Early on, my wife was taught that she would need to make her own commitment and consecration as a new Christian. I, however, must have missed the teaching along the way. Perhaps I thought I could make up for it in personality. Either way, I was not the “spiritual leader” my wife thought she had married, and it was becoming more clear with each passing, prayerless day.
I started noticing books about making personal commitment to daily devotion, keys to a better prayer life and such placed on the coffee table or on the nightstand near my bed. Wondering, “Hmm, where did this come from?” I would read the title, flip a few pages, and then return it to its intended place on the table.
A few years passed and the children began to arrive. Then books geared towards “becoming a Godly father” and “being the spiritual head of your home” began to show up in obvious places. Conviction would motivate me to read a chapter or two, but without any consistency the conviction would soon be replaced by condemnation. A suggestion for family devotions would only spark an argument or harsh words at the least. Although I was the “man of the house”, it would be fifteen years of marriage and fatherhood before I became the spiritual head of our home.
Once I committed to consistent daily prayer and devotion for myself, the dynamics of the Schoonover household took on considerable change. My marriage took on a new shine, my children had greater respect for their father, and “walking in the Spirit” had new meaning to me. Not only would significant change come to our home, but there would also be a great impact in the local church I pastor. However, before I could effectively minister this to the congregation (with any real conviction, that is) I knew I would have to “practice what I preach” for some time, and I did.
Immediately there was greater spiritual depth and revelation in my ministry! More zeal in my testimony! Why had I put this off for so long? How was it that I could deceive myself into believing I could get by with such little fellowship with God, and be an effective tool in His kingdom? I had only myself to blame.
I was one of those who questioned, “Why doesn’t someone call for an all-night prayer meeting?” But then who needs an all-night prayer meeting when you’re hardly praying at all? Except, of course, for those times you made it to the church just in time to slip into the prayer room fifteen minutes before service. I guess it was only a reflection of how great my own prayerlessness and lack of understanding were to suggest we could pray all night to make up for the inconsistency.
It was like the Savior of my soul had merely become the “old family friend”. You know the one I mean… the friend you have great history with, but now only see about once a year. You stay up late into the night “catching up” on everything you’ve missed over time. Could this really have been the depth of my relationship with the One who is supposed to sustain me daily?
For years I was content to be a fly on the wall. I was happy to quietly view things from a distance when attending conferences or special meetings. The little guy with no name – a nobody, if you will – I was pleased to just hide in the crowd. There was no real heritage that anyone could connect me to, and I was pleased to just stand by my pastor and be to him whatever he needed me to be. I knew if this were ever to change, I would have to trust God. Of course there was not much anticipation of this happening any time soon.
At the time of this book revision, it has been more than ten years since I began to develop and practice a consistent prayer life. This would serve as a catalyst for many changes to come in my life and ministry.
In a short time, I would be called upon to travel with other men of God, speaking in meetings and participating in ministry in such places as Liverpool, England, northern Nicaragua, Japan, Singapore, China, and the Ukraine- where I saw the complete healing of a man’s withered arm! Most recently, we have traveled to Turin, Italy, where we are working with a man my wife and I led to Christ nine years ago.
This may all have been God’s plan from the beginning, but prayer was the catalyst that changed who I was so that the Lord could open doors for greater involvement in ministry. I do not believe for a minute that had I not begun to pray, and truly understand walking in the Spirit, that God would have invited me to take part in these matters and in these many locations.
My encouragement to you would be, “Don’t wait as long as I did!” And if you have put off commitment to daily prayer and devotion, don’t fool yourself in to thinking it is too late to start now. God has a definitive plan for your life! However, without prayer you will never fully realize or take part in all that He has intended for you.
This is the will of God, in Christ Jesus concerning you…