E: I have a lot of questions about your time in Mexico, but I think first I would be curious to know more about your relationship with prayer growing up. What church you grew up in ... just like how you kind of viewed it pre-Mexico.
M: I grew up in the church my whole life. I honestly don’t know if I was ever taught a lot about prayer. I just saw my family practice it - simple things like praying over dinner. For me, as long as I could remember, it was kind of like a conversation with God.
I think I was actually better about it when I was in middle school and high school … I think it was because I was less busy and there were less distractions in my life. I remember every night before I went to sleep, I just talked to God, like it was a conversation for me. And then I got really distracted from that when I got into college, adulthood. It become more of something that I felt like I needed to set aside time for, whereas in high school it was constantly a mental conversation type thing. I do feel like it was more selfish when I was younger. Like, “God, this is what’s wrong with my life, this is what’s wrong with my life, this is what’s wrong with my life.” I am trying to pray for more thankfulness and for others more.
E: So when you said that you were setting aside time for prayer, what kind of caused that? Was it just being busier?
M: I think it was just getting distracted - not letting God be the priority in my life, feeling like I had to schedule him in. Yeah, just getting distracted - whether it be by friends, relationships, college, sleeping.
E: I think it’s interesting that you say that. Because, I don’t know, in college ... I’m not making this about me, but I wasn’t really involved in the church while we were at AU (Anderson University), really until I met Jeffrey. So really prayer wasn’t a presence in my life at all in college, and I think it’s interesting that you say it became more of something you felt like you had to schedule and you were busier with distractions. Because we were in such an environment at Anderson where you think prayer would be a really central part of it.
M: I think for me it was just a lack of structure. In high school everything is so scheduled and it’s pretty similar every day. I don’t have a ton of self-control in an environment where you have to set your own schedule, so it just wasn’t as much of a priority for me. It was just a part of my day rather than the center of my being.
I will say that once I graduated and started commuting, I found driving to be a powerful prayer time. Sometimes I would just leave music off or whatever, so I can just pray and talk to God. Other times I would listen to podcasts or worship music. It was more structured because I had to be in my car. (laughs) I actually really miss that time.
E: So how do you feel that your perspective or relationship with prayer has changed since doing the DTS training?
M: I think the biggest thing is that I definitely didn’t understand the power of prayer before going to Mexico. I learned a ton about intercession in prayer, which literally means you are intervening/interceding on behalf of a person or country or situation. Believing your prayer will have an effect on that, spiritual warfare … that was a huge thing that I learned.
A big example was when I was in Argentina (side note: Morgan spent the last two months of her DTS serving in various cities in Argentina) the huge hurricane was going to hit Mexico. Everyone at YWAM in Mazatlan was talking about it. It was popping up all over my Facebook feed from family. We took a time as a group in Argentina and just prayed out loud for Mexico. We just believed that our prayer made a difference whether or not a hurricane would hit.
I actually learned a really interesting thing about that, because before I was like, “Why do we have to pray for things that God knows is going to happen? Shouldn’t God want to save Mexico, you know?” But we had this spiritual warfare teacher talk to us about this. There’s this idea that because our prayer is spiritual warfare, it’s blocked by the enemy.
So people pray for years to get saved from something, and what’s the point of that? Doesn’t God get it? But there’s this part in Daniel where … this will sound crazy, but it’s in there. It’s so cool … Daniel is praying and an angel comes to him. The angel was like “I heard your prayer the minute you started praying, but I was held up by the Prince of Persia (a name for Satan in the Bible).” She described our prayers as like a bridge for God to intervene. It’s very clear in Genesis that God gave the Earth to man, and man gave it to the enemy to intervene. Because of that, you do have to pray for intervention.
E: When we talked before, you talked a lot about listening to the voice of God and how it influenced the power of prayer for you. Can you talk more about that?
M: Prayer was a necessity. Anything that came up, you prayed for it. The way they pick your outreach - where you do your missions - in YWAM is that two or three leaders would pray about where you were supposed to go. They would pray for a word or image and then meet up to see what the other leaders received during their reflection. This was a big aspect of prayer learnings in DTS and you were encouraged to put it into practice all the time.
