Prayer Partnering

“For where two or three gather in my name,
there am I with them” Matthew 18:20 NIV

Nancy Landahl and I never met in person.

Yet she was my confidant, prayer partner, deep soul friend, gentle and wise. She had never married, but she ministered to and prayed with those of us who were. In recent years she had suffered kidney failure and was on dialysis three times a week.

Nancy and I met through the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. I was a new mentor, and she was in my first group of students eight years ago. The writing course took about two years to complete and in the process we became friends and began to pray together by phone.

Nancy faithfully called me from Texas here in CA never missing a time, always calling me back when I wasn’t home or missed her call. She always insisted that I share my prayer requests first. She responded with such deep empathy and caring and spiritual insights.

In February of this year, we prayed on Thursday morning and then two days later she suddenly passed away on Saturday while praying with another friend in Colorado on the phone. The friend heard heavy breathing and a thud. She realized something was wrong and called paramedics in Colorado to reach ones in Texas. When they arrived, Nancy was gone. I had hoped one day that here on earth we would meet in person, but we didn’t. We will in heaven.

I wish I could remember our conversation or what we prayed about that morning, but I don’t. The one thing I do remember about her prayers is she always prayed for the full armor of God to be upon us at the beginning.

Now I cannot imagine the days ahead without her and her prayers. She was my cheerleader and supporter, and I was hers. The minute I posted something on Facebook or Twitter, she responded with a “like” and a positive comment.

We rejoiced when to our surprise her first article was published after sitting in an editor’s office for over a year. She had an unfinished novel that I was encouraging her to finish. Mostly, we cared about each other’s personal needs and prayed faithfully about them.

Though I am thankful she is now free from so much physical pain and other trials, I miss her greatly. I have one regret and that is I did not tell her that I had dedicated my book A Woman’s Heart for God to her. She had prayed my book into being, and I was planning on sending her a copy soon, but she passed away before I could do anything. If only, I had told her about the dedication.

What I didn’t realize until Nancy was gone was how many people she prayed with. As friends made tribute to her on Facebook, I only then realized the extent of her prayer ministry. She had prayed with many other people besides me.

In reflecting on Nancy’s life and ministry I realize that she had many qualities we all need in a prayer partner.

First, I could trust her to keep my confidences, and she did. She kept not only mine, but the other people she prayed with as well. In fact, she didn’t tell me for whom she prayed with, and I am thankful she did not. Sometimes she shared other people’s requests, but only with their permission.

Second, she was empathetic and listened without judging. I could confess my deepest struggles and sins to her because of that, which freed me to deal with them.

Third, she always asked me about requests I had mentioned to her before. I knew she remembered and prayed faithfully for them.

Fourth, the fact that she wrote down, prayed for, and remembered my requests made me feel more accountable to the Lord.

Fifth, she nudged me gently to deal with my sins and overcome those things that held me down. For those problems I could not solve she encouraged me to get needed help.

In my fifty plus years of prayer-partnering, I have come to realize that the deepest bonds we develop are with those with whom we pray. Even though I no longer pray with some friends and we are not in touch due to distance and time, they are still the ones I remember the most and feel the closest to. When two or more souls come before God week after week, month after month, and year after year to pray for one another’s most personal concerns the depths of caring grows stronger and stronger.

When Nancy passed away, I felt bereft and lost. What was I going to do now? God in His amazing way prompted me to ask a friend who I was only recently in touch with after not seeing each other for over thirty years if she would become my prayer partner. They were going through some trying times and so were we, and so I am grateful that we are interceding for each other.

At the same time, my friend Lana volunteered to help me clean my house so that I could continue to write and to care for my husband Ron, who is legally blind, and for our three young grand girls. I asked her if she could pray with me, and so two friends took the place of Nancy, and I am so grateful to the Lord.

Lord, strengthen us to make this our common practice to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that we can live together whole and healed. For the prayer of a person living right with You, God, is something powerful to be reckoned with” (James 5:16, The Message).