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The "Quote/Unquote" Interview with Deborah Perkins, author of "Life-Giving Prayer"

Pray.Network Coordinator Phil Miglioratti interviews

Deborah Perkins, author of Life-Giving Prayer

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Phil ~ In the Introduction to your book, "Life-Giving Prayer: Practical Ways to Improve Your Communication with God," you state that you "have seen the power of prayer, both personally and corporately. But I have also seen that most believers pray alone, not together, and often wonder whether their prayers are making any difference" - Why is this so and how has it become a problem for today's Church?
Deborah ~ Phil, I think that our individualistic culture is the source, partly, of our tendency to pray alone rather than corporately. If you look at God’s original covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and

Jacob, you notice immediately God’s blessings are specifically for families and for a nation, not
just for an individual. Those blessings apply to Christians who are “grafted in” to faith today as
well. But most Christians tend to both read and apply Scripture personally, not corporately,
and I believe this is (at least in the West) a function of our individualistic society.
As a result, we often pray alone, missing the corporate blessing of unity described in Psalm 133.
We don’t grow as much, since we aren’t prioritizing the gathering together of believers in God’s
Presence, except for Sunday mornings. We don’t really learn from others how to pray since
we’re mostly talking to God on our own. And then we wonder, after a while, whether God hears
us at all. We lose confidence and don’t show up for those corporate prayer meetings, and this is
a problem for the church because it minimizes the growth and impact we could have if the
church prayed together more.
The Bible is pretty specific about the fact that not only did the early Christians pray and meet
together in their homes daily, but as late as 70-95 AD, believers were expected to “encourage
one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” lest anyone be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
Praying together is encouraging because it lets us know we’re on track. One of the neatest
things to me about prayer are the confirmations I get when I’m praying with a group. For
example, last Sunday I was asked to speak in a local church. During my personal prayer time,
there was a worship song that kept popping into my head, which I decided to pray for the
service. The words were: “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the
atmosphere…” etc. When I arrived at the church and joined the pre-service prayer team, one of
the pastors began praying those exact words over the service: “Holy Spirit, we invite you to
flood this atmosphere with Your Presence!” I couldn’t believe it! (Pardon the unbelief!) But
that is how, sometimes, God encourages us to say that we DO hear Him and we are on track.
That confirmation bolstered my faith and filled me with joy, which is what Jesus says prayer is
supposed to do. You can’t get those confirmations unless you join with the Body of Christ in
corporate prayer and worship!

Phil ~  You ask a question that stymies many Christ-followers ... "How do we overcome our fear of hearing Him? And how do we discern His voice, if He really is speaking? Thankfully, we are not limited to childish conjecture when it comes to hearing God. I believe there is a better - and biblical - way."
Deborah ~ I think that much of what I said in response to your first question applies here also. We become bolder in our prayers and our outreach as we receive confirmations that we are indeed “hearing from God.”

Many people feel “stuck” spiritually, simply because they aren’t sure if what they heard was
“from God” or not. I believe God is bigger than our mistakes and that He is more interested in
our success than we are. When we act on something we believe we’ve heard from Him, He isn’t
checking to make sure we did everything correctly; He’s looking at our hearts.
A Father whose son is beginning to walk doesn’t discipline the child when he takes his first,
wobbly step and then falls: He praises him! I believe that our heavenly Father has so much joy
when we step out in faith – because it is our faith and trust in Him that pleases Him, not our
perfection. He knows we’ll grow, and He knows that takes time. And as a loving Father, He is VERY interested in giving us the time we need to grow and become all He has destined us to
be.
If you have children, you know that even one tiny step from your toddler fills you with such joy
and excitement, because that child is yours – in your image – and is beginning to look a lot like
you, walking and talking and growing into maturity. We should not be afraid to fail, either,
because like Peter who got out of the boat in faith but then sank in fear, Jesus will rescue us
from our less-godly moments!

Phil ~ How has this word you received from an intercessor in your congregation shaped your prayer life?  "What you need to realize is that your prayers at the kitchen sink are every bit as effective as your prayers in the prayer closet" 
Deborah ~ While I am a big believer in maintaining regular, personal prayer times, I have learned that “on the go” prayers are just as “valid” in God’s eyes. As a mom, I haven’t always had the kind of
time to pray that I wanted. Hearing those words from a more seasoned intercessor made me
realize that God wasn’t limited to my prayer closet. Some of my best prayers and most powerful
times of hearing God have been in the car, driving one of my sons to a friend’s house, or folding
laundry for my husband. God isn’t limited in how, when, or where He speaks, and we shouldn’t
limit our conversations with Him any more than we would limit speaking to our spouse only at
a certain time!

Phil ~ Interesting chapter title: "JESUS IS THE HIGHWAY, NOT THE DETOUR!"
Deborah ~ Sometimes we see prayer as a “have to,” not a “get to.” When this happens, it’s usually because we are no longer relying on the wisdom of God; we’re starting our day from the standpoint of:

“I know what needs to happen today, I’ve got a plan, and I don’t have time to pray.” We’re
letting our partial wisdom or life’s deadlines set our agendas instead of allowing God to set
them.
I’m not perfect at this, but I know that when I ask God to show me what needs to happen each
day, things go much more smoothly. This week I planned to do some writing and prayer on a
Monday and tackle some errands and more active tasks on Tuesday. Our New England weather
forecast was for about an inch of snow on Tuesday, so I didn’t think anything of it.
On Monday morning when I sat down to pray, the Lord said: “Do your running around today
and go deep with Me tomorrow.” So I did. I ran the errands, did the family’s food shopping,
and took care of a million little things. When I woke up Tuesday, ready to write and pray, there
was not one inch but four inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down with gale
force winds! I was so very grateful that the Lord knew I’d prefer not to have to shovel and drive
around in that! He is omniscient, and our ways are easier when we follow His “GPS.”

