CALL THOSE THINGS: An Honest Talk About the Power of Prayer

IMG_4145I was still semiconscious lying in bed this morning when the thought, “I’d love to write a book if I had something important enough to say,” went through my mind. That thought jarred me awake, and I smiled. It was the answer I’d given people many times over the past few years who kept saying to me, “Why don’t you write a book…you should write a book!” Hey, I don’t have to give that excuse ever again, thanks to God!

A year ago I was still far away from having that book in me.  Next week I’ll be on the one-year anniversary of a doctor slamming me with an announcement that I was diabetic. I was wrestling a host of other illnesses too: chronic fatigue that got worse with each passing year, unexplained nausea every single day, digestive issues, anxiety; plus, difficulty falling asleep, but then I slept too much and yet it was never enough, not to mention other nuisance and personal maladies.  The fatigue and the wrecked concentration it caused was debilitating, but the diabetes diagnosis was the last straw. I got flaming mad every time I had to take that pill or stick my finger.  The anger was legit, but it changed nothing…I was still sick, and being sick was at the forefront of my mind.  Especially after that diagnosis!  Every little twinge or blip on my radar from then on, I would imagine it was something else the diabetes was doing to destroy my body.  I wanted to just stop feeling bad all the time, period–but I was frankly too tired to put up a fight.  I would ask God to heal me every day; but other than that, I had no real prayer strategy because that required energy I didn’t feel I had.

I was in a thick fog, a trap of Satan.  For the first time, I’m sharing with you that this also is a milestone of about a year back, when I gave our pastor notice of intent to leave employment if I didn’t have a major turnaround by the end of last year.  My work was so compromised, I knew remaining would not be good for the church.  He said, “We will just trust God!” and did not accept my offer to train someone to replace me.

A distress call from a friend, Peggy Scarborough, last April prompted me to seek Scriptures to pray in agreement with her for a sudden health crisis. Her need was so dire that I went into “grasping for straws” mode. A single prayer point evolved into about 8-9 pages of Scriptures to which I had attached prayer confessions–something over which she and several of us who were in prayer for her would be able to agree. When these prayers resulted in a turnaround for her, she encouraged me to research for other illnesses. I kept at it here and there, and then the Lord opened up an opportunity in June for me to lock away in a hotel room, alone and with no tv or distractions, and pen 12 more chapters that would complete CALL THOSE THINGS. The Lord has since then given me even more prayers to add to that list, which I publish as I get them here on my blog,

When I uploaded the last of my manuscript to the publisher, I was still dealing with these issues but had newfound encouragement in what I had mined out of the Scriptures. I kept confessing these prayers over myself.  By July 1 I had eliminated every prescription drug I was taking. No more Metformin, Zoloft, Zofran, Carafate, Zantac, and the over-the-counter sleeping pill. Long before summer was over, every symptom that plagued me (some for years) was gone. I was healed….I AM HEALED!  The most difficult to release in faith was the anxiety medication; it had become a crutch in the transition into menopause with its anxiety and mood swings–but God was faithful and He remains faithful!  Seven months later, I am still off all those medications and I feel like a different person altogether–no blood sugar roller coaster, no nausea, and I can get by many days on LESS than 8 hours sleep–not 10 or 12 or 14!  GOD is the One who did this for me when His Words became my words and my confession.  Absolutely no other explanation for it. A cool bonus:  All the health issues that a doctor would blame on a need for weight loss got healed before a single pound came off.  Yes, I’m still trusting for and working toward that goal too; but God let my healing come in advance, so that no one could say that I got well because I got rid of the excess weight!  God didn’t gauge my level of healing on how much I deserved it or how good a steward I’d been with my body–He responded to faith in His Word, pure and simple.  Now that I’m well, He’s teaching me to use vitamins, good nutrition, and natural remedies like essential oils to maximize my health…but none of these can claim the title of Healer!  Jehovah Rapha (God my Healer) is the One Who stepped in and brought the healing that changed my life forever.  And He loves you no less than He loves me!

