• Eunice Wilkie

The Celestial Chronicles (1)

Updated: Feb 17

Stories imagining Christian service from Heaven’s point of view

Tuesday Night Prayer


Lois Turnbridge shifted in her seat, barely masking her sigh: Mrs McGuiness had picked the seat right next to her. There were only a dozen people in the room – plenty of empty places to choose from. Lois tried not to notice the crumbs adhering to the old lady’s cardigan which was, as usual, buttoned up wrongly. Then she tried even harder to ignore the slight odour of stale uncleanliness there was about her. More than likely, Mrs M would want to chat at the end of the meeting, asking about every church member and she would accept a lift home too; Tom was certain to offer one. Just when Lois wanted to get home early, for once.

Lois plastered a smile on her face and greeted the old lady. “And how are you? Feeling better now? … Ah, still not so good, I am sorry! You really ought to take it easy – maybe a bit more rest will put you to rights! I think this winter has got the best of most of us...!” It certainly appeared that way this evening. Tuesday night prayer was definitely not in vogue with most church members. Lois knew she was only there from habit, and perhaps because her husband was an elder and she felt she owed it to him. Secretly, she wondered what difference the gathering made…

***

Hallel, the duty Prayer Sentinel, sped swiftly through the shining corridors. He handed a note to his superior, Tefilah, the Celestial Minister of Prayer.

“Very good.” Tefilah smiled as he scanned it. “We’ll assign Tov to the gathering too. Perhaps we’ll see some action!”

Hallel brightened. A routine prayer gathering of the church of Lower Sink was so unlikely to result in any action that it usually only required the presence of one Prayer Sentinel. It was one of his least favoured assignments – listening to the few feeble, unimaginative prayer requests from this church. Often, there was little to record; only a few utterances made it as far as the Prayer Chronicles of Heaven.

In the Realm of Time, it was 7.40pm in Lower Sink. Two of the dozen in the prayer meeting were already snoozing. Two were lost in their own thoughts: stressed with the activities of the day, anxious what tomorrow would bring. One was hoping to avoid another at the end of the meeting and was planning a quick getaway. Four had unconfessed sin in their lives and their prayers were ineffective. Lois was focussed on feelings of resentment and guilt – torn between her annoyance at the needy, untidy old lady next to her who might demand too much of time; guilty because she ought not to feel like that. She sincerely wished dear Mrs M had stayed at home just one more prayer meeting night.

If only they knew.

Tov arrived hotfoot from a less needy prayer meeting (practically nothing resulted from the church of Deep Mire). Both Sentinels held their golden quills at the ready. Suddenly they were very busy indeed. They could hardly keep up with the fervent, powerful prayer requests being made by the famed Prayer Warrior, Mrs McGuiness, who had returned to the church at Lower Sink.

At the end of the allotted prayer time, Hallel crossed out, one by one, most of the names of Lower Sink church members in the Book of Rewards. Under the ‘prayer contribution’ column, there was very little, if any, reward for the prayers offered at that meeting.

The variety of angels waiting to be assigned duties resulting from prayer requests stood around, shaking their heads in bafflement that these redeemed people, purchased by their Master, had once more shunned the privilege and power at their disposal. The anxious saints who had brought their burdens to the meeting carried them home again.

Apart from Mrs McGuiness.

Hallel and Tov passed on the ‘Highly Effective’ prayer requests to the waiting Scouts, Couriers, and other ministering angels. They immediately vanished from sight.

Then the two Prayer Sentinels entered the Treasure House of Heaven and between them carried handfuls of sparkling gems to the room which bore Mrs McGuiness’s heavenly name. It was already teeming with jewels of unimaginable size and splendour. But there was room for more.

***

The angel assigned to one of Mrs McGuiness’s prayer requests that night wished he could inform the beneficiary.

Did Lois Turnbridge know how much Mrs McGuiness prayed for her?

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