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I have been to Freedom Prayer a few times, but the one that stands out the most to me is when the Lord revealed to me that I struggled with a perceived rejection from people, which resulted in a lot of insecurity and fear and it hindered almost all of my relationships to some degree. I knew the Lord wanted to do a big work in me, and I desired true and complete freedom from this heaviness in my life. . The women I prayed with created an environment that was safe for me to appropriately grieve the hurts I had experienced, and they helped walk me into the soothing comfort and healing that the Lord had for me. I can truly say that since that time, I have walked in freedom from perceived rejection, and I am much more sensitive to the Spirit in regard to my identity and when I am being attacked by the enemy. The Holy Spirit filled me with His love, joy, peace, and purpose, and I am able to walk it out more fully now.
Since childhood, I had always craved a life following Jesus. However, there was a darkness in my life that would not allow his radiance to shine through me, so when my friends from life group encouraged me to try Freedom Prayer, excitement grew like a wildfire in my soul. but Satan fought hard for me to stay complacent in the darkness. As I stepped towards freedom, the women in the room were encouraging, patient, and seeking God through every word they spoke. I left that evening of prayer radiant and restored! Now free from lies, bondage, doubt, hate, and anger that accumulated over years of Satan prowling on my heart, I am currently able to love generously, give grace freely, and love whole-heartedly; the life God had planned for me all along.
As the Lord began the healing to my broken 54-year old self, He had to make it known to me where the healing should begin. To that end He began to send me dreams of when I was 14 and was raped by an 18-year old boy, memories I had buried so deep I had not thought of them in tens of years; these drove me to a feeling of desperation and was why I signed up for Freedom Prayer. I did not want to remember and I did not want to go, so when I parked in the church lot I almost did not get out; what got me out of the car was opening the bible app on my phone, this verse was showing: The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalms 32:8 NLT), in obedience I went in. I was blessed beyond my imagining as during the prayer time God gave me pictures of himself holding my 14-year old hand and I understood He had never abandoned me, He was always with me; and I saw Jesus holding me in a comforting hug and felt His overwhelming sadness that I had to endure the trauma and even more that I chose NOT to turn to Him after. He helped me to lay the burden at the foot of the cross, to forgive my rapist, to forgive myself, and He told me to keep on laying it down and forgiving every day going forward.
I first heard about Freedom Prayer through my wife, and came to the realization that I needed this too. For some years I'd spent too much time on the Internet, checking out inappropriate sites when no one else was around. I knew it was wrong but always gave myself excuses & then found one day that it was an addiction I could not break from. I needed to do something as it was screwing up my life. I scheduled a prayer time but would admit to being a little apprehensive beforehand. However, the guys were so sensitive & understanding, it was not long before I disclosed all my long-held secrets. I'm not going to say it wasn't tough. It was. But God really moved when the team prayed for me and I've been free from my secret addictions ever since. It was as though a whole lot of bad stuff was scooped out of my heart, and a whole lot of grace poured over me.
On April 15, 2013, I was with my son my grandchildren) in Boston for the 117th Boston Marathon. A bomb exploded near the finish line and a few seconds later a second bomb went off 200 yards farther up the course. We witnessed the horrible sounds of the explosions that shook the hotel, screams of the injured, the smell of the explosives and we saw the bloodshed. We experienced terror but made it out of Boston and home safely. Fast-forward to the next few months: I found getting a sound night’s sleep difficult, I worried about things more than normal and got angry over the least little thing. It was not “business as usual”. I went to Freedom Prayer and Jesus showed me how, as a child, I took on the roll of “the worrier”. Because of that, it was easy for our enemy to plant the seeds worry of the trauma from the Boston experience and begin to systematically upset my life. Jesus revealed this and so much more and then, set me free from the kind of worry that robs us of a joyful life. He who the Lord sets free is free indeed!
My anxiety and depression had gotten to the point where it was a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and my brain and chest felt like they never stopped spinning or aching under a crushing weight. Anxiety magnified in the days and hours leading up to the prayer time, and I didn't even know if I could make it through, but as I tried to settle into my chair, the freedom prayer team played a song to open our time together. It just happened to be a little-known, modernized old hymn that I used to listen to on long car drives, as I tried to escape the swirl of questions, doubts, and fears in my mind during a particular tumultuous time in life. It was then that Jesus showed me that He had always been present -- had never left me or forsaken me, even when things felt chaotic and nonsensical. From that place of safety, I was able to hear from Him that I had been holding onto responsibilities, emotional debts, and regrets that He never desired for me to carry. Jesus took them from me, one by one, nailed them to the cross, and reminded me in truth that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I loved the Lord and desired so much to honor Him, but I was haunted by homosexual desire that -- after years of battling quietly on my own -- just wouldn't go away. I entered the prayer room trembling in fear, feeling ashamed and cautious, but knowing that I needed some help. From the moment I sat down to the blessing at the end, the freedom prayer team members welcomed me with compassion, kindness, and respect, honoring the places of pain within me and giving me holy, covered space and freedom to wrestle and hear from the Lord. They helped me find the words to talk to the Lord about some messy, broken relationships with both men and women in my past and present -- words I couldn't seem to find on my own, in my pain. The Lord revealed to me with His still, small voice the exact times when I began to believe lies about my sexuality, my worth, and His goodness, and He spoke His loving truth over me -- how He really sees me, how He loves me, how He honors my obedience and faithfulness, and how He fights for my holiness, even when I feel like I can't. He forgave me and invited me to lean into His grace, to rest in His love for me, and to put my flesh to death and be raised to life in the power of His spirit -- to receive my true identity from only Him.
When God's people gather together to meet with Him and to follow biblical principles of confession, repentance, and forgiveness, it's not a surprise when He sets people free and heals their wounds. But what always delightfully surprises me is the perfect way in which He speaks and moves. Whether I am on the prayer team or getting prayed for, I come to each Freedom Prayer time expecting Him to amaze us all over again with His power, His love, and His grace. He never fails.
In reflecting on my 1st Freedom Prayer session, I can say hands down that it was the most powerful spiritual expererience and encounter with Jesus outside of putting my faith in Christ for my salvation. I truly felt a real breakthrough in my intimacy, understanding, and grasping of my Father's nearness, closeness, compassion and tenderness to me personally. I walked out of the session with a song in my heart just thanking Jesus for his amazing grace. The things I learned in those hours of prayer have stayed with me to this day... I found that REAL and LASTING FREEDOM there for the asking. God is so good!