God has given each of us a song that only we can sing. The song is His special calling and purpose, an offering only one person can make to Him. No one else can hum your tune. And if it were not sung, it would be sorely missed.
Part of the song each individual is to sing is expressed through prayer. God wants to hear from each of us. And our prayer-song, even if we think it’s an ordinary tune, can have great power.
Do you feel your prayers are powerful? That they affect the outcome of situations? That they cause God to bend down and incline His ear toward you? Or do you feel your notes are off-key rather than a sweet melody? Or perhaps you often remain silent because you’re afraid you don’t know how to pray well enough. Or maybe you feel discouraged because you’ve tried to pray, but the experience wasn’t what you had hoped.
As we begin our exploration about prayer, I assure you that, regardless how tentative the notes of your prayer-song, God longs to hear from you. And whether you sing a solo, a duet, or in a group, He listens long and well. Your melody pleases Him, even if you think your song is too simple, too small, or too petty (those “help me find a parking space” prayers).
I’ve written this book to boost your confidence in prayer and in your ability to pray. I want you to believe deeply and fervently that praying is one of the most important contributions you can make to your child’s life—and that that contribution will have long-term results, results that will unfold even when you’re no longer on earth. To that end, together we’re going to try out some new prayer-songs, consider from Scripture what God thinks about our prayers, be encouraged to keep on praying even when we have to hold our notes longer than we ever thought we could, and hear from other moms who have prayed long and hard. My prayer is that by the time you finish this book, you’ll be excited, energized, and enlightened about your prayer life. But even more important, you’ll be changed. For while prayer sometimes changes circumstances and can even change other people’s minds, it almost always changes the heart of the pray-er.
I recall one prayer group I participated in, in which we prayed with a mom who was distraught over her relationship with her son. He hated her so much he would wince at her touch. The wall between them was high and wide. We prayed week after week for the relationship to heal. We asked God to tear down the wall of bitterness, resentment, and anger. We prayed that the mom would see things she might be doing that kept her son on the other side of that wall.
By the end of the school year, the son was hugging his mom before he left for school. Who changed? I’m sure the mom would say that God changed her and that enabled her son to change, but truthfully, God changed them both.
Not that praying isn’t hard work. It is. But God’s answers often amaze us. That’s part of what makes praying so exciting. Many times in our prayer group we experienced immediate answers to prayer, but with some prayers we didn’t see anything happen. A foster son was on drugs and alcohol. We prayed fervently for this handsome young man. Yet we saw no change. Actually, things grew worse. We persevered, praying that he would love God and serve Him with a devoted heart. Throughout his junior and senior high years and into his adult life, he continued on the road to self-destruction. But God heard the prayers of us moms, crying out for his life, and He answered—twenty years later. I just received a letter from his foster mom joyously sharing how this son surrendered his life to Christ, married a Christian girl, and is actively involved in a local church. As his coworkers watched the transformation in his life, they asked him lots of questions about the changes. But what is really above and beyond what we could have imagined, as we prayed in our small group all those years before, was that he would lead his birth mother to the Lord before she died.
Now, I don’t want you to think that my prayer-song bubbled up as a surprise one day and I prayed fervently and well from then on. I’m learning about prayer every day, just like you. But I did see prayer’s power in the life of someone close to me—my mom. She prayed throughout the day in our home, always leading us in prayer before meals and at bedtime. Many times she would pray in the car before we left the driveway to ask for God’s protection. And on Wednesday nights, Mom would take us to church for the weekly prayer meeting.
I can remember sitting in a church pew when I was still so young that my legs dangled midair, unable to reach the floor. I listened as the saints’ prayers filled the room. I never grew impatient or bored. Quite the contrary, I never felt more at home than when I was in the safe, secure love of those prayers. Whether at home, coming and going in the car, or at church, my mother demonstrated that a loving God cared about me and was attentive to hear and answer my prayers. As a result, I asked Jesus into my heart as a young girl. I can’t remember a time in my life that I haven’t talked to my heavenly Father.
I’ve seen such wonderful answers to prayer over the years—including in my own family—that those answers spur me on to keep praying. While we lived in British Columbia, my husband, Rle, and our ten-year-old son, Troy, were invited to go on a canoe trip with a friend and his son. The friend had canoed down the Fraser River many times, and he wanted to share the fun with Rle. Besides, it would be a great adventure for the two boys.
Excitement built as the day grew closer. Much preparation and planning preceded the event.
