When I was in the midst of my rebellion and sin, my heart began to harden.
I couldn't pray anymore.
I loathed going to church.
I hated putting on the phony smile around my Christian friends.
I didn't even want to touch my bible.
I felt annoyed when Christian music was being played.
I chose to listen strictly to 'mainstream' music since it fed my mood of discontent.
Each of these things in and of themselves are not innately wrong per se. However, for me, at that point in time, it was all of them - at every waking moment.
I don't even remember all of the cruel and heartless things I said to my wife, but my family all agrees that I was definitely not my normal self.
I felt a palpable darkness looming over me - a heavy weight bearing down on my shoulders.
My wife and my children prayed for me...all the time. So much so, that I remember feeling extremely annoyed with it. Every single meal I had to listen to, "Dear God, please bless this food...and please help my Daddy to love my Mommy again...help him to change..." The prayers at bedtime were similar in nature.
When I would lie down in bed every night, I listened to my wife tearfully praying for me and pleading with God to soften my heart and bring about a change.
I actually asked them to stop praying for me. I told them that they could pray however they wanted to when I wasn't around, but I didn't want to hear it anymore.
I honestly did not believe that prayer would change a single thing.
Around that time, there was a Men's Encounter scheduled with our church. I did NOT want to attend. Interestingly enough, I had wanted to attend previous Men's Encounters, but logistically it never worked out.
This time, there was nothing stopping me or getting in the way (aside from myself). My wife pleaded with me to attend. Several men in the church overly-encouraged me to attend. I reluctantly agreed (and probably thought I'd find some temporary solace from the overabundance of prayers on the home front).
That weekend was more than an "Encounter" with God. That weekend was a divinely planned moment of breakthrough. I was completely broken before the Throne of Grace. I remember praying/pleading/begging God to soften my heart. I asked Him to not allow the hardness of my heart to continue.
Fast forward to the present day. I am blown away at how far I'd strayed. I hang my head and shake it in disgust and shame at the non-man I'd allowed myself to become.
I am a living example of the power of prayer and how it can truly change someone's life.
If you know someone who needs Jesus (whether a non-believer, or a believer who's strayed), pray, pray, pray, and then continue to pray.
"...pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (James 5:16)
A heartfelt and sincere thanks is given to my dear wife and to my boys for lifting me up in prayer.