Apparently it’s not normal to pray for several hours a day. To organize lists of individuals, groups, and situations for a weekly prayer binder is just weird. But I remember when it began over a decade ago and have only God to blame. I was driving in my car when God spoke to my heart saying “you don’t know how to pray.” It perplexed me for a few days not knowing what more there was to prayer than I’d already been doing, but the words persisted so I took the bait and submitted by asking “okay then, teach me to pray.” From that day forward, the Holy Spirit took me on a prayer journey. And I became one of those weird people known as an intercessor. I guess. I don’t know, I just know I’m goofy and I pray a lot. The title of “Intercessor” somehow makes it sound more dignified.
As the hostess of this ministry’s Prayer Meetup from 2009-2017, I can honestly say I’ve prayed for hundreds, quite likely thousands, of active and former Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, their family and friends, and those who minister to them.
During most of those years I also worked as a house cleaner which afforded me the silence to pray while scrubbing other people’s toilets. Yes, intercession is sometimes that glamorous. In addition to the Prayer Meetup, I was also hosting the discussion groups for former Mormons and Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and as the ministry emails and phone calls mounted up, I slowly let go of my day job.
My husband didn’t mind the loss of income because he has always preferred to provide through hunting, fishing, and foraging any way. I’m very blessed to have such a good provider and know he is a gift from God. However, Ed doesn’t see a reason to believe in God himself much less spend the day talking to Him, so I’ve never been at ease praying in front of my husband. But as soon as he left for work, the entire house became my prayer closet! I’ve enjoyed that blessing for several years, but as Ed’s retirement drew near, I got a little anxious about where my prayer closet would be.
What was I going to do with him hanging around? But it was other things too. I had been getting uncomfortable responding to the innocent “so what do you do?” question from people who really didn’t intend to open the religious can of worms. I know they’re just making small talk, but if asked how I spend my time, the honest answer would be “well, I prayed for about 3 hours today and then talked to a variety of spiritually abused people for several more hours.” I confess, the weirdness of it all made me long for a more “normal” life just to have something else to say. Maybe the next time the gal cutting my hair made small talk with me, I could respond in kind and tell her about some boring job to which she could offer a nod rather than raised eyebrows after I described my real life of hours spent in prayer.
What should I do? You can bet I put it all to prayer.
My husband was looking forward to retirement in June of 2019. In March his boss asked him to stay on til September. He was telling me this at dinner and I realized his boss was probably going to wait until the last minute to replace him as their delivery driver. I jokingly said, “geesh, maybe I should take over your position.” And we both looked at each other with the acknowledgement that it wasn’t that bad of an idea. I said I’d “think about it” (code for pray about it). This was in March, so I had six months before I had to make a decision, right?
Well, the next day Ed came home telling me his boss loved the idea. And I was startled exclaiming, “hey wait a minute, I didn’t decide anything yet, I’m just considering it!”
So some time went by and I’d pray here and there about it, but remained undecided. But one morning I got serious in my prayer chair and very specifically began asking God for direction. As I listed all my pros and cons before the Lord pleading for a sign, I was interrupted by a phone call. Ed was on the line asking me if I could come down to work. The other driver’s father took ill and his boss suggested maybe I could drive his route. So I hopped out of my prayer chair and raced to their rescue. Well, this driver didn’t return to work for a few weeks! His dad was sick, then they moved him into a nursing home, and then he died. Meanwhile, I got used to driving his route. I also got a time card, employee handbook, and insured on the company car. So I was a bonafide employee before I even came to any decision. Well, that’s God for ya. He answered the prayer before my flesh could get in the way and present more pros and cons in an attempt to make an intellectual decision rather than a spirit directed one.
After a few weeks, the other driver came back and I enjoyed a carefree summer. But because of that trial run, I confirmed the decision to take on my husband’s route when he retired at the end of August. So I took a couple days to shadow Ed and learn his route. I found out that I liked the other driver’s route much better. I suggested that we switch since Ed’s route offered more hours and this other driver was still raising a family and could use the extra income. To my benefit, his route offered more long distance driving with less stop and go in town. I figured I could still take ministry calls that way. We all agreed because it blessed his need for more income and my need for uninterrupted time. Ed was just happy to get out of there and retire! But the sweet thing is, Ed can sub for either of us when we need a day off.
So now I have these long distances of prayer time after all. The company car has become my prayer closet. At home, I’d often begin my morning of intercession by overlooking the river below our house. But God has expanded my inspiration and adoration by treating me to the spectacular views along the Mississippi river each morning and traveling through scenic bluffs every afternoon!
But this past November, a particular prayer focus began to take shape.
