Agnes Sanford – Woman of Faith and Power

Blessed Event
At the height of my campaign to discover how faith grows, Agnes Sanford came to a church in our community. She was in her mid-seventies by then, doing only occasional workshops, mostly for ministers. We were blessed by the fact that Agnes was friends with the Episcopal priest at the church on the next block. She did this workshop as a favor to him. Her favor to him became one of the spiritual milestones of my life.

A Woman Power Figure
Agnes Sanford was a force to be reckoned with. Filled with power and conviction, for five evenings she kept us riveted to our seats with her stories of prayer and God answering prayer in the most unbelievable circumstances.

Agnes talked about praying for things I would have never considered bothering God with. In her earlier years she focused on physical and emotional healing. Now in the early 1970’s she was training others to pray for the healing of the earth. She was a woman ahead of her time!

Power Prayer for Trouble Spots
I sat spellbound as she told how God had called her to buy a home at the heart of the San Andreas Fault near Palmdale, California. The San Andreas Fault was to be her last patient. She walked the hills (this elderly woman) and prayed where she felt troubled spots. Then she led groups of young people to do the same, pounding a small white cross into the ground after they felt the trouble dissolve under their barrage of prayer.

Never had I heard anyone so comfortable with talking about and living in the supernatural realm of the Almighty! ....a life of faith lived in a radical and measurable way.

Agnes Sanford had my attention.

Prayer Project
During that week we were to take on a prayer project, something that we could give testimony to at the end of the week. After a brief survey of my concerns, I was certain none of those situations could possibly budge in five days time. So I had no project…quite uncharacteristic of me.

On Friday, the morning of the fifth day of the workshop, I substituted for my husband at our local high school. He was tied up with an out-of-town meeting for student activity directors. His parting words to me were: " Give my keys to the kids to open up their display cases; be sure to get the keys back. "

I loved subbing for him when there was a display project underway in his marketing class…lots of activity and energy…very creative. I realized that this morning was gone in a flash when I glanced at the clock and saw that there were two minutes left before the lunch bell would ring. " Oh my! Where are Mr. Rose’s keys? " The question was hardly heard over sounds of students working on projects inside the classroom and all the way down the hall.

The bell rang and the students were gone…along with Mr. Rose’s keys. This was a whole ring of keys, including a master key that opened 99% of the doors on campus. (This was the privilege of being Student Activity Director.) The rule was: if you lose a key, you pay to replace the lock. After some quick calculating, I knew we would be refinancing our house to replace locks if the keys were not recovered.

Now I had a prayer project. I drove home for lunch, sat on the floor, and went through the steps that Agnes had been teaching us for prayer. The first miracle was that I could actually do the steps and not just have a heart attack. By the time I returned to campus, I felt composed and deeply at peace….quite unexplainable by anything I had experienced before. I didn’t see anything, didn’t know anything. I was just very quiet inside.

God Answers Prayer
A sympathetic teacher let me into the classroom (no keys, remember). I scanned the roll sheet, realizing that several students from last period were in this class as well. One name stood out. I checked the seating chart, checked the seats just in time to see this young man slide into his desk. I walked back to him.

" Mr. Rose’s keys are gone and I thought you could help. "

" No, Ma’am, don’t know anything about them. "

" I just thought you could…"

He remained in his slid-down position, shaking his head " no ".

I took roll and as I hung the attendance slip on the door, the student in question came very close, bent over, and said in low tones, " If you give me a hall pass, maybe I can help. "

Off he went with a hall pass…who knows where…because he insisted that I put no destination on the pass. I had just sent a boy I didn’t know off with a hall pass to "everywhere" with my name on it…like signing a blank check for a stranger.

About fifteen minutes later he returned, set the pass on the desk, the keys on the pass. I said, "Thank you. " He said, "You’re welcome, " and he slid into his desk, fourth row back.

I was screaming inside! We were halfway through 5th period. I had to wait until the end of 6th period before I could burst into religious freedom and shout at the top of my lungs, "Do you know what God had done? "

Faith Grows with Use
Prayer has not been the same since. It didn’t take me long to figure out that if God would get involved in something as mundane as a set of keys, then He is certainly available for weightier matters that concern me.

Agnes Sanford was a major milestone for me. My faith was stretching and growing. This woman of faith made it quite clear in her example and her stories that faith grows with use and one of those uses is in prayer.

Later when I read Agnes’ autobiography,
Sealed Orders, I understood how my spirit so resonated with hers…she had spiritual hunger…that burning desire for more. As the child of missionaries in China, she heard the Gospel preached. She didn’t see the power of it, but was certain that the power was still there, even though her mother told her that the age of miracles was past.

Sealed Orders recounts Agnes’ lifetime journey toward tapping into the Gospel power that had so intrigued her as a child.

Her autobiography reads much like her workshop sounded: candid, touching, and inspiring. You will be inspired in your own faith life and prayer walk as you read this one.

More Resources:
Andrew Murray on Belief and Faith
The Faith of Abraham
Authority Over the Thief