There have been a lot of prayers in my life as a Christian. But, sometimes you get one that stands out as a turning point prayer, one that sends your life in a completely unexpected direction. I’m going to share such an event on this post.
Prayer is one of those mysteries that can’t be fully understood. We are told to bring our requests to God, even though He already has all of history worked out ahead of time. He wants us to talk to Him (like any good parent does with their children). I believe that’s why Jesus told his disciples “when you pray,” not “if you pray”; before He gave them an example of a prayer.
The Psalms are filled with many types of prayers: they range from worship, adoration, and dependence on God; to questioning, doubting, and anger toward Him. The full range of emotion is what God is looking for from His creation. And when we are at the end of ourself and we don’t know just what to pray we read in Romans 8:26-27 how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that cannot be uttered. That’s how much God wants us to communicate with Him.
In 2008 John MacArthur was promoting his book The Tale of Two Sons. The local radio station invited him to speak in the Dallas area. They recorded his message and broadcasted it on the July 4th weekend that year. I wasn’t able to go to the original event so I was thrilled when I was able to listen to his talk. Barb was too tired to stay up so she went to bed, this allowed me to listen in solitude to the words that spoke to my heart.
Fortunately, the sermon wasn’t just on the parable of the prodigal son; it entailed the whole of Luke chapter 15. John thoughtfully crafted in the three parables that are presented by Jesus and recorded by Luke. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin precede the more popular parable, but the focus of them all is the joy that God experiences when sinners come to repentance. At about the halfway point of the message, after the first two parables were given, Dr. MacArthur made a statement that struck the core of my being. His approximate quote was “Nothing sets God off in a spirit of joy like when a sinner comes to full repentance and dependence on Him.”
That statement resonated within me through the remainder of the message, which I politely listened to to see if there was anything else the Holy Spirit wanted to convict me with. After the message I turned the stereo off and let that statement soak deep within me. Finally, I composed a prayer that started from the most inward portion of myself than I had ever experienced.
I began by repeating the same six words, “Break me, break me, use me!” I didn’t keep track of how many times I said that phrase as the tears ran down my cheeks. I finished my heartfelt prayer with another profoundly simple phrase, “God, I want to give you the reputation of being a party animal!” I’m confident the Holy Spirit was groaning in the blanks of that simple prayer.
I didn’t give any specifics as to how God should use me. I wasn’t even sure He would give me a direct answer to that prayer. I just knew that I felt like my lifetime of being a born-again Christian seemed rather fruitless up to that point and I wanted that to change.
Leading up to the time I was listening to other programs on the radio, they were speaking to me in different ways. I remember one interview of someone who wrote a book about marriage. They brought up how couples who lived together before they got married were more likely to get divorced because the woman didn’t feel respected by the man by having sex before the commitment was made. That spoke to me as something that I wish somebody had told me when I was a teenager so I had a better handle on why I wasn’t supposed to go too far before the wedding. I was coming up with what I thought was ingredients for a sermon that I would someday give (even though I attend a large church that uses seminary trained men to preach).
About three weeks after ‘the prayer’ God spoke to me as I was thinking about how I could fit all that I wanted to say in my sermon that I didn’t know where I would give. He said simply, “It’s not a sermon, it’s a book.” My thought process went like this… “But I’ve never written anything. Give it up Wade, the excuses didn’t work for Moses, they aren’t going to work for you, either. OK God, if You’re in this, I’ll give it a whirl.” The whole experience probably took slightly less time than it took most of you to read that.
The next weekend as I was doing some laundry in our apartment complex’s facilities I made an outline of a book I titled ‘Uncle Ray’s Summer’. I formed the main characters and what I thought was going to be the first lesson taught to Billy. I began writing the story the following weekend and was surprised at how well the story was coming together. Of course I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all, God was answering my prayer for Him to use me. If this is how He worked it out then who was I to second guess it?
The fact that I didn’t have a computer didn’t deter me at all. I just grabbed a pencil and started writing the story as it came to me. I now have over 300 hand-written pages waiting for me to come back to after my first two completed books get published. The rest, as they say, is becoming history.
I’ll see you later. Wade