INTRODUCTION: Our Call to Pray
“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
— Matthew 18:20 NIV
“Father, in the name of Jesus, deliver Joan from smoking. We touch and agree and it is done!”
I (Velma) prayed that during an all-weekend prayer vigil to help several women kick addictions like cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, and end cycles of abuse back in 1977 when I was a green prayer warrior. At 33, it was the first round-the-clock prayer vigil I had ever attended. Talk about intense! Praying for her and others like her that weekend took all the spiritual strength I could muster and more I didn’t know I possessed. For probably the first time, I prayed until l believed God said to me “enough.” That night a woman who had been hooked on cigarettes for 20 years walked away from the habit never to return. Seeing her and others like her take huge leaps of faith to end life-debilitating addictions showed me that God is in the prayer-answering business. From then on, I was hooked on prayer.
Please pray for Mom’s healing. Help her with this cancer. Please don’t let her suffer, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
This is how I (Janice) prayed at the start of my Christian journey. I was in my late 30’s when I gave my life to Christ. Being a wife, mother, and bank manager forced me to walk confidently through life. I didn’t have time to second-guess my choices. But, I needed more—for me. Becoming a Christian brought me the “more” I believed I was missing.
Now that I was fresh on my journey, I wanted to learn how to pray. When I attended church I heard people pray with power, and secretly I wanted to do the same. At the time, I believed that God heard only “powerful” prayers. Consequently, I never prayed out loud. Truth be told, I really didn’t believe my prayers would move God into action. I often thought: Who am I to Him? Why would He even listen to me? Because of my insecurities, I habitually turned to people like my pastor, Bible teachers, and friends. Their prayers always seemed confident and filled with wisdom. Anytime we prayed, I left their presence with a strengthened assurance that God would give me the answers to my problems because they prayed.
Do our prayers sound familiar to you? No matter when you come to God, your prayers can sound very much like ours did—timid, general, unsure, and yet always earnest. Deep in your heart, you desire a great and mighty God to come down and rescue you from whatever situations you face. Now you may not actually say that, but if you were honest with yourself, you might admit that’s exactly how you feel. And, guess what? Those feelings are okay. They just mean you want real tools to help you solve real problems. Prayer is the Christian’s pathway to a relationship with a God who has the answers you need to make your life work. This is what our prayer group members were looking for in 2005 when our paths collided.
Saying Yes to Prayer
One of us desired healing. One of us worried about a close relative. One of us needed protection. Unable to do it alone, Janice, Mary, and I (Velma) banded together believing that daily prayer for a couple of hours every morning mixed with faith the size of a mustard seed would deliver to us the miracles we so desperately needed. Each of us was at a different level in our Christian walk: Janice was a new Christian, Mary was slowly growing in her relationship with God, and I had grown used to being in the company of mature Christians to lead and guide me. Though at different levels in our spiritual growth, we knew there were some obstacles that only prayer and fasting could conquer, (Matthew 17:21).
Our first call was in April 2005. We were co-workers at a local bank and found ourselves praying for and about each other: Doctors had recently diagnosed Janice with sarcoidosis, a disease that results from a specific type of inflammation of tissues in the body. Mary’s close relative faced possible prison time due to a rather serious job situation. My ex-husband had violated a restraining order and had continued to harass me causing me to fear for my safety. These heavy issues led us to form a prayer group.
Our prayers were simple because they came straight from the Bible:
“Father God, we know You hear us. We believe without a shadow of a doubt that You can and are willing to help us in our hour of need. Therefore, we declare that no weapon formed against Velma shall prosper. By Jesus’ stripes Janice is healed. And please help Mary’s relative, oh God. Save her according to your mercy. We ask this in Jesus’ name, amen!”
We said this prayer and others like it daily. Slowly, our prayers turned into Bible lessons. We discovered that by including the Scriptures we studied as we prayed, our prayers strengthened. Often because of Bible knowledge, Janice and Mary appointed me the teacher. Hesitant, yet excited, I dove into the task. I returned to my roots and taught them what I had learned from my spiritual mentors in 1977. The first several weeks of us praying and studying the Bible together excited us. We memorized Scriptures about healing, protection, and mercy. Doing so empowered us to understand God’s promises for His children and helped us to embrace the belief that those promises were for us today.