The clarity of the voice was unmistakable. The message was not open to interpretation. "Pray now.", God said. "Now." When God gives us a mission it is in our best interest to obey first and ponder on it later. That one act of obedience changed my life, my children's lives, and my relationship with God forever. Please enjoy this Christmas story.
Before I begin the story, I want to make it clear that this is a 100% truthful retelling of my own personal encounter with God. There is no explanation for it beyond the supernatural work of Almighty God choosing to reach out to a young mother. I was only 24 years old. I had two very young children, ages two and three years, and I was carrying the heavy weight of problems brought on by my own poor decisions.
In those years, I was seeking God whenever and wherever He could be found. For about three years I had been reading my Bible faithfully and eagerly, actively engaging in worship, and practicing ever deepening times of prayer. Little did I know that I would encounter God Almighty, El Shaddai, sitting on the floor beside a dimly lit Christmas tree in the tiny living room of our very small apartment in rural North Carolina.
By December of 1985 I had learned to find joy in very small things. The presence of my children, cooking simple meals, reading aloud from borrowed library books. Our apartment was warm and cozy. I felt very snug when I was cuddled with my little ones singing songs or reading stories. In some ways, this was as simple as my life has ever been.
Christmas was coming and, in preparation, I had purchased a tree. There were some white lights to put on it and decorations that were, in the main, homemade or gathered from the outdoors. In the late afternoon and into the early evening of the day I decided to decorate the tree, the children and I were enjoying the act of preparing for Christmas. We were very excited and glad to be together.
My little son, Christian, was two and a half years old. When he grew too tired to continue, I stopped and put him in his bed. He was very soon asleep. My little daughter, Courtney, was older. She would be four years old in only two months and she was enjoying the decorating process. So when Christian was in bed, she was allowed to stay up and continue the Christmas fun. She placed and replaced each decoration several times until all were in exactly the right place and just where she wanted them.
My heart was full with the joy of spending this time with my little girl. I imagined how many more years of decorating for Christmas we would share. It was such a wonderful moment; as fragile as bone china and as beautiful as cut crystal. I was gloriously happy. I was determined to remember this hour for the rest of my life. And I have.
When the last decoration was on the tree and all were placed to Courtney's satisfaction, I turned off the overhead light in the room and plugged in the white lights of the tree. The result was truly lovely to look at. "Oh! Mama!" gasped Courtney. "This is so pretty it makes me want to pray!" (Only very little children say things like that...maybe grownups should remember how to react that way) "Well then, " I responded, "Let's pray." We knelt down.
I was listening to Courtney and praying silently beside her when, suddenly, I heard nothing except for one firm voice calling to my heart and mind. "Pray for your son's wife." The voice said. I knew immediately that the voice was God's. "What? My son's what?" I asked. "Lord, my son is a baby. He is asleep right now." (I don't know why I added that last observation. It strikes me as funny now.) "Pray for your son's wife. Pray now. Now." The voice was firm. Almost stern. The command was a clear imperative. God repeated it.
After what may have been an hour or may have been ten seconds, I accepted what God was saying. It had never crossed my mind to pray for something or someone as distant as the woman that would be married to my two year old son. But as I began to pray for this, the concept expanded in my mind. I began to try to visualize who that far away person could be. She grew real in my heart.
I became lost in the prayer. I prayed for every aspect of her life as it came into my mind. It occurred to me that she was a baby roughly the same age as Christian. I asked God to heal her if she were sick, or see her safely delivered if her mother was laboring to give her birth. I prayed for her family to be filled with love and stability. When at last I said "Amen." Courtney was sitting beside me looking at the tree. She was tired now, and I put her to bed.
I was deep in thought as I tucked Courtney in. I knew then that I would never again pray with or for my children the way I had up until then. From that night forward we did away with any rhyming or recited prayers. We spoke to God as the One who came to our living room at Christmas. We spoke to Him as the One who knows everything about our entire lives. We prayed every single night for nearly twenty more years for the people that would be my children's life partners, and other mysterious aspects of their futures.
I met Erica in the spring of 2004, and she and Christian were married two years later. They now have ten year old twins and are as happy and comfortable together as any two people can be. It was literally a match made in Heaven.
Several years ago I asked her parents what was going on in their lives December of 1985. You see, Erica was born two months after God called me to pray for her and I wondered if the pregnancy was at risk. They can't recall anything special. I suppose we'll find out at another time. Perhaps something that Satan had planned was hindered by the power of prayer.
When you pray for your children, remember that God is listening. He wants and needs you to pray for your little ones. Ask God how He wants you to pray. He will tell you. If God can call out to me, He absolutely can call out to you. Here are a few ways that you can begin to hear God more clearly.
Be open to His voice. There is a God who wants to be real in your life and in your children's lives. Trust His word and learn every day how to trust Him more. God can easily enter a soft and open heart. Open your heart.
Read the Bible. There is no better way to get to know God. There is no substitute for diving in to the authoritative Word of God. This is how He very often speaks. Commit for just three weeks to read your Bible every day for ten-twenty minutes. If you are like me, those minutes will become a time you look forward to and your three week commitment will become a lifetime habit.
Pray from your heart. Pray aloud. Pray when you are not doing anything else. Focused prayer is a different experience than praying while you work or drive or exercise. Set aside time to pray and only pray. Let go of everything else, and pray what is in your heart. Pray aloud with and for your children no matter how old they are. From the first hour they are in your arms until the day you take your last breath.
Merry Christmas to you all from my Harbor Home. God bless, Teresa