(Unedited segment of Chapter 3 Unmasking the Myths: Is This Prayer? to be published 2020. Unmasking the Myths is the first of three books on prayer containing over 70 interviews from people around the globe. Their stories and experiences give insight to the power and effectiveness of prayer.)
|“All along, prayer has been the Holy Spirit
planting love in me for Jesus.”
As young as seven years old, Kevin wondered if God was real. Even though he went to church and took communion, Kevin felt there was a huge distance between God and himself. As a young boy, whenever he had trouble falling asleep, he would reflect on God. Yet, he felt confused.
By the time he turned 16 the confusion had turned to fear. Though he assumed he was a Christian, he honestly didn’t know what that meant. Only three years later, he was heading in the wrong direction fast.
“Back home from my first year of university, I was working for the town. However, Because of a severe spinal injury from playing hockey, I couldn’t do anything without being loaded up on prescription pain killers. When I came to the end of that summer, I had no money left. I was drinking daily and spending every penny at the local bar. I was on a destructive path.
Here I was a 19-year-old guy who couldn’t even stand up straight or sit down. I was depressed. I didn’t want to go back to university the way I was. Everything was on a bad track, although I maybe wasn’t aware of it at the time. My family had been set free from alcoholism. However, I was on my own journey of recovery after being raised in a dysfunctional home.
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In a small room with a cracker in one hand and a small glass of grape juice in the other, I silently reflected on their meaning. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said. Many times, I have received communion and held these tangible elements representing His death.
God still speaks. I “hear” Him mostly when reading the Bible, at times through dreams or visions, and often with thoughts I know are not my own. Of course, everything is weighed against the truth of scripture.
In a vision, suddenly Jesus (the Son of God not the glorified Christ) took me by the hand. Together we quickly and purposefully rushed past multitudes standing by their tents. It seemed like perhaps the encampment of God’s people in the wilderness.
We approached what I knew to be the Old Testament tabernacle but without curtains to contain or divide it. There were no busy priest performing sacrifices or tending to the required rituals and requirements.
Past the Brazen Altar and the Laver He took me. Past the Golden Lampstand and the Table of Shewbread we went. There was no need to stop! Now as a New Testament believer, I knew Jesus had fulfilled every requirement of the Law. Together we skirted the Altar of Incense and entered the Holy Place.
“Do not think that I have come to
abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
A thick cloud of glory filled the area, circling and swirling. Jesus’ pace did not slow. A millisecond of panic gripped me as He let go of my hand. I was engulfed by the cloud.
I was lost, without body or identity; nothing of me existed in the Presence of Holy God. I an instant I was completely inhabited by God. I was “in” Him, in His glory. His Presence “consumed” me.
As I looked back toward Jesus, He was the embodiment of unconfined, unrestrained joy. In that moment, I realized this is part of why He died.
“…For the joy set before him he endured the cross,
scorning its shame…”
“For the joy set before Him!” Jesus’ greatest joy is to bring all who believe in Him to the Father with shameless audacity!
“I have given them the glory that you gave me,
that they may be one as we are one —
I in them and you in me —
so that they may be brought to complete unity.
Then the world will know that you sent me
and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
The “oneness” humanity once had in the garden completely restored! Access no longer denied with Father, Son and Holy Spirit! A unity that goes beyond humanity and reaches beyond comprehension! Communion, a common union!
I stepped out of the glory toward Jesus, The Bridegroom, as I glanced downward. I stood in shock and amazement! My garments radiated gold and even my skin was dusted with it.
Just as the Son’s joy is to bring us to the Father, the Father’s joy is to prepare us for the Son – a bride worthy of the bridegroom.
Jesus’ enthusiasm and love surpasses our understanding or even our confusion! He is ecstatic!
“… even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Jesus is not coming back for a weak unprepared bride, but one adorned and ready! It has nothing to do with us; it has everything to do with the finished work of the cross.
In my right hand was an abnormally large golden sword. It was fully my height and heavier than I could lift on my own, let alone wield! It is the sword of mercy and grace.
