My Prayer Journey
by Barbara Thompson Young
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I grew up hearing my mother pray, as she asked God to supply food for her seven children. The next day, I would hear the knock on the door, and I would see the answer standing there, holding a sack of groceries! The kind person would say, “I was thinking of you last night, and I thought I would bring your family some food.”
One year, a tornado threatened to strike our city. Mom began praying, as she placed buckets and pans in needed areas to catch the rain water that began to seep through our roof. She rode out the storm by crying out to God to spare her family and her city. He honored her request! We lived a hard life, but the upside to that was, I learned the power of prayer, and more important, I saw the heart of God.
At the age of twelve I went to my first church youth camp. There I went forward and knelt at a make-shift altar in God’s great outdoors, and gave my heart to Him. A few years later, at the age of fifteen, my journey took a new turn when a stray cat wandered into our backyard while I was taking table scraps to our dog, Jackie. I noticed the cat, and gasped. It’s left eye was swollen shut and covered with mucus. Instantly, my heart cried, “Oh, Lord, please heal that cat!”
Later, after the dishes were washed and dried, I went back outside. The cat was still hanging around. Imagine my “awe” as I discovered it’s left eye was open! All swelling was gone, and there was no sign of eye infection. God had heard the heart’s cry of a teenage girl and healed the cat’s eye. Faith began to grow in my heart, along with a desire for the things of God.
One year later, when I was sixteen, I was “awed” again by the power of prayer. My mother’s right eye had always been weak. She couldn’t look at anyone straight on because the eye always strayed to the side. During a public prayer service at church, God healed my mother’s eye! I was privileged to see and hear my mother receive prayer, and then see the results of the prayer.
That same year I experienced “soul-winning” for the first time, when I led my “older” neighbor, Betty, in prayer to receive Christ as her personal Savior. Betty was nineteen and married, with two children. She had never been to church and had never read the Bible. Her husband worked the “graveyard” shift. Many times, while he was working and the neighborhood was sleeping, we stayed up all night and read the Bible together. Betty asked the questions and I explained the Scriptures.
Sometimes we prayed all night long; our prayers were always for the unsaved. One night we spent the entire night praying for the woman who lived beside Betty. We were young and filled with intensity of spirit! I believe God wants us filled with that same intensity today.
A few years later, I was a mother. The Lord continued to teach me, concerning prayer. Two lessons in particular, stand out. The first was when my youngest daughter, Amy, was about two years old. She had the flu and was very sick. I had been introduced to the faith teachings of Kenneth Hagin, and one day while she was still sick, and didn’t seem to be getting better, I remembered his teachings on faith, and asked, “Lord, are the flu and colds just a part of being human, and we are to accept them and get along the best we can, or do you want to heal us of them?”
I said, “Lord, I’m going to do a test. (Aren’t you glad he knows our heart?) I’m going to pray for Amy to be healed of the flu, and if she gets healed, I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are to not accept these kind of things, but believe for healing.”
I laid my hands on Amy and prayed a simple prayer by rebuking the flu and telling her to be healed, in the name of Jesus. Within five minutes, Amy was up and running around the house like she had never been sick! Just thinking about that day makes me want to praise God, again, for His faithfulness!
My oldest child, Angela had a seed wart on her foot. It was causing pain and growing bigger with each passing day. She was not able to apply pressure to the inflicted foot. I prayed a simple prayer, “Dear Lord, please heal Angela’s foot.” Then, unplanned words came out of my mouth, as I said, “Angela, you can still see this wart, but the eye of faith says it is gone.” The words startled me, the one who prayed!
As I walked out of her room, I meditated on those foreign words I had just spoken. The “eye” of faith...what could that mean? I went to the Word of God to see if it was in there. There it was in black and white: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) I learned to not look at the natural, but fix my gaze on the truth of the Word of God.
My prayer journey was taking a complete new turn. The next morning, when Angela got out of bed and put her feet on the floor, she realized she was pain-free. I heard her yell, “Mom, come here!” I hurried to her room, where she showed me the bottom of her foot. The wart was turning black! Within a couple of days there was no evidence a wart had ever been there.
When I learned to pray the Scriptures, it seemed that everything changed for me! It was like leaving a dimly lit room and entering one bursting with sunlight. Prayer became joyful, and I found peace and comfort in praying the Scriptures.
I have never asked, “Why would the God of the universe want to answer“my” prayers?” (That does not negate the fact that after all these years, I am still in awe when He does answer them.) I’m sure I have never questioned it because through my formative years, I was privileged to see and hear prayers prayed, and then
see and even experience the tangible results of those prayers.
My heart aches, at times, for the children of this generation. I wonder, are they hearing prayers prayed? Are they seeing the results? Do they know God as a miracle-working God? We can lavish every conceivable toy and luxury on them, but are we teaching them how to pray? A prayer legacy will effect generations.
Through my adult years, at various times while on this prayer journey, there’ve been times when the heavens have seemed as brass. Some prayers have seemed to bounce back in my face. It has been during those times I’ve learned to “wait patiently for the Lord” and trust what He has told me in His Word.
On occasion, I’ve thanked God for unanswered prayers. Sometimes, what I think is good and right, is not always God’s best.
I’m learning to release some things to the Lord...those prayers for which I have no answer. I give those things to the One who knows and understands it all....and I keep praying and believing.
Many years have come and gone since my prayer journey first began, yet I believe I’ve only scratched the surface concerning prayer.
I love to read books on prayer; especially the greatest book of all, the Bible; within it’s pages I see how great men and women of God prayed, and I see their humanity. I see how they needed to know Him even more than they needed to know how to pray.
Thank you for allowing me to share a small part of my unending, always evolving prayer journey with you. You, too, are on such a journey; different, though it may be. Today, if you are at a impasse in your praying, I encourage you to persevere. There’s something to be said for persevering! And don’t be afraid to talk to fellow travelers on your journey; they may have gained insight in the very area in which you now struggle.
Above all, I pray your goal in life is, first, to know Jesus. He will teach you how to pray as you go. After all these years, I can say He is still teaching me. I am eager to learn more when it comes to prayer, and I am eager to learn more about my Jesus. It’s good to know we can never exhaust our search of Him.
All of life is a process, even our prayer journey. God honors a childlike faith. He hears the cry of the heart. He is not moved by fancy words. He is moved by a heart that trusts in Him and knows it can safely leave the outcome to Him.
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Thank you ever so much for sharing your glorious prayer journey with us! Your style is clear, simple, and fluid, and your tone humbly reverent, inspiring awe at His goodness. I so appreciate the maturity of your message, as you explain that God is God, and we cannot manipulate Him into our timetable or into our finite understanding. This piece would make any true seeker long to know him as you do! I pray that many parents will desire to model intimate prayer to their children as they read this. What might God accomplish if we dropped all society's "achiever" expectations on our kids and simply inspired them to pray?
AMEN! I think maybe I enjoyed this more this time than I did the first time I read it. It had a huge impact on me the first time, but mostly one of deep conviction concerning my children. This time, I feel so much more encouraged to keep on keeping on in my prayer journey. It was truly a blessing to read! Thank you so much for sharing it!