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I was playing basketball at Vanguard University my Junior Year and it was the most demanding season of my life. From double days, to 6am practice, to film, to ice buckets, basically my body was breaking. Not to mention school, toxic friendships and relationships, and the internal dialogue that I was trying to manage. In addition to all of that, I had been severely lactose intolerant since my senior year of high school, and it ruled my life. If I forgot to take specific medication for it I would sometimes be out for an entire day, feeling ill and I thought this was something I would have to live with forever. Instead of asking God to walk me through this season, I was trying to hold everything together – all without seeking counsel, reading Scripture, and definitely NOT praying about the things going on in my life. Deep down, I believed that God had bigger things to worry about than my broken body, my lactose issues, or my inability to get it right outside of basketball. So I kept striving, kept trying to put up this picture of perfection when in reality I was falling apart.
Anyone else felt that way recently?
I have come to believe that it’s truly choosing to live a double life when we don’t let our community into our struggle.
Remember this: the enemy loves to hide in the dark places. The enemy does not want you to know the God who loves you deeply. He does not want you to have community, deep friendships, or wise counsel. And he definitely, does not want you to pray.
One evening, my friend took me to a worship night at Vanguard and it was a stunning outdoor venue – lit with candles and string lights overhead. In the middle of the event was a small stage with a worship band playing. There were four stations around the stage, each representing the way God cares for us and wants us to grow in relationship with Him. We started making our rounds while the worship was softly playing in the background. I have to admit, I was going through the motions. I wanted to believe that these things were true, that He planted the seed in the garden, just like I was doing at the event. That He loves me in the same way I was watering the small sprouted leaves at the next station, again representing the small growth. The last station was seeing the flowers in full bloom and understanding that if we continued to pursue a relationship with God that we too would bloom in His goodness.
My friend and I were sitting at the third station, where there were a few green leaves sprouting up from the dirt, when one of the worship leaders got on the mic and said:
“We are praying for people as they come up to the stage, but I would love to pray for anyone who has issues with food, specifically anyone with a lactose intolerance.”
My friend looked at me with wide eyes, I shrugged my shoulders and said,
“She is not talking about me, my lactose issue is not that bad, this is so not a big deal.”
I think my friend wanted to shake me at that moment because God was clearly pursuing me and I was stubborn enough at the time to leave the event without prayer.
She calmed me by telling me that she wanted to go up for prayer and that I should go with her.
So I did, thinking all the while I am not getting prayer right now. NOPE.
I don’t even remember what was said, all I remember was walking up to the small stage watching the kind eyes of the worship leader, her walking up to me placing her hands on my shoulders, my friend by my side grabbing my arm, praying for me. Praying for healing in my body. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on what she was saying. But my thoughts kept drifting to the same lie:
This is silly, God doesn’t have time for this, I am not important.
Suddenly, the girl praying over me, opened her eyes and shook me a little with her hands. I looked up at her and she said firmly:
Cue the tears. Both her and my friend resumed praying over me while I silently cried and prayed to God for the first time in a while. God I know I haven’t been great, I’ve messed up, I’ve fallen short, I don’t look to you when I should, thank you for seeing me. It was a powerful moment and since then I haven’t had anything close to the problems I used to have with dairy in any form.
That was the beginning of many nights of prayer, of many journal pages filled with requests, repentance, and tears. That night opened up a line of communication I wasn’t ever really using before. It was through prayer that I was able to see God work, truly, for the first time. That was no small request and God outdid us in His response — the healing that happened in my body and in my soul.
But, that being said, I don’t want you to walk away from reading this thinking that because women prayed over me, and I began to engage in prayer, I was instantly healed. That can happen, but usually that is not how prayer really works.
However, in Matthew 18:20 Scripture reads, “for where two or three gather in my name, there I [Jesus} am with them.”
And in 1 John 5:14, “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
And again in Psalm 145:18 Scripture reads, “the Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”
And even when we do not know what to pray, in Romans 8:26, it reads “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
I began to learn through prayer that God gives us the opportunity to trust in His timing and we begin to strengthen our faith as we watch Him do the heavy lifting. The time I set aside to pray is precious because every time I do, the relationship I’m building with Him grows stronger, and my heart, my desires, my life, have changed drastically because of it.
When quarantine hit, I hit a different kind of low in my faith. So I took that time to pray and build my community. I remember fond moments of walking through Scripture with a dear friend, and praying to God about the future life we both wanted to see. This was the first time I consistently prayed big, bold, prayers. I prayed to move out, I prayed for a future husband, and to grow the podcast I now host, “The Grace Room Podcast”.
It took a year, and so much prayer, but God has opened so many doors to the things I prayed for. In so many ways, God outdid me when it came down to my requests. I almost laugh now at what I prayed for then because of how much better He answered me. Not even in my wildest dreams did I think I would be where I am at today. Some of the things I prayed for, I am still praying for today, but I am confident. I know God is working because I have been building. I have built the monuments every time He has come through. For me, that’s writing down the answered prayer, commemorating it somewhere so I don’t forget His provision. Everyday I build the monuments, remember God’s goodness, and engage in prayer.
When I read Scripture, I see God’s goodness through His grace. The woman who was bleeding for over ten years (Mark 5:25-34), the woman at the well who was not faithful (John 4), and the adulterous woman who almost gets stoned to death (John 8:1-11) are all examples of God’s redeeming grace. All of these women, according to the Pharisees and society as a whole, were unclean, unworthy, and the farthest from God. The beautiful thing is, although they feel unseen, and unheard, God meets them, loves them, and redeems them. The woman who was bleeding, reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak and because she had faith in His power to heal her, she was healed of her condition. Jesus stops all He is doing to acknowledge her presence and her faith. Jesus again stops for the woman at the well and shows her that He knows who she is and all she has done, and still wants to show her that He sees her for who she is and still cares for her life. The woman who is almost stoned to death because of her sin, is spared all because Jesus forgives her. He sets her free from her sin by sending the men away who were persecuting her and asks her “Did no one condemn you,” finishing with “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).
Just like these women, I need grace, I need forgiveness, I need provision, I need a stronger faith in the God who loves me and sees me, and so I pray.
I pray to receive those things because without the prayer – I am lost to the ways of the world. I forget about the provision, I forget that God is near, and real, and present. I promise you that when you pray things will change, and so will you.
Maya Kennedy is a podcaster, blogger, speaker and the go-to guide for helping women build a strong relationship with God. As the host for The Grace Room Podcast, Maya speaks with women on a range of topics from how to trust God, to how to lean into God’s presence, to why spending quality time with God is so important. Through her podcast, Instagram, and local outreach in her community, Maya has mentored women in a variety of areas all aimed at growing a stronger relationship with God.
When Maya is not teaching English to high school students, coaching girls basketball, or working on The Grace Room, you can find her writing, reading, or spending time with her girls by the beach in sunny Huntington Beach California.
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