Tag Archives: journey

21 Day Experiment in Prayer

It’s one thing to talk to God.  But what do you do when He talks back? It’s a question I ask myself every day.

If you want to pray with power, you do need to talk to God.  But you also need to listen.  So how do we find time to listen to God in such a busy, noisy world? I’ve learned that if you truly commit to listening to God’s voice, amazing things can happen.

Now I’m just an ordinary wife and mother. I married the love of my life—a kind-hearted, basketball player-turned-preacher—over forty years ago. David and I have shared four awesome decades of marriage and ministry.  But my journey is not the one I originally planned for myself.

Years ago when I was in college, I vowed I would never become a Christian.  And most certainly, I would never, ever marry a minister.   Funny how things turn out, isn’t it?

Over the years, I’ve learned that listening to God is not simply a matter of hearing His voice. It’s also about doing His will.  One day I realized that my life was either a “so what?” or a “so that!” If listening to God took me no further than my own little world, then so what?

The whole point of hearing God’s voice is so that I’ll do His will.

So I told God I would devote myself to listening to Him and doing His will.  And I would pray not just for my own little world, but also for His larger world.  That’s when the real adventure began!

When you begin to be a listener and doer of God’s Word, you could end up traveling to genocide-torn regions in Africa as I did. Or you might come face-to-face with the needs of your neighbor next door. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll meet people and go places you never knew existed—starting within your own neighborhood.

I invite you to join me in a 21-Day Experiment in Prayer:

Starting tomorrow, let’s read through the Gospel of John together.  It’s one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Plus, it has helped me learn to hear from the Holy Spirit.

Plan to devote fifteen minutes to reading one chapter each day.  John has exactly twenty one chapters so this works well.  Read slowly and thoughtfully, praying for God to help you understand what you’re reading.

Next, ask the Holy Spirit to impress one verse from that chapter on your mind.  I like to copy that verse on a 3×5 card in my Chubby Book (more about the Chubby Book tomorrow).  I simply ask God to show me one way to be a doer of His Word that day.  I  also list people and places that are on my heart  for prayer and carry the card with me.

This 21-Day Experiment sounds simple.  But I’ve discovered it can energize your prayers–and your life.  I know of no better way to learn to hear God’s voice than to read His words.   Something mysterious happens when we read and obey God’s Word.

Everyone’s journey will look different.  But I truly believe that if you listen to God and follow His leading right where you are, your ordinary days will no longer feel ordinary. I invite you to come journey with me!

Day Nineteen: I Am Enough

Do you have a place where you sense the presence of God?  A favorite chair.  A quiet porch.  Out in nature?  My friend Kelly tells of a time and place when God revealed Himself to her, leaving her both comforted and awed by His majesty.

GUEST BLOG: Kelly Cowan

I found myself in a doctor’s office waiting room sitting across from a nun. Clutching my ipod, I did everything I could to talk myself out of getting sweaty and throwing up. I was wondering why the nun didn’t sense my stress and come over to pray for me. Then I realized I was giving her too much credit for being above what normal believers are gifted to do. I dismissed the presumptive idea. She went on to read her Friends of the Cross book delicately resting in her lap, robe flowing down to the floor. I sat and felt the temperature in the room rise.

It had been a series of very anxiety-filled weeks for me.  Waiting room scenarios like this one were fairly common. I had seen five specialists for multiple ailments.  Going to the Lord for strength and freedom on account of the same troubles again and again was making me weary. I sought the Lord in quiet times and prayer but nothing seemed to be enough. It reminded me of the Psalms where the writers are asking things like, Lord how long will you leave me here? My couch is flooded with tears all day long.

In 1 Samuel 7:12,  Samuel took a stone and set it up, naming it “Ebenezer,” saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”  I leave my “Ebenezer stones” in my journaling as a reminder of what God has done and where He has shown up.  Through a friend, I was encouraged in this season to return to some of my journal writing on anxiety. The Lord had already spoken a good word to me about fear and anxiety. Does that mean I wasn’t listening? Does that mean it didn’t work? No. It means I need that truth again. It means a new thing has risen up and I’ve been blindsided all anew. It’s like God is saying to me: I have already told you the truth. Believe upon it. It is enough, again. So I went back to my Ebenezers, with a heart ready to receive them again.

