Moms in Prayer has shaped my spiritual life so completely that it would be difficult to share one story—only one. But if I were to look back over thirteen years of praying with dozens of women as I moved from state to state and my kids grew through school after school, I find a core focus: praying Scripture. Almost every “God story” is built around praying a scripture verse for my children. Indeed, Moms in Prayer has trained me to appropriate God’s Word through prayer. I have proved that the apostle Paul’s words to Timothy are true, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
The most unlikely scripture would be the best proof of the power in praying God’s Word back to Him. For me, that scripture is Joel 2:12 – 13. Once a year, Moms in Prayer calls on its groups to use a common prayer sheet and join on conference calls to pray together across the nation. I printed the prayer sheet for my group so we could pray in one accord with women from Maine to California. But the scripture! Hmm. “’Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.'” My group was a high school group. Teenagers don’t rend their hearts. They don’t put on showy displays of false humility…they don’t display any outward sign of brokenness! I doubted the application of this verse for our children. In fact, I actually prayed in my heart, “Really Lord? Who chose this?” I prayed the verse for my child, but my heart wasn’t in it.
Then… then we prayed for Jackie. Jackie had been in therapy for over a year. Carol, Jackie’s mom, and I placed Jackie’s name in the Joel verse, “Lord, help Jackie return to you with all her heart, with fasting, weeping and with mourning; and teach Jackie to rend her heart, not her garments! Help her return to you, her God, for you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Relent over any disaster in Jackie’s life.” Even in my weak, doubting mind, God spoke. Suddenly, as clear as day, God showed me a picture! Jackie self-mutilated; she was a cutter. No amount of therapy was able to break the hurt that caused Jackie to rip at her flesh, week after week. Rip at her flesh? God showed me that Jackie’s cutting was the literal action of “rending her outer garment” or covering—her skin. God didn’t want that! He wanted Jackie to open her heart to HIM. He did not want her to rip her skin apart. He was abounding in steadfast love for Jackie. He wanted her heart. The words tumbled out. I wondered if Carol would understand what I was praying. Of course she did. The Spirit guided our hearts and opened our mouths and ears. We prayed in one accord. Up until that time, I did not know that Jackie’s cutting was such a deep problem. I knew a little. But not enough to explain how I applied that verse to Jackie’s hurt! God was good to show us. When Carol and I finished, we definitely knew, God was gracious and merciful. He did not want Jackie to suffer as she did.
The way God worked in our hearts—mine and Carol’s, was enough. We were convinced of God’s great love and concern for Jackie and that the key to Jackie’s healing was her walk with the Lord. When Jackie turned to the Lord, she would find healing. Even so, we were not prepared for the work God would do almost immediately in Jackie’s heart!
The next morning, Carol called. This was strange. We usually didn’t communicate by phone. Stranger yet was the tone in Carol’s voice! She had to call me. She had to share. Jackie had met with her therapist several hours after we prayed together. As Carol drove Jackie home after her therapy session she shared, “Mom, I’m not cutting anymore. I realized tonight that when I cut, I am letting Satan put his marks on me. I’m not going to do that anymore.” And she didn’t. She still doesn’t! Jackie’s words were a miracle and Carol had to share. She couldn’t believe that God worked so quickly after this prayer. After this scripture prayer. The scripture I found difficult and inapplicable! God is merciful. He is gracious. He pulled Jackie from disaster!
In our weakness, God is strong. That is what scripture prayer is all about to me. I weakly expect a little progress, a foggy answer, an inkling of God’s will. Scripture isn’t like that. It is God’s exact will. It is clearly what God wants for his children—that’s me and his child’s children, my own beloved kids! Scripture is the road map for how to pray for them. It has taught me to pray bold prayers because he is a bold God and his Word promises bold things! I can pray no less.
Marta Gemelli is the Moms in Prayer Regional Director for the Great Lakes Region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. She lives in Plainfield, Illinois, and has been married to Mike since 1993. Marta and Mike enjoy three grown up kids whenever they get the chance. God is good and she fills the time once spent on her own kids with her sisters and their kids! Marta also loves to pray, walk, read and work in her garden.