When my therapist said, "Call a few trusted people to pray for you while you fast and pray," I thought, "This is a personal venture, why should I bother others?
Faithful weekly visits to my therapist had been underway for a month, and I continued feeling like the title of Mark Batterson's book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. Sure, my husband had been caught up in lust and pornography for our entire 22 year marriage, but I just didn't understand why I felt so depressed, helpless, confused, and sometimes fearful? I found myself so sure one moment, then the next I was second guessing myself, my memories, and my judgement. I often wondered if my feelings were unwarranted and if I might be going crazy? Even considering my plight, I thought that I should be acclimating to my husband's deceit and behaviors, not declining. Two years later, after reading Dr. Leslie Vernick's book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, I realized my symptoms were no mystery. My demise was quite common among women whose husbands controlled their secrets at any cost.
Though my therapist didn't say it at the time, she suspected much more was going on with my husband than I was aware of, and frankly, I sensed something too...more like, SOMEONE!! She knew how critical it was for me to press in to God, so she encouraged me to get away to fast and pray. I took her advice, asked a few trusted people to pray for me, and away I went.
At the time, my husband and I owned a beautiful handcrafted log home on a gorgeous lake in northern California. I decided to go to our vacation home for five days over Thanksgiving. While I was ten hours north, my husband took my kids to my brother's ranch in Paso Robles for the family fun ranch-life we enjoyed every Thanksgiving. It was a strange holiday, my family in one place and me in another. Feeling so heavily burdened, my mind stayed on my mission—to be alone with God. During those five days, I did nothing but read my Bible, pray, and read Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word. I put nothing in my stomach except lemon water and hot tea. I was hoping to see a snowfall, but I didn't, though the temperature was frigid. Bundled up on the couch by the fire, I read for hours on end, breaking only to pace while I prayed. I felt God with me. I had anticipated Him speaking to me and He did. In addition, my soul sensed the prayers of my faithful prayer warriors from afar, yet close in spirit. To this day, I'm so grateful for the support of those women. My therapist knew that when two or more were united in spirit praying, regardless of proximity, He'd come. I'll never forget that week, not ever!
That cabin getaway was almost ten years ago. I recall it as a monumental time with the Lord as I cried out for God to be with me and to guide my marriage crisis. I prayed desperately for repentance, reconciliation, and recovery with my husband. Not a doubt in sight, I knew God could bring a miracle of restoration—I just wasn't sure that He would. I had a strong sense that my situation was more complicated than I knew. Not complicated for God, mind you, but beyond complicated for me, as I needed intense emotional healing and spiritual stability, not to mention my husband wasn't the least bit willing. The Lord confirmed in my spirit that my husband had deep secrets, but that it would be revealed in His time.
It was a sweet time with the Lord, yet facing my situation and future was so scary. What was going to happen? While that was unclear, God did make it crystal clear that I needed to bury myself in His Word, hang on to every promise, and Pray! Pray! Pray!
The Lord impressed two passages of Scripture onto my heart during my prayer getaway:
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, and the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
My mountain prayer retreat set the tone for how I would handle my life in a pit with a lion for the next seven snowy years. I knew with my assignment from God of staying in His Word and praying, I'd make it through. The next seven years brought me...the knowledge that my husband was with another man's wife for two years of our marriage; the trials of a four year divorce; a broken home for me and my three kids; losing my closest friends and my in-law family; moving out of and letting go of three homes; great financial loss; my children growing to love the other woman after my ex moved her from Florida to California; my ex marrying her and having her live the life that was once mine.
I continued to pray, but it seemed my situation was going from bad to worse. Nevertheless, I kept pressing in to God so that I could press on.
God was meeting me in those times of reading and prayer, and was slowly healing me, and growing me spiritually and emotionally. I experienced God showing up with comfort, love, support, and new friendships. As I clung to Him, He renewed my mind and healed my heart. If somehow I could go back and avoid all the loss and pain, yet miss out on what I've gained with the Lord, I wouldn't go back. Not anyone or anything could mean more to me than what my relationship with God means to me! Who would've ever thought I could feel so full of faith and peace after all that? Not I.
Over the years of leading betrayal support groups, I've shared with women the importance of spending time with the Lord in His word and prayer. Many women get caught up in their marital betrayal and place the majority of their focus there. It is understandable, and hard not to, as the "lion" of that crisis glares you in the face daily. It was always a struggle for me, diverting my attention from the demands of my troubles to fixing my gaze on God, but I knew it was the only way I'd make it. Mark Batterson said in Draw The Circle, "Maybe we need to quit letting our circumstances get between us and God and let God get between us and our circumstances."
No one can make you put your relationship with God first. No one can force you to be serious enough to spend a massive amount of time building that relationship, you just have to be so desperate for God, that you must! There's no magical formula to growing relationally close to the Lord...actually, I take that right back, because there is!
Quite simply, the more time you spend with Him, the greater the intimacy. If you find it challenging to pray--what to say and how to say it, you're not alone. There’s no need to feel inadequate--even the disciples asked Jesus for help with prayer. We could all use direction...and I've needed to read several books to shed light for guidance.
I'd love to share with you some of my favorite books on Prayer:
7 PRAYER POINTERS
Pray as you read God's word, pray as you're going through your Bible study classes, pray in church, pray when you walk, pray when you clean, pray when you drive, pray in bed...pray without ceasing. Talking with God is part of what brings intimacy, and I believe we women have ample opportunity because we have a lot to say, especially when it comes to the chatter in our head. Praying without ceasing doesn't take any extra time, we simply need a paradigm shift. I remember when I was working to shift my idle head-chatter into talking with God, I listened to the audio book (on YouTube) by Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God. Praying without ceasing is like having an invisible friend, not an imaginary friend, an invisible friend.
