How a One-Minute Prayer Can Save a Life

I love talking about prayer. But even more than talking about it, I love to pray. So, I was ecstatic to receive this very practical and powerful tip from fellow blogger, Lynn Donovan. Lynn and Dineen Miller encourage and equip a fantastic community of pebble throwers over at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Last week, Lynn challenged us with a 30-day, One Minute Prayer.

Today, I am tossing a pebble in your direction by extending this challenge to you.

Several years ago a Christian leader urged churchgoers to choose one person whose salvation they could pray for through the season of lent at 1:00 PM, every day, for One Minute. 


Wherever they were, those participating, prayed at 1 pm. It wasn’t long into the daily prayers that those being prayed for were repenting and being saved. Hallelujah!

I’m wondering if, as a group of SUMites, we could do this?

I’m excited to see all that would be possible if we came together as a group and prayed daily at 1:00 pm. Thoughts, Fondly, Karen from Ohio.

Consider the ripple effects of hundreds, maybe thousands, of pebble warriors who set alarms on their phones and commit to stop and ask God to bring one unsaved person to mind, and then pray for one minute.

Don’t you want to be a part of that??

cropped-cropped-mp900402205.jpgThe day I read Lynn’s post, I began the challenge. Just to keep things real, when the alarm went off the first day, I was riding in the car with my husband with the radio blaring. It wasn’t exactly the perfect prayer setting. But at the heart of this challenge, and at the heart of pebble throwing is stepping out of your normal routine and your comfort zone to commit to do a tiny act of love that matters.

With radio blaring, I shifted my gaze out the car window at the beautiful Charleston salt marshes, and turned my heart to God:

Father, who do you want me to pray for today?

I was surprised by who God brought to mind. Another day, I was sitting at my writing desk deep in thought. When the alarm went off, I looked up and a neighbor’s house was the first thing I saw. So I prayed for my neighbor asking God for opportunities to talk to her about Jesus.

Will you sacrifice 30 minutes—one minute, per day, for 30 days—and ask God to place the person on your heart who needs your intercession? I promise that the ripple effects will be worth every precious second. If you’re accepting this challenge, please say so below. Let us know the first name or initials of an unsaved or hurting loved one you’d like us to pray for.

3 Things I Learned from Grandma Lois

She peeks out from backstage behind the curtains of many faith stories. Her gray-brown hair is tucked behind ears less sharp than they used to be. She lives a hushed life, never calling attention to herself. Her knees are worn out. Not from scrubbing floors, but from whispering prayers.

grandmaIt’s a common theme: along Bill’s or Susan’s broken road to a life-changing encounter with Jesus: an unseen warrior fighting battles on her knees. A grandma or aunt or mom—a force of unwavering love and never-give-up intercession—who undergirds each broken wanderer’s life.

“I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for the prayers of my grandmother,” says Bill.

“My aunt’s prayers changed the course of my life. I’m not sure where I’d be if not for her faith,” Susan admits.

These unseen prayer warriors toss powerful pebbles in prayer with eternal ripple effects. Has a “pebble warrior” touched your life too? Perhaps you are, or will be, a warrior to some wanderer whose broken life keeps you up at night.

bible pageLois was a pebble warrior. Grandmother to the Bible’s Timothy (the young man to whom Paul wrote in 1 and 2Timothy) she shows up in the background of the New Testament. We don’t know much about her or Timothy’s mother, Eunice. But Paul gives us a few clues in 2 Timothy 1:5:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

Grandma Lois had what the Greeks would call anupokritos faith.

Look closely.

Do you see a familiar root word in there? Upokritos looks a bit like the word hypocrite. So Grandma Lois’s faith was an-upokritos, or the opposite of hypocrtitical. Grandma Lois had no hidden agendas in her faith or prayer life.

She was the real deal.

Pebble warriors pray out of a sincere love. Their prayers aren’t self-righteous blabberings. Jesus warned us about praying this way in Matthew 6:5:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.”

We can learn 3 important lessons from Grandma Lois:

  1. Keep it real. Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t pray fancy prayers. Just speak from your heart for the people God puts on your heart.
  2. Check your motives. Why are you asking God to intervene in another life? Do you want God to fix them so they’ll stop breaking the law, or being annoying, or so your life will be easier? Or is your love and concern for them so great that it spills over into earnest pleas for God to overpower them with His love? God’s Word is clear: our motives impact the outcome of our prayers.
  3. Expect fruit. Eunice and Lois prayed and lived sincerely faithful lives that bore fruit. Fruit is seed bearing. The scriptures tell us that Timothy had sincere faith too. When you live a sincere life of prayer and you walk out your faith, your very life ripples seeds that will take root and spread the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit .

kiwifruit-kiwi-fruitI don’t know about you, but that is fresh water to a thirsty momma who sometimes wonders if my prayers make any difference at all. I wonder if Eunice or Lois ever questioned if anything of true significance would come of Timothy’s life.

