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Stormie

Stormie Omartian

Stormie Omartian
c/o Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop
North Eugene OR 97402-9173

 
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The Presidential Prayer Team

Harvest House Publishers

 
Book
The Power of a Praying Woman
This book is divided into 30 short chapters, meant to cover specific areas of prayer focus. Each chapter includes a Scripture-rich prayer to be prayed and five verses titled "God's Promises to Me."
 
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Stormie's Web site

 
WEB EXCLUSIVE

Living a Lifestyle of Prayer: An Intimate Interview with Stormie Omartian

By Laura Bagby
CBN.com Producer

CBN.comStormie Omartian is the insightful and best selling author of 'The Power of a Praying'… series, including The Power of a Praying Parent (1995), The Power of a Praying Wife (1997), The Power of a Praying Husband (2001), The Power of a Praying Nation (February 2002), The Power of a Praying Woman (July 2002), and The Power of Praying Together (2003, with Jack Hayford).

Stormie's quiet strength is so evident you would never guess she was once the victim of abuse. Stormie was raised by a mentally ill, abusive mother who locked her in a closet for much of her early childhood. Stormie explains in her book that her father, a Christian, didn't come to her rescue. For years, Stormie felt anger and hurt toward both her parents. Then she married her husband, Michael, an acclaimed songwriter. The cycle continued, only this time it was verbal abuse. For the first part of their marriage, Michael was directing the anger he had toward his overbearing and perfectionistic mother at Stormie.

But through God's healing power and the power of forgiveness, Stormie is a different woman today. Married now for more than 28 years and mother of three grown children, this Presidential Prayer Team member is a soft-spoken, gentle, unassuming, and accepting woman. And she made me feel right at home as she divulged her passion to know God and to help others know our loving Heavenly Father.

I know that you have written a lot of books about prayer. I haven't read them all, but I have read The Power of a Praying Woman.

STORMIE: Oh, great. I am glad. Are you single?

I am.

STORMIE: That's good. I did this for single women who said, 'What about me? No one is praying for me.' I tell them, 'You can pray for you. Let me show you how.' This is for every woman -- doesn't matter if they are single or married or what their status is, whether they are a mom or not or how old they are. It doesn't matter. This is for every woman who wants to move on with the Lord and establish a deep walk with the Lord.

You talk so much about women doing all these busy things, and we don't stop and pray for ourselves.

STORMIE: Women are the worst at that. Women are by nature nurturers and givers, and they feel guilty if they are praying for themselves. They feel guilty if they are doing anything for themselves. They always have to be giving out and doing and giving. But these 30 areas of prayer focus in the book are all God's will for their lives, so what you are really praying for is God's will for your life. Every single area is what God wants for you, so it's not something you have to feel guilty about praying for yourself. You are praying that God's will would be done in your life and you are being specific. I think more women need to feel less guilt and more conviction about the fact that they need to pray for themselves, they need to pray for their relationships, they need to pray for their work or the things that are important in their lives. They have to be covered in prayer. That can't be left to chance.

There is some debate, at least from what I can tell, in terms of books on prayer. I have seen the "five minutes with the Lord" books. These are short prayers. But with your books, it is like prayer is a lifestyle. Would you agree with that?

STORMIE: Absolutely! That's what it is for me: It is a lifestyle. I learned a long time ago that I can't make it without the Lord. I just can't make it without knowing that I am in right relationship to Him, that my foundations in the Lord are good, because you can't build on weak foundations. You have to have strong foundations. And the Lord's strong foundations are the Word and praise and prayer, confession, forgiveness--all of those things that are basics, and God says you have got to do these this way in order for your life to work. I have learned that praying without ceasing means you pray about everything. I am praying all the time about everything I do throughout the day, presenting my day before the Lord and saying, 'God, I can't get through this day with any kind of success, any kind of lasting results that would be desirable, without You being in charge of it.'

It is really wild how many women--and men, too--are really intimidated to pray. They don't know if they are praying the right thing. They don't know if they are doing it right. They don't know if God is listening. They don't know if they deserve it. There is all this doubt. I really wanted to help them understand how much God is waiting to hear from them and loves them. He wants to help you. He wants to move you along in His purposes.

So, is there a right or wrong way to pray? I have had people ask me that too: 'I am scared that I am going to pray the wrong thing for my life. The enemy is going to get a foothold.' I have heard of ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Do you have a certain way that you pray?

STORMIE: I always pray from the heart, and I am always very honest with God. That 's really important. I don't try to pretty it up for Him because He already knows the truth. He asks that we pray, that we partner in Him, so I don't have to impress Him with how good I am. He already knows whether I am good or not.