I had begun to attend a new church about the same time I began the new job. I had no idea this small church had branched out into another town but as the pastor spoke one Sunday, I clearly heard his heart for the other campus and community and my heart leapt on board. As I drove home from church that afternoon, I was filled with an excitement to pray for that town. So I posted this in an on line prayer group which is organized for those of us ministering to Jehovah’s Witnesses.
November 10, 2019
Lord we thank you for the sermons each of us heard today in our various places of worship. Let us not forget the nuggets of truth we each heard and vowed to pray through this week and apply in our lives. Today as the pastor spoke of opportunities to reach out in a neighboring town, my mind went to the Kingdom Hall there which I drive past at least 4 times a week. I wondered when it was built, how many attend, and what kind of influence the JWs have in that town where I also noticed more than the usual amount of churches. I wondered why I never stopped to lay hands on the door and pray? Sometimes I see a car or two in the parking lot, what would happen if I circled the building to pray and someone came out to talk? Lord, I felt a challenge inside. But I don’t want a challenge based from someone else’s bandwagon. I don’t want to do anything that jumps ahead of you. But neither do I want to stay complacent in a comfort zone. So I am posting my prayer here for my own remembrance as well as accountability and support. Ultimately, we answer to you alone. And so I ask specifically, Lord, would you have me do anything regarding the Kingdom Hall in Sparta, WI? Are there words you want me to speak? Is there anyone there praying to get out? God, I seek your direction. And yes, I’m open to confirming signs. Though the pastor was offering suggestions of free hot chocolate to local residents, my mind went directly to this need. But is it of you or me? I sense the need to pray against strongholds that your blessings may flow into that area. The fish are biting there, the pastor says. Lord, hungry fish are prone to take the bait meant to hook and ensnare them. Jesus, you offer real food and real drink. Help us as a church offer real truth to those hungry and seeking. Lord, help me to claim what is yours and expose what is bait. Through Christ my truth, amen.
And so I began regular stops to pray over the Kingdom Hall in Sparta. Believing God is cleansing what does not belong there to allow His blessings to flow unhindered into that town.
I also stop to lay hands on the door of New Hope Fellowship and ask that it’s foundation be sure as a new church in town. I drive through the neighborhoods in my “Mobile Prayer Closet” as one friend has named my gold chariot. Praying over this town, the Kingdom Hall, and this little church has become part of my delivery route. Who would’ve guessed? I may still be one of those weird people who pray too much, but at least I can make small talk now and say I’m a delivery driver too!
One of the things that happened when I began to pray, was the knowledge that I may end up encountering some Jehovah’s Witnesses in the parking lot. What would I say? So I began to consider an approach and really appreciated David Englund’s “faith without works” demonstration at the 2019 Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Pennsylvania. So I listened to it on YouTube as I drove and practiced it in the car.
One day as I was praying over the Kingdom Hall with eyes closed and hands on the door, I hadn’t noticed a car pulled into the lot. When I opened my eyes there were 4 sets of eyes watching me. A car group of JWs had just come back from their door-to-door service.
So I walked toward their car laughing and said “I didn’t know I had an audience, how long you been watching me?” We all laughed and I explained that I stop to pray over area churches asking God to give people a hunger to know Him. And since they go to people’s doors to open the word of God, I hoped they would see Jesus in the Scriptures noting that Jesus said if He was lifted up He would draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). So if the people they encounter are hungry, the word will draw them to Jesus first and not any particular religious group. While I was speaking, the gentleman in the driver’s seat asked me if I have the internet at my home. He gave me a brochure and pointed out their website. I thanked him. And then I asked them what kind of problems the people they talk to express since I’m not from that town. I offered that’s why I pray over the town too believing that God cares and wants to address each of our struggles and added “ya know, because as Christians we’re not just supposed to sit in our pews. I mean FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD, RIGHT? and our faith ought to be leading us to action whether that’s praying for others like I’m doing today, offering our services at a charity, food pantry, or out sharing the word of God like you folks. God wants to use us!” They nodded and smiled without a “yes, but…”
One woman in the backseat started scrolling through her tablet so I figured she was looking up a scripture to read to me. Great! So I said “it looks like you’re looking something up, what do you have to share?” And she replied, “oh no, it’s just that now we’re near the wifi and I’m getting notifications!” And I laughed and teased her that she couldn’t wait to check her Facebook!
Then she brought up my previous comment about area problems and said they go out to tell others about God’s kingdom. I complimented them for doing that adding that Jesus is ruling in God’s kingdom and draws men to Himself and that is where the blessings are.