I can’t and won’t tell you that if you buy my book you’ll be able to ditch all your meds and never again need to be under a doctor’s care.  (I would recommend no such thing unless you feel prompted of the Lord to do so.  Honestly, I laid my own meds aside because I felt the gentle assurance from God that it was time. It was time to put into practice what He had birthed in me during this investigative process. If I ever need a doctor’s care in the future, I have no qualms about seeking medical assistance.  I’ll go.)  What I CAN tell you, however, is that if you will dig your heels into the Word of God for yourself, there is life-affirming, health-giving substance that can transport you right out of the ditch you feel you’re trapped in with your body, soul, and spirit.  At one point I felt it’d be better to just never wake up again than to have to keep trudging through day after day of feeling bad all the time.   Oh, I don’t think I really wanted to die, necessarily; I was just so weary of being weary!

Also, I didn’t write CALL THOSE THINGS as a substitute so people wouldn’t have to pray on their own; but rather, as a teaching tool. I also wrote these prayers to help those who’ve exhausted all the knowledge they already have on how to pray for their healing. I know what it’s like to be so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to ask. I know what it’s like to have an emergency that leaves your mind too cluttered to pray more than, “Help me Jesus!” When Dana was beside himself in pain with kidney stones this past fall, I was so emotional that I wasn’t being very focused in my prayers for him…and I pulled up this book on my phone, right there in the emergency room, and began praying the prayers the Lord had given me months before. It felt so faith-bolstering to have all those kidney Scriptures already indexed. And God helped Dana as he lay there and agreed with each prayer point that I read over him.

One of the most satisfactory comments I’ve heard on several occasions goes like, “I didn’t know I could even ask for something like that!”  God’s so much better than we credit Him.  What a joyful revelation when at last we get that!  It’s His WILL that we walk in health.  He’s not sitting up there sprinkling “sick dust” on selective ones of us, to make us humble or teach us a lesson or punish us.  Jesus didn’t endure those stripes on His back so that He could turn around and give us the diseases He suffered and bled to free us from.  It’s my prayer that if you’re reading this, you are considering investing in this prayer manual. It’s not a read-once-and-pass-it-on kind of book. It’s a reference to go back to again and again for yourself, for your loved ones, and to keep yourself focused whenever you feel tempted to relent to the enemy’s attack on your body. You don’t have to just accept it! Know God’s will for your best life…and if you need help, consider ordering CALL THOSE THINGS for yourself.

Can You Hear Me Now?

phonebooth“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16

Depending on which translation you use, this Scripture gets pretty broad!  Many of the translations leave it simply at “communicate,” while others signify a transference, such as giving.  I want to address it for the simpler version–just plain good communication–and attempt to show you why I believe God is pleased when His children don’t neglect to interact properly with others.

One of the greatest weapons the enemy has against the body of Christ is one of our own making, and that is neglect to communicate.  We can spew out our colorful cliches and not be short on humor, metaphor, and empty words–just like the world–but we can get pretty tongue-tied when it comes to using our words to show respect and common courtesy.  I have been in church for an entire lifetime; and I’ve seen withheld communication destroy, wound, divide, and offend just as thoroughly and just as often as backbiting and gossip!

Why do we have such a hard time with extending this gesture, when we ourselves hate to be on the lack-of-receiving end of communication?  I don’t know about you, but I feel my tension levels rise and grind away at my peace whenever I’m waiting on an acknowledgment, and I know someone is choosing just not to respond.  Having been there many, many times over the years, it’s help me be more aware of how much more careful I need to be when dealing with others who are waiting on me.

Did you know that you don’t have to have the problem solved in order to communicate?  There’s not a thing wrong with, “Just getting back with you to let you know that even though I don’t have such-and-such ready yet, I did receive your request and I’m working on it;” or, “I’m really sorry, but I just can’t be there on Tuesday evening this time.  Maybe next time.”  We need to be more thoughtful of others in this way!  When someone is counting on us to be at our designated post–whether serving as a volunteer coach for the soccer team, a church usher, or even showing up for work–it is a good reflection on our Father when we are tenacious enough to contact our leaders or the person whom we’re serving whenever we cannot do what we have committed to do.  I would go so far as to say, when we know ahead of time that we cannot follow through, we should always consider what the other person may have to do in order to fill our vacancy.  Sure, I know that ‘s not always possible…but it goes a long way with other people when you don’t leave them hung out to dry!  Do your best to accommodate others, and to let them know you respect and value their time, too.