Confession is really important because that puts up a wall between you and God when you have any kind of sin in your life, even when you don't even realize you do. Maybe you are critical or judgmental or unforgiving and you don’t even realize it. Get before God and say, 'God, I just confess my sins before you. If there is anything in me that I am not seeing, show me and I will confess it. It is just like David. He says in the Psalms, 'Show me if there is anything in my heart.' Also just praying that His will be done. 'Your will be done' is the final bottom line. 'If I am praying something that isn't Your will for my life, Lord, I still want Your will more than I want that.'

That can be scary because God's ways are higher than our ways, and we don't get it.

STORMIE: We don't understand it. That is why it is a safety valve to pray 'Your will be done.' My dad is getting more and more frail and suffering more and more. I just say, 'God, if it is Your will that he go to be with You, then we just release Him into Your hands. But if it is not Your time, then we pray for him to be healed.' We always have that way up that it is God's will.

You are never going to cause God to do something that He doesn't want to do. You are not going to twist His arm into doing something by giving you an answer to prayer that He doesn't want you to have. He isn't going to wake up one morning thinking, 'Why did I let her do that? Why did I answer that prayer?' That is not going to happen. He knows your heart. He looks on your heart more than He looks on your words. He sees what is in your heart -- that you want to please God, that you love the Lord, that you want to do His will, that you have compassion for other people too and you pray for them. He sees that.

One thing you stress in this series of books is praying God's Word. Why is it so important to pray God's Word back to God? He knows it already.

STORMIE: He does, so you are not informing Him. He has read it. He wrote it. What you are doing is you are speaking something that is a sure thing. I know that if I pray God's Word as a prayer, I am right on. That is really comforting. Plus, it writes God's Word on your heart in such a profound way that it becomes etched in you. You hear yourself saying God's Word. When you hear yourself saying it in prayer, it increases your faith. It is amazing how it does that. You are speaking something that brings life, something that is able to cut through darkness and send light through the dark areas of your life. It is a powerful dynamic when you do that.

With the whole spiritual warfare thing, sometimes we as Christians can be out of that loop. We forget because we are not in God's Word all of the time. We don't hear Him. It seems like He talks to us more when we already know His Word.

STORMIE: You are absolutely right because you are getting so acquainted with the Author that you hear Him speak and you can tell when it is His voice. A lot of times we hear these voices, these tapes that play over in our mind. Those are the voices that get us off on the wrong path. You have got to be able to discern whether you are hearing God or you are hearing the voice of the enemy or you are hearing the clamor of the world trying to draw you in. You have got to know the voice that you want to listen to, and the way you find out is by reading God's Word because as you read, you hear that voice. You hear His voice through ever word of Scripture. You hear the kind of God He is and the heart He has. When He speaks to your heart outside of the Word, you know it is God. 'Oh, this is the Lord. I shouldn't be doing this. It is a mistake if I make this decision. The Lord is really showing me that I should turn this thing down and go the other way.' You really hear God's mind to you in regard to your life and the decisions you make every day.

For someone who is still struggling to hear God, and he or she is in that waiting mode, how do you encourage that person? Because sometimes God answers instantly, and sometimes you wait years and years. Like you and your husband with the whole anger situation, that was not overnight.

STORMIE: No, I still pray about it. He has come a long way, but I still pray about that. It really comes down to a decision. Who are you going to trust? I remember when I first became a Believer every so often wondering, 'Is this a hoax? What if someone stands up and says this is all a joke and it isn't really true?' I remember thinking it when I was really a young believer, during that first year, and I remember saying to myself, 'OK, wait a minute. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.' Whenever I get those words in my head, 'Is this really true? Did He really live?' I just say, 'I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to believe He is who He says that He is.' And that changed everything for me.

When I pray now, I don't give God a time limit. I just pray and trust that He has heard my prayers. I have done my part. My job is to pray; His job is to answer. I don’t have to worry every moment about the answers. If there is something more crucial when I have to know and I have to make a decision, I just keep praying and praying. If I need to, I fast and pray, I am in the Word praying, and I am praising. You do all those things to be in the presence of God, whatever it takes as much as you can, because the more you are in the presence of God, the more powerful your prayers are and the more likely you will be to hear His direction for you and your answer to your prayer.

Sometimes we have to wait, especially when it concerns other people. You are not just dealing with your prayers. You are dealing with someone else's will. And that is another issue. God has to break through that strong will. But when you are praying for somebody, interceding for someone else, especially someone in relationship--your boss or your husband or wife or child or neighbor--it allows them to hear from God better. It clears their head so that they can hear from God. Our prayers aren't answered as quickly as we would like because we have to get through the cloud.

