Praying with Women of the Bible for National Day of Prayer
- 2004 30 Apr
Welcome to “The Cross & the Pen,” Crosswalk.com’s author-to-author interview column. Having good friends is wonderful. Having friends who know about and then write about the subject of prayer—one of my personal favorites—is even better! Nancy Kennedy is a friend like that. She’s zany when we’re just shooting the breeze (and she likes shopping) but when it comes to talking about prayer, well, that’s when she gets very serious. Recently, we got together and talked about her newest book, Praying With Women of the Bible (Zondervan). Wanna listen in?
Eva: Nancy, The National Day of Prayer is coming up – May 6, to be exact. We are encouraged to pray for the government, media, education, church and family. What special need do you feel called to pray for or about?
Nancy: My heart is for women who are weary in their marriages and in general, trying hard to be all things to everyone around them. My prayer is that they would grasp the limitless grace of God – or more accurately, to allow themselves to know they already are grasped by His grace. God calls us first to rest in Him and then to work, but we often get it backwards! We work, in our marriages and families, trying to take care of everyone’s needs until we’re too busy and too tired to rest. And that’s when we forget about grace and think God’s not pleased with us, which makes us work harder, which makes us even wearier. Are you tired yet?
Eva: You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head, Nancy. Okay, your book encourages us to pray “with” women of the Bible. You’ve chosen 10 women. How did you come about picking these 10?
Nancy: I chose those who had a quality I admired. Deborah was “just a woman,” yet she was willing to let God use her to lead a nation into battle. Esther showed courage – “If I perish, I perish.” Then there were the women whose names aren’t even known, but whom God chose as worthy enough to be included in His Word: the woman whose faith drove her to say, “If I just touch His garment, I know I’ll be healed,” as well as the one who cried out for mercy for her daughter. I think one of my favorites is Salome, the mother of the “sons of thunder.” She may have prayed amiss, but she asked Jesus with great boldness to let her sons have a place of honor in His kingdom. That’s cool to be so trusting. Salome reminds us that God says we can come boldly into His presence. We’re His kids, after all.
Eva: Yes we are. I was just teaching that very topic last night in a Bible study. Our friend, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, has written a book about the power of Christ’s blood and that because of it we can boldly approach our Heavenly Father. What a real shame, Nancy, that so many of us don’t recognize that gift He has given to us! Here’s another issue, Nancy. So many of us don’t know about listening…. How can an ordinary person, like Deborah or Salome, listen for God’s responses to our prayers?
Nancy: It’s hard to listen! You have to be still, and that doesn’t come easily, at least not for me. I think, too, that the more we’re convinced that the Father is good and kind and accepts those who are in Christ with the same devoted passion He has for His Son, then listening becomes easier. We trust those whom we know love us deeply. So, the key to listening is letting ourselves be loved.
Eva: Why do you think that listening is that just as important as speaking to God?
Nancy: I have two daughters. If they just called home to say, “Hi Mom. Please send trash bags and socks and quarters and cash – oh, yeah, I love you and I’ll call you again next week. Bye.” I would feel gypped out of the chance to tell them how proud I am of them and that I pray for them and hope their day goes well. With God, if I just leave him my list on an answering machine, then I miss out on hearing Him say what He wants to say to me. And I’m guilty of that! It goes back to believing and trusting that God’s not out to scold or shame me – there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Eva: What a great analogy! Nancy, I love it when you said in the book that praying doesn’t come easy to you. But you also say you were “surprised by prayer.” Talk about that.
Nancy: I am by nature a skeptic. My favorite expression is, “That’ll happen when pigs fly.” That said, years ago as a new Christian I was attempting to teach my then-toddler daughter about prayer. Actually, I was trying to teach her about “giving money to Jesus.” One morning during the mad getting-ready-for-preschool morning rush, I discovered Alison’s shoe was missing. So we prayed about it, although I didn’t believe God would stop running the universe just to find a little girl’s shoe. But I was wrong. Immediately after we said “Amen” Alison ran into my room and pulled her shoe out from under my bed—with a dollar bill tucked inside it. She squealed, “Jesus found my shoe and Jesus gave me money just like I gave Him!”
That still causes me to scratch my head. What kind of God does that? Only ours, who delights in proving skeptics wrong.
Eva: Amen, my friend! Amen. Taking all that, how can we encourage others to make prayer a bigger part of their lives?
Nancy: You can preach and teach and screech, but unless the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, unless we’re convinced that the Father listens and that Jesus is interceding for us and the Spirit enables, unless we realize that prayer is a life line, then it will be no more than a discipline. Not that spiritual disciplines are bad in themselves. But prayer is sacred communion, an intimate encounter. Believing that is what will encourage others to engage in it.
Eva: One last thing, would you offer a two or three sentence prayer for our country?
Nancy: Father, we are broken. Families are broken, I am broken. Marriage itself is on the edge of extinction and in desperate need of Your powerful intervening touch. We are lost without You, Father! Keep our children safe from the enemy of their souls. Bring Your healing to our wayward nation.
Eva: Amen. Thank you, Nancy.
Nancy Kennedy lives in Inverness, Florida, where she is a features writer for her local newspaper, the Citrus County Chronicle. Her weekly column, Grace Notes, can be read through her Web site www.nancykennedybooks.net. She is also the author of such books as “Move Over, Victoria—I Know the Real Secret,” “When He Doesn’t Believe,” “When Perfect Isn’t Enough,” “Prayers God Always Answers” and “Praying With Women of the Bible.”
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com