So this sounds almost like an employee manual, I realize–but as ambassadors of Christ, we are called to go above and beyond.  If on the job, you are the only believer on a crew of sinners, it’s a terrible thing to have it said of you that the one who calls himself/herself a Christian is the laziest, least reliable, or hardest to work with of the whole team.  In the secular workforce, I heard that said of one person or another several times over the years; and while I felt bad for the Christian who was standing out for the wrong reasons, I felt sooooo much worse for Jesus, Whose name was insulted by association with someone who was not diligent…and a neglectful communicator.

You don’t have to have the gift of writing or speaking to be a good communicator, but you do have to have a few other qualities, such as:

  1.  Consideration for others.  What difficulties are you causing by failing to touch base, check in, offer your assistance or prayer or just an ear?  What open doors do you create by taking time to acknowledge and show respect for someone else?
  2. Accountability.  A follower of Christ should have absolutely no issue with being above-board, honest,  a submitter to authority, and thoughtful to others in general (even those to whom we don’t “owe” accountability).
  3. Humility.  Sometimes the other person doesn’t need a lecture; he or she needs for you to listen and show empathy.  You’ll never be able to do that if you’re all the time trying to fix the other person!  Think…remove the beam in my own eye, then I can help remove the speck in my brother’s!
  4. Humility again!  Don’t use “the silent treatment” as a way to punish your spouse, your child, or any other person.  We need to check our spirit when we find pleasure in letting someone sweat.  I’m not going to say that there’s never an appropriate time for us to delay a response, but the Holy Spirit knows when we’re using this tactic to get revenge or to manipulate.
  5. Quickness to repent.  If you are wrong, be willing to acknowledge it (by communicating such) and change!  Don’t stubbornly pack your withheld apology around.  A mature believer will sometimes follow the Holy Spirit’s lead and be the FIRST to extend the olive branch–even when he or she was in the right!  Blessed are the peacemakers…and sometimes peacemakers have to be the icebreakers.
  6. Quickness to forgive.  First of all, we need God’s forgiveness and cannot therefore afford to withhold forgiveness from others.  Second, unforgiveness can cause us to alienate our people!  Think of how many people have just started out a little mad over something, and because they kept nursing hurt feelings, suddenly found themselves five, twenty, fifty years down the road not speaking to a family member.  The longer we defer forgiveness, we sear our consciences with a hot iron.  The longer we go without communicating, the easier it is to alienate loved ones.
  7. An ear toward heaven.  If you pray for the spirit of discernment, God can absolutely help you foresee potential trainwrecks in relationships.  Entire churches have split before over hurts…many times because leaders have failed to seal the cracks when an offense came.  Truthfully?  It’s easier to look the other way and hope something doesn’t fester; however, the devil usually doesn’t pass on an easy opportunity to de-rail a move of God.  Often we don’t know HOW to respond, so we do nothing.  Or, we feel the other person is just immature and being unreasonable, so we hope that time will cause the storm to blow over.  If you see someone bordering on leaving over an unacknowledged offense, prayerfully ask God how best to handle it.  At least be willing to make the communication, even if it doesn’t end as you’d hoped.  Once the door closes behind him or her, the chance of getting back your relationship with an offended brother or sister is, as Proverbs said, “harder to win than a fortified city;” AND, the biggest slap in the face of all is if that association is broken in profound silence.
  8. Openness without nagging.  We are sure good at giving TMI (too much information) on Facebook about everything from our skin rashes to our spouse’s bad habits, but not so open in places where it counts.  When you are on the receiving end of a hurt, give the other person a chance to make it right by voicing (nicely) what has happened.  Carefully choose your words to express your FEELINGS, not your assessment of that person’s character.  Those “you always” and “you never” accusations don’t work and can send the other person retreating like a chicken with its tail feathers on fire.  Instead of “you never spend time with me anymore,” try “I miss our time together…I enjoy being with you.”  A soft answer turns away wrath, but no answer at all doesn’t do much of anything.   It’s ok to be transparent with someone else when the goal is restoration, and preventive maintenance!
  9. Gratitude.  If someone–and especially if that someone is in your immediate circle–does something for you, for heaven’s sake, thank him or her!  My pastor and his entire family are masters of this trait…and are so thoughtful and appreciative over every little thing.  From the time their grown kids were just little, even they were constantly saying ‘thank you’ or ‘I really appreciate that/you.’  Folks are drawn to grateful people.  Show that someone’s thoughtfulness impacted you, and that someone go out of his or her way to accommodate you in the future.  And when you’re being served in a restaurant, don’t fail to praise those who are taking care of you (instead of complaining about everything)…and put your money where your mouth is, too!  For heaven’s sake, Christians, don’t leave a tract in place of a tip.  Gratitude is a catalyst to generosity; and if you want that server to view your God as a stingy, unfriendly, unappreciative tyrant in the sky, you’ll be stingy, unfriendly, and unappreciative over your meal.  Every encounter with others is a reflection, to the good or to the bad, on our Heavenly Father, Whom we represent.  Bring the salt and light through the door with you.  I’ve known believers who’ve won servers to the Lord right in the restaurant, just for listening and offering to pray for them.  Many times the person taking care of you is a big ball of hurt and desperation.  Even now it surprises me how often I encounter someone in this setting who is desperate to just be acknowledged.
  10. Positive and encouraging.  Don’t always offer a story about how your problem (or former crisis) was even worse than the one your contact is going through.  If someone’s mother just died, he or she doesn’t need to hear you amble on and on about what all you went through when yours did!  No matter what situation you’re helping someone walk out, find a way to end it on a good note (and not by using cliches like the silver lining in the cloud).  Sometimes a simple, “We will trust God together to bring you through this” will do. Listen more than you speak.  When you are interacting with others, sneak opportunities to compliment and encourage them in appropriate ways.  Tell people when they’re doing a good job, and if they’re not, you can still turn the tide by turning up their self-confidence!  At any rate, when you part ways with those you’ve come into contact with, let them feel a refreshing just because it was you they served.  And remember, we don’t always know what kind of things are going on in a person’s life.  That rude customer service person may have gotten news just hours before that his or her child has cancer.  There may be a divorce, or terrible money worries, or an abuse going on in the home.  Don’t return rudeness for rudeness.  It’s hard sometimes, but you can do it!

