By Janet Holm McHenry
I should have known better. When the surgeon had discharged my son after his knee surgery, the doctor had said, “Be careful as you lift his movement and ice machines, so you do not end up in surgery yourself.”
And there I was a week later, flat in bed in extreme pain, unable to move. Day after day I had done what the surgeon had said not to do—lifted the heavy machines from one room to another, even though my back was aching.
The straw that broke my back was a large dictionary. I had leaned over to pick it up just prior to our daughter’s sleepover party for her tenth birthday and then could not move the rest of the evening while girls giggled and ran through the house.
It was not how I had planned my half-year sabbatical—taken to write a book about praying for teens. Nonetheless, I lost five weeks of mobility with surgery and recovery for what the neurologist said was “the worst blown disc” he had ever seen.
We don’t actually picture the bedridden when we think of the word strength. Instead, we might picture weightlifters or marathon runners. However, I gained several kinds of strength while lying completely flat for five weeks. Since I could do nothing during that time—not even read a book, watch TV, or answer email—I prayed . . . for our four children, my husband, our extended families and friends, and my “route.”
More than three years earlier I had started prayer-walking for my community. While I started the practice for my health and for extra prayer time for my family, I quickly realized that God wanted me to pray for whatever and whomever I saw. Neighbors. Store owners. School teachers and bus drivers. County office workers. My multitasking exercise became my ministry as I walked and prayed. So, I didn’t want to let them down—or God—simply because I wasn’t very good at taking doctor’s orders.
A month after surgery I had a major physical challenge—to fly to a national prayer conference, where I would speak about my prayer-walking. While others on the plane lifted my luggage for me, I wondered how I would lift a message about ministering to one’s community through prayer when I hadn’t been doing that myself.
The morning I arrived, the conference director and an author on prayer approached me and asked how I was doing.
“Feeling a bit weak,” I said, “both physically and emotionally.”
And so they prayed for me, using scripture verses that now I incorporate almost daily as I pray for others: “Blessed are those who strength is in you, whose hearts are on the highway. They go from strength to strength until each reaches God in Zion” (Psalm 84:5,7).
I’ll never forget their prayer that day because it helped me understand that we do not have to summon strength. God will provide exactly the strength we need each moment so that as we rest in him, we are equipped for all the challenges of our lives.
Janet McHenry is an award-winning speaker and the author of 24 books, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She is also the author of Stronger Every Day, the newest First Place for Health Bible study and an earlier study, Training for Success. Janet loves speaking at conferences and retreats and can be contacted through her website, www.janetmchenry.com.