They just kept nodding and agreeing with me. I was surprised they didn’t want to challenge me. So I asked if they go out in their ministry often. They affirmed it was pretty regular. So I left on a positive note saying maybe I’d see them again because I planned to pray there regularly. They all nodded and smiled.
As I drove away my thoughts went mainly to the young lady in the backseat. She was about 20 years old. Was it a shock for her to know a non-JW went to a Kingdom Hall door to pray? Was she surprised to hear a member of christendom say they believe works are part of faith? What did she think of the other JWs compliance with me? Since they were all out in service, I wondered if any of them felt a little embarrassed for not witnessing to me?
Hopefully they mentioned our encounter to others at the Hall. Though not that much was said between us, the fact of my presence praying there may have created some interesting discussion? I trust the prayers that went before me. God is good and He has entered that Hall where my words could not.
So the Mobile Prayer Closet continued for the next couple months but without another encounter. Then in January, while at the fellowship I’ve been attending in Onalaska, WI. I responded to an invitation to give a 10 minute testimony on what communion means to me. I had no idea they wanted me to also share it at the branch church in Sparta. I’d never set foot in that church before, but I’d been praying over it’s door since November. So I asked for a prayer covering in our on line group.
Jan 18, 2020
Giving a 10 minute talk tonight and also Sunday morning at two church campuses for their special communion services. Telling my journey of rejecting Jesus at the Memorial, then the hesitation to take communion even after I received Christ, and the JOY and privilege of taking communion now. Please pray.
Lord, you’ve given me a story. A privilege to uncover the deception. I know many in the church have received or will receive Memorial invitations for April 7 this year. A few months ago, when I began praying against the influence of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sparta, WI where this church is located, I had no idea I would be addressing the small congregation there about the Memorial tonight. I see this as a Divine Appointment. I know you are with me, but even so it is upon me to be well prepared. Help me to pack as much impact into those 10 minutes to drop jaws, invite more interest, and bring forward those with a heart to pray for and challenge the JWs in Sparta and also in Onalaska, WI. Father, it is a small beginning but from one seed grows a mighty oak. Use me tonight and tomorrow to plant a seed that will grow and nourish the branches in the church which you desire to sprout fruit and their leaves become healing for the nations. The “nation” of Jehovah’s Witnesses being their mission field. God, thank you for this opportunity and the faith from you as a gift that moves me to agree and declare “send me.” May it glorify you when others see your hand in my rescue through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.
So I went to the little fellowship in Sparta that Saturday night. I counted 14 of us which included the worship team. The plan was to share a meal first and then go into communion. We first recited the Apostle’s Creed, then a prayer was said for the meal and we shared a potluck and mingled. I sat next to a woman who told me she was born and raised Mennonite and that she and her husband were excommunicated in 2009 and the past decade was really tough. They just began coming to this church over the summer. I just listened, careful not to tell her my own story as I was saving the impact for my upcoming 10 minute talk. So she had a captive audience as we dined together. I sensed it was part of her healing just to listen and give her the opportunity to share her story with me. Then a man took to the stage and introduced me (I told him not to say anything about my JW past). I came up and shared how in my early 30’s I began to study the Bible and went to a special communion service. I told them how the emblems were prayed over and passed after a reading of 1 Corinthians 11:23-34. I made it sound like a typical church service careful to leave out the fact that nobody partook til I got toward the end of my presentation. I was going for the jaw drop and I definitely saw it in the face of a young woman seated in the front. I told them how I participated in this for several years but God called me out. I shared my hesitation to take communion even after I came to Christ and how I pressed through with prayer and Bible reading. And then told them of my joy at my first real communion in 2007. I ended sharing John 6:53 telling them all it was a privilege to partake because “the life is in the blood, not the kool aid.” Somehow I got all that in 10 minutes. Thank you Jesus! When I walked back to my seat, the Mennonite woman was in tears and she hugged me for a very long time. She went on to say how God sent her there that night to put us next to each other. Turns out she’s right on my delivery route just past the kingdom Hall and she has relatives who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thank you Jesus! Since that night, I have stopped in for coffee and she told me she’s got a renewed commitment to pray for Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m fact, her husband asked for an approach to use the next time he speaks with JWs. And I was only too happy to share David Englund’s video with him. Thank you Jesus!
Glory to God. I am overwhelmed by His plan in this. He had this surprise waiting for me. First He lead me to start praying over the kingdom Hall and this church in Sparta, WI and then I’m doing prayer cruises through the neighborhoods not knowing that this woman on my route has been asking for His help. Don’t ya just love it when Jesus takes the wheel?
Keep yourself in God’s love,