As a child, Rev. Curnell Graham woke every Saturday morning to the smell of bacon and the sound of his grandmother, Hattie Maude, singing hymns and praying aloud. From his room in his family home in South Carolina, he could hear her calling out the name of each of her 11 children praising God and offering prayers on their behalf.
“My grandmother had only a third-grade education, but she read her Bible, knew the scriptures and she could sing! I can still hear her singing ‘What a Mighty God We Serve, angels bow before him, heaven and earth adore him, what a mighty God we serve,” Graham said.
He watched as his grandmother gathered then added each ingredient into the bowl trying to memorize her process. She’d make biscuits from scratch, never measuring the ingredients but always knowing when just the right amount was added. As she pulled the dough out of the bowl and placed it on the baking sheet, she’d start talking to God, lifting the names of each of her grandchildren again, praising God for the gift of each life and offering prayers for each child.
One day, Graham decided to try it for himself. Before he knew it, he found himself in his kitchen praising God while he mixed the dough, sending up praise to God and prayer for his family, friends and congregation. For 30 years the tradition has continued.
“Sometimes I just wake up and feel like it is time to pray and make biscuits. Sometimes, when I have something I need to pray through, I think of my ancestors praying. So, I get out my ingredients and bowl and get to baking,” he said.
During the most challenging times in his life, he has turned to God in prayer. But, he has also been encouraged by a small group of prayer partners. He encourages lay people to lift their pastors and their families in prayer.
“I cannot tell you how much I appreciated those prayers especially during some difficult personal struggles including the death of both my parents and my father-in-law. There is something about honest conversation and sharing our truths and then take it all to God. Knowing people have my back, people are praying. That means the world to me,” Graham said.
Graham holds an online prayer time on Facebook on Monday mornings. Every once in a while, he posts pictures of fresh, just-out-of-the-oven biscuits. Both are reminders of the power of prayer in his life.