Monday, August 8, 2011

Prayer: It's More Than Just Warm-Fuzzies

Hello all! Sorry this post is a little bit later than I'd hoped. I'm here now, though, and ready to put into words my amazing trip to Europe. Well, TRY to, that is.

Seeing other countries for the first time opened my eyes more than I ever expected. I saw breath-taking sights, both natural and man-made, and met people that changed my life in all different ways. But my journey really started before I got on the plane. My journey started right here at home as I prepared to take the biggest leap of my life. My journey started with prayer, and it remained a theme that followed me throughout the 19 day trip.

Now, I've been a Christian virtually all my life, and I've seen God do great things through prayer, but there's something completely different and special about having people pray for YOU specifically. Two days before I got on my VERY FIRST PLANE, some people from church came and prayed over me.

I'll be honest: usually when I'm involved in a prayer meeting like this, I get a tiny bit bored. I mean, I love hearing all the sincere prayers and sweet thoughts, but sometimes the prayers can get really long...and my mind tends to wander.

But WOW! I know this sounds really selfish, but it's different when the people are praying for you! I felt God's presence through my church family. Every prayer was PERFECT. Every prayer strengthened a different piece of my heart and opened my eyes to the amazing love that has always surrounds me, both from God and my friends. Their prayers made me feel ready to face the mind-blowingly long amount of time I would be away.

Of course, two days later when I realized I wouldn't see US soil for a good SEVENTEEN DAYS, I started to unravel a bit. I've always been kind, extreme in my emotions. When I'm happy, I'm the happiest person in the world. When I'm sad, the deepest, darkest pit of despair does not touch the depth my sorrow.

On Day 2, I was sad.

So I prayed. I prayed a LOT. Prayer became my default, which I think is how it's supposed to be. I'm not saying that I became this amazing Christian person, but when God is the ONLY familiar face you have access to, where else are you gonna turn? I prayed when I got up, I prayed getting ready in the morning, I prayed walking down the stairs, I prayed on the bus, I prayed on the street, I prayed in the bathroom, I'm tellin' ya. I was never far from yakking in God's ear.

{But it's cool 'cause he likes it :)}

I felt the prayers of everyone back home, too. I never really understood that phrase before. I've heard people say it for years {"I really felt your prayers this week!"}, but I never GOT it. It feels...wonderful. Feeling peoples' prayers is unexpected peace. It's the strength to look on the bright side. It's a warm, close, safe feeling in the middle of unsettling chaos.

But prayers helped me in WAY more concrete ways than just warm fuzzies, let me tell you that. Personally, I'm not a warm-fuzzy person, so if I were you I might be rolling my eyes right now. So allow me to share with you some of the most amazing God-moments I had on the trip.

I have some kind of nerve problem in my left shoulder, and when I do lots of walking or standing up, my shoulder starts to throb. On the Europe trip, I did 19 days of walking and standing. And I never had to take a single ibuprofen for my shoulder. I honestly have no idea how God did that, but I know, I KNOW it was him.

I have TMJ, which basically means that my jaw pops out of socket when I eat really chewy stuff. Like Spanish, French and Italian bread, which I had three times a day for 19 days. My jaw? It felt the best it had in about a year. I had no problems with it whatsoever.

One night after we all sat down to dinner, I got the overwhelming urge to pour my water. {The waiters would leave several pitchers on the tables and we'd serve ourselves.} That was a random feeling because I never poured my water right away, and I wasn't even thirsty. But I followed the urge and poured my own glass, as well as the two girls beside me. My friend Hayley got her water from another pitcher.

For a couple of minutes, everything was normal. Then Hayley took a sip of her water and her eyes got huge. "This is alcohol," she said, getting up. She took her glass to the leaders and they sorted things out:

Apparently the pitchers were usually used for storing wine, and there must have been wine left in the pitchers--except the one I got my water from. Thanks to God's random nudge for me to fill my glass RIGHT AWAY, I was one of three people who got non-contaminated water. Crazy, huh?

I get easily dehydrated, and I never had bad symptoms, even after forgetting to drink at lunch.

I always had my rain jacket when it rained {Thanks, Momma and Mrs. Martha!}.

I slept well every night, despite rooming with the loudest people more than once.

A girl shattered a wine glass on my flip-flopped foot and somehow I didn't get so much as a scratch.

I never got a headache {not even when I CLOCKED myself on the bus TV}, a stomachache {not even on the hairpin-turn bus ride up a mountain}, a bug bite {not even when everyone else was eaten alive}, or a scrape the entire trip. I'm pretty sure I've never even gone 19 days at HOME doing that well. The difference? Prayer. Please don't underestimate it.

Matthew 18:19: "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven. For when two or three gather in my name, there I am with them."


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