If you have a choice to under- or over-, always over-communicate.  You may get on someone’s nerves by overdoing it, but you’ll not vex him or her nearly as bad as if you fail to communicate at all and cause a meltdown in right order.  Think like Christ…the Word tells us that we have the MIND of Christ.  Let me encourage you to pray for good communication skills; and if you’re a leader, grab hold of the horns of the altar and tarry till God anoints you with those skills!   A great resource is a prayer on Developing Good Communication Skills, written by my dear friend, Germaine Copeland in her series “Prayers that Avail Much.”  Here’s a link to prayer at her website.

Listen, Heed, Move

PillarOfFireTherefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.  Hebrews 2:1

How critical is it that we move with the voice of God? I’m pretty sure we don’t know the answer to that question; for if we did, we’d be so much more attentive.

In the wilderness, God protected His Hebrew people with a pillar of twofold phenomenon: the cloud by day, the fire by night. By day, His cloud was a visible banner that went before them; but think of all the other things that cloud was capable of! It could shield them from the burning desert sun, even block the view of the enemy if necessary. By night, it was a bright luminary that could not be missed in times when their trek required after-dark travel. It radiated warmth against the cold desert nights. No doubt, to their enemies, a wall of fire was a frightening and intimidating warning to back off!

But this pillar didn’t operate on the people’s schedule. It was as much a test of obedience as it was a beacon to follow to the Promised Land. There were times when God chose to park and stay a while–times some of them may have preferred to just keep moving instead of having to unpack and set up camp. Other times, when they were content to stay in a particular area, God might decide to start moving again. There wasn’t an option. God didn’t say, “I’m going to go ahead of you…just catch up when you feel like it.” No, He was their guide, their map, and their only hope of survival. They weren’t traveling a well-worn freeway equipped with GPS and road signs that said, “Next watering hole 150 miles.” A people not nomadic by culture, they had to rely totally on Him to help them deal with movement…that is, after being enslaved for 400 years!

