AP Church Story
May 24, 2017 I dragged myself out of bed and walked to my workplace. I went into my boss’s office, closed the door and told him I was either going back home or to the hospital. He suggested the hospital and spent the next 20 minutes helping me find a mental health help line so I could figure out the best way to get help. I haven’t been back to work since and I’m not sure what work will look like in the future.
During these months that I’ve been sorting through depression, anxiety, medications and stints of therapy, God has been doing a great work in my heart. I specifically want to share how God has grown me in prayer.
The first few months off work were very difficult and it was hard to get out of bed and leave the house. Reading the bible and journaling stopped. It was so hard to do anything and emotionally it seemed like I couldn’t handle anything. However, I still continued to pray albeit my prayer was very short and I don’t think it happened everyday. Often all I could manage was, “God, help me to make good decisions today”.
Eventually, I slowly started reading the psalms. I came across Psalm 138 and it became my ‘go to’ scripture, specifically verse 8. It says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.” My prayer grew to include asking God to fulfill his purpose for me and to not abandon me.
During the months of June to August I experienced God’s incredible gentle heart. I learned that God is faithful to respond to the smallest ‘yes’ in our hearts to him. It was only in October that I felt comfortable doing listening prayer again but I was careful of what I listened for. I was still easily overwhelmed so, for example, I didn’t ask God if there was something I needed to confess because I knew self-condemnation would take off and I couldn’t process things well emotionally. However, I slowly practiced listening prayer more and more and God was very gracious in the things he showed me.
Finally, we started 24/7 prayer in January and I was in a place where I could emotionally and mentally engage. For years before, my devotional life had been limited – 30 min to an hour with God. I was in university full-time, working part-time, attending cell and volunteering at Church. My evenings were often spent with media as I was often tired of reading and mentally exhausted. The thought of spending time with God seemed like work and a chore.
My husband and I were excited to jump into 24/7 prayer and on January 1 my husband spent 5 straight hours in the prayer room. He had never done such a thing and decided he would just sit down and see how it went. I had to be at church with him since we were going to see Star Wars after (very disappointing) so I to was at church for 5 hours. I managed to be in the prayer room for two hours and spent some time journaling (I hadn’t since May) before I headed down to the nursery to take a nap. After I slept for a good hour I went back up to the prayer room and tried to do some more devotional ‘things’ before I pulled out my sudoku book and puzzled the remaining time away.
This was the beginning of God taking me on a beautiful journey of learning to enjoy spending time with him and actually experiencing his presence. We continued to practice being in the prayer room for long periods of time and we have both grown to love this.
Once we got more and more comfortable with long periods in prayer, journaling and bible reading I found myself asking the question of why we’d never done this in our home. My times in the prayer room were rich and I found true wealth to be in God’s presence. But I realized that we couldn’t do this at home. There were too many distractions and engaging in prayer in this way as a church is far more encouraging and motivational. Before I would have been tempted to criticize myself for not being able to carry out this practice at home. But God has taught me so much about his grace that I instead decided it wasn’t a big deal. I’m not concerned about how to be able to spend 5 hours in prayer at home. Instead I’m thankful I have access to the church to come and pray; either alone or with others. This is a beautiful gift from God to me and I’m captivated by his presence that I experience in the prayer room. In the beginning of February God told me to make his presence my home and I think I’m learning to do that. God gave me an amazing picture of his throne room and I truly believe that what we have here in the prayer room is just a tiny sliver of God’s throne room. What a tremendous privilege to come and worship God and bring our requests to him. Hebrews 11:19-22 says that we can have confidence to come before God because of Jesus’s blood, and we are invited to be cleansed from a guilty conscience and have our bodies washed with pure water. We can commune with our Father and, “Go to the altar of God, to God, our joy and our delight” (Psalm 43:4).