“Let us then approach
God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.”
Jesus arose from the grave with all authority and power! What is rightfully His, He lavishly gives to His bride! Here in Him alone, we receive mercy! Here, we find grace! Every need is met!
My needs, in comparison to many others, are small indeed. Yet, in all honestly, I struggle with personal “heavy” things of life. Joy is not always spontaneous or overflowing, nor is victory obvious! I am contending, prayerfully war, for what Christ has attained.
Today I need the reminder of communion, the emblems of His death and resurrection. Drawing on the exuberant joy that originates and emanates from Him, I wait. Grasping tightly the sword I cannot wield on my own and did not merit by my efforts I take a stand, until like another warrior it is froze to my hand. I rest undone yet completely united in Him through His death and resurrection.
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him
in a resurrection like his.”
Jesus has each of us by the hand, leading us to places we cannot, could not and would not go on our own. We live in Him; He lives in us!
“This is how we know that we live in him
and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.”
I John 4:13
As we celebrate the Easter season, and each time we participate in communion, may we remember we have received mercy and found grace.
If this resonates with you, but you don’t know Jesus personally, today is an excellent opportunity to enter into a relationship with Him. Jesus did all the work! Do you know for sure that you will go to heaven when you die? You can.
“I write these things to you who believe
in the name of the Son of God
so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
I John 5:13
There is a problem! God is holy. Only those without sin can come to Him; everyone sins.
The solution to man’s greatest problem of sin is in Jesus Christ. God sent His Son Jesus to pay for our sin and make us holy before God.
Jesus death on the cross was payment for your sins and mine. If you believe Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, paid for your sins and has been raised to life, so that we too may have life, pray this simple prayer with me:
I believe that you died on the cross for my sins.
Please forgive me, come into my life,
and give my your life.
I want to do my best to live for you
from this day forward.
Thank You Jesus for what you have done,
be Lord of my life.
Welcome into the family of God! If you don’t already have a bible, find one and begin reading in the book of John. It is helpful to join a local church where you will be encouraged and supported in your new walk of faith. An exciting chapter of your life has just begun. Congratulations!
“…if you confess with your mouth
that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart
that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.”
Most of us have heard stories of redemption where someone is saved from something. The something could be a person, a destination or place, or a situation of their own or other people’s making. My name is Dawn; the story of my life is one of a daughter’s redemption.
I have been saved many times from situations, beliefs or ideas, and behaviours of my own and others. Sometimes my salvation has been quick or even instant. At other times, I have come to a slow awareness of salvation available before I could walk into it.
The Most Important Salvation
The most important salvation of my life was both instant and a slow realization: salvation from my own worst self, fears, sin, and ignorance of Jesus Christ.
“For the Son of Man came to seek
and save those who are lost.”
As a young girl, my little sister, Rhonda, and I lived with my addicted dad. He was one of the few single fathers in the 70’s. I already had experienced much fear, pain and loss.
When my parent’s marriage disintegrated, my mother was separated from Rhonda and I. My father loved us deeply; he also loved the drugs he used to pacify his wounded heart and mind.
In the midst of:
stints of foster care,
multiple moves and school placements
(6 schools by grade 4)
parties, strangers, threats of violence in our home,
weapons, secrets, jail visits
and lack of adult supervision and structure.
Jesus introduced Himself to me.
I was 8 years old and beginning to have an awareness of and feel frustration with my home life. My entire little-girl heart LOVED my father deeply: flaws, secrets, instability and all. I was beginning to see direct effects of his poor decision-making on Rhonda and I.
I was also beginning to be angry towards him. Questions filled my 8 year old heart and mind:
“Why can’t we see our mom?
Where is mom?
Has she forgotten us?
Why do we have to keep secrets about guns
drugs and drinking?
Why do we move all the time?
Will we have to go to another foster home?
Why are police always at our house?
Why can’t we be like my friend’s families?”
In the midst of the darkness, danger and fear in my home and heart, the strangest, most unexpected thing occurred!
