I started keeping a journal in June of 1986 and somewhere along the line it went from "Dear Diary" to "Dear Lord". In 1992, my husband and I found devotionals to be too tidy with nothing to really discuss after we read them together so we started reading Frank Peretti's book, "This Present Darkness". Boy did that spark discussions and bring encouragement. It helped us to think about life beyond what we see and feel so that we could be reminded and aware that God is at work behind the scenes. Before that gets misunderstood, let me clarify that we still read and study the Word this was just what we did together as a catalyst for discussion. I really miss it, maybe we'll have to pick up another good book together. Sometime in the early 2000's, I remember mowing the lawn and praying for our church which was without a pastor. "A praying man is coming" ran through my mind so strongly and so continually it was almost audible. I thought immediately of "This Present Darkness" and associated it with the praying pastor in the small town of the book because that is what he was often called.
Before I knew it we had that pastor and he had me in his office asking if I would consider creating and leading a prayer team! Talk about ripping me out of my comfort zone! I avoided prayer meetings because that might mean I had to pray out loud. Besides how can you pray for that long? I will keep it short by saying God did a work in me through Salem United Methodist Church in Bettsville, OH that has caused me to treasure those people very close to my heart. I gathered a precious prayer team who encouraged me and prayed with me. Pastor Mike asked me to start sharing a minute or two thought on prayer each week and then lead the congregation in prayer. For some that might be easy but nothing could be more impossible for me. I took other classes I didn't really like to make sure I stayed out of speech class. There was no way you were going to get me in front of other people to speak. And remember my thoughts of praying out loud? I barely did it alone let alone in front of a crowd. But that church encouraged and welcomed and put up with my attempts for many years. We learned so much together. I remember being at a church meeting around the time I was first asked to be the prayer team leader. There was this idea of, "All we can do is pray", as if it were a last ditch effort of futility. Recently I went back for something and heard it said on more than one occasion, "First we need to pray about this". It did my heart good to know that He who began a good work in us is continuing to complete it. What a treasure all of my Bettsville family is.
That was were I first had the chance to use writing as a regular encouragement. Each week I wrote a snippet about prayer on the backside of a prayer request list that I handed out at the end of every service. Everyone was invited to pray for everyone and God came through in ways none of us could have imagined. He also showed us that His answer isn't always yes. That is why we are no longer there. Through a lot of heart ache we are now here in Pemberville but God is faithful and good.
Sometimes when life doesn't go the way we think it ought or when we don't have the same support group encouraging us to pray and praying with us, it's easy to let it slide and begin to act as if it is trivial, even if we would adamantly deny such a thought with our mouth. But some things have come up lately that just gave me a fresh gratitude for it and even a few new perspectives on it that I wanted to share.
Recently my little sister went through a trial that broke my heart. I wanted to hug her and help her and make it all better like a big sister should. But she lives in California and as such is terribly out of my reach. I felt helpless and angry that I couldn't at least be there to hold her hand or care for her babies as she walked through this ordeal. But God reminded me that I can pray. What a gift!!!! I am not helpless and I don't have to be angry with inability. I can rejoice that God knew we would need to be able to reach out to those we love when it is physically impossible. He knew that sometimes in life, in fact, most of the time in life, we cannot heal the hurts of those we love and we would feel useless. So he gave us an incredible power to partner with Him in touching and healing our loved ones. He doesn't need us to tell him what's going on but He invites us to pour out our hearts to Him and direct His attention to specific things. He gave us the power to pray and KNOW that he hears and acts on our behalf. Is that not the most awesome gift?! I could pray for my sister and know that He would provide her with exactly what she needed using the power that He has offered us in prayer. WOW!
There were some other issues that were just dragging me down. Things that made it hard to see the sunshine through the rain. I did what so many of us do in those times, I pulled inside myself and played thoughts of discouragement over and over in my head. Thankfully, even though I may be prone to do that when things aren't going the way I imagine they should, God has never allowed me to wallow there too long and he kept nudging me to pray. I felt that I had prayed and disappointment is what I got. Wallow,,,wallow...Finally, I got real with Him and poured out all my hurts and disappointments and fears concerning the issue. I was brutally honest and He took it all. He forgave me and I could feel a fresh attitude fill my being as rays of sunshine began to put a rainbow on my heart. All because of the incredible privilege of prayer.
I just started a Bible study with some ladies at church on the book of James. I knew it would be good because I love James and I love the Bible study teacher - Beth Moore. But even in just the first verse, God began to work on my heart and help me to see things I had forgotten or never known. In fact, by week 2, day 1, I was brought to my knees with realization about somethings that I had been praying about for over a year. It was just one of those moments when I knew that God had James and Beth write those exact words just for me so many years ago. I heard His voice in the pages of Scripture all because of the power of prayer. Yes, that's right. I called reading the Word - prayer. After all, what is prayer but a conversation with God? When better can we hear his voice than when we read the love note he left us called the Bible. Maybe our prayers are too one sided. Are we doing all the talking? Maybe we should open up our Bibles and do some listening. I certainly needed to.
Someone else that I love has been battling with some issues that just don't seem to offer any easy answers. What am I saying - easy answers? They don't seem to offer any answers at all! I wanted so badly to say and do the right things to make it all work out. I wanted to lift them up instead of watch them give up. But I didn't have any answers. I don't know the right way. But my Jesus does. So instead of worrying I now lay my hands on thing that I know they will touch and I pray for God to give them wisdom and direction and a vision that will illuminate them again. I don't have to badger them to change. I don't have to try to be the one to make them change. I don't have to say or do just the right things to make anything happen. That gives me too much power where I should be powerless. It is not my job to make anyone into anything. Instead because of the power of prayer I can rest in Christ knowing He loves them even more than I do. He has a plan and a hope for their life and He will complete it. When they lay their head on that pillow they may not know there is power of a prayer waiting to move on their life but God and I do. And I get the privilege of a front row seat as God unfolds another chapter in the life of someone I love dearly without me feeling like I have to interfere and write the chapter myself. What peace in prayer!
When my children are trying to figure out life and they ask me for advice. I can pray for wisdom and God who gives generously without finding fault will give it. When I can't find that important paper I need, I can pray and God who knows everything can lead me to it. When I am afraid, I can pray and God will give me a sound mind and cast out all fear. I could go on and on but I know you have things to do besides read this so I will bring this to a close. (Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is such an encouragement to me.)
One last thing. If you go to the prayer page and sign up I will put you on my list of prayer warriors. Whenever I get prayer requests I will pass them on because I know there is the privilege of power in prayer. With that privilege comes responsibility as well so please make sure that you actually pray for the requests. If you have a prayer request or praise I hope you will trust us to pray with you about it. God does something powerful in our hearts when we pray together and see Him move. It is also very healing to be able to take our minds off of ourselves and lift up the needs of our brothers and sisters. I can't even put into words what God does with that power.
All of this power was given to us through the shed blood of our precious Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you Jesus for your gift of prayer.