It seems like, too--and I know that you have experienced this as well--that we pray, 'Oh, change them, God.' And a lot of times the answer is, 'Uh-uh. It is about you.' That is humbling.

STORMIE: Oh, it's terrible! [laughter] When the Lord first spoke that to me, I wondered, 'Why do I have to change? It wasn't my fault. Obviously, he is the one who is really messing up.' But then God says we need to change. There isn't anybody who doesn't need to change. If you are willing, God can come in and do a great thing in you. It is amazing that He did that in me with my husband. I can't believe that I didn't see certain things. For a while he wasn't doing what I thought a husband should do or be. When I began to say, 'Change me, Lord,' He really began to give me eyes to see things in him. That is really amazing. You begin to see the other person, why they are reacting the way they are, why they are doing the things they are doing. That really helps, the 'change me' prayer, even as much as you don't want to pray it. It breaks everything down in you to pray that. He shows you things from a new perspective. It is amazing how praying from a right heart makes all the difference.

How has God changed you? Obviously, He has because your life before had abuse. And now I sit before you and it is obvious that you know the Lord and have an intimate relationship with Him.

STORMIE: He has changed me so much. I am not even the same person I was. I remember how everything felt. It is not like I have forgotten. I remember how it felt to be so depressed that I wanted to die, so lonely that it was painful, so miserable. There is an emptiness, but there is also a burning, like it is burning out your insides, the frustration, the lack of fulfillment, the emotional pain. I remember how it all felt and then trying to get rid of it and nothing working more than temporarily. You get into alcohol and that works temporarily. You get into drugs and that works temporarily. You get into the occult and different Eastern religions. You get into all these things. It is temporary relief. And then you are worse off afterwards. It is like taking medicine that has side effects. You take the medicine and you feel good, but then you have these side effects.

When I think about the fact that I got free of all that, it is just amazing to me. It is a miracle. I had tremendous fear about things. You get free from the self-hatred. You couldn't even be a real person because you had so much turmoil inside. You couldn't even be a normal person. You are so self focused because you are in so much pain. You can't give out to other people because you are just trying to keep yourself together. I have just changed so much -- miracle after miracle after miracle. To come to be a patient person is like oh, gosh. You know what I mean?

Pray for patience! [laughter]

STORMIE: No, I didn't. I know better than that! [laughter]

Pray for grace is what I say.

STORMIE: Exactly. That is what I say, too. Grace and mercy--I like that.

God gave me patience where I didn't have any before. I wanted things done now, and when they weren't done now, then something was terribly wrong. To have the patience to wait for God to answer and also just the faith to know that He is going to do it, He has never let me down. Gilda Radner's autobiography is called It is Always Something, and I thought, What a great title! In life there is always something to deal with, always something facing you. For me, I don't think life is easy.

You talk in your book about that time in your life when you were actually writing a Christian book about prayer and you felt so distant from the Lord. You were busy. You felt overtired. A lot of women are in that situation, especially Christian women.

STORMIE: Yes, I know. It is so easy to get there. I wrote The Power of a Praying Woman because women get depleted so easily because we are torn. Women, more than men, are pulled in so many different directions. Men are very focused. They are focused on one thing, and they go do it and they get it done. Women have twenty different things going on in their lives at one time. I think that is because God gave all these children for women to raise and they have to have in mind where each of them is. I think that is just the natural thing. In one moment, we can have our minds on our work, on our relationships, on our families, on our feelings, what we need to do, how our hair is doing that day. When one of those things is off, it can throw everything off. That was another reason to write the book, so women can pray and focus in on one area of prayer focus at a time and really cover that area.

We can get depleted and exhausted. I got that way. I had been sick. I had two surgeries back to back, which just wasted me. I was wasted and I almost died. I had my appendix explode. They didn't know what it was for so long, so that is why I almost died. They took all of these tests and my tests always showed that I was "healthy as a 200-pound truck driver." That is what my doctor always said. I didn't know how to take that exactly.

I couldn't read the Bible. I was so full of drugs my brain was fuzzy. It was hard to read. I couldn't even focus; even with my glasses I could hardly see. What little Bible I had going into me was other people reading it to me. That was pretty sporadic. It was really hard. I couldn't go to church for almost five months. Once I got home I had nursing care. I couldn't walk very far so that is why I couldn't go to church. I couldn't climb up the steps. It was five months without being in church, and you need that corporate worship and corporate prayer. I would play the Bible tapes, but it just wasn't penetrating. When you can read the Bible, you can circle something and you can meditate on one verse. I couldn't do that. I got up one day I felt so empty. It was just awful. I just needed the Lord so badly in a powerful and strong way. It wasn't until I could get up and start moving around and get that anesthetic out of my system and my brain started clearing up that I started to get back on track.

