What Ruth Graham Taught Me About Prayer

A powerful way to make God's words your own.

If you find your stomach knotting, your head pounding, and your teeth clenched, discover the simple remedy of bending your knees.

Many years ago several young college students sat around the old oak table in Ruth Bell Graham's kitchen, listening to her stories. We were lonely and homesick. College life had been rougher than expected. Ruth's eyes glowed as she told us of her own bouts with loneliness, particularly of an unsparing incident that once laid her low.

"When I was 13," she said, "my parents, missionaries in China, enrolled me in boarding school in what is now Pyongyang, North Korea. It was a difficult parting, and on my last night home, I earnestly prayed that I would die." Ruth didn't die, but arriving in Korea, she reeled under pounding waves of homesickness. Every night, she buried her head in her pillow and cried herself to sleep. Finally in desperation, she went to her sister, Rosa, also enrolled in Pyongyang.

"I don't know what to tell you to do," Rosa replied bluntly, "unless you take some verse and put your own name in it. See if that helps." Ruth picked up her Bible and turned to a favorite chapter, Isaiah 53, and put her name in it: "He was pierced for Ruth's transgressions, he was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought Ruth peace was upon him, and by his wounds I am healed" (v. 5).

"I claimed that verse and knew then," Ruth told us, "that I would make it."

Cure for a knotted stomach

I have often remembered Mrs. Graham's words, and have developed a variation of that technique. For several years now, I've devoted a portion of my daily prayer time to taking various passages of Scripture and putting my name in them?or the names of others. I record these prayers in a journal as petitions to the Lord.

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May 25

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