For the longest time, I treated prayer as a one-way dialogue from me to God. But as I’ve learned from prayer warriors and the example of Jesus in Scripture, I’ve discovered there’s so much more to it.
My guest today, Janet Holm McHenry, has studied Jesus’s prayer life in detail and shares her findings in her upcoming release, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Can Change Your Life Today. The book releases June 5th, and I’ve got it marked on my must-read list!
Today, Janet shares about the importance of listening and how God can speak to us in powerful and sometimes life-saving ways. Enjoy!
If I hadn’t listened to God, my children and I probably wouldn’t be alive today.
The four of them, from teens to toddler, were driving me nuts in my Mom Van as we drove from the mountains to a rural area southeast of Sacramento. It was a to-grandparents’-house-we-go trip for a quick weekend. And while I just wanted to get there, they had all manner of ideas about places to stop during our three-hour drive.
For a look at the lake. For burgers. For ice cream.
Nope. Nope. Nope. I held firm.
But then just a few miles from my parents’ house, Bethany began pointing. “Cows! Cows! Cows!” She knew there was a dairy farm just ahead on our right.
“Nope—we’re almost there,” I said.
And then the whole chorus started.
“Just for a moment, Mom?”
“Goodness’ sake, Mom—just let her wave to the cows.”
And then I heard another voice strongly in my spirit. Stop!
Alarmed, I immediately moved my right foot from the accelerator to the brake . . . and just as I approached the intersection, a car sped from my right through the intersection to my left. If I hadn’t braked hard, the other car, which had run a stop sign, would have t-boned my car and very likely killed or seriously injured my children and me.
We did stop by the side of the road right next to that dairy farm. A beef rancher’s wife, I was never in my life so glad to see dairy cows.
God spoke to me that day—Stop!—and I believe he speaks in at least three kinds of ways as we see from scripture.
1. I love you!
At the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. At first John objected and there may have been some confusion at this point in Jesus’ ministry as to who He was. The Father makes it clear though: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Sometimes God may just simply speak truth into our lives about who we are. We get discouraged. We get down on ourselves. We forget we are sons and daughters of the Most High God. So, He may simply say, I love you! You are my child. I value you.
2. Go! Stop!
Later in Jesus’s ministry after Jesus had taught and healed, He tried to explain to the disciples that persecution and the cross were ahead. However, they weren’t getting it, so He took Peter, James, and John up the mountain, where heavenly light transfigured Jesus’s body, and the Father spoke again, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:35).
The disciples were getting visions of grandeur, and the Father had to intervene to set them straight. Stop talking. Listen to my Son. Follow him. Similarly, God could intervene in our lives when we’re headed down the wrong direction—or conversely, when we’re stuck in our own stinkin’ thinkin’. He could direct us to the right job or place to live. He could tell us to stop a self-destructive habit. Stop! Go!
3. I am real!
The last example of the Father’s words to the Son is closer to the Cross. Jesus had ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem that week of the Passover. Everyone wanted to see the Miracle Man, and the disciples may have been confused. After all, it was a welcome fit for a king.
But Jesus knew this was the first of His walk to the cross, so He said, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27–28). And the Father said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28). When we are in a time of doubt, God can remind us that He is real and He is present in our lives.
God can indeed speak to us—with a whisper or a nudge. We simply have to listen.
Janet Holm McHenry is a speaker and the author of 23 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and her newest book, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What He Prayed and How It Will Change Your Life Today (Bethany House, June 5 release). A former educator, she lives in the Sierra Valley in northeastern California, where she prayerwalks for her town and where she taught high school English. Featured in Health, Family Circle and First magazines for her prayerwalking, Janet is convinced that prayer is the best problem-solving strategy. You can learn more at her website, www.janetmchenry.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus is the only comprehensive guide to the prayer life of Jesus. With warmth and keen insight, Janet Holm McHenry takes you on an engaging, vivid journey through the 14 recorded prayers Jesus prayed as well as his teachings on prayer and his prayer practices. No matter our backgrounds or ideas about how, when, and why we should talk to God, we can learn from Jesus’s simple, vulnerable examples.
This unique, comprehensive guide to the prayer life of Jesus provides background, context, and a detailed look at each one of the prayers of Jesus along with reflection questions and Scripture-based prayers. As we follow his example and take our problems to him, we will, like him, grow closer to the Father and find strength for our everyday challenges.
*Bible photo by Delanie / Lightstock.com