What’s the Length of Your Shadow of Influence?

“The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.”
Proverbs 10:7

January 2, 1967 the Lord called a beloved saint home to be with Him at the age of almost 90. The length of her shadow of influence is still touching lives today, 42 years after her home going.
grandma_doty_cropped__5When I was 10 years old, we moved into the upstairs apartment in my Grandmother Reta’s home. It was a beautiful old Victorian complete with pocket doors, glass door knobs, beautiful mahogany bookshelves surrounded the fireplace, a crystal chandelier hung in the drawing room, and a fragrant rose garden in the backyard. But what I remember most about the years we lived there was sitting with my Great Grandma Doty. Recollections are of a woman who had a stroke and couldn’t do much for herself.

I remember spending countless hours in her room with her. She sat in a beautifully carved oak rocker that had overstuffed cushions added to it for comfort. There was a large set of windows in her room with white sheer curtains draping them. Under the windows was a large end table with an old radio, a lamp, Billy Graham’s “Hour of Decision” magazines, and her Bible that contained several pages that I had painstakingly taped back together after it had slipped off her lap. After that she usually waited until I returned home from school and I would read her Bible to her. She would tell me where to start and stop. When I would stop, she would tilt her head back, close her eyes and pray out loud, praising God. As a young preteen girl, it seemed like it went on forever!

When she was finished with the Bible reading she would tell me to leave the room and wait outside her door while she entered what she called her prayer closet. Sometimes she would tilt her head back and actually place a white handkerchief over her face so she would not be distracted. I couldn’t go anywhere while she was praying because she said she might need my help with something. That’s what she said, but I think there was another reason. I think she wanted to give me a glimpse of the legacy she was leaving me. I think she wanted me to understand the extent of her love for me and for God in a way that I would not even begin to understand for many years to come.

As a young girl, I thought her prayers were foolishness. She prayed “for the heathens in Africa who don’t know Christ as Savior. Send someone to them Lord, send someone to shine Your light in the darkness”. She prayed for her children, her children’s children and their spouses. I would hear her name my siblings and my cousins plus any of my generation that were “yet to be born”. She would pray for our spouses, too. How foolish I thought! I’m just a kid, why is she praying for who I might marry some day? Then she would continue with her praying for the generations that she would never know. She prayed for my children (and my siblings and cousins children). She would pray for my children’s children. She prayed for the spouses of my children and my grandchildren. And then she really went out there…she prayed for my children’s children’s children (my great grandchildren) and their spouses. Six generations!

Everyday! As she prayed I would marvel at the warmth in her voice and the love and tears that flowed, like she knew all these people. Those endearing prayers were like a tender embrace around each person.

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in an old oak rocking chair in my bedroom looking out a window draped in white sheer curtains and holding Grandma Doty’s Bible. I had such a deep sense of love and gratitude for her and the legacy she left me. For the tears she shed for me and mine and for those who don’t know Christ. For showing me years ago how to pray fervently for something that I may never see come to pass in my lifetime.

I tilted my head back in the chair, closed my eyes and begin to pray 6 generations. Nothing new, I’d been doing that for years because of the example she set for me. Suddenly, I felt connected to my precious daughter Laura and her family, including my newest grandchild who will be born in July, 8,000 miles away in a tiny village in Kenya, Africa. For you see, even in this Grandma Doty’s prayers are being answered over 42 years later. Her prayer for “the heathens in Africa who don’t know Christ as Savior. Send someone to them Lord, send someone to shine Your light in the darkness.” I’ve often wondered, did she ever think it would be one of her own descendants that would answer the call and give birth to yet another generation in that far off land?

As I clutched her worn black Bible, I placed a photo inside of my recent trip to Kenya. I was blessed to be able to share Grandma Doty’s legacy with a precious group of ladies. I even taught from her Bible.

They were deeply moved to know that 100 years ago there was a Godly woman in America praying for them to come to know Jesus as Savior. They were amazed as the story unfolded and they realized that one of the messengers God would send would be a great, great grandchild she had never met and yet had prayed for. They were encouraged to know that even though they are not yet able to read the Word of God for themselves, they can still leave their own legacy of righteousness by praying for their descendants.

Nadatade holding Grandma Doty's Bible
Nadatade holding Grandma Doty’s Bible

Father, today I thank You for the awesome privilege of influencing future generations through prayer. May I never grow weary of praying, even when I may not see the end results.Protect my family and my new dear friends in Kenya. May they continue to grow in their love for You.I love You, Lord!
Your Humbly Grateful Daughter,


17 thoughts on “What’s the Length of Your Shadow of Influence?

