The Power of Prayer
- Jill Bartlett Crosswalk.com Family Living Editor
- 2001 2 Oct
Jill: The response to The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent has been phenomenal. What is it about the power of prayer when it is unleashed when you are praying for your family?
Stormie: Well, prayer has to come from the right heart, because when you're praying for someone else, you can't be praying manipulative prayers or angry prayers or prayers with unforgiveness in your heart. I used to always pray the "Change him Lord" prayer for my husband, and I never received an answer whatsoever from God. I just got to the end of my rope and said, "God, I can't live with this strange person anymore. I feel like I'm dying in the marriage." I just wanted to take my kids and leave at that point. But God said, "If you're willing to lay down your life and pray for your husband, if you're ready to surrender and stay there and learn to be an intercessor for your husband, I'll make you an instrument of deliverance for him as well."
It was hard to do. It wasn't easy because you have to pray with the right heart. I just found that every time I'd start a prayer and I'd feel irritation, unforgiveness, or hurt, I had to confess that to the Lord as sin and just say, "God, I confess my attitude. Lord, create in me a clean heart, help me to see this man from your perspective." And that's what God did -- He really helped me to see my Michael as a child of God and not just as my husband. I saw him as precious and beloved of the Lord. As I began to pray for him that way, I began to see immediate answers to my prayers. It was really powerful. So God wants to answer our prayers -- He wants to move, He wants us to ask, but we need to ask from the right heart. We need to have a clean heart before Him and ask according to His will, and He will be right there.
In the process of doing it myself, I realized it would work for other people - I think that's why the books have been so successful. It is so delightful for me to find out that women keep coming to me saying, "My husband and I were separated, but I started praying these prayers for him and I'm doing what it says in the book and we're back together and our marriage has been restored." And I say, "That is fantastic!"
I know that first chapter about asking God to change your heart is really tough. You know, one woman said to me, "That chapter made me so mad -- I'm not doing that." But I find those people always go back, pick the book up again and do what it says, and it always works.
Jill: I have to tell you the funniest story about that. I had the book The Power of a Praying Wife before I got married, and I prayed the different chapters for my fiancé, but I didn't read the first chapter called "His Wife" because I wasn't a wife yet. Two weeks after I got married, I read that chapter, and I realized that I had missed the whole point of this - asking God to change me first!
Stormie: That's so funny! So many women say that chapter made them so mad, but it really works. You have to have the right heart.
Jill: What's the most powerful thing your husband's ever prayed for you and how did it affect your life?
Stormie: It happened January 8th of this year when my appendix exploded at 3 a.m. I had been sick since last summer -- in and out of emergency hospitals. I'd get these attacks of excruciating pain, where I was just doubled over with nausea and vomiting and fever, and I knew it was serious. I'd go to the emergency hospital and they could never find anything wrong with me. They'd do all these tests and I'd be there forever, but they couldn't find anything, so I'd think, "What was that? Maybe it's all over now." But then I'd go back to the hospital again.
I was in a lot of pain on a Sunday night, so I thought, "Well, I'll go in to the specialist on Monday morning. It's late, I'm not going to go to the hospital and have them do all these tests again if there's nothing wrong. So I'm going to wait and go to the doctor in the morning."
But at 3 a.m., my body just exploded on the inside -- it felt like dynamite had exploded. It was so horrible! I was doubled over and I tried to call my husband in from another room with our intercom system. I couldn't reach the button, though - I was in too much pain. I thought the pain would eventually pass, but it didn't pass. It just kept getting worse and worse, so I finally just fell over onto the button and called him. So he came running downstairs and said, "I don't know what to do! You've got to tell me what to do." I said, "You can't do anything. You've just got to get me in the car - I don't have time to change or anything." So I just had to go in my pajamas, and my daughter and my housekeeper helped me in the car.
At the hospital, they still couldn't figure out what was wrong. They did a lot of tests, including a CAT scan. They still couldn't figure anything out. My husband and I were saying, "Lord, reveal this to somebody!" I knew I was dying -- I knew that I couldn't hold on much longer. I could feel all of my strength going out of my body. All I could pray at that point was, "Help me Jesus, help me Jesus. Show somebody what's wrong."