Well, it did. Not just small things. Powerful things with bountiful ripple effects.

Paul, the missionary God appointed to spread the Gospel over the entire eastern Mediterranean region,  entrusted his beloved church at Ephesus to young Timothy at a critical point in church history (read more here.) Paul deemed Timothy worthy to carry on the precious Gospel-bearing work that Christ Himself had entrusted to Paul. That is no small thing.

So the next time you find yourself weary in prayer for the broken wanderer in your life, remember the seeds you’re prayer-planting. Pray for God to bring a Paul to water the seeds. Pray for the Spirit to help them to take root. And don’t forget to expect fruit.

watered seed

Do you have a “grandma Lois” who prayed for you? Are you a pebble warrior who is holding on in prayer for one you love? Share below!







Why God Detests Fancy-Pants Prayers

In the foreword to Jon Bloom’s book Things Not Seen, Ann Voskamp shares a story about a man who labors long and hard weaving baskets. It takes him years to cut trees, plane lumber, sand, refine the reeds, and weave a mountain of baskets. As he weaves each one, he prays. When he’s finished, he takes a match to them. They turn to ash. Years of work vanish in an instant leaving the weaver with nothing to show. Nothing in the seen world, that is. Because his real work wasn’t in the seen world of weaving but the in the unseen world of praying.

basket weaver

photo credit: Chris RubberDragon

Never underestimate the ripple effects of the hidden work of prayer.

Oswald Chambers says “prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.”

I will be blogging about “the greater work” of prayer for the next few weeks. It’s a practice near and dear to my heart and perhaps the most powerful method of throwing pebbles to impact change.

“I strongly suspect,” says Dr. Peter Kreeft,“that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.”

pebbles in sky

You probably know that the ripple effects of our prayers have little to do with the eloquence of our words. Even though we know this, we… okay, I sometimes fall into this trap. Prayers peppered with holy words and phrases like “for your glory” and “empowering” and “sanctification” are no more powerful than simple, honest prayers.

And yet, many would rather go to the dentist than pray out loud. Excuses abound:

“I can’t pray. I’m not good at it.”

“Other people’s prayers just roll off their tongue. But not mine.”

“I can never think of the right words.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

I’ve prayed in groups, classes, on streets, at conferences, over meals, and in church services with the most seasoned of prayer warriors and some true giants in prayer. Through these experiences, I’ve come to believe that God’s heart sings when He hears a fumbling prayer. That prayer is a sacrifice. It’s an “I-can’t-lead-your-people because-I-have-sp-sp-sp-speech-impediment” kind of prayer.

If you can’t stand to pray out loud for fear of:

screwing it up,

or pausing too long,

or forgetting what you wanted to say,

this post is for you. Moses gets you. And so does God.

God loves your prayers because those who offer reluctant prayers with knees knocking need Him. They aren’t self sufficient. They are God sufficient.

man prayingBut don’t just take my word for it. Listen to what Jesus said about a self-righteous man who prayed fancy-pants prayers. The Pharisee’s prayer exalted his own “righteous” acts—what he was doing for God. But Jesus praised another man for his prayers, a tax collector, who begged to God out of his desperation. The tax collector needed God. The Pharisee, not so much. Jesus also warned his disciples not to pray for the sake of being heard or seen by others.

People like Janine remind me of how Jesus wants us to pray. She is not an eloquent, “I’ve-got-this” kind of prayer warrior. But Janine’s prayers touch my heart more than most seasoned pray–ers. When she prays, she simply talks to God about her needs and concerns, for herself and for others. Janine’s raw, honest prayers move my heart because I believe they deeply touch God’s heart.

woman prayingIt’s sweet music to God’s ears when we allow our desperation for God’s intervention to win out over our need to be certain or comfortable. It’s not about the prayer. It’s about the coming. And being with Him. He already knows what we’re going to say. He doesn’t need our prayers. God doesn’t need anything. But He desires for us to come. He chooses to weave our prayers into His divine and perfect plan so we recognize that our prayers have purpose. And so we will keep coming back and persevering in prayer. John Piper even says God wants us to “badger Him in prayer.”

