The young couple was gone. There was nothing more I could do. I sat down in my office to write up the notes from their pregnancy options consultation, but I just couldn’t put pen to paper.
The burden was too great.
I found myself on my knees, weeping. Only you can change their hearts, Lord. Only you can save the life of their baby.
No doubt you’ve found yourself in this position many times—you’ve done all you can, and now you need God to do what only he can do.
It’s not a bad position to be in. In fact, dependence on God is what human beings are wired for. It’s the human condition.
This condition works itself out in all kinds of practical ways when it comes to life-affirming work.
Maybe some significant decisions lay before your board. Maybe a fundraiser is coming up, and you desperately need a certain amount of donations to come in. Maybe you’re about to enter a conversation with an abortion-determined young woman.
You can thoughtfully approach decisions. You can plan out the details of an event. You can train and prepare for that difficult conversation in the client room.
But you can’t make miracles happen.
Of course, the beautiful thing is, you know Someone who can – and he has invited you to let your needs be known.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
Prayer is your secret weapon. It’s your invisible source of ongoing help. It’s your partnership with God, who wants us to co-labor with him.
Don’t treat it as your last resort—treat it as your first go-to!
Prayer changes hearts, including the heart of the pray-er. Here’s how I put it in Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion:
“Human beings are fragile. We have many needs and many limitations. That doesn’t concern God one bit. Our neediness makes room for his provision. Where we are empty, he wants to fill us. Where we are weak, he wants to be our strength. Where we are weary, he wants to lift us up. And where we lack, he loves to supply.
"God wants to hear from you. He wants to give you joy. He loves to take care of you, your needs, and the concerns you bring to him. Lack of eloquence doesn’t bother him at all.”
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing,” Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:16.
By all means, talk to God about the needs of your center. Seek him when you don’t know what to say to a client. Ask him for wisdom in the way you manage and administrate. Call on him when you need sponsors for an event.
Here’s a key reminder, though: Because we are fragile and limited as human beings, we have a tendency to focus on our needs and problems more than on the greatness of our God. We often suffer from spiritual amnesia, forgetting how many times and in what marvelous ways he has helped us in the past.
All we see is the mountain in front of us and how impossible it seems to climb.
Here’s a helpful tip for gaining perspective on problems: Approach your prayer time beginning with thanksgiving. This is what the psalmist admonished.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” – Psalm 100:4
Thanksgiving realigns our perspective. It serves as a reminder of what God has already given to us and done for us. It helps us overcome spiritual amnesia and recalibrates our hearts.
But wait, there’s more.
Research on the human brain demonstrates a stunning fact: There is one neural pathway on which either anxiety or gratitude can travel. The path can’t be shared.
If we give reign to anxious thoughts, they’ll crowd out thankfulness. If we choose to give thanks and dwell on God’s goodness, there is no room for anxiety.
It’s literally been kicked off the path.
I read about this phenomenon in This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin, sometime after I’d discovered it by accident. My husband and I were both struggling emotionally one evening, feeling overwhelmed with the trials of life. We decided to start thanking God instead of focusing on our problems.
It felt stilted and awkward at first, but as we kept going, we thought of more and more things to be grateful for. Soon a whole hour had gone by, the heaviness was gone, and our joy was back.
We had kicked anxiety off the path by offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Tweet This: Don’t treat prayer as your last resort—treat it as your first go-to! #prolife @susannemaynes
You can encourage your whole team to develop an attitude of gratitude by placing a physical reminder of God’s goodness in your building.
At the center where I worked, we kept a large, clear vase as our “thanksgiving jar.” Each time something wonderful happened, we would place a golden stone in the vase, or a river rock with a word or phrase on it.
Life saved…Marriage restored…Salvation…Financial miracle.
And so on. Over time, we watched the beautiful vase fill up with evidence of the power of God. That young couple I cried about? I placed another golden stone into the vase when they chose life for their baby.
As you face the many challenges of pregnancy center ministry, may your heart overflow with gratitude to God.
Lean into your invisible source of strength—and be sure to celebrate the miracles.