Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Happy Sixth Day of Thanks!
Today, I give thanks for the ability to pray (communicate/communing with God). Prayer has deepened my relationship with God one hundred-fold; it has opened countless doors and opportunities for me and the other folk for whom I pray. It has even given me the confidence to ask God to step into situations where I need a miracle.
I’m going to give you a quick recap on prayer before I give today’s reflection because I could never understand why so many people are baffled about what prayer is and how to do it. Prayer is simple; it is just talking to God almost like you would a best friend. Of course, there a few simple protocols that can be found in Matthew chapter 6 verses 9 through 14 that give us a framework on how to do it, but it is not the complication that most people, church institutions, etc. make it out to be. First, you have to acknowledge and reverence God. He is Holy. Just like you wouldn’t address a king or royalty or your parents in any way, you shouldn’t address God in any way. He is royalty; He is your Heavenly Parent (Father or Mother). Unfortunately, many people have very damaged relationships with their parents and royalty so they can’t imagine how to approach God if their image of those figures has already been warped/skewed. God is not the people who hurt you and didn’t cause the hurt to happen to you. Second, we ask for God’s guidance and to speak to us through His word (our daily bread). Third, we have to ask God to forgive us of our sins (repentance) and ask him to help us to forgive those who have wronged us too. Fourth, we ask God to keep us from sinning. Temptation in this world is great and we all are on a slippery slope. Next, we make our petitions and request known to God. We have to make sure that our ultimate ask of God is in according to his will so that we can have what we are asking for (I John 5:14-15). How do we know if something is according to his will? We can back it up with scriptures in the Bible. God will always respond to His word and not necessarily our emotions. Everything you need or want can be found in the scriptures. Look up the scriptures that identify what it is that you need or want (i.e. Healing, finances, deliverance, reconciliation) and let God know what His word’s promise says about that thing when you are praying so that God can hear you and give you what you ask for. Let me mention a little disclaimer here too, God moves on His timing. You not receiving what you ask for at the snap of your finger doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want you to have it or that he will not give it to you. It means that God, in His amazing wisdom, knows just what it will take for you to truly receive the gift of what you are asking Him for. God makes sure that you don’t blow the gift that you are asking for when you receive it. Another disclaimer that I should add is that prayer does not have to be long and filled with big words. Every prayer may not have all of the exact steps of the protocol. Sometimes, your prayer will be as simple as “God help me!” Be yourself because God already knows who you are. That is my recap on prayer. I hope it helps you. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me (or your pastor, or an intercessor) and ask them.
Now for today’s reflection…
Remember how I already mentioned in Day 2 (Inner Healing) how God has been waking me on Saturday morning for my heart check? If you don’t remember, you should go back and read it. Several Saturdays ago, I woke up with this huge weight of grief, sorrow, and hurt in my hurt that was so unbearable. God had exposed a compartment in my heart that had been carrying the baggage of residual hurt from a few situations. Although, I could not readily pinpoint which situation and which hurt was being highlighted, the weight of sorrow was clearly felt and all I wanted to do was cry and vent and talk out whatever that grief was so that it could dissipate. My friend called me and we begin to talk for hours about how I was feeling and talk about a hurtful situation from which I was trying to heal from. She gave me Godly wisdom and referred me back to the promises of God found in scripture. We laughed. She encouraged my soul greatly during our time. However, when I finished that phone call, I knew that I still had to have a date with God. With the weight that I felt, I knew that no ordinary encounter or touch would do to fix it. Only God could heal this deep wounded hurt. I had to pray and enter into the presence of God for the deliverance from this deep wound. I got on my knees and begin to pray. I went from superficially praying to praying in the spirit. (Praying in the spirit is when the Holy Spirit takes over your prayer and intercedes for you. The Holy Spirit begins to pray the deep things in your heart to God that you don’t even know how to pray.) I begin to cry and wail so hard. All I remember now is that at one point I was begging God to heal my heart and to take the hurt from me. I prayed and cried so hard that God had to put me to sleep to do the work of healing in my heart. I woke up several hours later feeling completely fatigued but with the burden in my heart completely lifted.
I had no idea that in that prayer time, as I was asking God to heal my heart of the pain and hurt, He was also preparing me for a conversation that I would have with my daughter’s father several days later. He was also answering previous prayers. Most of you who have been on the thirty day journey for years and have read my book (if you have not read the book, “Thirty Days of Thanks: A Journey Toward Healing and Deliverance you have to get a copy for yourself and someone else on www.thirtydayofthanks.com or Amazon or kindle) know of the deep hurt and pain that my daughter’s father has inflicted upon me and my daughter. It has been a hurt that has raped my soul and created a trauma that forever changed me because I knew that it was intentional. My daughter’s father at one point told me that he would make sure that I suffered because he was angry at me and did just that. I never knew someone who wanted to intentionally hurt and damage me like that. Evil is so real.
Because Lilah was turning 18 years old, I would have to do the necessary legal process to file for guardianship to make sure that I could continue to address and take care of all of her needs in her adulthood. Although her father has never been in her life or addressed her needs, part of this legal process requires that her father signs a waiver that he will not be applying for guardianship. If her father wouldn’t agree to sign on his own, I would have to provide the courts with proof that I have done everything within my power to get him to sign this paperwork. For months, I had been contacting Delilah’s dad through email letting him know about the legal guardianship process and asking him to sign the attached legal documents. For months, I heard nothing but kept the issue in constant prayer. I asked his sister if she could help me to get the documents to him but, because their relationship was completely soured by our child support case, she told me that regrettably she could not help me either. Finally, I decided to search for an address where I had last known him to be and send him the documents via certified mail to the address I found. I sent him a letter with the documents, leaving him my number if he had questions and a return address to mail back the legal documents.
