Everyone from Hollywood celebrities to old Church ladies talk about prayer, but what is it? And, what, if anything, does prayer accomplish? It is noteworthy that of all the things Jesus’ disciples asked Him, the one thing they asked Him to teach them was how to pray. The reason for their question is because they witnessed the power of Jesus’ prayer life. They watched how Jesus’ relationship with His Father through prayer brought Heaven to earth.
This reminds me of how Andrew Murray describes prayer.
“We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.” – Andrew Murray
Don’t miss this –Prayer is a force that can move the Heavenly world!
In prayer, the power of heaven comes to earth. The impossible becomes possible. The presence and power of God experienced. Prayer is not a list or a formality; it is, at the core, an engagement with God.
Recently my husband and I traveled to England, one of my favorite places on earth. While there, I was able to tour him around Oxford University, a place that holds great significance in my life. As we stood there I sensed the power of prayer as I thought of the countless ways God had moved in my life since I studied there twenty years ago as a single woman. From ministry to marriage, the story of my life could be told through the answered prayers that rocked my world and changed my life forever— how my longings brought me face to face with my desperate need for God’s heavenly intervention and when I called out to Him, He answered and moved in my story for His glory.
In the opening scene, I’m a young twenty-something woman—empty, hurting, and spiraling out of control. I didn’t know Jesus at that point, and one night, while sitting in a bar, I tossed my first real prayer towards heaven: “God, if you’re real, help.”
“Help.” Not an eloquent prayer, but a powerful one.
That prayer changed the trajectory of my life. Soon a friend invited me to her church where I truly heard the Gospel. I heard that I was created by God and for a relationship with Him, and I would never find love, fill my emptiness, or experience real life apart from Jesus. The grace of God intersected my mess; He heard my prayer and set me free.
The next scene is of that same young woman, new to her faith, yet struggling to live it out in the midst of a strong pull back to the world and sin. Sitting in my car one night, I broke down in tears. I couldn’t do it without God’s power.
This time, my prayer wasn’t a single phrase, but an audible cry: “God, I can’t live this Christian life unless you change my heart. Give me a heart to love you more than anything else in this world.” I connected the dots…If I loved God, then I would live for God.
Friends, it is hard to put into words the supernatural transformation that occurred as a result of that prayer. Heaven invaded my heart. My desires changed. I began to hate the things that I was formerly enslaved to. I hungered to know God more.
I literally experienced butterflies for Jesus. But more than just emotion, I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit to live for God.
God answered my prayer in powerful ways. He gave me a deep love for His Word. I began to read it like my life depended on it, and in reality, I think it did. As I read the Word, my prayers began to take on more boldness. Faith fuels our prayers and as I discovered more about God in the Bible, I was emboldened to believe Him more for my life and for others.
As I grew in my relationship with God, prayer became more than just a morning quiet time. Prayer was my life-line to a real God who supplied my needs, moved mountains, provided wisdom, and brought His comfort in times of need.
Another huge answer to prayer was for the healing of my heart from painful wounds. Friends, I was a mess before Jesus. Thankfully, God longs to heal us. My inner healing occurred on my knees—in His presence—as I cried out to the Lord. There are thousands of prayers that went into that season, but the bottom line is this: I was not healed by medicine or therapy, I was healed by the presence of Jesus. (Yes, He can and does use both meds and therapy.) But it was Jesus, the Great Physician, who touched my soul and transformed a little girl who thought she was unwanted, usable, and useless into a woman who, today, knows she is beloved, pure and called. I am a new creation and living in freedom and wholeness because of prayer.
I will never forget the prayers that birthed this ministry. Sensing early on in my walk with Jesus that my life was not my own anymore, I laid down my life to the call with one simple prayer, “Wherever you lead, I’ll go.”
There is no formula, there is just surrender.
I see myself, in my early thirties, walking the streets of Oxford, England. I was there as a seminary student when the Holy Spirit gripped my heart for women who don’t know Jesus. One of my professors quoted D.L. Moody who said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with one life fully committed to him.” That line ripped through my soul like hot lava. I wanted to be that girl! So walking through the cobblestone alleys of Oxford, I talked to Jesus about this burning in my soul, saying, “Send me. Use me. All of me, for all of You.”
That simple prayer —“send me”—birthed This Redeemed Life Ministry.
