Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Didn't Ask for THIS!!

My relationship with prayer is mixed. I want to do it. I have even tried to figure out what it means to pray without ceasing. I came up with a really good sermon one time that I’ve repeated a few times in various places. I started out with establishing through scripture that the Bible actually called upon us to pray everywhere all the time about all things. Whew, that’s a lot of praying. Near impossible wouldn’t you think?

Then we turned to what we call the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. With my best preaching/teaching skills we went through the elements of the prayer discovering that it was a lifestyle, not just words to be recited. Therefore, Jesus taught us to pray and taught us to live and therefore we can pray always, everywhere all the time about all things. It’s really a pretty good sermon.

Like all good sermons, it has to get into your heart to be effective. I sometimes wonder how well this preacher really does with that lifestyle.

I have had periods where I would be very fervent in prayer. My life fell apart in 1997 as a result of this fervency. I am a life-long Pentecostal. That’s a different sort of heritage! It was a good one, a rich one, but really different.

I had heard about these great revivals all my life. I was coming of age during the Charismatic Renewal. My mother and I used to go on the bus to Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) meetings by bus, across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island on a Saturday morning, just to hear some Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist or the like tell about their experience with the Holy Spirit. A tall Norwegian man named Simon led that chapter. In my world, it had to be led by or at least endorsed by a Norwegian to be legit. Simon would lead “airlifts” to Norway to bring the message of the Holy Spirit. You can read a little more about me, FGBMFI and Simon here.

I heard about revival all my life. I suppose I had experienced it. But I wanted to really see it in my lifetime. I wanted “my Azusa Street.” (Make sure to have your speakers on when you check that link.) I understood to get it you had to pray. I did. My best friend and coworker decided to go to the church everyday for lunch and pray. We wanted to see revival.

It was the mid-1990’s. I was reading about the Toronto Blessing and the Pensacola Revival. I couldn't go. I decided to ask God to bring it to me. I wanted my Azusa Street. I was convinced this was the new Azusa Street. We prayed and prayer. It was a good time. My faith grew the more I prayed. We saw revival come.

One day I took time off of work to go here a speaker in the New London area of Connecticut. I had heard that there had been quite a Holy Ghost party the night before. The speaker was probably tired from the party the night before and basically presented his signature teaching about deliverance. He had us all come to the front and call out those things that had held us back in life. For me I remember I identified rejection. I prayed God would remove the effects of rejection from my life. You can read about some of the rejection beginning here (keep reading forward to fully understand).

Pentecostals and Charismatics tend to like some sort of a feeling or a manifestation when God does something. There was none that day. I simply prayed. I meant it. God heard it. He answered.

I had already had a house fire, the death of a granddaughter (read about that beginning here) – then came serious accusation at work causing an investigation (none of it true), betrayal by my husband, and months and months of numbness. I no longer led the charge for revival at church. God was digging deep in my soul. He was pulling up those roots of rejection by putting me in a place of total helplessness. He was getting ready to heal me. He did.

I did make it to Toronto just before I completely hit bottom. I was lying on the floor as is the case often in these types of settings. I heard God speak to me very clearly. He told me I was going to go through some very, very rough times. That I had “things” in my life that I didn’t know. That He was going to be with me the whole time.

I thought I’d sinned. No, it wasn’t that. It was God answering my prayer about rejection. He was getting ready to dig deep in my soul. Just as He said, the process was not easy; it was so painful and hard. Also like He said, He was always there. He was answering that prayer I prayed one morning in New London.

It’s a funny thing about prayer. Prayer is what brings us lined up with the plan of God. He always wants our wholeness. Sometimes we pray what seem to be inconsequential prayers but God always hears them. He always answers them. I am healed from some really painful stuff from my childhood. Read about that here.

It was a long time before I realized that God had answered that prayer. God often surprises us. We think the answer will look a certain way. Usually it doesn’t look like we thought it would. Nevertheless, it is always the right answer.


Linda Maynard said...

Your post has a lot of interesting thoughts and links as well.
I can remember being taught that praying was only done kneeling down and having my hands folded a certain way.
I chuckled at your thoughts about Simon and things being legit, if they were Norwegian. I had the same types of beliefs that all things had to be Catholic.
I remember my friend Linda buying my first Bible and she was alerted by the Holy Spirit that I would not accept anything other than a Catholic Bible. That was spot on.
Another powerful thing I have thought about having to do with prayer is that Jesus intercedes for us always. That has been a very comforting fact for me, many times.
I also remember a teaching about intercession and how, if we are praying for a difficult situation and we can imagine a formidable wall being between praying and the answer, that our prayers are each like a dynamite charge being lodged in the wall and eventually the wall will come down.
In my facebook page, I wrote a note yesterday of a quotation I read about revival and the element of repentance as being a very important and not so much talked about component. I just had been thinking in those terms for myself lately
The Azuza Street piece you wrote is very interesting

Tracy said...

It's really interesting to read about your experiences here.

I appreciate what you wrote about "Prayer is what brings us lined up with the plan of God."

God definitely surprises me all the time.

photogr said...

I find that prayer is a powerful force with the Holy Spirit and God. It is also when I fel the closest with God.

I have also found that praying for meaningful things in others and my life is always answered eventually. However, if I pray for money to buy a newer car or material things that I don't really need, those prayers get dumped in His useless request files. I can live with His considerations.

Tony C said...

Awesome story Joyce! Whenever I read your post, it makes me really want to hear one of your sermons.

I hope that wish comes true at some point.