One of our leaders went to a beach and said like “Okay God, I want to know what colors are in the flag of where this team is supposed to go.” She looked up and saw this big blue paint mark on a palm tree. One of the other assistant leaders had an image of the flag and drew it on a dry erase board. All three of our leaders hadn’t talked but they all received Argentina. And then when they met up with us, they told us to pray about it. And one of my really close friends at the base had a strong feeling we were going to Argentina.
We would do that all the time. Before we went on our missions trip, we were broken up into groups and asked to pray about what we would be doing with our time there. We all had similar visions about flowers - giving women bouquets and speaking life into them. The first town we went to every street had the name of a flower and the area was called el jardin, which is "the garden" in Spanish. So like weird things like that kept happening and I was like “This is crazy!” (laughs)
E: This idea was what I found especially interesting when we talked earlier about your DTS training. I think a lot of people who are coming back to faith expect almost to have this crazy moment or insane voice. They think like “I’m not going to become a Christian unless I have this magical, life altering thing happen to me.” You know? Like an in-your-ear kind of situation. So I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with when it comes to prayer because it sometimes doesn’t feel reciprocated. I’m just curious what you would recommend to someone who is hungry for that.
M: Totally. That is still an area I get frustrated with. I also found a ton of understanding in the past five months. Before my DTS, I would pray all the time about hearing the voice of God and recognizing it. In the first week, we had a teaching about it. Our leader asked us to pray for the person to our right and just ask to receive a word for them. Whatever comes to your head, just share it with them. I was like, “I don’t know how to do this, what the heck.” So I just prayed for the girl next to me and the words “joy of my heart” came to my mind. I figured I made it up, but when I shared it with her she told me that that phrase has really marked her life. Her dad used to say it to her growing up, and I could really see how joy marked her life throughout our training.
I realized in that moment and whenever I prayed for words for people, I was waiting to hear some audible voice. But God created us and we all have this moral compass from Him. God is so much a part of us that I believe we’ve confused his voice with our own. I think he is speaking to us constantly and we just think it’s our own voice. We learn about that a lot in YWAM - distinguishing God’s voice from your voice and the enemy’s voice. I think a lot of what we hear is God’s voice - it’s just having the ability to go without shame and be like “hey, I think God told me this.”
E: In the past week or so since you mentioned this idea, I’ve been trying to think like “Is that God?” when reflecting on things I’m worrying about or whatever. I’m curious if you could speak more to distinguishing those voices. Because like I’ll think of something and be like “That was the voice of God! But also this particular thing is so selfish!” (laughs)
M: Yeah it’s easy for us to do that. Our teachers would use the example of a filter a lot and keeping it clean. I’m so bad about this because I love TV shows and catching up on social media and pop culture. Not that that is bad, but look at what you’re filling most of your time with because that is what you’ll recognize. If you’re spending your time knowing God’s word and meditating, you’ll be more likely to recognize the word of God rather than if you fill your time with like celebrity gossip or something.
E: Before we wrap up, I know you mentioned one or two examples of like … I don’t know how to word this, because I don’t want to say how you “proved” prayer because that sounds so skeptical, but maybe like saw evidence of it.
M: Yeah, I have a cool example of how we saw healing through prayer. I was going door to door with two other people in my group and a young girl answered the door. She was like, “I can’t really talk right now because my mom is sick.” So obviously we really wanted to go pray with her. The girl went to ask her because she said she usually is really against this kind of stuff and to expect her to say no. But she said to come on in.
So we went in and it was the cutest, sweetest, little old woman. She was sitting down, couldn’t hardly move or talk. We had to like pray-yell at her. Through a slow, loud conversation she ended up accepting Jesus and we were all crying and asking for healing over her body. It was so moving.
Two weeks later, we were leaving that city and wanted to go say goodbye to her. So we walked to her house and she was outside, by herself, just walking around and smiling. She couldn’t move when we saw her. We weren’t even sure if she would remember us, but her face lit up and she told us how she felt content immediately after we had left. She was able to walk around and move - it was like a night and day difference. Even in an old woman, God cares to heal.
If you’re interested in getting together to discuss your perspectives on prayer, please email me! Please stay tuned for my next interview, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
XOXO - Eva Christine