I grew up believing that people of faith weren’t the smartest because they relied on woo-woo stuff over science and logic. So imagine my surprise when I started attending a Spirit-filled church. I fell in love with Jesus and discovered how intimate and real that relationship could be. And started believing that possibly, against all odds, prayer actually changed things.
But I didn’t like it. It didn’t make sense. If anything, it made me mad to witness evidence of God’s existence. To see that logic isn’t always, well, logical. I prided myself on my intellect, so I debated and questioned and resisted. I cornered my friends, badgering them with questions about faith. I didn’t want to be gullible … and even though God had been revealing Himself to me in more and more powerful ways, I was still fighting it.
I remember talking to my friend Peggy one day. Neither of us remembers the situation we were discussing, but I told Peggy I’d been really praying hard about it, and things had changed. Completely exasperated, I said, “Well, apparently prayer works.”
We still laugh about it.
Because it’s true. Whether I want to believe it or not, God continues to surprise me.Every time I give up on prayer, something happens that defies every other explanation. I can’t define it away, blame it on coincidence, or deny that it happened. Click To Tweet
And I huff, like an angry child being forced to admit I was wrong.
Apparently, prayer works.
When I started writing, I thought I would be a kind of interpreter, putting what I’d experienced and learned about God into a form that other doubters, like me, could understand. People could use this framework to construct their own conclusions and beliefs. It was exciting to me, and I had a book idea, so I decided to try to get published.
I worked my butt off to get ready, but traditional publishing is always a long shot. Regardless, Praying Upside Down was published in 2015, and it was about art and prayer. I assumed all my writing would center on art—because I’m clearly an artist and not much of a pray-er.
My publisher needed to see six months of sales figures before they would entertain another book proposal from me, but a month after publication my agent called with news. They had a book they’d like me to write, if I was willing.
Unexpected for sure. Especially because I’d been praying about what would come next. The idea they presented was one I’d already had and described to exactly one person. There was no way my publisher could have known, and yet they wanted me to write this book—about prayer. Even without seeing sales figures. Even though I hadn’t come to them with a proposal, and even though it’s practically unheard of to have a publisher approach the writer.
But that’s pretty much the story of my faith. I didn’t expect to believe, but I did. I didn’t expect to actually hear from God, and I did, over and over. I certainly didn’t set out to have a ministry, let alone one all about prayer. I didn’t expect to be a three-time published author (and yes, of course, book #3 was about prayer, too).
Our God is the God of the Unexpected.
In Jesus’ kingdom, everything was upside down—the least shall be the greatest. Let the children come. Pray for your enemies. It’s what’s in your heart that defiles you. And so on.
I love that about Jesus. I love that His answers are clear but often the last thing we would expect. I love that He is not surprised by what happens, nor is He surprised by how we respond to it.
And I love that even now, when the world seems topsy-turvy, when grief and sorrow for the state of our country and our world can overwhelm us, He is not fazed. He will continue to show up, and continue to put evidence in front of us to reassure us that He is there. That prayer still changes things. That love still prevails. That He is still the light that will illuminate even the darkest of moments.When the world seems topsy-turvy, God is not fazed. He will continue to show up and reassure us that He is there. Click To Tweet
And I can trust in that, and believe. Because God has a history of showing up when least expected. Of bringing answers and effecting change that seemed impossible. Our vision is limited, but He sees eternity. He knows exactly what to expect, and He has already prepared answers we can’t even fathom.
We just need to hold on until we can see them, too. And keep on praying.