thinking about that. Now, she died in 1942, my dad had turned his back on God, had walked away, went away to World War II to fight in a battle. What was she thinking? When she was laying on her deathbed, her son that she loved so much in a war, turned his back on everything he had been taught, what was she thinking? And it just rose up in my heart that she died not having seen but having believed.
But she died in faith – 23 years after my grandmother died, her grandson, that she had never met, walks into a church not to find God but because his girlfriend was there, to see his girlfriend, he walks into this church, comes under the preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is released, and that grandson that she had never met falls under deep conviction of his sin and his need of Christ, and two years, three years later, the son of hers, through that grandson, comes to know Jesus. Twenty-five years after my grandmother died, God answered her prayers.
And, you know, we were talking about persevering – my grandmother persevered unto death and never saw the answer to her prayers, and yet here we are – that was '42, and here we are sixty-something years later on this broadcast, and I'm talking about what God did in my life. And God has sent me to over 80 countries, I've preached in the largest state in the world – I'm sure this poor little Indian-African-English woman who was a nobody out in the forest of Southwest Louisiana had no clue what her prayers were going to do.
Dennis: And, of course, in case our listeners missed it – you're the grandson.
Sammy: I'm the grandson, that's right, I'm the grandson.
Dennis: And ending up seeing your father come to faith in Christ on his deathbed.
Sammy: That's right, and some men from my church who knew my situation, came over and led him to the Lord. God sent me to over 80 countries around the world – my grandmother could never even have dreamed of that. I mean, she couldn't have imagined that, and God has done that. Just think what would have happened in 1,000, 10,000 like me – 100,000 like me – what could happen in this nation. It could be the source of a great revival in this country and, literally, around the world.
Bob: When I was growing up, I remember hearing my grandmother talk about her Uncle Paul, who was a sheriff in Colorado, and he was small, and he used to have to wrestle people to the ground, and then he'd stick his thumbs in their eyes, I mean, we heard all these stories about our ancestors. So I heard about sheriffs and cattle rustlers – didn't you ever hearing anything from your mom or your dad about your heritage?
Sammy: You know, this is a strange thing – I cannot remember my dad ever mentioning his mother or his father to me. He never once talked about them, and …
Bob: So when you came across this information about your grandmother and about past generations, this was all completely new to you?
Sammy: Yes, and you have to remember, I thought I was from a totally non-Christian background.
Sammy: I went back and called some of my cousins and said, "Can you bring me to the place under the trees where my grandmother prayed?" They brought me to that place, and I asked them questions. They knew – they are all older, and they knew more than I knew, and they began to tell me stories, and one of my older cousins said this to me – he said, "My grandmother would go to church," and he knew an old preacher who had died many years ago, and he had talked to that old preacher, and he said that when my grandmother would be called on to pray in the church that the doors would literally begin to tremble because she prayed so fervently. And that's what she was known as – she was known as what we would call today an "intercessor," a prayer warrior. That's who she was. That was in her DNA.
And you know what? In my ministry, prayer has been the foundation of everything that I've done.
Bob: You wrote a book called "The Prayer Factor" a number of years ago. Prayer has been integral, so when you learned this, did it change prayer for you in any way?
Sammy: Absolutely, it did, because that's when a revival began to take place in my life, and I realized I needed to go to a new level of prayer in my life; that God had brought me and God had used me – brought me to this place where He had used me, but if He was going to bring me to greater places of usability in His Kingdom's work that I was going to have to go to a greater place of prayer. And the thing that I think it did for me is it enabled me to see that great truth in the Scripture where he says that "God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we could ask or think." That what God did in my life was far beyond what my grandmother could have ever thought or imagined.
And so if I will pray, God can do things with my kids, with my grandkids, with my great-grandkids, with generations if Jesus tarries, that will come that are far beyond anything that I could have ever dreamed.
Dennis: Sammy, undoubtedly, there are some single people, they don't have children, there is no prospect of being married in the future. There are single parents who maybe are slugging it out in some tough circumstances, there are some parents and grandparents listening to our broadcast who have children, maybe grandchildren, where do they start in terms of praying generationally for the future of their family?
Sammy: Well, I think it starts with the quiet time, the place alone with God. They need to get their Bible down and just start reading through The Word and spending time with the Lord in The Word. I believe if they do that, God will speak to their hearts. You don't have to go looking for a promise from God. God will speak to you. Don't try to make something happen that's not really there, but just as you devotionally read the Word of God, and you pray for your family, God is going to supernaturally bring you across Scriptures and passages that He will give you promises.
And you begin to claim those promises, you stand on those promises, and you just begin to pray as He speaks to your heart from the Scripture, and I believe that God will do some great things. He'll take it from there.
I think there is one other thing that I would – really – because I have a whole bunch of things in my book about this, but there is one other thing that I would highlight, and that is to pray about the things that are on the hearts of your children, not just what's on your heart.
