“Talk to me about pride!” I was at the Washtenaw Prayer Summit when I heard those words. I was one of 33 pastors and ministers from the county who had gathered February 3-5 for the 15th annual Prayer Summit at Michindoh Conference Center in Hillsdale.
It was Tuesday night that it happened. We had spent the entire first day in praise and adoration of the Lord. We sang songs of praise and worship. We read Psalms of praise and adoration. We prayed and expressed our personal adoration of the Lord. The first afternoon included some time spent mediating on John 15:1-15, with a special focus on “obedience and love.” Tuesday morning was more praise and worship, with a full afternoon of praying.
Tuesday night featured the “mercy seat.” We were invited to go to a chair in the middle of the circle, and take our personal prayer directly to the Lord. We were not to announce our need or describe our situation. We were to simply pray to God . . . who already knows the need and every detail. As one prays from the mercy seat, some of the other ministers will surround them, lay hands on them, and pray with them and over them.
Suddenly, I realized God had been nudging me to the mercy seat all day long. I whispered to my friend Allen Singer, who was sitting next to me, “Would it be appropriate in this context for me to pray for healing?” For months now I have been fighting debilitating fatigue. I’ve been diagnosed with hypotension (low blood pressure) and with persistent mild anemia, but multiple doctors can’t find the root cause. I’m just so tired of feeling tired.
Allen, who was facilitating that evening, quickly encouraged me. “Oh, yes.” One has to act quickly in these situations because the mercy seat is popular and our time that evening was almost over. But, suddenly I couldn’t move. God wouldn’t let me get up. Allen is whispering, “You missed your chance!” But in a still small voice God was shouting “Talk to me about pride.”
What? “What does that have to do with the price of eggs?” I wondered. I continued pondering the instruction from the Lord as another minister was blessed on the mercy seat. At last I understood. So when they had finished praying over another colleague, I took my place on the mercy seat.
That’s when I fell apart. I wept as I repented of pride. I wept as I asked my God to forgive me. “Lord, for too many years I’ve taken pride in being able to work longer than anyone else. I’ve prided myself on working harder than anyone else. My zeal to do my best, my quest to succeed, has turned into a point of pride.”
Even as I asked God to heal me, He suddenly reminded me of the Apostle Paul and his “thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).” So, I amended my prayer. “Lord, if this is my ‘thorn in flesh,’ if this is my new normal I will accept it. ‘Your grace will be sufficient for me.’ Like the Apostle Paul I will say ‘when I am weak, then I am strong.’ Lord, I do not deserve to be healed. But, I humbly ask for the sake of my dear wife. Lord, I see the look of worry and fear in Lynne’s eyes when my blood pressure plummets (as low as 69/40) and my energy drains away like a burst water pipe.”
I don’t yet know how this blog, this story, ends because I’m still in the midst of the journey. But I do know two things . . .
- I’ll be forever grateful for the love and prayers for healing from my fellow ministers that night as I sat on the mercy seat.
- I’ll never forget the command from my Lord that night: “Talk to me about pride.”