The entry in my journal was about a weekend away I’d had a while ago with my husband. We went to a beach here in the Northwest. At the time, I was feeling desperate to go on a walk to speak to God about my heavy heart. But it was raining like crazy. The Oregon beach, decorated with gigantic boulders and crashing waves, was deserted, for obvious reasons. But, I was finally without the kids and this was the time. I needed to pour out my heart to God. I bundled up in my waterproof rain shell and pulled on my knee-high rain boots. I began to walk straight into a sideways, stinging rain. I walked as far as I could barely able to keep my eyes open, as they were continually pelted. My talking it out was done, and my heart felt totally emptied. I turned around, finally able to open my eyes, with the weather now beating against my back.

The scene set before me was striking, yet chaotic. The sand whipping by my feet looked like hundreds of brown snakes racing past me, and the waves wildly crashed relentlessly against towering rock formations out in the water. The clouds hovered, so cold looking with their stoney gray texture and defined layers. Everything was stark. Powerful. And very wild. Yet in all the seeming chaos, I felt a truth reverberate through me: There was perfect order. Maybe that’s why I froze. It took my breath away. Just like my life, full of trial and anxiety, I felt piercingly certain that God was in control of all that was happening in front of me. And He spoke very clearly to my heart to clarify the picture He had painted for me: I. Am. Enough.  Hearing this as if over the loudspeakers, I was instantly stilled within. I did not feel crazy. Or scared. Or overwhelmed. I felt awed and small, but very, very thankful and safe.

As I stumbled a few steps further, I looked down to find a sand dollar. I picked it up. My Ebenezer, to remind me that God is enough.



Day Nine: Five Life-Changing Minutes

It’s Day Nine of our 21 Day Watch.   Many today wrestle with anxiety, a sign of the troubling times in which we live.  A good way to calm anxiety is to watch for signs of God at work.  We grow in our faith as we enlarge our view of God.  Sometimes it helps to look at God’s “big picture.” My friend Rebecca was pouring out God’s love to the hurting and broken in a small village in Haiti, when God surprised her with a glimpse into His larger purpose. As she was serving others, He brought healing to her own heart and renewed her hope.  As you read Rebecca’s words, I pray your hope is restored, too.

GUEST BLOG: By Rebecca Woodman

Over Thanksgiving 2014, my eight-year-old daughter and I traveled with a team from our church to serve the amazing people of Haiti. I experienced a life-changing five minutes on that trip. On day three, we ventured into the heart of a village to pray over the people and simply give away God’s love. We wandered through the dirt-clad streets filled with beautiful brown people with the biggest smiles you have ever seen. We happened to come upon one particularly special corner of the village.

A strikingly beautiful woman came out of her home. We sensed that she wanted to talk. She told us that she could not go to church because she did not have the right clothes to wear. Uninformed about the local customs, we were quick to reassure her that God was not concerned with clothing. But our translator began explaining that in the Haitian culture, it does matter that you have the appropriate garments to wear to church. So, the prayer then became that God would provide the necessary clothing. After more conversation, she told us that she wanted to know Jesus completely. This lady then got down on her knees and prayed the prayer to ask forgiveness of sins and for God to fully reign in her heart and life. Our hearts leapt with joy!


As if that mountaintop were not enough, I began to stand up, wiping the tears away just as three Haitian children started pulling on my skirt and leading me over to another woman.  We walked up to this dilapidated fence and she begins to hand her infant son to me. Of course I am utterly confused by this gesture, so I ask the translator, “What are these children trying to say to me?” He says, “She wants you to have her baby.”


She wants you to have her baby.” My husband and I have longed to adopt since first meeting in college. We have always believed that we would one day have an African-American son through adoption.  But our journey has been very confusing for us, filled with much loss and trauma. After three easy, healthy pregnancies with our daughters, we delivered our first stillborn son, Owen Charles, on February 21, 2012. Medical personnel had no explanations. Then, several months later I became pregnant with another child. It seemed that it could only be God when we learned that it was another boy and he was due one year later to the day of Owen’s due date.

We prayed fervently and had a community surrounding us who believed that this second pregnancy was part of God’s redemptive story. God had different plans that we still don’t necessarily understand or like, but that is what faith is all about. We delivered our second stillborn son, Levi Bradley, on February 7, 2013.

