The Story Behind My Daily Prayer
About 9 years ago (in 2007) my daughter Lauryl gave me a book entitled The Way of the Wild Heart, written by John Eldredge (currently published under the title, Fathered by God). It’s a great book. In its appendix John included a couple prayers entitled Daily Prayer and Saint Patrick’s Breastplate. (Those prayers are still found on the Ransomed Heart website as is the book and others. I’ll share St. Patty’s prayer later. I encourage you to visit John’s site. There is a lot of wonderful stuff there, and it is a solid place to find encouragement and challenge.)
Back to the story…
The book was a gift for Father’s Day. Vickie and I were in Branson, MO on a vacation made possible by the kindness of some friends who had an unused timeshare week. I read the book in a day. It was good. Early the following morning, with coffee in hand and a glorious view of the White River, I opened up to the prayer appendix. That was the first time I actually prayed the Daily Prayer out loud. I had read it the night before, but that morning I read–or rather prayed–it aloud. The coffee got cold. Something changed, shifted, and was birthed in me.
Of course, I had always prayed. I had always valued prayer. Sadly though, I was just as consistently nagged by doubts about the value or practical power of my prayers. In my experience as a pastor I find that is all too common among us believers. We sincerely believe a lot of great things in principle, but struggle to mask doubts in ourselves as we try to work those beliefs out in the practical day-to-day stuff. That morning was different. As I spoke out the words of this prayer I didn’t question its value. And, by the time I was done I questioned my value as a pray-er even less! The balcony of our timeshare was enveloped in a warm but weighty, regal presence. I knew that God was with me–right there–in a personal, special way. I knew He and I had, by His grace, just partnered in something unearthly yet practical. The moment was simple but powerful. It released something–a new sense of partnership with Holy Spirit–that had the power to advance the Kingdom purposes of my family, shift the momentum in the constant war of lies and assaults the enemy had sought to use to distract and drag me down, and–perhaps most surprising–the moment had some sort of intimate substance that proved to have the power to open my heart and eyes to the undeniable privilege and resource I already possessed as a son of God. Yes! You could say it was a good morning. 🙂
A season that transformed my life.
That experience began 5 and a half years of praying that prayer out loud every single morning. I might have missed 8 mornings over that 5 years but no more. Even though John Eldredge certainly deserves the credit for the original prayer, as the Lord and I partnered with it I took the liberty to edit it quite a lot. The current version even has a set of about 131 scripture references I studied out and noted. Each time I learned more of who God was as my Father the prayer would grow to reflect what I had learned. It began to include declarations of my identity in Christ and his stuff in me. It opened up to include personal titles I discovered about Holy Spirit; neglected titles like Friend. The prayer began to extend mercy to people who judged and cursed me–knowingly or unknowingly–even while it shook off the damage those curses were obviously intended by the enemy to produce. For a hundred reasons it became my literal daily prayer.
My daily prayer saw me through the tail end of a ferocious battle to overcome the debt Vickie and I had come from California carrying and into the healthy mindsets required to live in that freedom. We cleared the debt and got on our feet financially for the first time in our life. The prayer strengthened and consoled me through my dad’s untimely passing from congestive heart failure. It made the bitter thing sweet. Perhaps most germane to you as a reader and part of the friends and family at Joyland is the role that this prayer, spoken in partnership with Holy Spirit over a thousand times, played in opening my heart and tuning my ears to let me hear the call back into ministry after a wonderful and satisfying 17-year hiatus in business. I listened, heard, obeyed, and kept praying my daily prayer. It kept working, shaping me, moving heaven, calling forth the Kingdom, and producing answers. Finally, it opened the door for the founding of Joyland and the incomparable honor of being your pastor.
And then I stopped…
A few years ago–almost inexplicably now that I am thinking about it–I stopped praying my daily prayer. I don’t really know why. There were repeated jokes about it being too long. There was one particular well-meaning mentor of a close friend who sort of word-cursed it. I didn’t think I really believed what he said about it losing its value over time, but looking back I think I must have let his counsel in somehow. Maybe I just got lazy or distracted. In any event, I just stopped praying it.
I am tempted to apologize to all of you, because I genuinely regret stopping and can’t actually even say why I did. But, today is the day in which we find ourselves, and today–well, yesterday really–the Holy Spirit has brought the prayer back to me and me back to the prayer.
Yesterday: a new day!
I am praying it again. As I said, yesterday (Monday) was the first day. As I prayed I wept. Today, I prayed and I laughed. I’m looking forward to what we–Papa and I–experience tomorrow.
Beyond that, I’m looking forward to what we–all of you and I–will discover as we wrap our hearts around it. I am going to introduce this prayer to all of you at Joyland this weekend.
The needs before us.
Here at Joyland, we are in a season where needs are real. Warfare is real too. Please don’t think I doubt it. We are facing persistent, un-manifest healing among several of our family at church. Our worship leader has been in two car accidents over the past three months (neither her fault) and has been battling some sort of restrictive throat stress that threatens to silence her voice and rob us of her gifts and leadership. Many others of you have suffered similar misfortune–temporary and chronic sickness, slow healing trauma, work disputes, car accidents, ice slip-and-falls, challenging financial situations, heart-breaking family deaths, emergency surgery, and more. On top of that, we simply need revival and renewal to be released among us and those around us.
I believe there is victory ahead in all of these things. And yes, it’s true–we do need to respond and play our part. However, the need to war–and yes, it is a war–brings with it a caution. We must avoid the temptation to react to the trouble the enemy brings rather than rest in our Fathers love and our Kings victory. The danger, if we aren’t careful, is to inadvertently yield our individual and corporate daily focus and agenda to the enemy’s schedule rather than to God’s glory–and in doing so, we yield a precious part of our lives and freedom he does not deserve. To help us deal with the warfare but not turn our attention away from Jesus, I believe the Holy Spirit has reawakened my spirit to the beauty and power of my (and soon to be our, I hope) daily prayer.
Our call to war.
Here at Joyland we have heard the call and made the commitment to war differently. Worship and rest are our strengths. Prayer and warfare here are rooted in our secure relationship with Jesus, and both should naturally reflect those strengths. I believe this particular prayer will give all of us who wish to use it–in whatever form suits us–a weapon of beautiful power and restful peace. It will be a starting point that fits our identity as we step up to this call to prayer. Jesus established this model for warfare in the most direct and overt confrontation he ever faced from the devil. It was in the wilderness after his baptism. Overt challenges to his sonship, half truths, and direct natural and emotional temptations were the weapons the devil unleashed. Jesus didn’t react. He responded from a place of settled intimacy and security by simply declaring the truth and asserting a beloved son’s authority. The result: the devil fled. I believe that style of warfare was available and effective because it wasn’t the devil that set that schedule. Jesus was “led into the wilderness by the Spirit”.
I believe that–in response not to the devil but to many of your prayers and mine, and to the season of extraordinary opportunity we face–Holy Spirit has issued a fresh call to pray and in doing so, to war. As best as I can hear–at least as an introduction to this season–he has prepared this 5-years-in-the-making Daily Prayer as a tool crafted especially for us to use to answer that call.
My personal invitation to action.
You can read and pray My Daily Prayer in its most recent form here. You can download a PDF to print here. I will have copies available this Saturday at church. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know that brevity is not one of my love languages (my apology to Gary). I prayed this thing every day for 5 and a half years and it transformed my life and family. I guess it took me a few words–quite a few–to recount that story to you. On the bright side, just think how much shorter the sermon will be this week since I got all this off my chest!
I love you guys. Read the prayer. Speak it out loud. Let me know what you encounter.
See you Saturday, Pastor Larry