Sitting out on the deck on a quiet early morning at a hotel in Dominican Republic, I was praying and journaling, something I love to do. This day was a bit different, however, as the page that laid open in my journal was one that was really starting to get on my nerves.
Months earlier, I had written a strategic prayer for breakthrough in my business. Specifically, I was calling out for the champions who would be generals and world-changers in a region that desperately needed answers. I am called to raise leaders and it had been quite awhile since I had found anyone willing to rise to the challenge. I was praying for people who are hungry to lead and impact others.
My prayer wasn’t a simple prayer of “God, please make me succeed.” We already had success, as some people would define it. This prayer was a deeper cry of my heart to find the champions of our city and region who we could help activate into a better life. (Without knowing what we do for a living, you might wonder what our business is, but that’s not really the point.)
The point is this: One of my major life assignments is to find great people who are “stuck” and need an advancement in their finances and other areas of their life, then raise and empower them to lead. Sounds like that person should be around every corner, right? What I’ve found is that, yes, finding champion people who are stuck is available by the dozens. Finding people who are willing to do something about it? Now that’s where the miracle lies!
So I’m sitting on this porch and begrudgingly reading this crafted prayer for what seems like the hundredth time. “Lord, I call in the champions of my region who have a deep desire to change lives….” and so on.
Why am I annoyed? Because I’ve been praying this prayer almost daily for months, without any echo or hint of answers.
I have faith. I’ve seen God move incredibly in my life. I have handfuls of miracles of what He’s done for me, so I know He’s listening, but quite frankly, I’m sick of praying this prayer because I haven’t seen the answer come to fruition. It seems silly and pointless, like I’m praying up the wrong tree. I’m bored and annoyed. I want to pray about something else. Just cut my losses and move on….But something tells me to keep praying; keep reading that prayer aloud. So, I do (sigh).
The birds that morning were singing the most beautiful songs and the sun was already laying down on the thick blades of grass. It was so pretty and peaceful. Reading that prayer aloud, I was all of a sudden interrupted by a rapid fire tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tapping sound out in the trees ahead of me. Squinting to figure out what it was, I spotted a woodpecker.
The presence of God filled that porch and I heard a voice (not audible, but internal) ask me, “Do you see that woodpecker? He looks silly, doesn’t he?” Agree. That looks like a waste of time. Pounding away over and over and over and over….. And honestly, it looks painful for no return. The tree isn’t budging!
“It doesn’t look like it right now, but if he keeps tapping that tree, he’s going to make a dent. And then if he continues even more, he can eventually create a hole.” How many times does a woodpecker peck….?
And then it hit me: some prayers are chainsaw prayers (still my preference) and others are woodpecker prayers. “Jenny, this prayer is a woodpecker prayer. It seems pointless and painful, but I want you to keep tapping at it and watch what happens over time. Embrace the tapping.”
Two years later,
I can tell you that I’m beginning to see a dent and now a hole is appearing. The leaders I’ve been praying for are coming out of the woodwork. (And I might add, they are INCREDIBLE! Way beyond what I was imagining.)
It took way longer than I would have arranged it if I were God, but I can’t help but know that He has a purpose in what appears to be pointless tapping in prayer. He lovingly wanted to build something in my character and a deeper trust in His loyalty to me. Endurance, tenacity, and peaceful trust have been my reward.
And also, I can’t overlook that we have a very real enemy who isn’t fond of our advancements that cause others to advance. What I’ve learned is that sometimes, the only strategy I have in warfare is to outlast the opposition. My battery has to run longer than my opponent. It’s quite an amazing war strategy, by the way. Imagine a UFC fight: the last man standing wins! So here’s the point of the woodpecker prayer: to get your standing legs strong and build endurance for the impending victory!
The only way to get stronger in an area is to train for it.
When confronted with discouragement, doubt, unbelief, frustration, and impatience, are you willing to take that into the ring and battle it out? Or have you decided it’s either a quick win knock-out or no fight at all? How are your standing legs? How do you feel about process versus quick victory?
What is the cry of your heart? You may have to tap-tap-tap away at that in prayer. I thank God for chainsaw prayers: the knockout in round one. One or two times in prayer and “TIMBER!” But what about the woodpecker prayers… the ones that appear as if God isn’t listening? Could it be that He’s definitely listening, but has a bigger hope for you in the process… to strengthen your base, to firm up your standing legs that are required to reign as champion in the next big battle ahead?
I want to challenge you to hope again… for something that is deep inside of you, but perhaps you’ve lost steam because it didn’t happen as fast as you’d expected or hoped. And where there is prayer, there’s the action we put to it. We must chip away daily on the work side, as well. Praying without our action is ignorant and fruitless. I hope you haven’t fallen prey to the lie of our culture that screams “if it doesn’t happen fast, you are losing.”
Write a prayer and know this:
God is listening. He can’t NOT listen. He created us for relationship with Him; that’s the whole point, to fall in love with the One who first loved us. It’s like this: I wish I could tell my kids something and they respond with a simple answer and life just runs perfectly with no wrestling of the mind and will. But if you are a parent, or married, you know first-hand that life is about wrestling through issues, problems, and victories with the people we love. It’s actually what unites us.
God gets excited that we are wrestling with Him in prayer because ultimately, He gets to reveal His goodness and faithfulness to us. He battles the enemy through our prayers! He shows up in our prayers and praise! Prayer is a real relationship, but I’m concerned that some people look at prayer more like a genie in a bottle.
He’s simply asking, “Son/Daughter, what are we working on today? Ask me to help you with the plans I have for you. I want to.”
Keep at it! Don’t give up! See the progress in the tapping… See the reward in your standing legs getting stronger!
Finally, God has a perfect plan for you. Ask Him what that is and be silent for the answer. He is kind and gentle and all powerful. He knows what’s the VERY best for you and that’s what He wants to get involved in. Ask Him if you are praying for what He knows is best for you. Simply ask, “Lord, this is the cry of my heart. Is this something you would want for me?”
“Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 Amplified