Because it was early spring, the snowcap was melting off the mountains, causing the river to run high and rapid. The day of the trip turned out wet and rainy, but that didn’t deter these hearty souls. After packing the canoe with their supplies, they were about to launch the boat when they heard voices calling out to them. Two men who were coming ashore were yelling.
“You aren’t going out on the river, are you?” one of the men shouted.
When the man who had invited my husband said, “Yes,” one of the strangers responded, “I wouldn’t go out today. The water’s too high and swift. We’ll be picking you up off the bottom.”
Rle’s friend assured my husband that he had canoed the river in all kinds of weather and they would be fine. Still, as they jumped into the canoe, Rle saw the two strangers shaking their heads in disbelief.
About mid-afternoon I felt prompted to pray for Rle and Troy’s protection. So strong was the impression that I stopped what I was doing, sat down at the kitchen table with my Bible, and claimed promises of protection for them. I prayed: “Protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore” (Psalm 125:1–2). “‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name’” (Psalm 91:14).
Then I prayed for Rle’s friend and his son, “Lord, You know what is happening right now. I ask that You would protect them. Keep them safe. Put Your arms around them and keep them close to You. Bring them home. I trust You; I will not be shaken. Oh, Lord, bring them home.” I must have prayed for almost an hour.
Later that evening I received a call from my worn-out yet thankful husband. As he told me what had happened that afternoon, I calculated the time and realized the terrifying story had taken place just when the Holy Spirit had prompted me to pray.
Rle’s story unfolded like this: As they paddled down the river, they picked up speed until suddenly they hit a drop-off, like a small waterfall. The canoe shot into the air, and all its occupants were thrown into the icy river. As Rle came to his senses, he realized he was underwater, held there by two little feet on top of his shoulders. Not knowing where the strength came from, he hoisted Troy off of him and swam with Troy to the canoe, which was nearby and hadn’t sunk. He pulled up Troy to get his chest out of the water because Rle was concerned about hypothermia.
Troy asked him, “Daddy, are we going to die?”
Rle was silently resolute.
Troy continued, “It’s okay, Daddy. We’ll be with Jesus.”
The friend and his son were farther away from the canoe. Rle said he would never forget the sound of his friend frantically calling for his son and the relief when father and son found each other in the roiling water. God gave them the strength to swim toward the canoe and latch on.
After forty-five minutes of battling the freezing, raging waters, their strength was giving way and they were chilled to the bone. Just as Rle was comprehending that they really were going to die, another miracle occurred.
They felt land under their feet and discovered a small, submerged island in the middle of the river. They were barely able to stand because of the water rushing over the island. Shaking uncontrollably they huddled together in prayer, thanking Jesus for their momentary safety.
Then, in a matter of minutes a helicopter, with just enough space to land, picked them up and whisked them to a nearby hospital. How had the rescue crew known? Another miracle. A couple saw the accident and immediately called for help. The paramedics said that if Troy had been in the water ten more minutes he would have died of hypothermia.
What a privilege I had to fight for the physical lives of my loved ones and their friends through prayer. Did my prayer make a difference? Did God send ministering angels to help because I prayed? Yes and yes. God promises that when I call to Him, He hears me and will do great and mighty things. Prayer can make the difference between life and death.
Why pray? Because the power of one praying life is of great value. Don’t quit. Your prayers can only be sung by you.
“Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth,” said pastor and author Max Lucado. “You may not understand the mystery of your task. But this much is clear: When you speak, Jesus hears.”
I can’t help but think of the verse in James, “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available—dynamic in its working” (James 5:16, AMP).
Family members pulled to safety, children released from drug abuse, and family relationships restored—these are only a sampling of the great effect a life of prayer can have.
In upcoming chapters we’ll explore how to pray four life-changing prayers; overcome our own barriers that hold us back from praying powerfully; pray for our loved ones using Scripture; pray according to God’s will; claim God’s promises in prayer; fight spiritual battles on behalf of our children in prayer; and pray no matter what.
In the next chapter we’ll examine one of the biggest barriers to prayer—struggling to believe that God truly hears and responds to our prayers. How can you become a confident pray-er, even when God doesn’t answer?
And now, I’d like to close this chapter in prayer for you. In upcoming chapters, I’ll provide a prayer for you to offer as a song at the end of each chapter. But for now, let me pray this prayer over you:
Sovereign Lord, thank You for how much You love and value every single person. Each life has a song given by You that only that person can sing. I pray that not one of Your children would doubt the power of her song. Give her the courage to trust You. May Your love cast out fear so that she can sing the song You have given with confidence. Oh, Father, may she bring You great honor and glory as You are faithful to help her sing her song. In Jesus’ name, amen.