Right on schedule the Reverend rode onto the hardscrabble farm deep in the Ozarks. Each year he provided a rare religious experience for the area so sparsely populated that it couldn’t support a church. The three-day revival was a major social event as well and many a marital union had its roots in this bringing together of the community.
The farm wife and four daughters, stair-stepped a year apart with Mary, the oldest at eighteen, ran out to greet him. The gruff husband was far less enthusiastic. He knew the reputation of the “Rev”, as he was familiarly addressed, and was rightly concerned about the well-being of his entirely female family.
This reputation was based on observations and stories from other men in the area. From time to time in the winter, when farming work was minimal, they’d get together and sip the fermented product of their fields and skills, while swapping lies and ribald tales.
One recurring theme was the skill of the Rev in convincing womenfolk that him lying between their legs and joining their God-given parts under the guise of a spiritual union was a high form of prayer. Several men recounted the tearful admission of such activity by their wives who had fallen for the Rev’s bullshit. Their marriages had survived for two reasons. First, the wives had become much more interested in sex with them, which was greatly enjoyed. Secondly, the Rev had often brought along a comely Prayer Assistant who accepted cash donations for the opportunity to “pray” with her and allow the deposit of liquid love offerings within her “holy sepulcher”. In many cases it evened out and no harm done.
Jeb now made it a point to rearrange his chores when the Rev was in residence. He was quite rightly concerned that his loving wife had succumbed to the wily old goat’s skill at using female psychology to take advantage of his hospitality. There was no mistaking her suddenly increased ardor after the visits. There were also some subtle differences in the practice of the act which they had performed so many times. It was more male pride than concern for marital stability. Neither party had brought virginity to their relationship. With no admission of straying forthcoming, he didn’t ask either.
After much conversation and storytelling at dinner, the Rev asked Mary to walk with him in the woods. The doting father watched with dismay as his eldest precious daughter, now of legal age, strolled arm in arm with the older man on a path towards a place in the woods long used for sexual dalliance. He and the wife would go there when they wanted some fun before bedtime, all but impossible in the small cabin.
What he didn’t know was that his daughter was not innocent. She had discovered that her body, when properly employed, could get her gifts otherwise unattainable in her very poor situation. She had only employed her wiles a few times but greatly enjoyed the process. It was she who invited the Rev for a walk, not the other way around. There was something she wanted from him, and it was more than her mother had gotten.
Returning a while later, both mother and father noticed the telltale signs that their daughter had been thoroughly “prayed with”. Mother took her aside and admonished, “Wash yourself out. No babies!” Mary took water to the outhouse.
The revival was quite successful with a number of souls saved and donations graciously received. The Rev was gone most of the day to various farmhouses “ministering” yet had the energy to take Mary for a walk each night. Jeb did marvel at his constitution.
At dinner the final night, Mary sat next to the Rev. After supping, she rose to say she would be leaving with him in the morning. He needed a Prayer Assistant, or “PA”, and she wanted to see more if the world. She would return with him next year at the regular time.
Pandemonium broke loose. Father was flummoxed. Mother had been pre-warned in some serious conversations with Mary, who wouldn’t be dissuaded. The three younger sisters went wild with questions.
“Are you getting married?” was a big one. Mary calmly answered, “No. The Reverend and I have a spiritual relationship. We are going to do the work of the Lord.” Jeb had some very cynical and angry thoughts but realized that expressing them would only alienate his daughter and possibly her mother as well.
The concerned father got his daughter alone before bedtime for a serious talk. “My dear Mary, do you understand what this prayer ministry will require of you?”
Taking his hand, she replied seriously, “Yes I do. I will happily do whatever the Lord requires for the good of those in need.”
The cynical father figured she would get more than spiritual pleasure from the “act of prayer” just like her mother did. But he must support his first-born’s adult decision. “You realize, I am sure, that this prayer might result in your quickening.”
“Mother has taught me methods to help avoid that, but if it is God’s plan than I shall accept it.”
There was no more to be said.
In the morning, Mary mounted her horse and waved goodbye to her family. Letters arrived sporadically from such distant places as Saint Louis and Memphis as well as smaller towns throughout the Ozarks. The daughter/sister sounded in good spirits.
The family excitement built as the day of Mary’s returning drew closer. Finally, a cheer arose as a wagon with two occupants came up the rough trail to the farm. It was a fine wagon, drawn by two horses and featuring a quickly erectable canvas covering making it an early day pop-up camper. This was very helpful on the many travel days between revival towns. It also greatly assisted the prayer ministry, offering a convenient and private place for Mary to meet with her local prayer partners.
Jeb noted with great relief that his daughter was neither holding an infant nor building one in her belly, as far as he could tell. Her mother later confirmed that she was not pregnant although sheepishly admitting she’d received enough seed in the name of the Lord to populate a small town.
Mother and sisters spent much time gabbing excitedly with the returned traveler who had many stories of sights seen. Jeb graciously offered the Rev some of his best shine and expressed gratitude for returning his daughter in good condition. The Rev looked at the simple man and said, “I know you are not happy with what has transpired but your daughter is the richer for it. Here is her share of our proceeds.”
He handed Jab a pouch containing gold coins worth more than the whole farm. “And true wealth is not about money. She has grown into a very capable woman. My Prayer Assistants are not servants or slaves. They make their own decisions and control their own actions. The New Testament, unlike the Old, requires that women be treated as equals. Mary learned from watching me how to preach and now holds her own women-only services. She has earned the title ‘Minister’ and we work as partners. You can be very proud of her.”
Jen sipped his whiskey, amazed at what he had just heard. It pushed the boundaries of his upbringing, but he had to accept it somehow. He rose, shook the Rev’s hand, and made his escape to mull it over.
Seeking solace in his wife’s arms, and hopefully in other parts as well, his life was further disrupted by the news that Martha, the second daughter now of age, had decided to join her older sister and the Rev for the next year’s circuit. She was less comely of face than Mary but below the neck more voluptuous.
He brought the whole jug to bed and was soon incapable of satisfying his wife’s increased desire for sexual congress brought on by her daughter’s stories and the presence of the Rev.
Of course, the Rev was always capable of attending to a believer in need. It had been many years since he had entered into the wife’s temple. This time he was also familiar with two of her daughters’ “holy places”. She shivered in divine rapture as he told her about testing Martha’s suitability as a Prayer Assistant. She had accepted her first ever joining with the Lord quite competently and happily.
.... There is more of this story ...