Rooted in Prayer

A lot of people seem to have a moment — a significant encounter with the Lord — that radically changes their life forever. They can pinpoint the exact events: They remember what they were feeling that day, what had been on their mind, who gave the moving talk, what song was playing during adoration. They can describe the rocky path they once trod to the new path they have found in the Lord.

Growing up, I was always a little envious of this type of conversion story. In high school, each time we left a retreat, our youth group would share testimonies on the bus ride home. It felt as if everyone else could tell these amazing stories, while my experience had always been a little more moderate and mild. While I did feel motivated and inspired from the talks, the music and the community, my story didn’t seem worth sharing when compared to those I heard.

For years, I longed to have that “ah-ha” moment! Yet, to my dismay, that moment never quite came; I never experienced that pivotal breakthrough. This led to anxiety and fear entering my heart as I wondered what sort of path I was walking. Was I doing something wrong? Should I let down my guard so that God could save me, and then I could have the story I always desired?

Heavens no!

Oh, how the heavens know…

Very recently, I heard a Sister of Life speaking about God’s creative design. The sister described how she liked to imagine our Father in heaven putting together the different pieces of our being. Little by little, you were created. He decided your hair color, the shape of your face, the length of your pinky, the sound of your laugh, the hobbies and passions that move your heart… He added the finishing touches —  and then He looked upon you with awe and said, “Yes! This is it! This person must be created.”

We all have our own unique and beautiful stories, and it took me years to both understand and appreciate my own. You see, the comparisons blinded me from recognizing the changes the Lord was working in my life.

As we walked off the buses after those high school retreats, my youth minister always handed out little yellow booklets called “Keep the Fire Burning.” She gave it to us every year, but it wasn’t until I had it in my hands the second time that I actually committed to reading it. This little booklet contained a prayer guide for thirty days. After deciding upon a time and place to pray, I began to slowly draw closer to the Lord as I meditated upon His words and spoke to Him within my heart. Little by little — day by day — prayer began to take root in my life. The month concluded, but I found a deep desire to continue. I quickly found another devotional that offered similar pattern of reading.

Daily prayer and reading the Scriptures changed my life. I went from experiencing intense anxiety over grades, sports, friends and success to an attitude of surrender and joyful countenance. I didn’t necessarily solve all my issues in one fell swoop, but daily prayer helped me to see situations with eyes of faith. Truly, I felt — and I still feel — a clear difference in my disposition on days that I pray and days that I don’t.

By the end of college, one of my roommates shared with me that she considered me to be one of the most peaceful people she had ever met. I could hardly believe what I had heard! I realized later that I had indeed experienced a great conversion of heart: Being rooted through daily prayer has radically changed me.

The word “radical” actually comes from the Latin radicalis, which means “of or having roots”!  This is exactly what daily prayer does: It roots you and connects you to the Lord. Whether you have experienced a St. Paul knock-you-off-your-horse conversion or find yourself simply looking for more, root yourself in prayer. Find a devotional or join FOCUS’ 30-Day Prayer Dare and let it be your guide for the next month.

Christ longs to meet you in the silence so that He may plant seeds of faith, hope and love deep within you. In time, He will bring forth a beautiful conversion — a gentle turning of your mind and heart that will allow you to live an abundant life and flourish into the individual He created you to be.

Shannon Dowlearn
Shannon Dowlearn
Shannon Dowlearn is in her first year on staff at the Denver Support Center. She is originally from Texas and attended the University of Arkansas, where she studied International Economics and also ran for the Razorback Cross Country and Track & Field Team. Competing as a D1 athlete taught her a lot about community, faith, and humility. She also learned how no accomplishment compares to the Love of the Lord. After university, she taught Economics at an inner-city Catholic High School in Houston and then married her high-school sweetheart, Grayson. They now seek the adventure of courageously following God’s Will--and they try to enjoy as many hikes as possible along the way.

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