Rory Groves fits the classic definition of a Renaissance man – a man of many talents, interested and knowledgeable in many fields. Father of five, he’s accumulated a lot of his wisdom and insights since 2012. That’s when the former computer guru moved with his wife Becca to a small farm in southern Minnesota.
Initially, he planned to maintain his Minneapolis computer career working from home. But a few things got in the way. Growth was the common denominator – he grew to love the farm, his family was growing, and his love for and dependence on God was growing deeper.
Before long he found himself researching subjects such as “family economies” and “resilient families.” In conversation a few days ago – actually, I was interviewing him for a story in AFA Journal – I asked him what he meant and how one goes about building a resilient family.
Instant answer: “On your knees!”
Those three little words struck my heart. Hard and immediately. With them, Rory was reminding me of a spiritual discipline that I often struggle to maintain. Again, I’ve slowly allowed my persistent and daily prayer time to move from the front burner to the back burner. Slip a few rungs down the ladder. Anybody else know what I mean?
In our lengthy discussion, Rory mentioned prayer a number of times. He’s learned how to depend on it – from deciding to leave a city career to learning how to build secure pig pens, grow farm crops, disciple farm kids, write a book, and depend more fully on God to meet his growing family’s every need.
A lot of that learning has been on the learn-as-you-go plan. Trial and error some call it. But Rory will assure you that prayer has a major impact on the way he and Becca approach life and teach and train their children – Elias, Alden, Harriet, Elsie, and Ivar.
I’ll go anywhere?
In my experience, prayer remains a mystery sometimes. I just don’t get why it “works” sometimes and doesn’t at other times; or at least, it seems not to work. Yet Rory set the stage for me to reminisce and relive a number of dramatic times when God answered my prayers in ways I would consider miraculous.
One was the sequence of family conversations, a challenge from my sister, a phone call from a friend, the courage to send a resume, and an invitation to an interview that landed me at this very desk at AFA almost four decades ago. Yes, it really is the same desk – bought from a used office supply company and well used before it became my own. In reality, I think we’re about the same age, the desk and I. But I digress.
Why do I say this one was a miracle? There were some questions, some fears, some glitches, and a number of “coincidences” in this sequence of events.
And there was no small element of irony. At the time a lifelong resident of Alabama, I was, indeed, praying with a (mostly) open mind and heart. I lived in the county where I had grown up, I didn’t want to move away. But I began praying, “Lord, I am confident of only one thing – I’m supposed to be preparing to move somewhere, and I’m ready to go anywhere you clearly lead me across this great nation. Amen. (P.S. Except Mississippi. Please, Sir.)
Yes, indeed, prayer was a major factor in bringing me to Tupelo, Mississippi. My frequent and fervent prayers – and those of praying family and friends – paved my path to this old desk where I have been blessed with a long career in the AFA ministry.
I’ll resolve again
Obviously, we know the importance God’s Word places on prayer. Jesus Himself sometimes sought sanctuary from the crowds to be alone and pray numerous times, perhaps most poignantly at Gethsemane just prior to His crucifixion (Mark 14:32-39).
The Word commands us to pray in Philippians 4:6 – “…in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” (NASB).
And we’re told that God answers our prayers: “He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas” (Psalm 102:17, NLT).
The Gospel Coalition says there are 650 prayers listed in the Word. That averages almost 10 prayers in each book of the Bible. And there are about 450 recorded answers to prayer. That’s evidence enough of its significance in the Christian’s life.
Thanks to Rory, my newfound brother in Christ, and thanks even more for his reminders that pointed me back to a part of me I need to revive! And, I do, this day resolve again, to spend more time in prayer talking to God and listening to His responses.
Editor’s Note: A feature story and a review of Rory Groves’ book Durable Trades: Family-Centered Economies That Have Stood the Test of Time will appear in the September issue of AFA Journal (afajournal.org).