On the Tuesday following my Saturday wail, I received a call from her father asking me what the legal documents were. He claimed that he didn’t receive any of my previous emails. He said that he had to pick up my letter from the post office because his wife would not sign to receive the letter. Because I had asked God to heal my heart that Saturday, I was able to sit through the two hour onslaught of accusations, entitlement, venting and whining her father had to offer. He said, “I want to make sure that if I sign these papers you are not locking me in to having to financially provide for your child for the rest of her life. Giving this child support money every month is putting a burden on me and my wife and we don’t have it like that.” Then he whined, “I can’t believe that you even took me to court when you know what the legal system means for a Black man in America.” He went on and on, never acknowledging responsibility for his actions or behavior, never acknowledging that he was reaping all of what he had said and declared over the years, and never acknowledging that the folks he was listening to (his father, mother, and stepmother) kept giving him the worst advice and counsel that kept digging deeper graves for him. I stayed on the phone for 2.5 hours, in complete silence, listening and praying in my head that God would muzzle my mouth so that I could just get the legal documents signed. (I thought to myself, “I could sit through this torture for Lilah and to accomplish the mission of getting this legal paperwork.”) After the 2.5 hours were up and her father calmed down, I asked if he would permit me to speak and just listen to me for a little bit as I had listened to him. I went into my lawyer style line of questioning:
“Have I ever disrespected you or treated you horribly in the last 17 years? Were you not asked if you wanted to participate in our daughter’s life? What was your response? When your family told you to get a paternity test when she was younger, and I offered to do one for their sakes, what did you tell me? Didn’t you say that you didn’t want to do it because you knew that she was yours? Did I ever chase you or force you to financially provide for her in the course of her life? And although I never made you financially provide for her and you never offered to financially provide for Lilah, when you asked for pictures and updates, did I ever deny those to you, although you were using them as a façade to pretend that you were taking care of her? When she was 14 years old and I asked you to help me to buy her food and supplements because it was overwhelmingly burdensome for me alone, what did you tell me? Didn’t you say that you weren’t giving me anything and that I shouldn’t threaten you? Didn’t you tell me that I shouldn't expect you to take care of Lilah if you weren’t even taking care of your wife’s son? When I said, ‘okay, if you don’t want to help, a judge will have you to help’, why did you not think that you were headed to court? You dragged me and my baby into a court for a paternity test and said some of the most horrible things to and about us. Didn’t you know that Lilah was yours when you subjected us to that degrading paternity test? How could you do that to us? You knew before that paper came back and said she was 99.999% your child that she was yours and you still chose to do it. You are saying that your wife is upset for having to pay your child support in the beginning and because at one point you were about to go to jail, but didn’t you declare in a courtroom full of people that you weren’t going to pay child support anyway and that your wife was going to pay it? Wasn’t it you who told me and the judge that we would see you in Grenada because you weren’t paying any child support? Why would you not think a sheriff would come to take you to jail if you were in arrears? Wasn’t it you who said that you didn’t want anything to do with Lilah and that you were ashamed of her because she was autistic? So, why not sign documents stating that you are not going to be her legal guardian? Are you going to take her to doctor’s appointments? Are you going to handle her affairs and make sure that everything concerning her is in order? Because if you are not, I need you to sign those papers so that my daughter is guaranteed what she needs to have the best life possible.”
After each question, Lilah’s father got quieter and quieter to the point that I could barely hear him breathing on the other side of the call. I started my next round of questioning that went even deeper. About 30 minutes into that round of questioning, he said “Things have been really bad between us and I don’t want it to be like that anymore. I am truly sorry for all the things that I have said and done. I let me anger and pride get in the way and I am truly having to eat my own humble pie. You don’t even know that when we were in the clinic getting the paternity test, I saw the hurt on your face and was so convicted. I told the tech, ‘I let this get to the point of no return and I can’t even fix it now’. I have gotten some really bad advice over the years; I should have come to the Bronx and just sat down and talked to you so that we could come to an agreement on things but I didn’t. I’m really sorry. There is a notary around the corner. I’m going to sign the documents and overnight them back to you.”
Talk about a miracle and answered prayers! I never thought that in this lifetime my daughter’s father would every humble himself enough to apologize for what he had said and done. (I never thought that we would ever have to have a conversation after my last day in the courtroom.) But, God! He was prioritizing the mending of my heart. On Saturday, God opened the abscess (wound) in my heart, cleaned it out, and put a steady course of antibiotics on it. On Tuesday, with that apology, He was binding up the wound and completely ensuring that it was set on a course to truly mend. Is that not a God that you would want to serve!
Today as we give thanks for prayer, I invite you to pray. Lay that thing on the altar. Prayer for yourself; pray for someone you know who needs God to step into his/her situation; pray for this nation; pray for our world. No prayer is too small or too big. God is waiting to hear and answer them (Matthew 7:11) all.
Have a Happy Days of Thanks!
For those of you needing further reflection:
*Read Matthew 7:11. How does this scripture change your image of God?
*How does 1John 5:14-15 debunk any myths that you may have about God hearing or answering your prayers?
*What situation in your life have you been too afraid to bring to God in prayer? Would you consider praying about it now?