Follow the Recipe – A Roadmap of Faith Left Behind by My Late Father

There are dozens if not hundreds of handwritten notes in my dad’s New English Bible. My dad purchased this particular Bible on June 1st, 1971 – which was twelve years before I was born. Twelve years after I was born my dad died of a heart attack.  As I have written about before, his Bible, watch and wedding ring are the major artifacts that were given to me to remember him. 

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Questions, comments and underlines fill the margins of this nearly fifty-year-old Bible. When I notice the time and attention my father had given to God’s word I wonder, “Why didn’t he teach any of it to me?”

My dad loved me. My dad loved Jesus. At least I believe he did because the notes in this Bible are sometimes profound and heartfelt revelations of God’s love and goodness. My dad, however, never talked to me about Jesus. I have often pondered if he thought I was too young. After all, I was only twelve when he passed.

Maybe my father wasn’t sure how to talk to me about the subject of God and faith. Maybe he was no longer interested in the things of God.  Regardless of the reason, I am left with evidence that at some point my dad learned something from God’s word.

My favorite piece of evidence starts in the Gospels. Mark chapter 11. My dad underlined a section of Scripture and underneath it wrote the words, “FOLLOW THE RECIPE.” What recipe is a roadmap about prayer and faith that stirs my soul every time I go through it. I pray this recipe will cook up faith in your Spirit as well.

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Have faith in God. I tell you this: if anyone says to this mountain, “Be lifted from your place and hurled into the sea,” and has no inward doubts, but believes that what he says is happening, it will be done for him. I tell you, then, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24

My father once ran in an election to serve on the city council in our small St. Louis suburb. I remember how excited he was to run for office. He ran against a decade long incumbent who was well liked and who many had thought would never lose an election to someone inexperienced in city politics. My dad – who wanted to see his city changed just like I do today, had faith that he could unseat that incumbent.

Be always joyful; pray continually; give thanks to whatever happens; for this is what God in Christ wills for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There were red signs with his name – which happens to also be my name, in hundreds of yards in our small suburb. Vote for John Simmons – City Council. My dad knocked on doors, talked to people and believed he could win. The thankfulness he had when votes started to come in was apparent. His face would light up every time his name would come across the screen of the newscast on the night of the election. Was he following God’s recipe?

A good man’s prayer is powerful and effective. James 5:16

I never saw my dad actually pray for victory in this election, however, I do know he had a vision for his future. In one of my last conversations I remember having with my dad I asked him a similar question I often ask people today when teaching them about finding God’s sentence for their life. I asked, “Dad, if you win, what do you plan to do next?”  I remember him sitting up in his seat and proudly sharing with me that he planned on running for mayor.

But when you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is there in the secret place; and your Father who sees what is secret will reward you. In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard. Matthew 6:6-7

My dad spent many nights in the basement by himself. His office and television were there. I hope my dad was down there praying from time to time. I hope when I saw any success he had in life was a result of answered of prayers sent to Heaven from a secret place.

If two of you agree on earth about any request you have to make, that request will be granted by my heavenly Father. For where two or three have met together in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:19-20

On the day of the election, my dad campaigned at Marvin School behind the house we grew up in. Marvin – which is the name of both a St. Louis city changing man from the late 1800s and also the middle name of my son James, is the setting for the last lengthy conversation I had with my dad.

On the stoop out in front of the school, I handed my dad a letter I wrote earlier in the day. It described how proud I was of him and how I thought he was going to win.  He sat down on the bench and took the time to read it, although that was not normally his personality and I could sense he was anxious to get back to campaigning.  We discussed what it would look like if he won and how his future would change. After some time together, he thanked me for the letter and then sent me down the hill back to our house. 

My dad and I sat on the second bench from the left and had our last lengthy talk

My dad and I sat on the second bench from the left and had our last lengthy talk

On that stoop, we followed the recipe of faith of when two or more are gathered.

My dad won that election, unfortunately, he also died a few days later. John Simmons the first died before he was able to fulfill the vision he had for his future. He was also gone before teaching his son about Jesus. Still, I hope that this story embodies my dad’s faith at the end of his life. Even though my father never taught me about God’s word in person, he left me lessons to learn that I’m still discovering decades after he went to be with the Lord.

I hope you have a recipe of faith and prayer in your own walk with the Lord. If not, feel free to try the recipe I learned from my dad and am now teaching my son. If you do, let us know how it turns out. 

John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.


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