What does it mean for you?
For so many years in my life, I just did it but was not sure anyone was listening, and in those days I did it very, very little.
There were the rote prayers of church service that were mouthed in unison with others, half thinking about what I was saying.
And then finally it all changed.
I had a moment of greatest need in my life. I found myself backed into a corner with nowhere else to go and I prayed a prayer full of lament, a prayer full of regret, a prayer of great concern, what some would call a “foxhole prayer.” I prayed a prayer where I needed God for the first time in my life. In the circumstance I was in, I did not know what to do, so I asked God what to do.
And I got an immediate answer! I knew it as soon as it was received. It was not an answer that would have been from me but nevertheless, I felt it deep within my soul. It came in the form of a voice from within my mind and it shocked me. Nevertheless, I knew it would work. I knew it would start my life down a new path and I knew I would never be the same.
I did what I was told to do. In fact, I followed the instructions to the letter.
And it has made all the difference in my life.
From that day, approximately twenty years ago, I began to see prayer differently. I began to see that I had a God who was listening to me, a God who loved me, a God who was willing to work with me to help me be a better person.
I have always been an early riser and soon I began to lay down my burdens to my Lord early in the morning. I guess many of my first prayers were selfish but I had a lot of problems and I needed a lot of help. The main thing is I developed a habit of talking with God. Also, I continued to feel that God was listening, that God loved me and cared that I was trying to have a relationship with Him.
At this time, I began to understand the idea of being born again. I had gone to the altar and confessed my sins and confessed that I needed God in my life. I was raised to go to church but now I began to feel God at work in my life. I understood what it meant to have a hunger for Him, a hunger to worship, a hunger to pray, a hunger to read His Word. I fell in love with Jesus Christ thanks to many Christian friends God sent my way. They tenderly guided me to Him. They were the human manifestations of Jesus, the answer to the prayer, “God I need help!”
The relationship has continued over the years. I still feel the presence of God, but I have had my mountain top moments and my times in the valley of the shadow of death but He was there and is here now through it all.
My prayer life has continued and I have found myself capable of praying in public. I have prayed for people in the grocery store. I have prayed for people on the street. I have prayed with people over the phone. Sounds silly to some I guess but God seems to tell me when the time is right. I have never had anyone question my sanity.
Within this past year I have had a new prayer life. I have begun intercessory prayer at my church. It is a daunting task because I learn of the many troubles of my congregation and my community. At times I am filled with despair as I hear of someone who is struggling with cancer, suffering through the horrible effects of a car wreck, or living a life of constant pain. I find myself overwhelmed by their situation and I can’t get their situation off my mind. I am humbled to pray for my church, the pastor and all the staff. I know there are forces in this world that want to keep my church from functioning and I pray for protection from those negative forces. I am humbled by this new role. At times I feel inadequate but I know people in my church need to do this and I am one of those people who have been called to do it.
On October 18, 2016, I fell ten feet from a ladder, breaking my pelvis. I am in the healing process that will take some time and I have come a long way. Let me tell you, I have had people all over my church and community praying for me. I have felt those prayers. Lonely, anxiety ridden times were not so lonely because I have found God there with me in those scary hospital rooms. Many times I have felt a peace that is unexplainable, a peace that settled me down and got me through the night, got me through the pain. Truly, I have seen people in my life who have been placed there by God to help me through this time of repair and recovery. I have never needed this type of prayer before, prayer for healing. I am on the road to a full recovery and I am learning every step of the way. I watch for God, I listen for God and I am here to testify that He is real. He is working in my life, in my body.
I begin our new book The God Who Hears by W. Bingham Hunter with my personal testimony about prayer. Maybe that is fitting. I know there are those who were like me. They think they speak to an empty room. The God they are praying to is unresponsive. We will discuss every angle of prayer in the upcoming days.
I thought it best to begin by exposing my bias.
Yes, I believe in prayer.