So come. Throw a pebble. Say an awkward prayer. Badger God. And take courage in knowing that He delights in choosing to involve you and every fumbling, bumbling word in His powerful Kingdom work.

How to Raise a Miracle: Three Words To Transform Your Parenting

She was unlike any other mother I’d ever met. Her mile-wide smile made her molasses eyes sparkle. The labor and delivery of her son (her fourth child of eleven) took place in a mosquito-infested swamp. She was married to one man along with 11 other wives.

Her name is Eseza and she’s one of the most amazing moms I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

day 3 (27)My husband and I boarded three planes, a subway, a van, and two cars to interview our Ugandan friend, Pastor Elijah Sebuchu, and visit his mother’s remote East African village. Before entering her cinder block home we walked past her “kitchen,” a fire and some pots set up under a crude palm-roofed hut.

Eseza welcomed us with hugs and bottles of water as if we were royalty. I turned on my digital recorder to begin the interview for the book I’m writing about Elijah, who sat close by translating her Luganda words into English.

day 3 (16)My heart ached as she spoke of the utter horrors of raising a child in the bush country of Uganda. Starvation. Disease. No medical care. Tribal massacres that forced her and her tiny children to flee their huts and sleep in a jungle creeping with machete-wielding soldiers, venomous snakes, and hungry tigers.

Listening to Eseza describe Elijah’s childhood was surreal, especially after getting to know him. I glanced over at the tall, polished, articulate, intelligent man beside her. A man who:

  • pastors one of Uganda’s fastest growing churches (270 church plants)
  • presented at the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS and The Church at the invitation of best-selling author, Dr. Rick Warren.
  • hosts a weekly radio talk show that reaches approximately 30 million Ugandans
  • serves as Founder and President of Hands of Love Foundation, an international organization that supports, empowers, and educates 1,800 of tomorrow’s finest Christian leaders
  • serves as Founder and Leader of a youth empowerment conference in Uganda that drew a whopping 7,150 delegates last year

The crazy contrast between this world changer sitting across from me and the terrible awful that permeated his childhood was perplexing. It made me wonder, and perhaps you’re wondering too as mother’s day approaches. And so I asked.

pic 75

“What’s the secret? How did you raise this internationally known man of God who is raising up pebble throwers and saving lives every day? How does a mother raise such a miracle?”

The next 20 minutes of our interview ranks among the top ten most impactful conversations of my life. This mom, who had endured tribal violence, starvation,  depression, torture from her husband’s wives, witchcraft, losing children to malaria, you name it … This ferociously strong, exceedingly exceptional woman proceeded to share other-worldly mothering wisdom unlike anything I’d ever heard. To this day, it is some of the most sacred parenting advice I’ve been given. And you’ll have to buy my book to hear all of it 🙂

My brain and recorder had collected dozens of golden nuggets for my book and I was full. Almost satisfied. But I had one final question before placing a period at the end of our interview.

“What’s the thing that mattered most in raising Elijah?”

She sat and stared in silence and we waited.

“I always prayed to God and laid hands on Elijah asking God to give him wisdom, patience, love, kindness, generosity. I always laid hands on him and spoke into his life, ‘you are going to be a national leader, touch many lives, be a giver, be generous.’ I always advised him and prayed for him. But if you want a person to receive what you are speaking to him you need to love that person. And I loved him most.”

A huge lump formed in my throat as I heard her say those three words.

“Love them most.”

day 3 (13)The glue that bonded all her pebble-throwing efforts to shape Elijah into a powerful man of Godly character was love. Love trumps all.

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Love them most.” It’s my mother’s day gift to you as you endeavor to raise children who put love into action. As for me, if I pray eloquent, powerful prayers for my children and speak all kinds of truth I learned at Bible Study, but nag and guilt them, and stare at my iPhone more than I look into their eyes, then my words are fingernails on the chalk board of their hearts. None of us gains anything. We are all bankrupt. It’s all held together with love. Not love the thought, but love the verb.

Need a mother’s day gift? Please consider honoring your mom and Eseza with a donation to help open Hands of Love’s infant orphanage which was built and named in her honor. These fabulous young pebble throwers are making it easy for you. Just watch the video and consider throwing this very significant pebble to save little lives in Uganda.Screenshot 2016-05-03 16.39.15

Click here to see some amazing pebble throwers in action!