One of the many things I love about our opening times on Tuesday Mornings is the opportunity to meet new women and hear how God is working in their lives. This past Tuesday, Jenee Harmon shared with us her experiences with prayer, both today and during her years in Madrid. Here’s what she had to say.
Many of you don’t know me and I know some of you go to different churches, so I wanted to give you a little background on my story. My husband, Ryan Harmon, is on staff here at Berean with Global Outreach. We have 2 kids, Sam who is 5 and in kindergarten, and Lucia who is 21 months. We also have another child on the way.
Before Ryan worked with global outreach, he was on staff here as the young adults’ pastor. This was before we were called to church-planting with Avant and moved to Madrid, Spain. We took a team of 6 others, 2 guys and 4 ladies. Sam, my 5 year old, was 9 months at the time. We left January of 2011 and lived there through the summer of 2014, about 3 1/2 years.
I was asked to talk about what my prayer life looked like through our time in Madrid. First of all, I want to say that I am not an expert. I am still learning and growing in prayer. I will say that I did learn to explore prayer in new ways through the unique challenges and opportunities that life overseas can bring.
One thing I often have to be reminded of is that prayer doesn’t have to be something we just check off the to-do list. When it becomes another task for me, it often goes neglected. It really helps me to think of prayer as relational time with God. Sometimes, when life gets stressful or hectic, the best thing we can do is try to sit and be quiet–still before God–maybe even just 5 or 10 minutes (setting a timer can be helpful!). This will require you to be intentional about ﬁnding a space/time that can be quiet, so you can remember that God is with you.
Moving to Madrid was a huge transition for me, exciting and terrifying. During the ﬁve months before we left Lincoln, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery, and began treatment, and my younger sister was going through a divorce. I deﬁnitely had moments of doubt in leaving my family and following this call to Spain. So even before we left, I had to exercise my faith and trust in God’s good plan.
Many of you who have moved or experienced major changes or losses in your life can understand that it rocks you. You are forced to redeﬁne yourself and ﬁnd your bearings in a new place or circumstance. I had to keep seeking God and looking for glimpses of Him in this big new city, or I wasn’t going to survive. For me, that came through ﬁnding little times of quiet, solitude, and journaling.
Praying together for each other
One of the blessings of going to Madrid with a team was that I was never truly alone. There were 7 other people (Nebraskans for that matter) who could relate to this transition I was going through–culture shock, language learning, missing home, etc. Our objective was to start a church community there, so we had to practice being a small model of community or church ourselves. We met formally a couple of times a week that ﬁrst year, one meeting being more “business related” and one being kind of a church service. In this time, we were able to share personally and pray for each other.
One of my favorite Bible passages about prayer is Philippians 4:4-7:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is writing from prison and is telling us to “Rejoice in the Lord!” I think his words there were only possible because he had developed his relationship and prayer life with God. He was secure in Him, and therefore could have joy in major trials. He then reminds us to not only pray, but to be thankful. Practicing thankfulness is such an important part of our lives with God.
I’m sure some of you read 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I read this book while I was in Madrid, and I loved the challenge to write down every little gift from God we can think of, no matter how small, and to be grateful. After a year in Madrid, I had our team write down all of the blessings and things we were thankful for in that ﬁrst very difﬁcult year. I think this is a great practice we can always use at any point in our lives.
I love that prayer groups are a key part of Tuesday mornings here. I believe God meets us in unique ways when we share with each other and pray together as community. We are reminded that our life matters. Our choices matter, and that through these other women that care, God cares. It is a huge encouragement and motivation to continue praying/talking with God on our own when we choose to come and pray with others.
Praying for others
I think when we are developing our personal relationship with God, and connecting with others, we are more motivated to be praying for those around us. We are more attuned to God’s kingdom work in our world.
When we are seeing God at work in our own lives and those close to us, it can help us to have a heart for others who are lost or not connected to God. In Madrid, we were constantly trying to ﬁgure out how to meet people and build relationships in order to share Christ. It wasn’t always easy starting at square one, not knowing the culture very well, and just learning the language. The task of starting a church seemed impossible at times. Often, our only action step was to pray and to pray continually. And prayer is active. We are engaging in God’s work when we pray and rely on Him. This was a powerful lesson we learned.
My prayer for all of the women here at Equip Her is that we will ﬁnd ways to connect with God personally, continue connecting with each other, and then be able to pray for others and seek out who else we can minister to.
Sidenote: For those of you interested in finding new ways to be silent before God, I would like to invite you to an event run by my friend Anna Zach. She does these yoga workshops at the end of every month where you go with the intention of quieting your mind and body before God, and she reads scripture in the format of lectio divina. It’s really not a full yoga practice. She uses restorative poses (relaxing stretches basically). Here is the info:
Come. Listen. Be.
Saturday January 30th, 3-4:15pm
Lincoln Yoga Center— 2127 Winthrop Rd
Workshop Cost: $15
Facebook: Come Unto Me ( Anna Zach )