About ten years ago our family was wading through some of the most trying, exhausting circumstances of our lives. One of our kids was going through a very painful era and, to help him in the only way possible at the time, we began homeschooling. Now I felt like I was trapped with a lion in a cage every day without even the break of packing him off to school for a few hours. The accusing voice in my head was relentless. “Chana, you have TWO important jobs, that of wife and mom. You’re failing at both."
In the midst of this turmoil, my hubby brought home a book, Red Moon Rising, about the start of the international 24/7 Prayer movement. I read it. I re-read it. My husband read it. We ordered boxes of copies to hand out to family and friends.
Though my passion for God and prayer was renewed, things with our child were still pretty horrible. I purposed to pray every day, without fail, first thing in the morning for an hour. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t feel “trained” to do this but I was gonna show up.
Here are some prayer tips that took me about a year to learn. Ten years later, I still need reminders.
1. Say What's True
I would come to God with my list of grievances. Why me? Why is my son acting this way? Am I being punished? "Good grief, God," I would complain, "Jesus came to live, die, and rise from the dead so I have this IV drip of faith that barely helps me survive? Where’re those 'rivers of living water?'"
God let me rant. My prayer language was primarily groans and tears. Many of those mornings, the hour was just lots of saltwater pouring from my eyes while God seemed kinda silent.
One morning as I recited my woes, something in me got quiet. I felt God say, “Are you saying what’s true, or just what you see?”
God reminded me of our prayers over our child before he was conceived, while he was in the womb, when he was small and displayed such a keen connection with God. God was very clear, “You say what’s true regardless of what you see or how you feel.”
My hubby and I developed this little mantra. “Our son is a mighty man of God who seeks good and not evil all the days of his life. Our son will lead millions to Christ through his passion for God.” On and on we would state what God had tucked into our hearts over the years.
Was there an immediate change? No. Did we often have to state God’s truth through clenched teeth and feel like big, fat liars? Yes.
But slowly, like a seed that had lain dormant until the conditions were right, we saw evidence of those prayers. Our son discovered he had a way with animals, particularly reptiles. His alligator lizard, Bettie, loved me and would sit like a little statue on my leg while I worked at our kitchen computer. Yea! Some common ground. Strangely enough, it seemed our son healed as he cared for these creatures most would see as frightening. We could tell he related to them. If they could be loved and seen as beautiful, perhaps he could too? (I wrote a short bit about this that was published in Guideposts called, One Scaly Godsend.)
Also, my prayer times started overflowing into writing that turned into a novel, then two. Our son loved being read to and loved the stories. More common ground. Slowly the ratio of smiles & hugs from him began to outweigh the raised voices.
2. Only God On the Throne
One other hard-learned lesson. No matter what we face, that person or circumstance must stay OFF God’s throne. Whatever we talk about the most, whatever we think about the most, whatever controls our emotions; that is our god.*
Time and again, God would stop me during the day (when I would listen) and point out that our son was on that throne where only God belonged. I would have to choose to forgive and get the focus back where it belonged. The only way to do this? Say it. Worship, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do. The ol’ “sacrifice of praise” not due to feelings but because God always deserves it.
As that unhealthy focus on our son weakened, my sense of failure, and his sense of “I can make or break the mood of this day” (too much weight for anyone) began to fade.
3. Learn God's Voice
Our enemy is the accuser. Condemnation is NOT God’s voice. When the voice in your head pushes toward hopelessness, like my inner litany of failure, slam some worship down that particular throat. Again, say what's true, focusing on God's goodness and power rather than your feelings of helplessness. (See #2--kick yourself off God's throne)
That’s the way things are even when circumstances scream otherwise. As we stay in awe of Whom we serve, Satan’s power to pull our chain weakens.
And as we practice speaking God's truth, keeping only God on the throne, and recognizing God's voice, our prayers--the words coming from us toward God--can reflect His glory and agree with His plan. Those are prayers that pack power.
Child of the One True King, wife to the best man alive, mom to four VERY unique human beings & author of two bestsellers:
The Fall &
with more on the way.
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