A School Bus
A school bus started coming to our home to pick Rhonda and I up for Sunday School! Not only that, the same bus came and picked us up on Wednesdays for Pioneer Girls, a fun group for girls at church. Twice a week, the yellow bus brought us to a Holy Spirit-filled church where we learned about Jesus for the first time.
During one of these groups, my teacher took me aside and shared how Jesus knows and loves ME. She asked if I’d like to know Jesus and invite Him into my heart to be with me always. I did not have to think long! I did not know much about Jesus. What I had heard so far sounded wonderful!
I chose to believe that God and Jesus were real and that they could and would help me. And He sure did help me! The change was instantaneous!
“Then you will call on me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.”
I was no longer alone as a small girl in a big world. I began to talk to Him and believed He heard my prayers. My father was not a believer. He made it very clear he would never set foot in church. Either he knew we needed it, or he was glad for the structured activity it gave us, so he let us attend.
Sometimes, the help Jesus offers is painful to receive, centering around earthly change and loss. This is also my story. Within a few months of being introduced to Jesus, our lives would be forever changed.
We moved that spring to a large house outside Calgary, Alberta. The indoor pool, 4 bedrooms and 100 acres of land were welcome.
As a little girl, I had no way of knowing my dad had become deeply involved in a drug ring. The property was owned by someone in that circle. We were allowed to live there with expectations of my dad.
We finished the school year at a new school and experienced another month in foster care, before returning home to dad and country life.
Our grandparents came to take us to Regina for the summer vacation. We were excited! We loved time with grandma and grandpa! Here there was Sunday school, lots of yummy food, love, attention and care.
Within 2 weeks of kissing and hugging our dad goodbye, we received the worst news any child can hear — our dad was no longer alive. He shot and killed himself!
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Grief, loss, tears and sadness became our companions that summer. Adults decided the best care for us. Two little girls aged 9 and 7 were required to begin a new chapter in life.
Early in this experience of loss, I came to a realization: life was not easy nor always good with my dad. We LOVED our dad and wanted him back with us, but I also had to admit we were heading down a dangerous road in life. I began to see how Jesus was intervening to save Rhonda and me.
God was not responsible for or caused my dad to take his own life. God’s will is never death or sin. I am assured that God was grieving for the loss of his son, our dad, alongside Rhonda and I grieving for our father.
After my heart healed a little, I was able to look back at life before and after losing my father. I began to learn that God sometimes allows deep pain and loss because He knows it can lead to equally deep trust and life. Can and will we surrender and trust Him to allow His tender healing of the hurts?
Life began again in July, 1980 for me. It is not the end of my story, but it was the end of that chapter of my story. I thank Jesus, Father God and Holy Spirit for walking through that season with me.
I’m also thankful to the Pioneer Girls leader, loving praying grandparents, and for the prayers and actions of others who gently circled us. When we meet Jesus face to face, He will introduce us to the many people who influenced our young lives.
And today? These many years later, how has life unfolded? Twists and turns! Lumps and bumps! Jesus continues to surprise!
The latest is a call to the woods of Tracy, New Brunswick. Here my husband and I have committed a year of our lives to volunteer. We are learning a program model for a Christ-Centered residential addiction program for men called “Village of Hope”. Some days we feel we fall short of the call, but we press forward knowing He has led us here for this time and His purpose. There’s no other place I’d rather be!
Jesus continually called my name, even after a long season of running away and denying hearing His voice. I am blessed on earth to be called “mother” “grandmother” “wife” and “friend”. The core of my identity though is knowing my name as “Daughter”.
“And, “I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18
I spent many years not knowing the experience of being addressed as someone’s daughter. Now my Heavenly Daddy gave me the mind and heart-jolting revelation, “You are MY daughter”. The sweet reward of redemption!
My response is to live as a child of the King – by spreading seeds of His joy, His peace, His love and light. To do so allows me to thrive.
Thrive Dawn does! Dawn loves and cares for others passionately and genuinely. It is fitting that Dawn is the first to share her testimony, as representative of her First Nations Indigenous heritage.
