A few months ago I finished reading Stormie Omaritan’s “Power of a Praying Woman“. What a journey this book has had in my life. Let me start from the beginning to help you understand.
Early 2000’s. I’m a single mom and teenager, working at Papa John’s. Even though I didn’t always choose to walk with God, I knew who He was.Throughout my life He has always placed His people around me. A woman named Nancy who worked with me was a believer and unashamed of saying so. She prayed for me, offered me words of encouragement, and stole a soft spot in my heart for life. Even when she saw me not walking by faith, she was never harsh or cruel. She spoke truth gently and she spoke truth matter-of-factly and then she left me to God. One day she came into work and gave me this book to read.
For more than 10 years I had this book and never made it past Chapter 3. Why? Because for some reason it felt awkward, hard, uneasy to focus on such a prayer life with God when deep down, I knew I wasn’t really making any true efforts (or sacrifices) to follow Him. Yet, I was also drawn to it. I wanted to be a Praying Woman. I wanted to better understand the power of prayer. So this book has been packed in moving boxes more times than I can count, and followed me for a decade, waiting for God’s perfect timing.
Fast forward to 2012. Earlier that year the Lord pruned me through a very painful process. My life changed. Maybe not hugely from an outside view (although there certainly were outside changes), He transformed me dramatically on the inside.
I began reaching out to other female believers and started hosting a yarn night to get to know woman of faith better. It was here the Lord introduced me to my bestie. Not long after, we decided to read a book together (which I reviewed here) and we grew incredibly close. After that study, we decided to do another, and another, and our friendship has grown closer with each year. She’s not only my “bestie”, she’s become my sister.
She used to live just 10 minutes away. It’s safe to say I saw her nearly every single day.
We’ve also been through some tough stuff together. We’ve cried together and held each other tight. We’ve prayed together and for one another and shared some of the most private pieces of our hearts. We’ve challenged one another and rejoiced over one another as we’ve witnessed spiritual growth and healing. I love her entire family because my love for her has just overflowed to them. Yup. Bestie.
And then she had to move away.
The move was a total answer to prayer in her and her family’s life. For that I rejoiced.
Selfishly, I totally didn’t want her to go.
And then I got to discover a beautiful truth –
a move does not a friendship break.
Through phone calls, Skype, and Facebook, we continued our studies together. We also see one another as frequently as possible (not going more than a few months).
Needless to say, she makes these studies sweet for me.
So when it was time to pick another book, I asked her to read this one with me. And since I’m the nerdy-study-girl and she goes along with me, we bought the accompanying Prayer and Study Guide.
It took us over a YEAR to work through this book.
Now, in this year, she moved, I went back to work full time for several months, and many other life obstacles were thrown in our way.
How amazing that during a year of so many “new” things and “different” things and “hectic” things, God in His Sovereignty had us slowly work through a book that is all about trusting Him with every single piece of our lives in Prayer.
I have to stress getting the study guide. Will it drag the study out? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
For each chapter in the book, the study guide has you go through a series of 10 questions (20 for the intro plus chapter one). You also look up a lot of scripture and “underline” it. It was often in the study guide that I had some of my sweetest prayer time.
There were points we both felt the questions became very repetitive. With 30 chapters (plus the introduction), you’re talking 310 questions. For the really short chapters I was thankful for the study guide. It forced me to not just “skip over” the subject. However, it does make the study feel extremely long.
So, perseverance is a must. If you can do a chapter a week, you’re looking at 30 to 31 weeks to complete the study. That’s over six months.
Don’t let it scare you. Walking slowly through this book with a trusted sister in Christ was a blessing I just can’t describe.
As a result, I am praying more. I don’t feel “awkward” praying for myself. I find it easier to identify my needs in prayer, and ask others for prayer. I find myself praying the words of scripture more now too for myself and over others.
I love the prayers Omaritian includes at the end of each Chapter. And yes, I took time when I could be completely alone, to read these prayers outloud. I found more often than not, they were prompts that really opened me up to dig deeper into my personal relationship with God and my personal needs. This isn’t just a book to read, it’s a book to apply, and that application makes such a huge and immediate difference.
Now, I do have one beef with the book (and yes, my dear bestie gracefully sat back during my mini rant). In Chapter 3 Omaritian writes “Sometimes we don’t forgive ourselves for the things we’ve done, and so we give ourselves a lifetime of punishment for whatever we did or did not do.”
I am a firm believer we do not forgive ourselves.
If we could, we would have no need for a Savior.
The real issue is not that “I haven’t forgiven myself” –
the real issue is that I have a lack of faith
to trust God’s forgiveness over me through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Ok. Rant over. (And seriously, I have this rant every time I read anything about forgiving self in any Christian literature because I believe it is a worldly concept that has permeated Christian thinking…ok..no really… rant over… for now…)
The bottom line: If you have this book on your “to-read” list, then go ahead and read it. With the study guide. With a friend.
And discipline yourself to carving out the time to really pray through it, and give glory to God as you watch Him respond to your prayers. Because that is the joy of this book, it’s not just a book, it’s a journey of prayer with the God of the Universe.