I think one of the greatest lessons I've learned about prayer, and as people have gone through our book, I am getting more and more feedback about this one principle than any other principle that we have in the book – go to your children, find out what's on their hearts and say, "How can I pray for you? What is it that you – if you want me to pray for you, what one thing do you want me to pray for you about?" And start praying really heavily about the things that are on their hearts.
My daughter, when she got married, wanted to have one of these destination weddings, you know, in Hawaii, and it was a big deal today, and I said, "Hawaii?" And then I got to thinking, "You know, I don't have a lot of money, but I've got a lot of miles accrued. This could be cheaper." So we went, and we had this wedding in Hawaii, but when we got there, it rained every day. And my daughter came to me, and she said, "Dad, you've got to pray that God will stop the rain." And, oh, man …
Dennis: The pressure is on you now, Dad.
Sammy: I know, and I said, "Well, sweetheart, it doesn't quite work that way."
Dennis: Is it reversologia?
Bob: That's right. Instead of sending the rain, you've got to stop it?
Sammy: So I went before the Lord, and I said, "Lord, you know, what do I do?" And the Lord spoke me – he said, "You know, I care about weddings, don't you remember?" And so I began I to pray, "Lord, would you stop the rain?" And we woke up that morning of the wedding, the first day that we were there of the whole week, the sun was shining, no clouds anywhere, the most beautiful day I've ever seen in Hawaii.
I want to tell you what, my daughter comes to me when she has a need, and she comes to me and says, "Dad, would you pray for me?" And because I got on her page, got off my page and got on her page, about the things that were important to her. You know, I'm praying all these great, spiritual things for her, man, that wedding day was important.
Now, what would have happened, you say, if it did rain, I don't know? But it didn't. All I know is that God answered my prayers, and it didn't rain. So I would encourage people to do that.
Dennis: You know, the Psalmist exhorts us to not only tell the next generation about what God has done and who He is, but the Psalmist also exhorts us to pray for generations, and that's what you've done here on FamilyLife Today, Sammy. You've, in essence, illustrated how to do it, you have equipped us better to do it, and, Bob, I think for every person here, single or married, the action point is pray for your descendants, pray for the legacy you are going to leave for the generations that follow, because as followers of Christ, we should be living lives that are going to outlive us generationally. Not one generation, not two, but we need to be thinking, three, four, five, maybe even as many as 10 generations into the future because if Christ doesn't come back, those generations need to be there to tell the world who He is.
Sammy: And I would only add one thing, and that is for the spiritual generations – because some people may never have children, may never get married, but all of us can have spiritual children that we disciple, that we win to Christ, that we effect for Christ, and we can pray for those generations to come, and that will be an incredible contribution that we will have for the future.
Bob: Well, I think we need to remember, and this is a good reminder, that praying for our children and asking God to do a work in their lives or in our grandchildren's lives, that's ultimately going to be more powerful and more effective than anything we can do trying to persuade or coerce or cajole our children to do something we think they ought to do or even something that God wants them to do. That doesn't mean we don't try to persuade, but we need to make sure we are praying regularly for our children, for our grandchildren, and for the generations to come.
And, again, in our FamilyLife Resource Center we have got a number of resources that are designed to help couples do just that – including Sammy's book that he's written called "Praying For Your Family." That would be a great book not just for couples to go through but a good book for small groups to go through together. It may be that a number of couples want to get together regularly and work their way through this book and spend time together praying for their children.
And we've got a lot of resources in our FamilyLife Resource Center that will point you toward prayer. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and we've listed some of them there. Again, it's FamilyLifeToday.com, and you can order the resources you need from us online, or if it's easier, simply call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can give you more information about the resources that are available and let you know how you can have the ones you need sent out to you.
There is one additional resource I want to mention. For years, Dennis, I know you have been encouraging husbands to initiate the discipline of regular daily prayer together with your wife, and you and your wife, Barbara, have written a book called "Moments With You," that is designed to give couples a daily devotional that they can read through together and then the opportunity to pray together as a couple. This month we are making that daily devotional available to listeners who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.
Because we are listener-supported, we need to come to our listeners and let you know that your financial support is what keeps us on this station and on other stations all around the country, so it is important that we hear from you and, again, this month, if you are able to make a donation of any amount, we will send you, upon your request, a copy of the book, "Moments With You," by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.
If you are making a donation online, and you'd like to receive the book, just type the word "moments" in the keycode box on the donation form or call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can make a donation by telephone and just mention that you'd like the book, "Moments With You," or the devotional for couples, and, again, we are happy to send it to you, and we do appreciate so much your partnership with us and your financial support of this ministry.
Now, tomorrow we want to talk specifically about how parents can more effectively pray for their children, their grandchildren, and for generations to come. We'll do that with our guest tomorrow, Sammy Tippit. I hope you can be back with us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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