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5 words that say everything

| by Bob Russell

Recently, I spoke at a Christian convention in Orlando, Florida. The worship leader for the morning was Derric Johnson, one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met. Forty-five years ago Derric brought an outstanding ensemble called “Regeneration” to our church for a Sunday night concert.  

Derric has since served as director of the Liberty Singers at Disney World and has been a beacon of light for the Christian gospel in a variety of musical circles, both spiritual and secular. He’s outstanding at arranging music that touches the soul.

A moving story 

In addition to his musical talents, Derric—now 85 years old—is a gifted story-teller and devotional writer. While leading worship in Orlando, he told another story that really moved me. It follows:

“When Jaci (the last of our five children) was four years old, I saw her kneeling at our glass-topped coffee-table. I supposed she was looking down at wedding pictures or a Disney Memory Book. But I smiled and asked anyway, ‘What are you doing?’ 

“She paused and looked up before saying simply, ‘Jaci prays.’ 

“That seemed to be too good an opportunity to pass up, so I said, ‘Can I pray with you?’

“ ‘Yetz’ (that’s how it’s said when you’re four) was her one-word reply. 

“I knelt beside her and asked, ‘Do you want Daddy to pray, or are you doing it?’ Full of confidence she answered, ‘Jaci prays.’ 

“She folded her hands and closed her eyes. Then she turned her head and looked up at me and admonished, ‘CLOSE YOUR EYES!’ 

“I do confess that I was staring down at her with love and wonder. After all, Jesus said, ‘Watch and pray’ and I was fulfilling His command.

“So, with my hands dutifully folded, I bowed my head and closed my eyes. And this is what I heard, ‘Dear Jesus, Thank you. Amen.’ I looked down and said, ‘That’s it?’ 

Effective prayer

“Jaci looked up at me and said, ‘That’s enough.’ 

“Those five words moved me to tears. I went upstairs to my office, got on my knees and spent the next 30 minutes just saying, ‘Dear Jesus, thank you. Thank you for the good times and the hard times, the happy times and the tough times, because they are all from Your hand. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ ”

After telling that tender story, Derric Johnson looked out at a sophisticated audience of several hundred Bible college presidents, academic deans, and administrators. He added, “And right now I’m going to ask you to pray ‘Jaci’s Prayer.’ Five simple words that should move your heart deeply. Dear Jesus, Thank you. Amen. Say it again, only this time—like Jaci told me—CLOSE YOUR EYES! Dear Jesus, Thank you. Amen. That’s enough.”

What a touching experience. Not just because it recalled a tender moment, but because an 85-year-old musician wasn’t afraid to remind us all that we are to come before God as little children. In that moment, I saw the essence of servant leadership on display.

Photo source: istock 

Bob Russell

At just twenty-two years of age, Bob became the pastor of Southeast Christian Church. That small congregation of 120 members became one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending the four worship services every weekend in 2006 when Bob retired. Now through Bob Russell Ministries, Bob continues to preach at churches & conferences throughout the United States, provide guidance for church leadership, mentor other ministers and author Bible study videos for use in small groups.

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