He probably never earned more than $20,000 annually in his life; he always drove very used vehicles; and he lived in a home he built with his own hands, a home that cost him $1,400 in 1940. He was not an astute businessman and struggled to barely make a living for his large family of six children. He worked as a plasterer, cement mason and general handyman, often driving long distances to find employment. He did not enjoy the most loving marriage as his wife struggled with her past and present sorrows. The care of two special-needs children, the deaths of an infant son and his only daughter only added to the burdens that he carried. In spite of all the negatives in life, he maintained a winsome, friendly demeanor and an incredible sense of humor. He loved and respected people, an attitude they could sense.
His deep devotion caused him to plant a church in a small village, where he served as the pastor. In spite of the fact that he only had an eighth-grade education, he was an avid reader of Scripture, the poets and history. His congregation numbered about 30-40 people, and he became a faithful teacher who diligently applied himself — even when he was often weary from his manual labors. For 48 years, he gave himself to this little village congregation, from which many preachers and missionaries emerged, surpassing his outreach. His sudden death stunned his family, church and the entire Parma community who loved him dearly.
This man was my father, Paul Yadon, and on this Father’s Day I honor him, not for his business acumen, his management skills or a lucrative estate, but for the incredible example he left in his wake. I was able to see Jesus walking through my life — in my father’s size 9 scuffed loafers. And as I reflect on his life, which ended almost 34 years ago, I have come to appreciate the fact that one of my father’s greatest traits was his perpetual habit of bowing on his knees in prayer.
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He was often found kneeling at his old red Naugahyde chair, worn and stained by his elbows and head that pressed against the back. As a child, I vividly recall the many times he would walk to the little church next door for a time to be alone with the Lord. There, he released his many burdens, disappointments and stresses because he was not capable of carrying such a heavy load. There, he called the names of his family, friends and congregants. In that process, he received a genuine love for people, because he would tell us that it is impossible to pray for others and hate them at the same time.
My father’s prayer life has become a lasting example that I have tried to incorporate in my life. I realized that a father’s prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in the world. It is what is dearly lacking today. Whatever authority God gave a father must be exercised initially in prayer. The family would be more inclined to respect a leader who has been praying for them.
My kneeling father should be the banner of our culture. Dad would never have been content to allow the fruit of his life to be his children addicted to drugs, or hanging in the trees by their necks. Desperate, hopeless, even suicidal kids need a loving, praying father.
Men, my father’s example declares that your family and our world need you — on your knees in prayer. Don’t offer the excuse you don’t know how — until you try it. Your way isn’t working. Bowing is not a sign of weakness, but of incredible masculine strength. It takes a real man to abase himself and let God know he needs help. A man is not taller nor stronger than when he is bowing in prayer.
On this Father’s Day, join strong men, like my father, as they bow in prayer. The fellowship is private and humble, but the results can be incredibly wonderful, even miraculous.
Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise.
The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.