I was sitting on the porch swing of a cabin at a campground near Eunice, Louisiana. It was my first 24-hour retreat since being in full-time vocational ministry. And it was long overdue.
I was a couple years into my current role as a Lead Pastor and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I was beginning to feel a desperate need for something different in my spiritual practices.
So I spent some time at this campground for the singular purpose of meeting with God. On that sunny afternoon, I sat on that swing praying with my Bible, a small notebook, and a bag of Doritos (Not the fun-size, mind you. The family-size).
As I sat there chomping on those Doritos, I thought to myself, “It’s 2 o’clock. If I keep eating these Doritos, I’m not going to have any room for dinner.”
And just as clear as can be, a stream of thoughts began to flow through my mind. I began to realize that in order for my spiritual health to change, I had to first change my “spiritual diet.” Just as one’s food intake is limited by stomach space, my spiritual appetite is also finite. If all I do is consume the spiritual junk food of the environment around me, there is not enough space in my soul to crave (let alone receive) the true nourishment of God’s living presence.
Every so often when I am sitting in prayerful contemplation, an image captures my attention. Sometimes it is an actual object that I am physically looking at, like a cross on my desk or a bird in the sky or a tree branch blowing in the wind. Other times it is something I see in my mind’s eye.
And usually, as I reflect upon whatever it is, I can sense and receive what I understand to be thoughts, insights, and experiences from God himself.
Writing a book was never really a goal of mine. Vocationally, I have always self-identified as preacher first, content to read what other people have written.
But three years into pastoring my church in South Louisiana, I experienced a dynamic shift in my prayer life. I discovered an approach to prayer that was a bit foreign to me, but once I experienced it I couldn’t get enough. This shift in prayer set me on a course that began to slowly transform my marriage, my parenting, and my approach to life and ministry.
Not long after, I decided to begin teaching the people in my church what I was discovering about prayer. Every couple months or so, I began hosting “prayer workshops” in my living room. I would take 8-12 people at a time and teach about prayer for three hours on a Saturday morning.