A week and a half ago, five of my friends and I were given the opportunity to attend a moms’ conference together, an amazing time that I would recommend for any mom with a few of her best friends. One author, Jennie Allen, who recently impacted my life with her book Anything, was there, so I made sure to be at her breakout session. She did something different from all the other breakout session leaders—she had us actually break out into small groups and process through her topic, a method that I found to be more effective than any talk of her own could have done, no matter how good a speaker she is (and she is an excellent speaker). She asked us several questions, but the two main ones were: what are three of the best, most impactful moments that you remember from your life and what are three of your darkest moments? The follow-up requests were for us to figure out why each was the best or the worst—why they stood out in our minds. We were also to think about whether the threads from each have been sewn through our lives up until this day or not. If not, should they be? During the next several Wednesday Words, I’m going to answer these questions here in my blog. I hope that those who read this will start thinking about the answers to these questions in their own lives.
When I was young, I remember my dad driving through a parking lot, telling us kids to keep our eyes peeled for a spot (an image that I always found a bit disturbing). But to me, he turned and said, “Heather, you’re my prayer warrior! Be sure to pray for a spot!” He thought that if I prayed, God would listen. We would find a good spot. He had seen God answer my prayers before, prayers about finding lost things or other such small requests. This seems like such a mundane moment, definitely not remembered by my dad. But this moment, along with echoes of it from other times that my parents called me their prayer warrior, is cemented in my memory. I can even picture which parking lot we were circling–the one in front of a department store at the Sun Valley Mall.
It wasn’t hard for me to figure out why this moment, as mundane as it seemed, was important to me–one of my top three. It also wasn’t hard to find the thread that strung through my life starting from this moment. My dad was good at giving compliments. The only problem was that he tended to exaggerate his compliments, throwing them around until they lost some of their worth and believability. I remember another moment later in my life when he told me that I was the best singer in the world.”The BEST singer in the whole world, Dad?” I remember challenging him. “Better than Celine Dion? Better than Whitney Houston?” He wouldn’t back down, though. I knew my voice wasn’t bad, but I also knew it wasn’t as good as the best of the time or even the best of the people I had heard at church. Therefore, I reasoned, his compliments in general probably weren’t true.
However, this wasn’t just a compliment, and it wasn’t a grand statement placing me unworthily on top of others (except maybe my siblings, although I didn’t get that at the time). It was an appellation. He was giving me an identity, naming me something very important–one who does battle by going to God for help. This was someone I wanted to be–a high honor. This compliment also gained credibility because of the fact that my mom also called me the same thing when I was young.
As I grew, I didn’t keep the title, but it never strayed far from my mind that I wanted to embody it someday. I watched as my mom joined a group of other moms while I was in high school. These moms truly were prayer warriors, as my mom still is. One time, in response to their fervent prayers, a transformer blew at my school, causing the school to be shut down for a week. This shut-down kept a badly influential group who was to speak that week during an assembly from coming, and their talk was never rescheduled. Talk about making an impression on me as a high school student who was always excited about getting out of school! I remember praying several times in my life that God would make me into a prayer warrior.
A few years back, God moved in a mighty way through my church, changing many people’s lives. I’ve prayed for others on and off throughout my life, but during this time, He called me to start being more regular about my worship and my petition prayer. Since then, I’ve been glad to be able to pray most days, using a 3×5 card per person so I can remember the requests. This is such a joy to me–I thank God for the honor He’s given us to pray for our friends and family–to influence their lives for good through talking to Him. What a blessing! And what a blessing that my friends are willing to share their personal requests so that I can lift them up.
I still don’t consider myself a prayer warrior. I feel I have far too little faith for that title–I probably had more as a child than I do now–but He is helping my faith grow little by little as I ask Him. Lately, I’ve been asking Him to increase my faith more and more, for what’s the good of praying for others if my prayers are not effective? James 5:15 says that the prayer offered in faith for a sick person will restore him to health. Earlier in James, he writes, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” He might be talking specifically about wisdom here, but if a person shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord without faith, I shouldn’t expect anything from my prayers if they’re offered without faith.
This is a thread of prayer that God has woven through my life. What is one of your threads?