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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Prayer (and the blinding beauty of an empty tomb)

jenmichel@me.com

Monday, I had an email from a friend describing a real spiritual battle of wills. She and her husband have poured their lifeblood into a particular ministry, and evil, with its heavy boots of death, threatened to crush the fragility of good that God and His people were building. “In the ten years that we’ve been here, I’ve never reached out with an email like this.” Things seemed to be unraveling. Fast. I cried as I read. And I immediately prayed - like I may not have prayed in years, engaging in my own invisible coup de résistance. I tapped exactly the words God gave in an email back to my friend. “Love is stronger than death. That’s why there is an empty tomb.”

As soon as the kids were down for breakfast and gathered around the table for prayer and Bible reading, I told them about the email, describing how some “bad” people (insert: people disposing of dirty needles in a public place where children play) were asserting their presence. We needed to pray: that they would go away and that God’s people would be armed.

We reviewed the spiritual armor: shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, etc.

“And now,” I asked. “You picture ____________ and _________________ and you ask God to dress them in these pieces of armor. And you pray that God would surround this space and defend it.”

Children have the simplest and strongest faith.

“God, give them your armor.”

“God, make the bad people go away.”

“God, bring ten hundred million police.” (This was one of the twins.)

We have been praying around our table at every gathered meal since the email.

And God did all of these things in the matter of three short days. He united His people around the purposes of good: police, community members, even the bad people themselves.

As a result, people proclaimed the name of Jesus over this space where good has been seeded: “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, Satan will have to flee! Tell me who can stand before us when we call on His great name? Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, we have the victory!” Community members flung their songs to the stars and its Maker, and I believe my friend and her family have a renewed vision that this is God’s work to advance and defend.

Hope grows.

Why is our God so gracious and merciful to hear and answer our prayers? I won’t understand that lavish generosity – but I want to participate it in more.

This one reason why I’m going to be here less often on finding my pulse.

I sense the call to talk less and pray more.

It is true that prayer doesn’t depend on our fancy eloquence. Sometimes the best prayers are the shortest: Help!

It is also true that praying is hard work requiring time and attention.

In this season in our lives  - of general health and well-being – we, as a family, are enjoying fullness. But this is not meant only for us. I told the kids three days ago, “If God has blessed us, we are meant to bless others. If for this season, we don’t face suffering or challenge, we can step into a call to pray for those who are.”

I hope to be more faithful to that. I hope you will be, too.

Maybe one less blog post competing for your attention can nudge you to your own work of calling: to pray, to shoulder work, to love, and to worship.

That’s my intent at least. And while there may be more reasons than this (laundry and book writing as examples), there is primarily this: that in order to speak, I most listen. In order to write, I must hear.

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my heart to hear as those who are taught.

The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious. I turned not backward.

Isaiah 50:4, 5

Blessings for you, dear readers.

May the light of hope guide you in your dark valleys.

May the wind of grace catch your sails.

May you live today – and every day – in the blinding beauty of an empty tomb.