I looked around my brand-new house and wondered how I was going to pay for it. I paced as I made twelve of the most difficult phone calls of my life. As COVID-19 made its presence known to all of us, I had to furlough my entire team, and then I climbed on my couch and literally fell asleep in a puddle of tears. I woke up in a fetal position. It seemed as though my entire twenty -six-year career had merely vanished with the arrival of a pandemic.
I try to anticipate the hits, but like everyone else on this planet, I never saw this one coming. The days and weeks that followed were no different for me than they were for everyone else as we watched not only our country but the entire world literally locked down and shelter in place orders made the danger of the pandemic all the more real.
I slept a lot those first few weeks in between binges of news where I tuned in to ascertain if there was going to be any help for businesses like ours. I cried a little more than I slept, and spent a lot of time, literally, on my knees. I had not been there in a long time. My prayer life had been more about managing disappointment than actually asking God for anything. I’d ask him to comfort the sick and dying, I couldn’t dig deep enough to ask for a miracle for anything—even though every day I look a miracle in the mirror. My prayers were more tears than anything and it wasn’t just about potentially losing my career, but it was the loss of an entire team of people and last but not least the people dying of the virus broke my heart in a million pieces.
A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview about the difficulty of 2020. My answer came fast and it was one word: helpless. “I have never felt more helpless”, I answered. One of the follow up questions pertained to a prayer strategy for this season. As I was preparing for that speaking opportunity, it required examination of my “prayer life”. I had an answer, it remained to be seen if I shared with the people listening about my managing disappointment approach to talking AT God. That answer was sure to fall flat among women who had come to a night of worship and encouragement. Anyone who knows me knows I am going to be authentic when it comes to these things, but I am grateful that before I got on that stage, some real work was done in my War Room, which I accidentally designated the place where I’d beg God for miracles. My requests of Him in that room were never about my business, career or livelihood. My request of the most high God, in my closet turned communications headquarters, was for someone I don’t even know.
Casey Gray is a young man in his late twenties who contracted the virus and at one point was on not one but two “ECHMO” machines—essentially a heart and lung bypass machine. The call from his friends and family landed on social media and I was absolutely there for the fight. Friends organized a twenty-four-hour prayer chain, and I signed up for an hour. When my time came, I walked into my closet and started my normal talking AT God and asking, in advance, for God to comfort his family for WHEN Casey died. But then something shifted inside of me. The last fifty minutes of my allotted time was this experience that cannot be explained. “But what if God really did this thing, saved this kids life, what if?” I wrote Casey’s name on a piece of paper and hung it up on wall in my closet. As the days followed and Casey’s life hung in the balance, I experienced for the first time in a long time what it meant to what it meant to talk TO God. Each time I walked in that closet (which dubs as my laundry room) I would pray for Casey and his wife Savannah. Before I knew it, I was adding pieces of paper to that wall, other people’s names, and even some personal “big asks” of God. I begged God for a miracle, and there were so many times the updates from the hospital that should have shifted my request of God again, because the situation with Casey got very scary and as the updates and pleas for prayer came in, I just turned up the volume and added tears and even landed, literally on my knees, begging God for a miracle.
But somehow it wasn’t about Casey anymore, this was about God and me. He was healing my wounded soul and building something in me that had not been there for a very long time: Faith that He is Who He says He is. More tears fell, except this time I was not curled up in a fetal position on my couch, but in a room designated for war, and that is exactly what happens there. God is so faithful to still listen to us, regardless of how cynical we have gotten, He is still God and He hears us. The question really becomes this: do we (I) hear Him, or have we organized our “prayer life” in a way that essentially manipulates the God of the universe to do what WE want instead of “not my will but Yours”?
My washer in that War Room flooded twice after I made it the place where God and I spend sweet time together. After the second time, I added more paper, more names, and spent more time in there. It is refreshing as I ask for miracles these days rather than managing disappointment.
Casey’s life was spared and at the time of this writing, he has a long way to go, but God heard us and answered our prayers in the way that seemed right and just to us. Thousands of people prayed for this young man, few of us know him. But we understood and understand that God would still be amazingly good had the outcome been different. This is where the examination of my motives for prayer was important. And I encourage all who understand this need for God and His miracles (however they look) to try talking. TO Him, because He still speaks in ways you will only know if you give Him a chance.
New to the blog? Amy is a trauma survivor and creator of podcast Wednesdays With Watson, where she shares her journey with PTSD while writing a memoir to give Hope to others who have lived through trauma.