I've made it my practice to kneel and pray each morning in humble surrender, telling the Lord I go low and He goes high. This helps me get centered, reminding me that He is God and I am not; He is in control and I am not; He knows my quintessential needs and I do not; He has my future in His hand and I do not. Once I'm centered for the day, I can move forward in my other times of prayer. I pray on daily walks, and I have a few hills with a view where I pace and pray. We all have our heavy burdens we lift up to the Lord over and over. We do this repeatedly not because we need to remind God daily so He doesn't forget about our requests, but it just naturally pours out because they are such heavy burdens on our heart.
“When you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.” Mark Batterson
My prayer excursion at the beginning of this post was a great example of pressing in. These would be times of fasting and prayer...maybe for part of a day or much longer. When we press in to God with our heavy burdens, we are in essence saying to the Lord, "I'm making a special appointment with You to talk about something extremely weighty and I'm in great need of hearing from You regarding this!" He loves these special times with us, and I'm confident, He's very present during these imperative sessions.
”The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God.” Mark Batterson
Meditating on the truths in God's word can promote prayer. I have oodles of 3x5 cards with verses on them, and they've gone everywhere with me. I love taking a couple verses on a walk and mediating on them. When I read a verse slowly over and over and dwell on it, revelation starts to emerge. The Holy Spirit loves to start explaining it to us as He notices our interest; a mysterious excitement befalls us with the enlightenment of scripture. Intimacy with God is evident during these times of meditation as He often will speak into the current issues in my life. Meditation is one of the sweetest times I have with the Lord.
I love turning on praise and worship music and getting lost in the lyrics. Often I'm transported to the spirit realm where I imagine I'm already in God's Kingdom. We mostly think of worship music as a time to praise God, but it equally can evolve into prayer. Those heart-felt moments when the lyrics resonate with our soul, can provoke agreement, bolstering our faith. Nothing pleases God more than praying with unshakable, bold faith. Praising God not just in song, but in our prayers should be customary for us and praise and worship music can facilitate this. In the book The Prayer That Changes Everything, The Hidden Power of Praising God, by Stormie OMartian, it says that when we pray, our praise is what ignites the power of God.
One of the greatest detriments to our prayer life is unconfessed sin. Make it a daily practice to confess sin and receive God's instant forgiveness. Our prayers are as good as null and void if we know we've sinned and haven't repented.
Another area of caution is how we pray. While it's good and necessary to lift up our problems and concerns to God, we need to be on guard that our prayers don't turn into complaints. When our attitude is "complainy" it can turn into something that is not prayer. Frankly, complaining is not good communication with anyone, but especially the God of the universe. I also must caution that our prayers not be riddled with worry. Again, this is quite normal for us all at times, yet it's important to remember to move out of that place by claiming promises and declaring truth to our heart.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
Asking God, "Why?", is yet another area we need to pay attention to because it can be risky ground unless we are subservient in heart. I've asked God "Why?" many times, usually accompanied by gallons of tears, or, in a moment of sensing shock. I ask Him things I don't understand in His word, or about my situation. God is so patient with us and welcomes our legitimate questions. And He does answer many of those questions, but if not, we'll grow to be content not knowing--because HE KNOWS!
If these prayer pitfalls are a struggle, which they especially can be during periods of trauma, adding a humble posture to prayer is most helpful in expressing surrender to God—on our knees, on our face, in our closet. I used to have a big medicine ball in my house while I was recovering from some herniated discs, so I would pray on it face down. You alone will chose your own appropriate posture and prayer places.
“That which brings the praying soul near to God is humility of heart. That which gives wings to prayer is lowliness of mind. Pride, self-esteem, and self-praise effectually shut the door of prayer.” E.M. Bounds
People who spend a tremendous amount of time praying, are people you want to pray over you. Mark Batterson said in Draw the Circle, "Intercessors are watchmen and watchwomen. They see sooner and see farther in the spiritual realm. Why? Because prayer gives us a unique vantage point." I have a dear friend and prayer warrior sister in Christ who has prayed over me since 2010. Many times, I have literally driven from California to Arizona where she lives to have her pray over me with some of her other prayer warrior sisters. I've gone forward for prayer in churches, to healing rooms for prayer, and I've gone to a place called Hidden Manna where a group of women would hear my distresses and pray over me. Every single time I've been prayed over, I've had some heart healing or spiritual breakthrough.
When you are experiencing marital betrayal, and maybe even divorce, the magnitude of what's coming at you can seem unbearable at times. I can't express enough the urgency of ramping up your prayer life! I honestly don't see how to make it through that kind of crisis without serious prayer.
The devil loves to whisper in our ear the lie that if we pray and our circumstances are NOT turning around to our liking, then God doesn't care about us or love us. We can attack that lie with the truth and here are some scriptures to armor up with:
Romans 5:3-5 "...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Romans 8:18 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
1 Corinthians 4:17-18 "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Psalm 9:9-10 "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."
Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
1 Peter 1:6-7 "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith, worth much more than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may result in praise, honor, and glory when Jesus Christ is revealed."
Laura serves as the Executive Director on the board of HER. She is passionate about helping betrayed women who struggle emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially. She has been leading weekly marital betrayal support groups for several years. Currently, Laura connects with leaders, writers, and counselors, to unite the efforts of those who share a burden for betrayed women.
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