I live an incredible life. I’m shockingly blessed, getting to visit amazing places and encounter marvelous people. I’m privileged to walk with people as they come back to the Lord or encounter him in a personal way for the first time. Believe me, I’m grateful for my life.
But it’s not always easy. For every exotic location, there’s a 12-hour drive. For every amazing meal, there’s a lunch of cheez-its.1 For every new friendship, there’s an hour of longing for consistent community. And with the online detractors and uninterested audiences and awkward hosts, it can be really tough to keep going.
The Lord knows that I’m weak, though, so he keeps filling my heart by showing me how he’s working in me, often despite my best efforts. Here’s a glimpse into two of these amazing moments.
Hearing His Voice
I was at an evangelization conference in London, surrounded by people who know the Lord intimately. They kept talking about Jesus telling them very specific things when evangelizing people. “God told me someone in the crowd was suffering from divorce,” “the Lord sent me to talk to an old man,” that kind of stuff. And I kept listening to them and getting more and more discouraged. These people are straight out of the book of Acts, hearing God send them to specific people with specific words. Meanwhile, I’m just sowing seed on any soil I can reach. Maybe I’m doing this wrong. Maybe I don’t really know him the way I think I know him.
So I was all mopey about how everybody else is a better pray-er than me, and suddenly it was time to go give a talk. I wasn’t feeling it, but the show must go on. I knew, though, that I needed someone to pray over me–now. So I started walking through Leicester Square looking for somebody to ask. Now, I’ve maybe felt a need to be prayed over four or five times in the last four years. But I was desperate for it, and suddenly I saw a guy I’d met a few nights before. I knew nothing about him beyond his name, but I walked straight up to him and asked him. “Will you pray over me?”
Now, this was a very charismatic conference, packed with people for whom this wouldn’t be an odd request. So when he looked startled and just said, “No,” I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I’ll pray for you. But I can’t pray over you!” Okay. So I found some nuns, got prayed over, and went on about my day.
I didn’t think anything of it until he came and found me later.
“I’m really sorry about earlier.”
“No worries, I get it. It was a random request.”
“Well no, it’s just that…when I heard you speak the other day,” (in a talk that wasn’t about prayer at all) “I just knew that I needed to be better about praying with and over people. But I was so uncomfortable with the idea that I kept trying to push it back. This morning, I couldn’t get it out of my head that this is what God is asking me to do. And then you walk up out of nowhere and straight up ask me to do it? It was too much. But now I know: I have to have the courage to pray over people. Thank you.”
Turns out you can hear and follow God’s prompting without even knowing it. I wonder how often God’s doing amazing things like that–through all of us–and we don’t notice.
When God Speaks in Prayer
I was visiting a town I’ve been to a few times before. One of the ladies there is a particular favorite of mine. I don’t know her terribly well but we’ve spent a good 10 hours in conversation over the last few years, so she’s definitely no stranger.
The day I got to town, I was in prayer and I felt that I needed to pray for her and the babies she’s lost. It was a weird thought, since she’s never told me such a thing, but I did. I meant to bring it up when I saw her the next day, but it seemed out of place, so I let it go. Probably just a random thought.
A few days later we were visiting and out of nowhere she mentioned these babies–lost nearly 20 years ago. So we began talking about them and she started to cry and said she’s never told her friends and never cried about them before. She felt so much guilt over not having mourned them properly, about even feeling relieved when she lost them, what with the insanity of her life at the time, and I could see this incredible pain in her eyes.
And there I was, able to tell her that the Lord had asked me to pray for them and for her. That he’d ordained this conversation, called her to open up and called me to love her through this. I told her that it was okay that she had been in survival mode and that during this Year of Mercy God wants to finally let her grieve and be healed. And we talked about how they’re praying for her and they forgive her for the feelings she couldn’t control. She walked away ready to name her babies and ask their intercession and experience mercy and healing.
This is the kind of conversation I’m blessed to have pretty frequently. But the fact that the Lord had put it on my heart to pray for these children before I even knew they existed just made it so powerful. It was such an affirmation that God speaks in prayer, even when you don’t realize it’s him.
And that’s why I keep going. Because I don’t have to know what he’s doing to know he’s working. I don’t have to sense that he’s speaking for him to speak. I don’t even need constant evidence that I’m in his will or that it’s not all in vain. But every once in a while it sure does help.
- Okay, the cheez-it lunches far outnumber the amazing meals. It keeps me svelte. [↩]