Growing up, I saw so many miracles that I could write a book about them. I was raised in a family that believed in the power of prayer – they stood on scriptural promises and claimed them with authority!
However, my personal faith journey hit a wall when I was a young child.
My mom sent me to my overwhelming, disaster area of a bedroom and told me to clean it. I was supposed to stay in there until it was clean. Absorbed in self-pity, I cleared a spot on my bed, squeezed my eyes shut, and said, “God, if you’re real, then in Jesus name when I snap my fingers and open my eyes, my bedroom will be clean!”
I opened my eyes to discover an overwhelming, disaster area of a bedroom, and that inkling of doubt and natural lack of faith in God we are all born with was confirmed deep inside of me. God, to me, was unfaithful. I mean, I had prayed in Jesus’ name and it did me no good. What was the use of prayer?
That mentality continued to burden me and alter my perspective of God and prayer for 20 more years. It stunted my prayer life and my growth and maturity as a Christian. I continued to hear people pray in Jesus’ name with authority, but the seeming randomness with which God answered those prayers made my prayer life frustrating, unpredictable drudgery, done usually out of guilt or obedience rather than the fruitful and edifying activity scripture claims belongs to those who “believe”.
When I was a young adult, my relationship with the Lord changed. I made a decision to live for Him. But, even when I made that decision, my prayer life continued to be a muddled, confusing place. God would bring peace when I needed it, and continue to mature the view of my need for Him in my daily life. However, my prayers would sound something very much like this, “Lord, if it’s in your will, and it doesn’t screw up your plans too much, and if it doesn’t upset you that I ask, and if I am completely submitted to you, could you please do such and such? But even if you don’t, I still love you.” I mean, I knew God COULD do anything, but WOULD He do it for ME?
There is beauty in part of that attitude. No matter what, I still loved Him…..but what about the many scriptural promises regarding health and healing, financial provision, and hope for lost loved ones? If God is not actively fulfilling His promises, then what is the purpose of their inclusion in the Bible?
The day came when I received the call from my beloved sister-in-law. The baby developing inside of her had only a brain stem, but no brain. He would be carried to term, delivered, and after just enough time to hug and kiss and fall in love, he would die. The doctor recommended an abortion and, to her credit, she refused. Still, in that moment, it was hard for me to imagine any of us surviving this situation to it’s natural end. The world turned into a singular, dark tunnel for me with only pain at the end to struggle through. Certainly I knew Jesus would be there to help us with that struggle, and I knew He COULD heal this baby, but WOULD he do this for us?
I had little Quin (the-child-who-would-survive) with me during Natalie’s ultrasound. I felt at a loss for meaningful words when she came to pick him up. However, when I went to her house later that afternoon, a voice said, “We will pray and believe for a miracle. We have had so many miracles in our family. This will be another one.” I was surprised to hear that coming out of my mouth because my heart was full of doubt.
In a desperate search for relief and answers, I turned to the Word. I began collecting scriptures that stood out to me during my studies, and I glued them into an index card sized notebook. I put tabs on pages to categorize my prayers, and I found myself completely lost and dependent upon those praises and promises. . . and I didn’t want to be alone. I began making little books with scriptures in them for others, and then called a prayer meeting with everyone we knew in town. We timed our prayer meeting with praying people all around the world who were coming out of the woodwork to seek the Lord for Jeremy and Natalie and their unborn child. We stood on those scriptures the Lord had given us, and it was an anointed time of prayer, led unquestionably by the Holy Spirit.
The next day I went to church a human ball of tears and emotion, hoping for a miracle and praying for peace. We had a guest evangelist that morning, something that rarely happens at our church. He “happened” to be sharing about how God used Hebrews 11:29 and the story of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea to confront him regarding his faith.
Hebrews 11: 29 says. “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.” It wasn’t personal greatness, or godly reputation. The water was not intimidated by Moses’ well established authority. In fact, Moses spoke with a stutter and struggled with God’s judgment in calling a simple man like himself for such a purpose. God merely worked on the basis of Moses’ faith and trust in Him. Moses surrendered his doubt and believed God.
