A Prayer Journey Testimony
On that late February, 1984, winter night on Long Island, I lay on my bed crying out to God…immersed in deep sadness and sorrow, intense crying and pain, overwhelming grief and loneliness and broken heartedness. I had only just become the bride of Christ 28 months prior, on October 17, 1981. And now this was the third night of intense emotional agony. I remember thinking that if Hell were like this…and I knew it was ten thousand times worse, infinitely worse…I couldn’t bear it. The emotional pain was entirely debilitating…I don’t know how I got through the work day. I felt hopeless and helpless…crushed and immobilized by a consuming sense of loss. When I got home in the evening, all I could do was collapse on my bed, crying out to the Lord in utter despair. A whole array of verses from Psalms went through my mind as I just poured out my broken heart to Him.
Quite suddenly…out of nowhere…the Lord walked into my room! I didn’t visibly see Him; my room was just as dark as it was before. But I was so filled with His Presence I felt like my physical body could not contain it; I felt like I was going to explode! I remember exclaiming in awe, “Oh Lord…I can’t bear any more! I feel like I am going to burst!” Not that I wanted Him to leave; I was just expressing how I literally felt…that my human body just could not contain any more of Him and live! At that moment, it didn’t matter to me whether I lived or died…I knew to be absent from the body would be to be present with the Lord!
The inaccessible Light [although there was no literal light] of the Glory of His Presence lasted maybe five or six seconds…but that experience is just as fresh in my memory today as it was in reality those 36 years ago! At that moment…the heretofore unbearable, debilitating emotional pain I had been feeling did not diminish in intensity, nor was it removed. It just became so insignificant and so meaningless in the light of what I had just experienced, that I literally thought, “Who cares!” And from that point on, though the source of the pain was never removed or resolved, it never again mattered to me, nor bothered me. I had seen the Lord; with my own spiritual eyes, I had seen Him!
Just one second in the inaccessible Light of the Glory of His Presence…a foretaste of Heaven itself…even now here on Earth is more than enough to wipe every tear from our eyes…all of our sadness and sorrow, crying, and pain, grief and loneliness and broken heartedness! And in that glorious coming Day, the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. [Isa 35:10]
Not long after that incredulous experience, I began to hunger and thirst for a continual felt sense of the Presence of God. As I read through Psalms, I knew in my mind that I wanted to have the cry of David’s heart: As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? [Ps 42:1-2] I realized, though, that I didn’t long for God in that way. I didn’t feel a longing for God as a heart-cry; I didn’t feel a yearning for God from the depths of my soul…yet I wanted to. It was the desire of my heart. And so my continual prayer was, “Lord, I don’t long for You in the way David did…but I want to. I long to long for You in that way. My heart is inflamed with longing to long for.”
During that same period of time, I also began to hunger and thirst to live a holy and righteous life in my everyday manner of living. I had only become a born-again Christian a few years prior [October 17, 1981, at the age of 38], and I was struggling with several besetting sins from my past unsaved life. I made a conscious decision to fully embrace the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied. [Matt 5:6] I began to hunger and thirst for a purity, holiness, and righteousness of my own in living out my everyday life that comes from obedience to the Law of God…not to be good enough to earn salvation, but because I was already saved…by virtue of the Eternal Power and the Eternal Worth of the Blood of Jesus, which He poured out on my behalf on that cross at Calvary for the forgiveness of my sins. I just wanted to be like my Father and my God as the apostle Peter exhorted me to be: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He Who called you is Holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am Holy.” [1 Peter 1:14-16]
Well…the Lord so wonderfully answered those two prayers not long afterward! One day I became aware…and actually remarked to myself, “Whoa, Lord! I no longer feel the least bit tempted by those besetting sins that used to plague me…that I had been struggling with for much of my prior life! I can’t believe it! Hallelujah!” Not only that, but I was filled with the joy of the Lord. I would wake up in the morning singing to the Lord, and fall asleep at night singing softly to the Lord! All throughout the day I felt an unclouded child-like carefree joy, and was resting in Him with an unruffled child-like rest!
My life had been so wondrously changed! The Spirit of God then led me to a book written by Hudson Taylor [missionary to China, latter 1800s] entitled. “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.” I read how it was his habit to get up early in the morning, well before dawn, and spend time alone with the Lord. And then I remembered that Jesus Himself often did the same thing to be alone with the Father…well before dawn, while it was still dark. I found myself wanting with all my heart to do that too…just as they had done. I began setting my alarm clock for 4 AM every morning…seven days a week. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I just reached over and shut off the alarm when it went off…only to awaken later in the morning feeling so sorry I had failed once more! It only reignited my determination to try again…to plead with the Lord to help me be able to do this which had now become my heart’s desire. The Lord heard my heart-cry, and answered my prayer…and after a lengthy period of successes and failures, I finally acquired the habit of rising at 4 AM to meet alone together with the Lord in our designated trysting place. It is a wonderful place of blessing, just sitting at His feet, just to commune with Him. It is there where He pours His Blessedness and all of His Goodness into me, where we have intimate fellowship together, where He reveals to me the rich eternal treasures of the spiritual realm, where I become ever more one with Him in our sacred Covenant relationship. A number of years ago I moved my time to be alone with the Lord back to 3 AM, so we could have more time together before breakfast. For 36 years now, I continually look forward with a joyful expectation, an excited expectation, to our meeting alone together in those early morning hours just to commune! I guard that time jealously, so that nothing would interfere with it; I wouldn’t miss it for anything.
My brother, my sister…it is my prayer that you will feel the leading of the Spirit to seek these blessing with all your heart on this 40 day Prayer Journey. You will most assuredly experience these same blessings for yourself, and will have this same testimony to share: I proclaim to you Christ Jesus…the One Who existed from the beginning, from Eternity Past, Whom I have heard with the ears of my own inner being, and have seen with my own spiritual eyes. I have gazed upon Him and have spiritually touched Him with my own hands. He is the Word of Life. His Life is continually being revealed to me; I have seen it and testify to it, and I proclaim to you that He is the One Who is Eternal Life. He always existed with the Father, and is now continually being manifested afresh and anew to me. I proclaim to you what I have personally seen and heard in the depths of my soul, so that you also may enjoy this same fellowship together with us. The fellowship I continually enjoy is with the Father and with His Son, Christ Jesus. I am writing these things so that you also may fully share together with me in this fullness of joy. [1 John 1:1-4]. It is our birth-right as a child of the Most High God!