Phil ~ You issue a challenge to us ...  "Many people are frustrated that they don’t seem to hear from God, and yet they never take specific steps to change that. I challenge you to pull out your calendar, block off at least an hour or two of time in the near future (a half day would be even better), and do a “mini” prayer retreat. The goal of your retreat is to create an action plan that will help you see exactly how you can improve your relationship with God."
Deborah ~ Most of us make New Year’s resolutions on a regular basis, but we rarely take the time to make spiritual adjustments that will help us stay the course and run our race. Prayer retreats are

based on the idea that we can tithe not only our money but also our time, and that
uninterrupted time alone with God can help us identify areas we need to improve and make
and action plan for spiritual growth. I like to do shorter, agenda-free prayer retreats every few weeks, but at least once a year I go deeper with God, asking questions like: “Where am I now? Where do I want to be? How will I get there? What is on God’s heart for me this year?” Finding God’s blueprints for your spiritual life can be empowering, especially when you invest in working on your weaknesses. Setting aside longer times of rest on a retreat also recalibrates our spirits, souls and bodies so that we are ready to serve Him for the long haul.
For those who struggle with being alone for extended times, or with more “sanguine”
(extroverted) personalities, making a commitment to join a prayer call or prayer movement can
be a good way to invest, too. Check out the events at Pray.Network, or follow this link to
download a free resource I created of praying organizations.

Phil ~ How has your "70% hearing loss in both ears" become an analogy for everyday praying and for the Church?
Deborah ~ 70% hearing loss – analogy for individuals and churches.

While I don’t always enjoy being partially deaf, I do feel sometimes that it is a “gift” that
enables me to concentrate better on God. One of the biggest prayer-killers for individuals and
churches is noise. Noise from our phones, noise from the radio, noise from the children, noise
from city streets. I didn’t realize how noisy the world really was until I was given hearing aids –
and it scared me at first! You don’t need to be deaf to hear God, but you do need to be more
intentional about turning off all the “noisy notifications” of life. Jesus said it this way: “Go into
your room and shut the door!” We need to close the door (read: turn off our phones) on
everything that distracts us when we want to pray, especially in this age of technology.
Noise isn’t the only problem. I wrote in my chapter on deafness that “the church is stressed
when the noise of our serving hinders the ease of our listening.” Intimacy, not service, is the
key to hearing God. Many churches are so busy with programs, lights, sound, kids’ church, etc.,
that they don’t leave much room for God to show up. Even churches that welcome prophecy or
pre-service prayer rarely devote more than a few minutes out of an hour to this. And it makes
me wonder: have we come to church to meet with God or to hear from each other? Only the
Words of God will change us.

Phil ~ Before we conclude, is there another quote from your book you'd like to highlight for us?
Deborah ~ One of the things the Lord spoke to my heart last year is this (from the book chapter entitled “Ask Boldly”): “I am looking for the intimacy that has courage to request miracles, to make a
demand on My goodness and bring My manifest Presence into the earth.”
Far from presumptuous prayer or a “name it and claim it” focus, true intimacy with God will
cause us to be bolder than ever in our prayer lives. (Look at Abraham’s negotiations with God
over Sodom and Gomorrah, for example.) We request the greatest favors from those with
whom we are the closest, relationally. I don’t ask an acquaintance to help me with the larger
stuff of life; I ask my closest friends and family, who care for me and will gladly help me with
any task, no matter how daunting.
In the same way, the greater your intimacy with God, the bolder you will become in asking Him
to do “greater things.” I think when Jesus said we’d do “greater works” than He did, He wasn’t
saying that was because we are greater than He is – it’s because He knew that after the
resurrection, we’d have the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us like never before to do
greater things! Intimacy isn’t afraid to ask God for the miraculous.
Phil ~ Thank you Deborah. Would you please write a prayer that will help us devote ourselves to life-giving prayer?
Deborah ~ Father, Your Word says everyone can hear your voice. (John 10:27.) I thank you that in Your eyes, no one is deaf or unable to connect with you! We know that it is harder to hear You when

noise, distractions, and our own agendas dull Your voice, though, and for that we ask Your
forgiveness.
We pray You would rekindle in us a desire to connect with You and spend time in Your Word,
listening for Your whispers to our hearts. We pray for boldness not only to request miracles,
but also to just step out and act on the inklings and urgings you give us during our prayer
times. We believe You have divine appointments for us: people You want to bless as we act on
these Spirit-led impressions.
May our wobbly first steps bring You joy as we seek to imitate You and expand Your Kingdom!
Catch us when we fall, Lord, and reassure us that You are ever holding, ever guiding, ever
encouraging us into the kind of maturity that makes us a blessing to all the families of the
earth. Amen.

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