The evangelist went on to explain that he needed this understanding of faith after a tragic brain aneurysm earlier that same year that should have instantly taken his life.
Brain aneurysm. Whoa. I was presently absorbed in a world that revolved around brains (or lack there-of). This was certainly not a coincidence.
I looked at my husband, Stephen, and fell to pieces. At that moment, God told Stephen and I as clearly as if he had yelled in our faces, “By faith, I will heal this baby’s brain”.
In our Sunday school class immediately after the service, Stephen raised his hand to share what God had revealed to him. He said something like, “If we actually believe our God is the creator of the universe, then it was not such an amazing miracle that He could part the Red Sea. The real miracle was that Moses had the faith to raise his hand in front of the assembly of doubting Israelites who were facing certain death by the pursuing Egyptians, and stretch his hand out over the water in trust and obedience to God’s command. God told me that in the same way, I am to proclaim in faith that this baby is healed.”
Well, I wept…..wept in a very cleansing sort of way. Years of doubt, insecurity, and frustration melted away as God revealed himself in a fresh new way to me. I was filled with confidence and certainty. Reports were coming in from friends and family that God was revealing the same things to them as well.
The next day, moments before Natalie went in for her final ultrasound, I sent out an email to the hundreds of people all around the world who were praying for Natalie’s baby, asking for prayer. I said, “Please be in prayer for Jeremy and Natalie as they go in for their ultrasound today, but, have no doubt. God has clearly revealed to many of us that this baby’s brain will be made whole. It might not be at this appointment, but before he’s born, he will be restored and made complete.”
I was in Houston with Stephen and my own two young babies when I got the call. Where once a caved in, empty skull threatened to change our lives forever, a fully functioning, beautiful brain was found to be perfectly developing inside his now rounded-out head. He would live, just as we were promised. I rejoiced! I worshipped! But I was not surprised. It was a confirmation of what we already knew, and was a moment that I believe, brought about an even more profound life-change for me.
From then on, I knew how to pray. All prayer is rooted in scripture. Without scripture as our basis, we have no foundation for our faith. We start there with the promises of God.
We can not expect God to be our celestial genie-in-a-bottle at our beck-an- call. He has a beautiful will and a plan that is infinitely beyond our understanding. He is faithful to reveal to us HOW we should pray and for what. I John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” And Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
So, you don’t know how to pray? START HERE!
Take a scripture such as Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Then, make this scripture your own and pray these truths into your life: “Lord, replace my hate with love. Replace my mourning with joy. Give me peace and take my anxiety. Give me patience and kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control because I know these are my promised fruit from your Holy Spirit.”
The hard truth is that even scriptural prayer does not always have the outcome we desire. Shortly after Aaron’s miracle, I was praying for a miracle in my husband’s career. Oh GOSH, I wanted what I wanted, but there was a hold on my spirit to not pray for what I wanted. Instead, I was full of certainty that I was to pray for peace, wisdom, and protection for his job. When I didn’t get my will, but God’s will was done, I rejoiced in yet a deeper understanding of how prayer and faith works. It is seeking God with all my heart, soul and mind starting from a foundation of faith and trust, knowing that He really knows best. I didn’t get what I wanted, but I was full of peace and excitement for what God was doing. Stephen’s career was protected, and God’s hand was revealed.
I could share story after story of God’s answered prayers. He sent an abundance of rain during Georgia’s devastating drought, yet back the rains from flooding my home. We’ve had miracles in health and healing in our bodies and in our relationships, and all of it starts from the foundation of that trusty, Holy Spirit anointed fruit I seek first in Galatians 5.
You know that feeling you get when you sit on your leg too long and the whole thing falls completely asleep? When that happens, I know I need to get up to walk. I can’t feel a thing, but I know my leg is there. I put one numb foot in front of the other. It is clumsy as can be at first, but it begins to wake up and eventually, I am off and running.
So it is with faith. We know it’s there hidden under all that doubt. It’s the thing your life in Christ is built on, but it’s numb until you get up and test it, work it, and get that blood flowing through it. Your confidence grows as your awareness grows, and soon you’re off and running.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1: 2-4