The 9 Year Journey
It was 9 years ago today, July 29th, that I had a “cabbage.” It stands for Cardiac By-pass Artery Grafting surgery (CBAG). With 4 more stent procedures that would follow over the next 3 years and the changes I’ve been required to make, July 29th, 2011 has become my BC to AD event. It is the marker in my timeline; a life-defining season. Through the experience, I’ve changed. Like steel that’s been tempered in the heat of the furnace and cooled in the water, God made me malleable and then firmed up some new convictions about him and his ways. You can read more about it in my little book, “Transformed Pain.”
The work I’ve seen God do is nothing less than miraculous. And all along I have counted on the prayers of others. In the last 9 years, I’ve had heart procedures, a granddaughter born with physical needs, ministry changes, we’ve moved twice, we’ve walked a child through recovery, and now I’m recovering from a motorcycle accident. In each and every circumstance, God has used the prayers of his people to remind me of his great love. And God has chosen to continue to give me a place to serve his Kingdom. You’ve prayed for my physical strength. You’ve prayed for my wife and family. You’ve prayed for my ministry impact. And all I can say is “thank you.”
Several days after my heart surgery I checked my Linked-in account. There was a personal message from someone I didn’t know. It was dated July 29th, 2011, which was my surgery date. I read the message and it said, “I pray each day for pastors who are on Linked-In. Today, I prayed for you.” This man didn’t know me. And he didn’t know the importance of that day. I wrote to him and thanked him for his prayers. And I explained the importance of his prayers on that day for me. He wrote back saying, “you’ll never believe how many times God has me praying for the right person at the right time.”
Praying is Important
I’m more convinced than ever of the positive impact of God’s people praying. The prayers of unified hearts and sincere faith are powerful. When we align our hearts with God’s heart, prayer becomes a crucial kingdom ministry.
Paul knew the importance of asking God’s people to pray. Several times in the New Testament, Paul specifically asked for prayer. He believed that it was essential to the effectiveness of God’s work in and through him. I too am convinced that without your prayers, my life and ministry would be different.
- Your prayers make you partners in any ministry I do.
“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.” Romans 15:30-32
When you’ve prayed for me, you’ve joined the fight. You’ve prayed for my rescue. You’ve also prayed for my effectiveness. And hearing your heart, God has done more than I could dream. My continued ministry is “our ministry.” Every sermon I’ve been healthy enough to preach is an exercise in teamwork. We are partners, even when I’m the one out front. I thank God you’re on my team!
- Your prayers have increased thanksgivings to God.
“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11
When you’ve prayed for me, God has answered. His Word has been effective in shaping other’s lives. People and pastors have been encouraged and God’s church has moved forward. Any thanks I receive for showing up and serving, I share with you who pray. And together, we all give thanks to God!
- Your prayers increase my confidence in the redemptive work of Jesus.
“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Philippians 1:18-19
When you’ve assured me of your prayers, you’ve given me a new confidence that God is working and that He will prevail. I find courage in every note or tag on Facebook. I know that God’s work will be done through me because of your prayers. Your prayers increase my confidence that God will always move his kingdom forward even through our challenges.
- Your prayers have worked together to overcome the opposition.
“Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Our striving in this world is a spiritual battle. And it takes spiritual weapons to stand against the opposition. Prayer is the spiritual weapon that unlocks the love and power of God. Prayer is where the fight is won, or lost. When you’ve prayed for me, or any of God’s servants, you’ve set loose the power of the gospel into our situations. Thank you for praying for my deliverance. And thank God he has heard your prayers again and again.
I’ve said it half-joking. “I think the purpose of my life is to keep others praying.” If that was the purpose of my life, I cannot think of a higher calling than to unite God’s people around the throne of grace.
What a blessed 9 years its been. Thank you for taking the journey with me through prayer. I look forward each day to see how God will answer.