Dawn’s redemption continues to influence numerous lives nationally. She effectively “mothers” multitudes, inspiring them to break free from generational and personal places of pain and addiction.
I am proud to call Dawn a friend, a sister, and partner in the work of Christ. She is a humble “daughter” of her Father God in the fullest extent of the word.
More Good Reading:
The reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ is too small! Our prayers for the nations are too small! The Lord is worthy of the worship of every nation, tribe and tongue.
“it is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the
ends of the earth.”
“It is too small a thing” for only God’s chosen people to obey and worship the Lord. He is too big, too awesome, too amazing for that! When we grasp how worthy our Saviour Jesus Christ is, we also begin to recognize how worthy He is of ALL worship and adoration.
We need a Saviour because of the sin nature that is within us all. God has set a plumb line of holiness; it is a standard unreachable by humanity.
- Man has sinned and under the penalty of death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).
- Man’s sin exposed him to divine punishment (Rom. 1:18; Isa. 53:6; Jer. 17:9; Psa. 14:3; Rom. 1:18-32; 5:10; 8:7; Col. 1:21).
God has a solution for our problem. Although, we all stand guilty before a holy God, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for both our sins and our sin nature (Rom. 5:6, 8). Jesus took the punishment for our sins upon Himself on the cross. (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 3:25-26; 5:8).
Christ, who was sinless, suffered and died for sinful men (2 Cor. 5:21). The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that God accepted this payment on our behalf. (Rom. 1:4)
“My hope is not because I am not a sinner,
but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died.
My trust is not that I am holy,
but that, being unholy, Christ died for me.
My rest is, here, not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know,
but in what Christ is and must be,
–in what Christ did, and is still doing as He stands before yonder throne of glory.”
C. H. Spurgeon
I am impressed again by the reality that these truths. The fullness of the salvation that I know, though personal, is too wonderful to be kept to myself.
God longs for “...everyone to be saved and to understand the truth”. His goal is for salvation to reach to the ends of the earth.
Unless we believe for all people on earth to know this truth, we are thinking, praying, and believing too small.
“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,
from every nation and tribe and people and language,
standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.
They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.
And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God
who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”
Revelation 7: 9-10
The greatness of God commands worship beyond our comprehension.
“And all the angels were standing around the throne and
around the elders and the four living creatures;
and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and
thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
be to our God forever and ever Amen.”
May we pray big until all come into relationship with Jesus Christ. For me at least, I don’t think big enough! I’m not praying big enough!
Only when all the nations of the world resound together is glorious praise will worship and adoration be worthy of our God.
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My father would often tell me, “MaryAnn! Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today!” Maybe I heard these words often because I, like others, sometimes leaned toward procrastination.
He knew, what I also now realize, today is the only moment I have. Today’s opportunities will vanish in evening’s sunset. My earthly father was echoing the voice of our Heavenly father. Though the former is no longer with us, the later continues to speak the wisdom of today’s fleeting nature.
I have a lengthy “To Do” list. Many of the items listed are trivial. As a matter of fact, the most important “To Dos” don’t even appear on this random list.
Today – Working Diligently
When I was in the full-time workforce, whether my supervisor was present or absent, I cultivated an attitude of continually giving my best. It is a practise that has benefited me now that schedules are self-appointed and goals are self-established.
“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.
But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”
Proverbs 6: 6-11
Procrastination is much more pleasing to my ear than “lazybones!” Today is good day to work diligently at whatever God puts in front of me. The season may be fast approaching when I will not be able to do the things I now am capable of.
Ants can carry 20 to 100 times their own body weight. That is a lot of lifting! May my work ethic set a similar example to others.
Today – Keep Your Promise
“When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through,
for God takes no pleasure in fools.
Keep all the promises you make to him.”
I know of some people who have “bartered” with God in a season of desperation. “Lord if you will _________, I will ___________.” When things are going smoothly again, promises fade into distant memory.
