Yesterday I shared the first chapter in the Throne of Grace story of how God began to stretch and grow (what was then called) How to Pray Cards. If you missed that post, you can catch up HERE. As the demands of the business increased, I had been anxiously looking for immediate answers as to how to streamline production and keep up with orders without compromising my family and other commitments. But, I had not taken enough time to just humbly ask for prayer.
God had been impressing upon me that a core group of prayer warriors are essential to the success of any ministry or business for several reasons. For one, God hears and answers the prayers of His people! But also…then no one person can be tempted to take the credit for what God does! Plus, many more can be blessed as they get to participate, through prayer, in seeing God answer and in seeing God work.
So on with the story…
I had sent a late-Saturday-night email off to a small group of dear friends hoping to gather a team of prayer warriors around me. Before I even received responses back, God so graciously confirmed His plan the very next morning at church when my pastor spoke on Matthew 9:35-38.
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”
(Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)
I had heard these verses preached many times before. These are the last words before Jesus sends out His disciples to the mission field in chapter 10. I’ve always heard these verses in the context of missions work, with the focus being on the need for workers to share the Gospel and reap a harvest. However, this particular Sunday, my pastor zeroed in on that little phrase in verse 38,
“pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest…”
I had never caught that before! Jesus was not yet sending His disciples out. Before any action, He asked them to pray! As Jesus looked out at the crowds, He saw the sick, the poor, the spiritually lost. In His humanity, He could have been tempted to feel defeated and overwhelmed – especially considering that the needs were greater than the workers. Or, he could have kicked his ministry into high gear – barking out orders and organizing a massive strategic assault of compassionate care, demanding His disciples meet every need possible. But as the Son of God, He didn’t do either. He turned to prayer and He gathered His team of prayer warriors around Him and asked them to join Him in earnest prayer.
It was one of those rare moments when I felt the words of the sermon were meant only for me! Thank you, Lord! What precious words to hear in light of the email I had sent the night before.
But God had more to say to me that day. The sermon ended and immediately following the service, a new friend walked up to me. She and her family had just moved to California from Ohio only weeks before. With sons the same age, tech-y husbands, and a long list of common interests, the friendship between our families had grown quickly. She had just returned from a short visit back home for a bridal shower and had given a set of “How to Pray for Your Husband” cards as a gift for the bride-to-be. She said she was astounded by the response of the bride and the other guests and was excited to see first-hand what an impact the prayer cards were making. Although she had been contemplating using her love for all-things-crafty to open her own Etsy business, after her trip she felt God leading her to offer her services to How to Pray Cards instead. Her next words were, “I don’t need to do this for the money, I just want to offer my gifts if you can use me!” I just about melted into the floor!
I could not get over God’s goodness to me! This is a true picture of grace – God’s underserved kindness. I love that He brought me to a point of finally relinquishing my control over the ministry and submitting to His work. He showed me the need to let go of my desire to act and problem solve and let Him work both in my heart and in my situation – through prayer! Just knowing I was being obedient to the Lord’s leading brought such joy and peace – yet God, in His goodness, wanted to bless abundantly. It was almost as if He was just waiting for me to say, “Okay, Lord!” and then the floodgates of blessing flew open!
If you haven’t guessed yet…Deb was that friend and God used her to answer the cry of my heart for hands to help! But oh…He didn’t stop there! In Deb God gave How to Pray Cards much more than that! We gained a diligent worker – but we also gained a creative eye and spiritual mentor.
That very same day, within an hour of returning home from church, I was also handed a check from a family member who had no knowledge of my email calling for a team of prayer warriors. God had simply laid it on her heart to make a generous donation to our ministry! That check was just the amount we needed to purchase the equipment that transformed our prayer cards into professional, spiral-bound books!
Now 4 ½ years from its beginnings, what has become Throne of Grace has grown to a team of 4, with many more behind us who play a vital role through prayer. Each of those additions have their own wonderful stories we could tell of how God has used them to mold and shape the business.
We’ve now got close to 40 different titles of prayer cards and Bible verse memory cards, 2 different types of prayer journals, and a slew of other fun products we offer. As I am typing this we just had our 311th sale on Etsy alone! Praise God! God has sent Throne of Grace products into over 30 states and at least 5 (maybe 6?) of the continents in the world! I love that I’ve literally lost track at this point! Throne of Grace now has its own finances and budget supported by sales and outside donations. Ask those involved, and they will agree – God’s power is mighty and His hands, and only His hands, have built this business.
I now have a much clearer picture of the legacy of prayer the Lord is building through Throne of Grace. There is more to the story that I will save for another day because it’s a story that is still being written. And, in fact, in God’s sovereignty this ministry is now in a very similar hard spot as we were two years ago. We are once again seeing God grow and stretch us, providing new opportunities and growing the business but we are not yet able to comfortably meet all the demands. God knew that our own hearts needed to be reminded of these truths this very week. As God has been faithful in the past, He will be faithful in the future. May Throne of Grace always precede with prayer and proceed in faith!
When have you been at a point where you felt stretched beyond your means? How did God show his loving care in your time of need? Share your stories by leaving a comment below!
**If you are interested in reading a great story about one man’s prayer becoming one of the greatest Christian revivals in our nation’s history – check out the story of Jeremiah Lanphier HERE.