Growing up in Texas where live oaks thrive, I had no problem visualizing the meaning of the 14th-century proverb, “Great oaks from little acorns grow.”
Noisily crunching them beneath my feet, collecting them by the cupful and “oiling them up” in order to sell them to my very accommodating neighbors, I would use my fingernails to put smiling faces on their smooth greenish skin as they peeked happily from under their little gray tams. Or I’d feed them to the squirrels. These are all part of my fondest childhood memories.
But the greatest acorn memory I hold is this: My father would collect them one by one and place them in his pockets to remind him to pray for those in need. Each day he would take a walk and as he did, he would stoop low, scoop up an acorn and name it, saying, “This one is for the little boy with cancer.” Or “This one is for the lady who lost her husband.” Or “This one is for the man who needs a job.”
And then, as the day would pass, every time he would place his hands in his pockets, he would grasp an acorn and say a prayer for each and every one.
He would often meet those for whom he was praying and hand them an acorn from his pocket and say, “See! I’ve been praying for you!” They cherished the physical reminder of his beautiful and simple act of faith.
From those “acorns” of faith, many, many “mighty oaks” of prayer grew and were answered — and from them, connections and communities of love were built.
What’s your “acorn”? Do you even have one? Do you have visual reminders to help jog your memory and encourage you to pray for others?
I do! I have named each of my fingers for a friend in need. My pinky is Chuck, my ring finger is Dean, my middle finger is Anna, my pointer is Heidi, and my thumb is Dani. And so it goes with my left hand as well. All of my fingers are named for a different friend or family member. Each Mass I attend is for them. Every task is offered for them. With each prayer said, they are folded together, tightly clasped in the grip of God.
I challenge you this summer to find your “acorn” — fingers, rocks, shells or whatever it is that will encourage you to pray for others. And then pray often. And let those you are praying for know it! Nothing boosts a person’s faith and spirit more than knowing that others are rooting for them in prayer.
Remember: “Great oaks from little acorns grow.”
“Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16).
Thank You for the gift of intercessory prayer. Thank You for hearing me as I plead for my friends and family. Thank You for being not a God far away, but a personal God who longs to have a friendship with me. You are one with whom I can speak and who answers back. Thank You that You still heal today.
Please give me the grace of increased faith that I may boldly ask for Your perfect will to be done in the lives of all those I know. Lord, please give me the gift of the desire to pray and the grace to do it.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Melissa Overmyer is founder of Something Greater Ministries in Washington, D.C., and has been teaching the Bible for over 30 years.