My husband prayed for me right at that point, and there was no one else praying at that time. His prayers for me really saved my life - literally -- because he prayed for me to live and that someone would find what it was and do something to help me, and that's what finally happened. The specialist called the surgeon and said, "You've got to see her, you've got to come in -- something must be done." And the surgeon came in and said, "I think your appendix has exploded. Now, we don't have time to do any more tests; we don't have time to do anything. We've got to rush you into surgery right now."
So they did it immediately. Because I had already been hooked up to an IV, etc., they just rushed me in. The surgeon said I was an hour away from death because the poison had spread so far. And I know this is gross, but they to cut me so long and leave it open so that it could drain. They couldn't sew me back up, so it was horrible. They left it open with all these tubes running in and out and then at the end of every day, they'd close it up. The next morning, they'd open it up again and drain anything out and put all that stuff back in and close it back. That went on for three months! The worst part is that they sent me home, but my gallbladder had to be removed through the same place just a few weeks later after they took out my appendix.
The prayers of my husband carried me. At about 2 in the morning, the third day after surgery, I woke up in the hospital. It was the first time I had a moment when I wasn't in such excruciating pain that I could hardly breathe. I had a moment where I had enough morphine in me that I could think. I said, "God, what just happened? God, what is this?" And God spoke to my heart and said that it was a curse but that it had not prospered. Michael came to the hospital the next morning and said, "I woke up at 2 in the morning and the Lord spoke to my heart that a weapon had been formed against you that didn't prosper."
After I was out of surgery, Michael called other people to pray because I was still "touch and go" after the operation. The doctor said I could still die because of the poison. He also said that if the poison wasn't pumped out, or with the wound left open I could still get gangrene. So my husband called everybody we knew, all over the country. I could just feel the prayers -- you know how you feel it when people are praying for you? His prayers were instrumental in saving my life.
Jill: Do you feel that that attack was occult-related?
Stormie: You know, I thought about that -- I really did. I have no way of knowing, but I honestly did feel like a curse had been placed upon me. I have no way of knowing if that is true or not, but it wouldn't surprise me because of the high profile and success of the books. I'm sure it was making the enemy mad, and I wouldn't put it past a cultist to attack people who are Christians who are doing the Lord's work. It definitely occurred to me.
Jill: Do you believe in spiritual warfare?
Stormie: Absolutely, I sure do. I knew it was an attack because even before surgery I was praying and saying "God is this the time? Is this the time for me to go home and be with You? Am I dying?" But I felt the Lord saying, "It's not the time." I thought, "Oh, my work's not done here yet. You know I have a teenage daughter at home. I know it's not time." I really believe this was an attack -- it's odd that I would have an appendicitis problem and a gallbladder problem, because it doesn't run in my family, and the fact that no one, out of all those doctors, could find it. And these were doctors in great hospitals. So I do believe the enemy hid my diagnosis from the doctors.
Jill: In marriage, why is it so important to pray for your spouse, not just with them?
Stormie: Because I think we have so many expectations of our spouse, and they have expectations of us, too. What prayer does when you pray for someone else is it helps that person be able to hear God better and it changes your heart. So you are helping your wife hear God better and your husband's heart is being changed. It's the same thing with the wife -- when she prays for her husband, she's helping him hear God better and it's changing her heart at the same time. It helps you to put your hope and expectations in God and not on each other all the time. It helps you to see each other from God's perspective and not just your own. That's why it's so important to pray for the other person. I honestly think it will heal so many marriages. I know some of the wives are praying, and if the husbands would pray, too, I honestly don't see how your marriage wouldn't survive. God is so willing to answer those prayers, and I said in my book that any wife would be so appreciative if her husband would pray those prayers for her. It would really take a lot of strife out of the marriage. It can really dissipate all of those places of deadness unforgiveness.
Jill: Why is it so important for men to understand how much their wives need their prayers?
