By Thomas Waters
The days are getting longer and warmer. Robins are arriving, Azaleas, Red Buds and Dogwoods are budding and blooming all marking the beginning of Spring. As the days continue to warm, snakes will soon be crawling – including rattlesnakes. An interesting story is told about a prayer for rattlesnakes.
Preacher Robert Sheffey (1820-1902), a powerful man of prayer who spread the gospel throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, one day met up with a family with a desperate need. A young man had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Spotting Brother Sheffey riding by, the young man’s father sent his youngest boy to bring him to the scene. Fearing his son would die, the father was counting on Sheffey’s reputation for powerful and effective prayer. So he said, “Preacher Sheffey, call upon the Lord so my boy will live.”
Sheffey did not recognize the man nor his family and so he inquired as to whether any of them, father or mother or children, had ever called upon the name of the Lord. “No, I guess not. There’s — there’s three boys, ma and me,” the father said, hanging his head. Now they recognized their desperate need for God.
As the family stood by Preacher Sheffey knelt on his sheepskin beside the wounded man and prayed,
“Oh Lord, please bring Thy healing to this young man, and Lord we thank Thee for snakes and pray that there be many of them. It is because of a snake that this family calls upon Thy holy name today. One of the sons has been bitten, and they called upon Thee. Now, Lord, except for the snake they would perhaps never in their lifetimes have turned to Thee. What a blessing this lowly, crawling thing has been! Lord, I want you to send lots of snakes. Send another one to bite the youngest boy here, and send still another to bite this woman who never had her boys kneel by her chair, that they might hear the prayers of their mother. And, Lord, above all things, send a great big rattler, a really large one, to bite the old man so that he may call upon Thy name fervently and much.”
What do you really need in your life? Rattlesnakes? Most of us want health and wealth. Often, however, blessings become curses and instead of leading us to thankfulness and worship of the One True God, they become excuses for neglect of worship and prayer.
Folks who seldom or never attend the worship of the Lord, who hardly ever pray or read their Bibles or even think of God or thank Him for daily blessings, often call upon preachers to pray for them when they are sick or in trouble. Wonder what they would think if the preacher started thanking the Lord for the trouble or sickness that has made them sensible of their need for God and asking the Lord to send more? I mean really? Should I pray for a person to get well so they can once again forget God?
Perhaps we ought to pray as John did for Gaius, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul”. (3 John 2)