I realized that I probably wasn't the only one feeling that way. I am pretty typical of most women. The things I experience are typical of a lot of people. I thought, 'If I need this, I bet there are a lot of women who need it as well.' So that is why I wrote the book.

It is for me as well as for other women to be able to focus in on a prayer focus. We look to other people to meet our needs and they just can't. Especially the men in our lives, we look to them a lot--our dads, our brothers, our husbands, our boyfriends, pastor, or boss. They can't do it. Only God can do it. Only God can meet those needs.

What kind of response have you been getting to your book The Power of a Praying Woman?

STORMIE: It has been great. I am so thrilled to see how many women are doing this in a Bible study. I have a prayer and study guide that goes with this. I love hearing the response of people starting in prayer groups in their house or in their church. That is a powerful way to do it. It keeps you accountable.

Another reason these books are good is that you can't think of everything to pray about. Someone might ask, 'Does it count if you pray a prayer that someone else has written?' And I say, 'Well, do you think it counts if you are singing a worship tune that someone else wrote?' If you believe God answers prayer, then it is every bit as powerful as if you pray it. I want to get people to move from that prayer into their own specifics of their lives. That gets them started. You pray that prayer and you have got that area covered. I use those prayers, too.

That's funny. You read through your own books?

STORMIE: I do. I use my Praying Wife book and I use my Praying Parent book so that I can pray those prayer because you can't think of everything. We are always praying about the urgent. It is hard to think about these other ways you can cover your life.

I have been dying to ask you this: How long do you pray in the morning? Do you go by a standard, like an hour or two hours?

STORMIE: I don't. Every time I have tried to do that, it is a set up for failure. I wish I could do that. I wish I had a life where I could say, 'Don't anyone open the door. Don't anyone call me.' I don't think I can go 15 minutes in my house without being interrupted. That would be a long time, really. I just don't want to shut anybody out, like my kids and my husband. So what I do is the first thing when I get up--and I learned this from my pastor, Jack Hayford--I get to my knees immediately. I have a special chair where I go.

I just say, 'Lord, I commit this day to You. I thank You for this day. I thank You that you are my Heavenly Father.' I praise Him for certain things. I praise Him for whatever I need Him to be that day or He was the day before: 'Thank You, God, that You are my Provider. Thank You, God, that You are my Healer. Thank You that You are my Deliver. Thank You that You are my Wisdom. God, I set my day before You. I just pray that You would be with me every step of the way, that everything I do will be to Your glory and not to Your embarrassment.'

Then I will pray throughout the day. If I have time, I can spend more time with Him and then I can get into the Word. I always pray for the president of the United States and for our soldiers in the Armed Forces overseas, for their protection. We [those on the Presidential Prayer Team] are notified every week on how President Bush wants us to pray, and we pray that way, for the things that are on his heart. We pray for all the people under him. I know that they feel those prayers. I know it is making a difference. And I pray for our country. It is a mandate.

Especially now.

STORMIE: More than ever. A lot of times I wake up in the middle of the night and I pray then. If I can't sleep, I will either read the Bible or pray. If I really can't sleep, I will read the Bible and pray. Sometimes I get prayer time in that way. It is not my favorite time.

I don't pray to be woken up to pray about something at 5 a.m. Some people do, though.

STORMIE: That's not my prayer! [laughter]

Don't give me the gift of intercession, Lord! [laughter] If there were only one thing that a woman could pray, what would it be?

STORMIE: That is a good question. No one has ever asked me that before. Just that you want to be close to the Lord. That is my main prayer. I just see myself embracing Jesus, white robes and all, putting my arm around Him and saying, 'Lord, I just want to be close to You. Just let me hear Your voice. Let me feel Your heartbeat. Let me walk close to You. Just keep me on the path.' I think that if you prayed that and that was your heart cry, He would guide you. That's where it starts, with that intimate relationship with the Lord. That's the first chapter. You can start there. If you never get beyond the first chapter, you will be OK!

Are you going to complete your series with The Power of a Praying Man?

STORMIE: People are asking that. I keep thinking that a man is going to write that. I don't know. I didn't think I would write The Power of a Praying Husband, but men kept asking me to write it. I was really surprised. Then I thought I could do it because I could give a perspective that a man couldn't give. I could give the perspective of how a wife wants to be prayed for and why. I saw a real purpose in that. I haven't really gotten why I should write The Power of a Praying Man. I will ask the Lord, because I do get requests for that.

I do have several others planned for the series. I have requests for Praying Grandparent, which I know would be different from Praying Parent, and for Praying Teens. I will probably do those at some point. I am doing The Power of Praying Together right now.

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