We now step back and continue to process what God may have desired for us to understand through those very powerful five minutes in Haiti. We believe He was pulling back the curtain to reveal that somewhere He does have a baby for us to adopt. Knowing that our dream/calling was to adopt a dark-skinned son, the gesture of this woman holding her son up for me symbolized God’s promise that He would provide a child one day who would be handed to us in love. And, if we are incredibly blessed, it will be a dark-skinned boy just as our hearts desire. We believe in faith that there will eventually be a son who shares our name and we are able to live out the gospel in our living room, all because of a life-changing five minutes in Haiti.

Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see {Hebrews 11:1}.

*To read more about Rebecca’s journey, click here.  Follow her on twitter @becwoodman

Day Eleven: A Burden to Pray

This post mistakenly went out last night as Day Twelve.  My apologies! Here it is again:  Day Eleven!

One reason we fast is to help carry the burden of another.  Fasting and prayer help us join in the fight of those we love.  It’s one way we can enter into their suffering and stand with them as they endure.  Many around the country, and even across the globe, have joined in with Naghmeh to help carry her burden through the 21 Day Fast for the release of Saeed Abedini.

This kind of prayer, or intercession, comes with a price.  When we agonize in prayer for someone we love, we may experience pain.  We hurt when they hurt.  My friend Stacey shares her story of carrying such a prayer burden recently for her friend.  Though it wasn’t in the way she had hoped, Stacey grew to understand that God had truly answered her prayers.

GUEST BLOG:  Stacey Martin

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I hate even claiming that for myself, because what has made this time so rough is a bout of second-hand grief – grief for a tragedy that didn’t even happen to me. It’s grief I’m experiencing for a friend who lost her two-year-old son, suddenly, tragically – as if there is any other way.

Recently, my friend lost her son to what seemed to be inexplicable complications from a form of infantile Leukemia. He didn’t die from Leukemia, because as all of his prior tests had shown, those Cancer cells were long gone. He had beat Cancer.

So why did this child, who we thought through God’s healing power and great goodness had beat Cancer, leave his mom and dad mourning in a room at the local children’s hospital?

Why did Drew who we had coined as “a little boy with a big story” leave us with the question, “God, how will You ever be glorified in this? How can this be part of Your plan?”

The grief and doubt that followed were weighty, rusty chains around my heart. The fear, that maybe God isn’t who is says He is, took me captive. Fear and doubt sucked the oxygen right out of the room. Hope was gone.

I cried out to God from the deepest, darkest places of my heart. Gutteral, wordless prayers out of a place of desperation for my friend. Soul cries from a mommy who is now rocking her own son a little longer, grieving the possibility that this too could happen to me.

But today I sit here knowing that God not only heard those wordless prayers of my soul, but knew what they meant and what I needed. I sit confidently knowing that He heard each prayer from each grieving person in the Drew’s Crew family and from Wes and Mandy’s own hearts.

Last Monday,  his parents received the autopsy report and learned that Drew had a serious infection of his heart. Only 10% of his little heart was functioning. That’s what caused his sudden and seemingly inexplicable death. Had the medical team known that Drew was suffering from this infection, his last months would have been spent in the ICU – connected to machines, medicated heavily, with parents knowing that there were no other options out there for their precious son. Just a ticking clock.

But what Drew’s last months looked like were long, naps in the loving arms of his mommy and daddy. Afternoon playtime with his best canine buddy. Santa coming to his house on Christmas morning. A mountain trip where daddy taught him to fish. And so many more precious, unadulterated moments.

That’s the goodness of my God. That’s how God will be glorified in all of this. This is how my prayer was answered. The God who lovingly created the universe and calls each of us His sons and daughters, didn’t mean for any of this to happen. It was never His intent that the world would have sorrow and fear and Cancer. But He showed up and protected this family from a truly horrific outcome – one worse than what they’re already experiencing. He gave them the gift of time. Drew is indeed a little boy with a big story. A story that only God could redeem and claim as His own.

Thank you Lord for hearing my heart. Thank you for answering in such a profound and tangible way. Whenever I doubt, whenever I fear, I will remember that You are indeed who You say You are.