In the last year, the Lord has taught me so much about prayer. Partially, this has been through the influence of a fantastic book, A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller. I've heard a lot of sermons about the importance of prayer and, mostly, they've been simultaneously inspiring and guilt-inducing. "Yes! I will pray more! ... How do I do that?"
Mr. Miller's book has been refreshingly honest and practical. As a result, I've learned a few things along the way that I'd like to share with you.
But our eyes are on you.
The Judeans were a desperate people. The kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and others were marching against the people of Judah.
"A great multitude is coming against you..."
This was no secret thing. All of the people knew it. Imagine the panic. Work postponed for the day as the people gathered tensely to hear what their king would say to comfort, to rally. But as he looked out over the assembled families--even the children! the children!--he felt only the sick acid knot in his heart. He had to stand and he had to speak and he had only one thing to say.
It first showed up in November. I felt exhausted, crippled with aching flu-like pain, and edged with the threat of tears. At some point during the worship service, my fiance leaned forward and whispered, "Do I need to take you someplace more comfortable?"
Torn between my desire to be with the people of God, but aware that I was unable to actually enjoy their presence, at last I acquiesced.
My legs had turned to jelly and the cacophony in my head made sight difficult, so my fiance led me. As soon as he opened the outer door of the church sanctuary, a wall-blast of light assaulted me. My legs crumpled.
Paul picked me up and carried me to the closest couch. For the next hour, my entire body spasmed violently, alternating between tremors, full-body whiplashing, intense contractions forward and backward. It was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me, and yet, as my soon-to-be-husband prayed quietly over me, I felt perfectly calm. Even as a prisoner of my body, my mind felt utterly relaxed.
When I was a little girl, I was disappointed that I was not a boy. Boys got to go on adventures, perform bold and daring feats, fight heroically for justice, and lead others. I especially wanted to be a warrior: to oppose injustice, uphold mercy, and protect others.
Yet all my understanding of Biblical womanhood was that women were supposed to be good housekeepers and play a supportive role to the men in their lives. But, frankly, that sounded quite boring in comparison to the man’s role.
That was before I understood that God made women to be warriors too. We are called to realms into which men can never enter or wage spiritual war.
Making my way to the airport gate, I basked in the stunned delight of one who has just experienced the blessing of God through prayer.
Earlier, as I climbed aboard the shuttle bus that would take me from one side to the other of the massive airport, I found just enough room to squeeze myself next to an elderly woman before the bus choked with passengers. The elderly woman smiled warmly at me, and I smiled back.
The conversation came easily. Soon the elderly woman shared a number of difficult situations she had endured in the last year—her son’s sudden death of cancer that no one knew he had, her own battles with cancer, and more. The weight of her burden settled upon me as she spoke.
How could I simply nod and murmur sympathies when this woman spoke of deep pain?
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.