Testimony on Prayer

Essentially, these are my published notes from the testimony I gave at my church’s week of prayer on Prayer.

“ Even as I write this, I don’t think I’m the best person to be giving a testimony. My path with God hasn’t been the smoothest, if we’re being honest. The topic they’ve asked us all to talk on is prayer: our means of communication with God; an instant way to pour out our hearts, lift up our thanksgiving, and beg for a miracle from the Creator Himself. If you had asked me to do this sermon a few months ago, I would have laughed and then probably shed a tear, because my prayer life isn’t what it used to be; and by that I mean, there was a time when it was nonexistent. I had a distinct bad habit of going weeks without saying a single prayer. I’d go to church, I’d get a blessing, but by my afternoon nap, that holy feeling was no longer there. The bottom line is during the week — in the times when I knew I needed to be on my knees — I resorted to, “I’m too busy to pray” or “it’s nothing I can’t handle.” Let me tell you a little something about our God.. He has a way of humbling us and leading us back to Him without us even realizing it. 

I wish I was kidding, but my prayer life did a 180 in the wrong direction last year. After seeing God move mountains to get me to Europe and back safely, work miracles to change my bitter, narcissistic heart, and countless other jaw-dropping changes, I found myself quite devoid of Him within me altogether. I thought I had things all figured out; God got me to where I wanted to be, and I could take it from here. I would still go to church, even vespers each week. I’d get that “Wow, I needed this.” rush, or “I’m so glad I’m here — God wanted me to hear this” type of feelings every time. But by Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, it was as if everything I had meditated on during the Sabbath had floated out, leaving no trace. I was literally, as they say, going through the motions. I look back and see the countless ways the devil would directly intervene; maybe I wanted to listen to my praise playlist, but chose something a little less uplifting instead; or the times I wanted to get up and pray, but slept in a lot later. Even in my subconscious I was pulling away from Him.  But, let me tell you something about my God — about our God. He is persistent. He is relentless, and He is an unstoppable force. In the moments when I was pulling away — really, I was running away, without even realizing it, He was setting things up that would lead me racing to get back into His arms. 

Among bad habits, I’ve come to realize blind workaholism is one of them. When I first started out last semester employed at five different jobs while still going to school full-time and training for a powerlifting competition, I thought I would be just fine. And, to an extent, I was for a couple months. But by late October, I began to see the side-effects of it all. I was constantly running  on way too much espresso combined with way too little sleep. I was irritable, sluggish, but most of all, exhausted. My thesis advisor was continually asking me when he’d start seeing pages — or any type of progress — on my big Honors project. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving Break hit that I realized something had to give. I needed a break — a change in the draining routine that I was going way too accustomed to. 

It was during a sermon I heard on campus about Surender that I realized how there was no need for me to be running on empty, when God was waiting to fill me up with His strength and grace. I began to pray for a sign, for strength to make it through the week, but ultimately, guidance in how to lessen the load. And, boy did he do so. I was able to make it through finals, and as soon as they were over, I had made a prayerful decision. In just a few shifts at all three jobs, God laid out situations for me to realize where I wanted to be; where I felt valued, but more importantly, where I felt at home. I ended up leaving Banana Republic and Ulta, the two most inconvenient jobs, the week I left for Oregon. 

For the first time during the semester I was supposed to be studying and focusing on my senior year, I was able to take a break. I think God knows the timing of things better than we do. I booked my flight to Oregon back in September on a whim because I knew I’d want to spend Christmas with my dad. But I had no idea that it would come and give me the break I so desperately needed. I probably slept more in that one week than I had in the two or three before. But more than that, I was able to work on my paper and focus on my family. Even when I was being stubborn, tired, and focusing on all the wrong things, God was still looking out for me. Even when I was ignoring His calls and thinking I could do it all on my own, God was still there —waiting for me with open arms. 

My prayer life still isn’t perfect, but neither am I. I still struggle to connect with God, but my struggles are what make me human. Regardless of my shortcomings, God has never left; His persistence never fails. He sees my striving and meets me where I’m at. He sees my indecision and stubbornness, and waits on me to answer His calls. 

In closing, below is a poem I wrote last year, when I was going back and forth with God — wrestling him in the middle of it all. I cried when I read this at church, and I still get chills and worked up when I read it. I hope it resonates with you in some way.  “

I’ve come full circle again; 

having a ‘come to Jesus’ 

moment that led to 

me crying out on my 

hands and knees, 

because coming back to 

this  fetal position is the 

only guarantee I can

seem to cling onto. 

The endless cycles always start 

with the apologies and 

end with me rambling, 

a one sided colloquy, 

almost a soliloquy. 

Maybe I need these cycles 

to keep me balanced 

like the desert needs rain 

to keep from itself 

getting too calloused. 

But even in the challenge 

of the silence, 

when I am shamefully 

hiding in plain sight,

when the lion I’m fighting 

is only my own defiance, 

Grace pours over me 

like light from the horizon. 

And I realize that while 

I may be a vile virus, 

to Him I am priceless, 

and in Him I am righteous. 


DeAndra Merrills