I remember my first 24/7 Prayer experience. I had signed up for a crazy hour, like 2 a.m, and I took my then-8-yr-old son with me. When we stepped into the black light-bathed room with fluorescent expressions of people’s heart’s cry to God splashed all over the papered walls, my son exclaimed, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” and proceeded to dive in adding to the wall décor, writing in a journal, picking out some worship music and just generally soaking in some of the many unique ways we can connect with God.
That Prayer Room still resonates in our lives, a plink of a pebble in water that brought monster waves. I can truly say most of the good things in our lives are a direct result of that encounter.
When our Tulsa church’s one week of scheduled Prayer Room turned into five, the church leaders hardly knew how or if to bring it to a close. One night, my hubby and some of his percussionist pals decided to meet in the Prayer Room—with drums in tow. That innocent step into uncharted territory was pivotal. A few of them began to play while another wandered the room, stopping to read aloud various prayers from the walls. The beat would ebb and flow with the emotion of the prayers until… their hour was up… and they were blinking in astonishment at each other saying, “What just happened?”
That coming weekend, the church leaders decided to use this unique style of worship/prayer/percussion in the services as closure to our five weeks of prayer. A few of us actor types recited several of the representative prayers while the percussion flowed, interspersed with worship music—and some of the most powerful connection with Father God we had ever experienced.
It was freeing. It was vibrant. And we honestly had no clue about the spiritual comet we had just grasped. Within weeks, Mark and I were discussing the tug in our hearts toward moving to California. Not long after, he and his percussion crew were receiving invitations from 24/7 Prayer events all over the world. They called themselves “Tribe” and have since traveled to Spain, London and other points around the globe.
In the summer of 2004, Mark returned from a Tribe excursion with a new book penned by Pete Greig, founder of the 24/7 Prayer movement, titled “Red Moon Rising.” More spiritual tsunami waves rolled as we soaked in this revival-in-paperback two, three, four times, then purchased copies, ten at a time, to pass out to friends and family. All the stories about prayer convinced me it was time to put some discipline behind my prayer passion and actually… pray—an hour a day, every day, first thing out of the sack. I had prayed through the years, but had never been good at doing it regularly, even habitually. Therefore, amped up by Red Moon’s spiritual adrenalin, I began the daily quest.
I’m not sure what I expected, but the experience was… not what I expected. It was kinda hard to get out of bed. God was present, but fairly silent. There were no bells and whistles, just a conviction that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. I was still praying, but much of the time, admittedly, I was fuming—“God, is this what You lived, died and rose from the dead to give? An IV-drip of spiritual power? I’m needing a flood here!”
Soon frustration and anger became desperation. “God, please. Where are You? Is this all I have to offer? Why would I invite others if this is what they’ll get, frustration and barely enough faith to keep breathing?” A lot of salt water poured and I’d get up from my prayer convinced that I didn’t have a clue about prayer.
What was going on? In retrospect, I can see my misconceptions of prayer were burning away. Picture old birds’ nests clogging a chimney. Turn up the heat—get choked by smoke. I still had this impression that the way to get prayer answered was to beg God into agreement with MY plan. I would never have admitted that fact out loud, but such was the case—my heavenly ATM machine—push the right buttons, put in “the code” and out comes my request.
“But God, I want to help set up 24/7 Prayer rooms all across Hollywood. That’s a good thing, right? What could be more important?”
But I was at a particularly desperate time in life and there was nowhere else to turn. I HAD to knock and keep knocking. But think what a statement of true faith that is. Why would I knock and keep knocking? Because I was convinced someone was home. I knew someone was listening. Someone very patient.
A full year into the prayer journey (yes, I’m just that stubborn) I had a very fun, narrative dream. In the coming days, the story lingered and grew in my mind until I had the basic premise, plot points and even surprise ending of a fascinating love story. Soon, I was spending every spare minute—and not so spare—sitting at our kitchen computer as I attempted to do the story justice. Even a month of adrenalin-induced sleep deprivation didn’t do the trick. Each day began with face-time on our closet floor where the flow would start, I would soak in God’s presence, then write my heart out. Ten months later, the first draft was complete. It was rambling, had too many adverbs and trite dialogue, but my loyal eldest son pronounced it “as good as Harry Potter… in it’s own way.”
I was blissfully ignorant of the impact of Internet sales on traditional publishing and the uphill battle every first-time author must face, but my love affair with the written word—especially with connecting to God’s flow as I wrote—surpassed the fulfillment I had experienced in singing, acting and other arts. And prayer was the catalyst.
Then in 2007, a full three years into daily prayer, God stopped me in my tracks by whispering to my heart, “What do you want?”
Three years before I would have had plenty of answers to that question. In 2007, all I could do was cry… until I realized, the pure, overwhelming, fulfilling, scalding love didn’t fit with some of what I believed about God. And this. Was. God. No doubt. Therefore, I needed answers.
That’s what I ended up asking for.
The ramifications of that morning tore me up, stripped faith to the bone and shoved it into freefall mode.
I’m still falling. His love is deep.
Now there’s one novel published, several more in various stages, an exciting sequel in the works, the opportunity to write the biography of an amazing missionary pioneer—and constant forays outside my comfort zone that keep me desperate for time with God.
With this week’s 24/7 Prayer Room, I’m back to where it all started—a simple room set up for one purpose—to connect God with His children. And trust me, there’s no room, no box, that can contain Him.
Get hold of the book “Red Moon Rising.” Get alone with God. Knock and keep on knocking.
I double-dog dare you.
Chana is the sister, daughter, and granddaughter of pastors. But don’t hold that against her. She’s wife to the most amazing, patient man in the world, mom to four VERY unique kids and a genre-jumping author. Her first novel, THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles #1) is biblical speculative fiction thru the eyes of an angel who was once best friends with Lucifer. Her second, One Night With a Rock Star, is a young adult novel that emphasizes the vital importance of sexual self-control.
She and her family reside in southern California.
Both promos were a raging success, vaulting both of my babies to #1! Rock Star even hit #1 Hot New Release in Christian Romance! Woohoo!
Hi Chana, wow I love your post! Thank you for writing with such honesty and passion. What is your published book called?
Thanks Carla! That's a huge and wonderful thing coming from someone who's been so instrumental in the 24/7 journey. Thank you for all you do every day to bless the Kingdom of God! I'm super-thrilled you want to put this on the 24/7 site. God just keeps on giving, doesn't He?