Tag Archives: Prayer

What I learned about prayer – Ecuador, part 2


In the weeks leading up to our mission trip to Ecuador, we would get emails with details of things we needed to do.  The real excitement came when one email had a video attachment with more than 20 minutes of information – what we needed to bring, what to expect, and my favorite: what we would be doing! Months of planning and dreaming about how this trip would go, and I was about to hear exactly how we would be spending those precious 2 weeks!
I got comfortable and got my people and the three of us watched it together.

Now, keep in mind this is my first out-of-the-country mission trip. What I typically assume a mission trip to be: build a church and spend days with beautiful kids at an orphanage.
While we watched the video, I hear “gather to pray,” “prayer adventure,”” 4 a.m. prayer” (that’s right, A.M., baby)… And I should be too embarrassed to tell you this, but I often share more than I should, so here is what I said after watching the video –
“I hope we do more than just pray. That sounds lame.”
Boy, did I have some stuff to learn.
In fairness to myself, I have to tell you I don’t think prayer is lame. I happen to love talking to Jesus. I just thought prayer sounded like something I could do from my couch in my comfy PJs rather than travel to another continent.
Turns out… prayer was more meaningful to me during this trip than anything else could have been and I am so grateful.

Prayer is a big deal
. There was a serious focus on prayer during this trip because it is the absolute most important thing we can ever do. Ever.
We prayed at a small shop owned by a lady of the church in Ibarra, for her business and her family.
We prayed for “Houses of Prayer,” home Bible studies led by young missionaries dedicating more than 2 years of their lives at a time to help get the churches going.
We prayed for the cities we were in, stopping at parks, schools, markets, and malls to pray in specific ways for the people living there.
We prayed in such detailed ways for the church – ways I would have never thought to do on my own. Praying for the people, the electricity, the sound and computer equipment, the building, the neighbors, the salvation of the landlord, the influence of the church sign (a prayer that was answered even as we were praying), a television screen the church needs … you name it, we prayed it. Beautiful. (For those of you who go to Huntington First Church with me – I’m super excited to say we are going to try this out at our church next Saturday, Aug. 23!!!)

We had a prayer meeting for 2 hours, beginning at 4 a.m.! We shared and prayed for each other in very specific ways. Definitely worth the early wake-up.

We prayed for a man at the park, who asked us to pray for his mind and his thoughts.

We prayed for healing for our friends.

While praying from my couch would have gotten through to God, and it would have been good, there is something to be said for being in the presence of what you are praying for, and inviting the presence of God to join you there. Touching the wall of the school, sitting on the doormat of the church, sitting in the grass of the park, sharing a Coke with a store-owner as you pray for her shop – those are things that put passion in my prayers. I meant what I prayed, and believe that God will answer.

In Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, he said, “…I’ve come to the conviction that one prayer can accomplish more than a thousand plans.”

Our speakers during our trip kept reinforcing that prayer is ministry. Prayer isn’t what you do simply because you are supposed to, or because there is nothing else you can do. It’s the most important thing.

We could have met and discussed ways to come up with money for a television for the church, or planned fundraisers, but instead we spoke to the One who owns everything already and told Him every need.

Prayer is the best. Knowing that the God of the universe wants to hear from me… Wow.

Pray. Go to God like you mean it. Give Him thanks and praise, and tell Him every concern, need, fear, desire…everything. He wants to hear it. And what a privilege.

Thank you, Father, for listening and answering.

“Pray continually…” I Thessalonians 5:17

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” I Chronicles 16:11

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” I John 5:14

Praying for the church in Ibarra ❤

Praying for the church and city of Ibarra

Praying for the city of Ibarra

Shawn and Noah in Ambato, right before we prayed for the city.

Noah and me right before we prayed for the city of Ambato.

Our group posing for a picture during our prayer adventure in Ibarra

Shawn, during the prayer service

The three of us in Ambato before prayer

Praying for our kids…the sequal


Sometimes things we want don’t always line up. I might want to lose 20 pounds, but I also want cupcakes and sprinkles. I want to get a bunch of stuff done in the evening, but I also want to sleep. I want to save money, but I also want to buy sparkly things.

If you read my post “Praying for our kids,” you know that Noah started his 7th grade school year this past Thursday. You also know I was committed to praying for him and had peace about it.

I spent the drive to school Thursday morning praying for Noah’s day, his teachers, him and his friends. I dropped him off, then walked 2 1/2 miles around the neighborhood surrounding his school, talking to God about this new school year. I prayed more detailed prayers for all of the teachers, counselors, bus drivers, cooks, secretaries, students, their families, and specifically for Noah and his friends, as well as the kids from my church who were starting school that day.

I felt pretty good the rest of the day, trusting it would be an awesome day. But it didn’t feel so awesome for Noah.

I’m hesitant to post this. Sometimes it’s a fine line between transparency and being a blabber mouth, especially when it involves people other than yourself. Having said that, I’m going to share.

While it could have been much worse, he had several crummy things happen – beginning with  me not remembering he needed $5 for locker rental and him having to carry his stuff, including his lunchbox, all day. Out of respect for him, I’ll skip the other details, but ultimately he rated his day, from 0, meaning the worst day ever, to 10, super awesome, at a 2. He had a bad day.

I was so bummed. I was sure with all my praying and confidence, his day would be better than that. And I was kind of frustrated with God. It seemed wrong even to say that, but God knows my heart. After all that praying and believing, I just felt it deserved better than a 2.

So I told God as much on Friday morning after I prayed with Noah again and dropped him off. I cried. I asked God why He didn’t give Noah a better first day when that’s the very thing I had asked for.

God wasn’t silent. He quickly reminded me of another prayer I had prayed.

Last year, I began praying for Noah to have a closer, more personal relationship with God. He has a great relationship with God, but the older he gets, I know it is important for him to continue to develop a faith that is entirely his own, not just what we have taught him. I want that for him.

While what I wanted for Noah was a #10 day with happy teachers and a slew of friends to choose from at lunchtime, those aren’t always the kinds of days that produce trust and faith in God.

But #2 days can do that.

In Job 36:15, Elihu, a counselor to Job, shared these words with him…

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.”

I’ve had a few #2 days before, and I can say for sure that those are the times I feel God closest to me. When I’m broken, desperate, and don’t know what to do, those are the times I look for Him the most. And the more days I have like that, the more I trust that God will be there for me again and again, because He has shown me all the times He has been before. God definitely speaks to me in my affliction, just like Elihu said. Right in the middle of it, I can hear His words, and that is what gets me through whatever it is.

If these are the kinds of days that will help Noah to be closer to God, to be the person He is creating him to be, bring them on. I will be right there with him, praying for him, loving him, and thanking God for knowing far better than I which prayer to answer.