  1. Debbie

    I was blown away by your story of your Grandma Doty! She certainly left a legacy. I think of the people who think that money and power and prestige is the way to gain influence and to leave a legacy. But in God’s economy it’s just the opposite. Your grandmother taught you by example. In her helplessness, she was the teacher. Oh how I love to hear stories like this one. And I believe it’s important to share the stories of how God works in the life of a believer. Then when we get discouraged that we’re not being used by God or that we don’t have a big ministry …we can remember Grandma Doty!

    How awesome that you were able to share how her prayers were answered as Nadatade held her Bible. Grandma Doty had the faith to believe. I want that in my life too. Thank you for sharing!

  2. MicheleMichele

    I never get tired of hearing about Grandma Doty’s legacy…. Her prayers changed all our lives! Great job sis! Loved it!

    oh, did you cut me out of the picture? I have this pic too… but with me in it! hummmmm lol…

    Love you sis,

  3. Deborah

    This reminds me so much of my grandmother. I still pick up her Bible with handwritten notes in it, and know that she is still teaching me after being gone 20 years. Thank you for sharing this story.

  4. Laurie Adams

    Marsha, what a beautiful and moving story. I am reminded of the faithfulness of those that have gone before us – praying, fasting and believing for our salvation, faithful saints like your Grandmother who reached heaven in a mighty way. Oh to be like Grandma Doty – faithful and full of belieif and consistent and reverent. Sometimes I think we just get in too much of a hurry when we spend time with God but what we need to do is close the door and tilt our head back and put a hanky over our face to eliminate all of those distractions. Thanks for sharing today. -love, Laurie

  5. Karen

    I agree…..what a beautiful story about a precious saint of God! Having been blessed with four! such grandparents in my life, my eyes teared when I read the part \”As a young girl, I thought her prayers were foolishness\”. Young and impatient, I would rush to get away and play when my grandparents held their \”prayer meetings\”. But seeds had been planted….and now, years later, I bow before the Lord nightly and thank Him for blessing me with a family that shared such a rich Christian heritage. That is a true inheritance! May God Bless you in your mission work!

  6. Beverly A Sams

    Marsha, I posted to your blog, but decided to come back and introduce myself, I’m Mary Freeman’s older sister, Beverly! I found your blog on her blog, and was so touched by the love you have for your grandmother, Doty…This is what God wants His children to do, share with all the world…your Grandmother knew so much…God Bless you!!! Bevie

  7. Linda

    I really appreciate the story that you have shared about your Grandmother. I remember Grandmother praying in a similar fashion. I know that she also prayed for future generations to come and their spouses.

    Reading your post has convicted me of my failure to pray in such a way. Yes I pray for my children and their spouses and future spouses for the one not yet married. I have started praying about grandchildren not yet born. I have not yet prayed anyfurther down the line. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing.

  8. Beth


    I wish I had had someone in my life like your Grandma Doty. But, even without someone like her, I have been taught a lesson by your writings.

    I, too, used to think such praying was almost, not quite, foolishness–praying for those that aren’t even known or born! But, now I know. I see how your great grandmother’s prayers have been answered–through you, through your daughter in Africa, and on and on and on.

    I’m going to start this–I always pray for my children–that they come to know and love the Lord–but now I’m going to start praying for those they come in contact with everyday–that they be led to the Lord also, for I know they do not love Him. Also praying that my children will be in contact with more and more people who will influence them in their lives in positive directions towards Jesus.

    By the way–my anti-spam word is LOVE!!

  9. Darlene

    Wow!!! What a wonderful story…it brings tears to my eyes. I have been praying for my daughter for several months and wondered so many times if God is listening….I know he is …just so ready for her to return to HIM and our family. We have not talked to her since Oct. 14th 2008. I know for some this isn’t long ..but for me it seems life forever. This post gives me encouragement to not give up and keep pressing on….One day God will bring her back to him!
    I think it wonderful that your Grandma passed on such a fabulous legacy….
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. Mary

    A lovely tribute to your Grandmother. My Grandma also prayed and was a Godly woman. She set a fine example for me and left a great legacy for her family.

    I enjoyed visiting with you.

  11. bobbie

    What a beautiful legacy. Prayer makes things happen and the influence you received was awesome. What a special woman. And to see her prayers answered. Wow!

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