Praying for one another

How a Mission Yearbook prayer and other unexpected prayers helped turn me around

by Donna Frischknecht Jackson, Presbyterians Today | Special to Presbyterian News Service

the Rev. Donna Frischknecht Jackson

Just how powerful is prayer? On Sunday morning I was greeted by an email from a colleague at the Presbyterian Mission Agency with these words: May you feel the love and receive strength from all the prayers coming your way this day.

It turns out my name was listed on Friday’s Mission Yearbook devotional — which features short stories on the work Presbyterians are doing and asks for prayers for the ministries being done.

I was surprised, touched and then thankful, for I didn’t realize how much I needed this. In an instant, I felt the stress leaving me and my energy returning. As the day progressed, several other emails came from all around the country from people I did not know, all reaching out and telling me that I was in their prayers.

The last email I received was from a new worshiper of my virtual worshiping community, Old Stone Well Farm, telling me how she woke up with me on her mind and that she has been thinking about me and praying for me all day. Her prayers carried me through the rest of my day.

I will always remember the first time I experienced how strong and powerful the connection is between brothers and sisters in Christ when we pray for one another. I was going through a rough patch in life, facing many decisions as to what my next steps would be. Specifically, where was God was calling me to serve next? Was it time to leave a congregation? What did God really want from me? What if I made a mistake? What if I was listening more to my wants and desires? I was making myself sick with all the questions swirling in my head.

One night, after tossing and turning for what seemed for hours, I shot up in my bed to grab my iPhone to see what time it was. Ugh. It was only 9:30 p.m. I kept staring at the illuminated numbers in front of me. They were starting to blur a bit as tears of frustration began to form. But as the time went from 9:30 to 9:31, the tears retreated. I felt this strange warmth wash over me. It was nothing I had ever felt before and, for a second, it unnerved me. It was so unreal.

I soon surrendered and allowed my soul to sink into a sea of calm. A certainty of God’s guidance settled my mind. For some reason, I just knew I wasn’t alone. That was the first night in a long time where I actually slept soundly.

The next day, I went to the gym to get a quick workout in before starting yet another over-scheduled day. As I jogged on the treadmill, I kept thinking about the strange peace that fell upon me and how mysterious it was — dare I say, it was heavenly, divine? This wasn’t just a stressed-out body finally caving in to long-overdue sleep. This was different.

My thoughts were interrupted when one of the gym owners appeared in front of the treadmill, smiling at me. I slowed my pace down a bit and turned down the music playing on my iPhone. What he said next, made me come to a complete stop: “We prayed for you last night.”

I stared at him in disbelief. My legs grew weak as I stammered, “What?”

“We prayed for you last night,” he repeated, explaining that for some reason he had a strong nudge to lift me in prayer during Bible study at his church. I couldn’t help but ask what time this was. It was about 9:30 p.m.

Yes, it was that time. I remember well — and always will remember — how in that moment when 9:30 becoming 9:31, a peace passing all understanding came to me, tucking me in tightly, holding me closely and whispering to me a soothing bedtime story of how God is with me. There is nothing to fear. Nothing to fret.

 “We prayed for you last night.”

Yes, I know, I told him. I felt those prayers. I really felt them.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today.


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