The next two years of my life would be the most intense, God-shaping season I’ve ever experienced. The Lord guided me to start this ministry. Step by step, He led me. First, calling me to write my story in a book called Sex and the City Uncovered, and then working miracle after miracle to get this unknown-nobody published. From there He miraculously opened doors on college campuses across the nation for me to share the Gospel.
Prayer is my oxygen. I’m desperate for Jesus. I didn’t know what I was doing (and still don’t) and desperately needed the Lord to lead. Prayer opened every door, provided every opportunity, imparted wisdom, and empowers everything we do at TRL.
This last testimony is one I’ve shared often with single women. The Lord faithfully answered my years of praying for a husband in a way that still blows me away today.
I’ll be honest, at times my prayers for marriage were full-on-ugly-cries as I wavered in unbelief asking, “God, why not me?” But most days, in my quiet-time, I recorded the same simple requests in my journal.
- I prayed for a man who loved Jesus more than anything else in this world.
- I prayed for a man who would be a ministry partner.
- And selfishly, a man who would be taller than me. (Yep, God can handle our non-spiritual requests.)
- Finally, I always prayed, “Don’t give me what I want, give me your best!”
Let’s be real—this request was not answered overnight. Few are. Years passed and I would waver in faith, until one day I sensed God calling me to step up my game. He wanted me to start a prayer group for women to intercede for our future husbands. This sounded crazy to me, but I’m so glad I obeyed. I emailed some friends and we met on the first Monday of the month.
Something shifted in my prayers during this season. Instead of showing up with my list to tell God what to do, I began to listen to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to show me how to pray. As I allowed the Spirit to lead our prayer times, I experienced more confidence that I was praying God’s will. About a year later, I met Justin. Looking back, I know the Lord was showing me how to pray for him and preparing my heart to meet him.
Friends, these are just a few examples of how prayer has transformed my life. But here’s the honest truth. I still feel like a rookie. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what God has for us. That being said, I want to take this opportunity to what I’ve learned.
1. Prayer is best when it is raw, messy, and honest. I think the more real we are with God, the better. He loves for us to bring our true selves before Him. Don’t worry about having the right words, or reciting specific phrases, prayer is simply talking to Him.
2.We have not because we ask not. (Matthew 7:7) The Bible tells us to be persistent and to keep asking. As I look back on specific prayers over the years, I know that God wanted me to ASK, so that I could SEE Him as the PROVIDER.
3. God’s delays are not God’s denials. Often we stop praying when we don’t see an answer, when in reality, this is the time that we should keep praying. Just because we are in a waiting season doesn’t mean God said “no.” As I reflect back on my years of singleness, I know the Lord allowed that season for my good. His delay in answering my prayers was for a purpose that I could not see at the time.
4.Prayer + the Word go hand in hand. If you want to become a woman of prayer, then here is my challenge: Become a woman of the Word! The Bible fuels a prayer life. It shows us how God worked in the past and reminds us how He can work today. Don’t limit God through unbelief. The same God who parted the Red Sea, brought down the walls of Jericho, and raised Jesus from the dead is the One who hears You. When you are immersed in God’s Word, then your prayers will come from a deep well of faith.
5. Keep a prayer journal. I have stacks of prayer journals in my office from the past 15 years of walking with Jesus. These journals help me tangibly see how God answered my prayers. Sometimes I will flip back through journals from 1999, 2004, 2009 and stand in awe of what Jesus has done. He is faithful!
6. When we can’t understand His hand, we trust His heart. I have friends struggling through some very difficult days. The prayer of one friend in particular for physical healing has yet to be answered. I’ve watched as her deep love for Jesus has grown more and more through this journey. Cancer is an ugly, nasty disease. And though it ravages her body, it has not changed her faith. We live in a broken world. Yes, God answers prayer, but sometimes His answers arrive in packages we don’t expect. Our hope is in Him, not in a particular outcome. He is good. The key to faith is trusting His heart, even when we don’t understand His hand.
7. God’s Best is Worth Praying For! Prayer is a force that brings the power of heaven to earth. I want to encourage any woman reading this to pray bold prayers. If you have a desire or vision, pray it into existence! If you have a longing, take it to the King of Kings. I honestly believe that we partner with God through our prayers to bring about the will of God in our lives. From ministry to marriage, I’ve seen this truth played out in my life time and time again. God’s best is worth praying for!
Friend, prayer is our access to the very throne room of God and through our relational communication, we experience His nearness, guidance, and provision. I conclude with these thoughts from Andrew Murray on prayer:
“Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief,
but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things above all that we ask or think.” – Andrew Murray