Stormie: I don't think men understand the power of their prayers. In talking to men, I was really surprised to find that they feel intimidated by praying for their wife. They said they felt that they had to be a spiritual giant and were fearful that their wives were going to judge them, thinking they weren't doing a good job. I think that's terrible that they feel that kind of pressure -- that they feel inadequate. Because they're not inadequate; God's given them an authority that's unequaled. I don't think they realize the power that they have in their prayers. They don't realize how women need and desperately want that prayer covering. It surprised me when I took a survey of women before I wrote the book when I asked them how they wanted their husbands to pray for them. It was exciting -- it was unanimous everywhere -- they wanted to be in right order, they wanted to have a submissive heart, they wanted to be able to trust their husbands, they wanted to be able to trust God working in him. So I encourage you men to pray for your wife to have a submissive heart and to be in the right order, and also to pray for yourself to be in right order under God and be submissive to God. Women, if you pray that prayer -- just those two simple lines -- you can have that order established in your home, and it's a powerful thing.
Jill: What's your advice for husbands who have read this book, and genuinely desire to pray for their wives, but don't know where to start? What should they do?
Stormie: A lot of guys have asked me that. They said, "Oh do I HAVE to pray?" I said, " Even if you don't want to read it, have her read it to you. A three-page chapter is simple. She can read that to you and you can just take the book and pray that prayer. It's a very simple - it's just a few lines. Just read that prayer over and over and that's all you have to do. If you don't want to say it out loud, just read that prayer to yourself quietly. It has power -- the fact that you are praying that over her will really bless her, but if that's too intimidating then don't really worry about it. Just pray the prayer and you'll see transfomation happening in her life, in your marriage and in your life too, so just taking these small steps make a powerful difference."
Jill: The first chapter of the book is called "Her Husband." Tell us why it's important for husbands to pray for themselves and for their role as a husband before they begin praying for their wife.
Stormie: Well, forgiveness or any bitterness and hardness of heart needs to be brought to the Lord and confessed before Him in order to give you a heart that wants to honor your wife like Christ loved the church. That's what Jesus wants us to do, you know. God wants for you to ask God to create a clean heart so that your prayers will not be hindered. That's why it's so important to pray for yourself. If you pray that God would help you and your wife be in unity, He will do that. It's amazing to see where couples are sometimes miles apart on so many issues, but then they pray to be in unity - and God helps them find common ground. It's a powerful prayer. It's amazing how God will answer those simple prayers when you pray with the right heart.
Jill: How did praying for your children change how you related to your family?
Stormie: Well, I was raised by a mentally ill mother, so I had a lot of abuse in my background and I didn't have a good parenting role model, and it became evident when I had a baby and came home from the hospital. I didn't have a clue, and I realized that I was really dependent on the Lord. I realized that I had a tendency to be abusive, I would feel that well up in me when my child was just an infant. I couldn't make it stop cyring, and I would feel like throwing it across the room. I thought, "Oh my gosh, I am in no way ready to raise a kid." So I was just going to the Lord saying, "Lord you've got to show me how to raise this child. I don't have a clue." God just took me step by step, and showed me how to start prayer groups just to pray for our children. I was so desperate, and I found that other people were feeling the same way, so I started prayer groups where we just got together just to pray for our kids. That became the basis for my book and I know I couldn't have raised these kids without the power of prayer -- without God helping me. It's partnering with God to raise them through prayer.
My kids are almost all grown up (at least they're supposed to be acting like they're grown up!) -- they're in their teens and 20s. Two of them graduated from college and they come home and chase each other around the house like they used to do when they were 10, but they're in their 20s. One just got married a couple of weeks ago. But they're all solid in the Lord, and I'm pleased by the choices made so far. That's why I was so thrilled to see the success of the book, The Power of a Praying Parent, because I just know what good prayer will do. I just wish that would be in every home -- that every parent would see that they can intercede for their kids.
Read Part 1 of our interview with Stormie.
Read an excerpt from Stormie's new book, The Power of a Praying Husband.
Don't miss our chat event with Stormie, at 9pm EDT, on Thursday, September 27, 2001!