24. Prayer: Where Friends and the Journey Meet

I have to apologize for yesterday’s missing post. It has been quite a weekend! It of course has left me with a story worthy of being highlighted in today’s post as it was such a needed blessing for my husband and me. Today we are talking about prayer and at times the need for intervention. This may be the need to intervene on someone else’s behalf or the need for our friends or loved ones to intervene in our decisions, mindset, behavior patterns, or anxieties if necessary. This may sound intimidating or unnerving having to boldly open up to someone about a struggle you or someone close to you may be facing, but Galatians could not be any clearer when it says “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (6:1-2).

The story begins this past Wednesday at community group, which I’ve already spoken of in a previous post. My husband and I lead a group of five young married couples weekly for the sake of spiritual growth and discipleship. We usually start with a meal, then an hour long discussion, followed by a fairly long period of prayer requests. Each couple goes around in a circle and shares what the group can be praying for in the week to come. Usually my prayers tend to be pretty general—pray for Desi, pray for provision, pray for a smooth adoption—but this past week was different. I shared that I felt overcome by anxiety, and that it was affecting my lifestyle. It wasn’t constant, but a general wave of anxiety had established itself in my heart the previous week, and when anxiety enters my heart, it emerges as fear over my health and body. And for whatever reason, I could not shake the feeling that something was wrong with me—so much so that I had scheduled an appointment with radiology to calm my nerves.

I laughed as I shared the story because I knew that the issue was stress, and my friends laughed along with me, knowing this has been a struggle I’ve faced as long as we’ve known each other. I would follow the pattern of getting stressed, wondering if I was sick, live in this fear for another week, and then move on like none of it ever happened. No one was too concerned, knowing that in a week’s time I would be back to normal. One couple, Luke and Laura, did not find it too funny, however, and made it a point to select us when we divided up who would be assigned to pray for each couple the following week.

The next day, I remember waking up later than usual and feeling completely fine. I was a bit wary, of course, but the health symptoms I had been overthinking were completely gone, and I felt better than I had in a while. What I didn’t know was that Luke had woken up around 4:45 that morning feeling concerned about my anxiety and was led to pray. He prayed for the next hour before getting up and getting ready for work. Later that day, Matt received a text message from Luke asking if he and Laura could come by the house and pray for us in the next day or two. Matt assured him that would be fine and asked if they could come over Saturday night.

When they arrived, Laura sat on my left and Luke sat across from Matt. I really didn’t know what to expect, but they began asking several questions about my stress—where it was coming from, when it started to take shape into fear of health problems, what usually triggers it, when it resolves—trying to get past the situation and current condition in an attempt to find the root of my fears. Luke was on a mission to find what mislead belief or maybe disbelief I had in my identity with God that was allowing this to resurface from time to time and affect my quality of life. After a good hour and a half, I began to see that there was a deep rooted disbelief embedded in a verse I later found from Luke 11:11 which says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” With every blessing God gives me, I almost always find myself looking for the catch. In the most recent case, Desi is so beautiful and perfect, and I just cannot at times believe God loves me enough or that He is perhaps good enough to let me have him, so I wait for the agency to call with a mistake, or for Korean politics to begin to shut its doors on adoption, or a health problem in my life which could disqualify us from bringing Desi home. I forget that I am a daughter of God, and as a father, God knows I don’t deserve his blessings, but it brings him such great joy to bless my life and see me happy. As a new mother, I cannot imagine anything I’d like to do more than spoil my child, bless his life, and make him happy. Yes, there will be moments of discipline but it is ultimately for his protection and growth. Why was I having such a hard time trusting the blessings of my father when he has so clearly given me a child to understand the intent and selflessness of what a parent’s unconditional love can feel like?

After it seemed we reached the root of the issue, Luke, Laura, and Matt laid hands on me and prayed not just for my current anxieties to go away, but for the root of my fears, my disbelief that I deserve the kind of love God wants to give me, to be dissolved and that I would live a life free in Christ, unhindered by the fear of what’s to come, but in thanksgiving of the current blessings in my life. As I said earlier, I had no idea what to expect before this couple came over, but they may never know how much their willingness to get into the messiness of my life and help me process through this very confusing stage was wanted and needed.

If you are in the waiting stage of becoming a parent, whether through adoption or natural childbirth, I encourage you, for the sake of your little one, to surround yourself with people who will not just sit and listen to your prayer requests, but who will genuinely step into whatever mess or disarray you have in your life to help you process through and pray for whatever baggage you may be bringing into your child’s life unknowingly. Life is tough, and we need to stop acting like it’s not. The feeling that we have to act like we have it all together is nothing but pride and a lie from the enemy. We should take Galatians 6:1-2 to heart, and not immediately think of the people in our lives who need more help than we do. Yes, we should step in to help others process and correct whatever self-destructive thoughts or behaviors they are experiencing, but we need to be willing to be corrected ourselves as well.

My prayer for you today is simple and straightforward. We all suffer from disbelief, and it exposes itself in often very simple thoughts or behaviors that we have a hard time explaining away. As we prepare to bring home our little ones, we need to start looking at the fruit our life choices produce and start pruning away the vines and roots of any bad fruit we are exhibiting. Will we reach perfection in this life, no, but how much lighter will we walk through life if we remove even a few constricting vines that have choked us in the past? You are a daughter or son of God, the highest king and creator of the universe. You were not meant to walk in slavery to anything. You were designed for freedom.

 

Verses to Consider:

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. –JOHN 15:2

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! –GALATIANS 5:22-23

Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds. –PROVERBS 27:23

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. –ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12

God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. –GALATIANS 4:4-7

A Prayer for Your Day:

Lord, I thank you for designing us to be a people in community with others. This life is so hard and confusing at times, and if my decisions were based only on my knowledge and on nothing else, I would have reached disaster years ago. But you knew from the beginning it was not good for me to be alone (Gen. 2:18) so you designed helpers for me to learn from, grow with, and serve alongside of in order to produce good fruit for your kingdom and at times prune away the bad fruit. While I so often enjoy producing good fruit, I forget or overlook the influence of the bad fruit in my life. God I pray that the people you have surrounded me with will help me identify the bad fruit—my disbelief—and help me cut it away. I also pray that I would be willing to get down in the muck of other people’s lives so that I can help them identify even the beginning roots of a briar that will eventually grow to choke them back into slavery. God you did not design me to be a slave (Gal. 4:7). I am your [son/daughter]. And as a new [mother/father] myself, you are teaching me the great mysteries of the unconditional love you have for me. Help my coming experience of parenthood to give my belief in your love deep, deep roots into my heart that I would never doubt the kind of love and future you have for me again.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.

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