So what does that say to us about the importance of our attentiveness to God’s Word and His voice? We are in the same place of need. We were a people in bondage, and we aren’t used to navigating in strange territory.  When the responsibility of walking in freedom gets tough sometimes, bondage beckons for us to return.  Bondage was hell, but we were used to it. We may, at times, look back and think it was easier because it was consistently bad. Still, we can’t go back. Oh technically we could; we could listen to the voice of the enemy wooing us back. “Come back to the leeks and garlic! Come back to bread and meat and a roof over your head. Come back to a steady job and neighbors you were accustomed to! It’s not so bad!” The enemy would of course laugh at us and slam the cell door shut the moment we stepped into his lair. And just like institutionalized hard criminals who commit a crime just to go back to their familiar society, we could go back to Egypt.

But…even if we were to wrangle free a second time, how long would it take us to retrace our steps and find the Cloud? How fast could our feet carry us as we doubled back, trying to remember which landmarks we passed on the way when we were first liberated?

Perhaps I’m overshooting in my example. Even if you don’t plan on going back to Egypt, there is a great price to pay for choosing not to move with the pillar.

How many times do we sleep in on a Sunday, or ignore the Holy Spirit’s urging to lay down our petty toys and get alone with God through the week, or leave the Word gathering dust on the coffee table? We won’t know until we get to the Bema just what these diversions cost us. I would say this to you: the opportunity you passed up to sit under anointed preaching or teaching, that one phone call you chose not to return, that one time when you failed to take the high road, that one opportunity that sounded good but seemed to require too much sacrifice…that choice on that one given date could’ve set your destiny back by months, by years!

And what about just your physical survival?  I interviewed RIck and Cathy Simpkins years ago, after her first bout with cancer. They shared that the whole key to her survival became a matter of daily listening for God’s voice. What would seem to others as arbitrary turns in the road were, in fact, them responding to the suddenlies of God’s urging. He led them on a carefully-timed pathway to her healing. He directed every turn in their journey. At times it seemed as if she was ricocheting between treatment plans and doctors, but in the end, it became clear why. Their urgent advice was, don’t miss the voice of God! Keep your ear tuned to hear Him! Get under good leadership and instruction and walk under authority. She got nine extra years of life out of this choice to remain steadfast; got to see her two grandchildren born, got to minister to and help many more people, build a home, travel, and live with the man she loved. Had they given in to despair, or failed to seek His counsel, the alternative was probably not good.  What could you do with extra years of life?  Could you afford to sacrifice even one of the years you now have?

So, if you knew that your very life depended on this next encounter with God, wouldn’t you go out of the way to ensure that you didn’t miss it? You’d set your clock, clear your calendar, toss the excess overboard, and wait as long as it took! You’d shush every other voice that threatened to drown out the Still, Small One. I’m urging you, whatever you have to do, don’t let the pillar start moving without you. God is merciful and full of grace…we can make critical errors and still be just as saved. However, those lapses in judgment can turn a two week journey into forty years.  He redeems time for us, absolutely; He is the author of the Plan B of our lives when we get it wrong.  But there’s seldom if ever been a time when someone got the exact same outcome as if he or she would’ve simply obeyed or sought God’s voice to start with.  As a result of our foolishness or laziness, we may lose some souls along the way we were meant to harvest. We may wind up in a lesser rank of advancement than we otherwise might’ve gotten, had we been on time. We for sure will have our regrets if we miss that critical hour of our visitation, that one seemingly just-like-every-other-day that was in fact our tipping point.

Listen for Him, run hard after Him, no matter what it takes. The hour is late; there’s not a lot of time for playing catch-up. Remember the five foolish who tried and weren’t able to get back there in time, all because they failed to be prepared for the most important moment of their lives.

Listen.  Heed.  Move.