However, most people won’t fit into this category. What are some of the other promises that we make to God? One of mine is within the marriage covenant. “Before God and these witnesses, I MaryAnn promise to … from this day forward …”
There have been times in our marriage when I seriously wanted to escape that promise. More than once, I’ve pulled out our wedding vows and recommitted myself to the best of my ability fulfill my promise. Sounds foolish maybe, but it gave me the strength and grit to see it through.
Today is a day to keep my promise to God and others. If I wait until I feel like, that day may never come. It is in the doing that the feeling lines up.
Today – Obey God’s Commands
“I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands.” Psalms 119:60
Whatever knowledge I have of God’s command, I am responsible for walking in. Before I understood, God’s desire, I was not responsible to fulfill it.
As children grow their responsibility level increases. At first all their needs are met. As their learn to feed themselves, they do. When they become school age, applying themselves to learn is a reasonable expectation. As they reach adulthood, there are increased levels of responsibility and expectations to apply.
The same is true in the spiritual. God calls us to love one another, forgive each other, encourage each other, serve one another, honour one another, and be devoted to one another, to name a few.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today“,
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
In a community of support we spur each other on to follow God’s commands. Today is a good day to obey!
Today – Hear and Respond!
“God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.”
This he did when a long time later he spoke through David,
as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
The most critical “To Do” is responding to His invitation to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have never done this, “Today” is a perfect day! Every tomorrow after today will be impacted by this one choice.
Many people have already made the decision to become a Christian, by accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. Others delay, thinking there will be another day! The tragedy is, there may not be. After this life is eternity. Life does not end when your body dies. Your spirit lives forever.
What we do with this decision about Jesus will determine where and how we spend that eternity. Will that eternity be in the Presence of The One who is Life, or will it be in the place of doom designed for Satan and his emissaries?
Today is the day to hear and respond to God’s wonderful gift of salvation.
Today is an open door before us. Let’s step into it with vigor checking a few things of that “To Do” list. Let us focus on the things that matter the most, setting procrastination aside!
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I have read the bible many times; each time revealing how far my life is from its teachings. However, this one thing I know, God relentlessly pursues and captivates me, drawing me inexplicably to call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
A thousand voices resound just as many variations of this theme, “Call on the Lord and be saved.” Countless people continue at risk reputation, security and even their lives to declare this truth.
“There is salvation in no one else!
God has given no other name under heaven
by which we must be saved.”
The simplicity is profound
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”
“Look to Me”
I remember the farming days, before GPS, wanting to drive a straight line through a vast field. Fixing my gaze on a point at the far end of the field, I would direct the farm equipment for it. However, every time I turned and looked in another direction I would be to taken slightly off course. Refocus! Reset my track!
There are many places one can look to attempt to satisfy the deepest longings and cravings of the human heart. I have tried more than my share of alternatives!
Truly, there is only One direction to find salvation. The thought of this singular path is upsetting to many, but reality none the less.
God’s invitation still stands, “Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.” NLT
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
Where is your point of trust? For many it is in position, power or wealth. All give a false sense of security. All are temporary at best.
A missions trip to Cambodia challenged my thinking. Decades ago Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge thrust this beautiful nation into destruction! In a matter of days, the “Pearl of the East” lay in ruins: credentials and degrees meant nothing, thriving businesses nullified, family structure decimated, religious freedom denied, as money blew in drifts down empty streets. The world stood at a distance in disbelief.
Where then does one put their trust?
“Turn to me.”
These words continue
to invite and welcome
like a winding path through unknown territory
at what beauty and rest ahead.
God’s path is neither winding nor uncertain! His path is straight, narrow and sure!
Today is a perfect day to turn and trust in no other than Christ Jesus.
“For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you,
now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2
For many the stumbling block is responding to the pure simplicity of the invitation. A heartfelt prayer is the springboard of this incredible journey.
I borrow the words from a children’s book, “Olivia & Me” to help you get started:
“I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins.
Please forgive me.
Come into my life and give me your life.
I want to do my best to live for you,
in Jesus’ Name,