Thursday, January 12, 2017

Faith in Action: Prayer

I sat across the table from one of the most beautiful women in my life. She’s my mentor, but more importantly, she’s my friend and my sister in Christ. Her name is Doreen Ohlin – a woman with a quiet, gentle heart that’s sold out for Jesus.

A week or so earlier I’d asked if she would allow me to interview her for the Back 2 Basics blog series. Doreen and her husband Darwin (not the evolutionist) are modern-day prayer warriors. It’s more than what they do, it’s who they are. My hope was to capture her wisdom in a slightly more formal sense than we’re used to. She expressed her reluctance, especially when I mentioned that I might voice record our conversation as I took notes. “Well then,” I said, “Let’s just have lunch and talk. We’re good at that.” And that’s just what we did.

As we chatted and addressed a series of questions I’d provided beforehand, my heart nearly overflowed with gratitude, and blessing, and wonder. I want to be like Doreen when I grow up. I’ve known this for years, but as we sat over burritos (hers was tortilla-free and mine certainly should have been), that truth was made fresh. She follows Christ so closely she glows for Him. And when she speaks, wisdom and precious treasures flow freely.

Today I sit to write – to try to pare down our 90-minute conversation into something that makes sense on paper. And I feel bad for you, my reader. Because you can’t see her facial expressions, or hear the love in her voice, or experience her glow that comes from so much time in the presence of the Lord. I’m sorry, my friend. Putting this conversation on paper will never do it justice. But I’ll give it my all – just for you.  I'll paraphrase her answers because of the conversational nature of our discussion but will do my best to hold true to her heart and intent.  

Doreen and Cathy, 2014

A Recap of the “Interview”

Me:  Do you have a set routine for prayer?

Doreen:  First we must understand what prayer is. It’s so much more than requests, but constant communication with God and a lot of praise. For me, prayer is so constant there are times when I ask God, “Are you tired of all of my chatter?” I smile and know His answer. He loves close and constant communion with us. I know He doesn’t tire of it.

My prayer time is continual. I am always talking to God. When I’m at the grocery store and I see the same person in 2 different aisles, I believe the Lord wants me to pray for that person and so I do. At night, Darwin and I spend 45 minutes to an hour in our war room, praying over specific requests. We start on our knees in worship then seek Him in His Word before moving on to our requests.

I don’t sleep well at night and am up, often, praying and praising Him in the night. The Lord impressed on my heart, “You have the night shift and I am the night Supervisor.” I am blessed by Psalm 134:1-2 which says, “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord! (ESV, emphasis added).

Me:  When did you begin to pray regularly and what was your motivation?

Doreen:  I cant remember a time in my life without prayer. My motivation, always, is to know the Lord better and grow in Him.

In the mid-1970s I was invited to be a part of the board for the ministry of Evelyn Christenson. I learned a great deal from Evelyn. I talked to her daily and communicated prayer needs through a prayer chain. She propelled my growth in prayer and inspired me to be steadfast in it. She taught me that prayer does not need to be wordy. We can use our own language and a conversational tone with the Lord.

Ive learned to stay fully surrendered in prayer not demanding answers or outcomes, but presenting my needs and asking that the Lords will be done.  When our daughter, Annie, became critically ill as a toddler, even while our hearts were broken we prayed - not our will but His be done. Over the years, weve watched as God used both her death and her life in indescribable ways.

Still today when we face trials, were reminded that all things are for His glory. When I question His reasons or become anxious, He reminds me. I often read 2 Chronicles 20 for encouragement. The battle is not ours but His.

Me:  What is the biggest blessing that you believe prayer adds to your walk with Christ?

Doreen:  His constant and continual presence. Knowing that He, the Creator of the Universe, takes time to listen, that He cares for my needs, is overwhelming. When we pray, we build our relationship with Him. Daniel 9:23 is beautiful. It says, “At the beginning of your petitions an answer went out, and I have come to give it, for you are treasured by God.” (HCSB).* Even while we are praying, God is answering.

Years ago, we studied the book Experiencing God and learned that God is constantly at work. We must watch and see what He’s doing. When we seek and expect to see His activity, we will. If we don’t expect Him to move, we won’t even be watching for His hand at work. We try to live our lives always watching for God.

The truth is, we don’t really know how to pray. God likes to give us more than we can comprehend, more than we ask or imagine. He answers in ways that are bigger and better than we ever dreamed.

We continually ask that God will expose every lie and reveal the truth. Jesus Himself is the Truth.

Me:  Why would you encourage others to pray?

Doreen:  For the joy of being with Him. He gives a heart of contentment and a knowledge of our intimacy with Him. We pray not to get, but to share of ourselves with Him. In turn, He shares Himself with us.

God is always available to us. We don’t have to ask Him to put something aside to listen. With Him, we can relax, find peace and be completely ourselves. We can’t hide a thing from Him that He doesn’t already know, and He loves us anyway.

Through prayer, we can know Him more. It’s about relationship with Him. What bigger blessing could we have?

Before we ended our conversation, Doreen explained that she hasn’t always felt comfortable praying on her knees next to Darwin. Years ago, she learned that his jaw seemed connected to his feet and that when they went for walks, they’d enjoy great conversation. Over time, their walks started to include prayer and then times of singing and worship. Eventually, that partnership in prayer developed to what it is today.

* Doreen quoted this verse to me from memory and I don’t recall which version she used. I provided it here from the HCSB.

Normally, I provide a “Your Turn” section on the blog. This time, however, I’ll just ask that you take some time to absorb the wisdom of my beloved friend. Take it in. Ask the Lord to help you live it out. I know I continue to do so.

Until next week when we look at Scripture memorization in our Back 2 Basics series,

Be Strengthened by His Word,
Psalm 119:28

Cathy McIntosh is the author of Victorious: Finding Triumph When Hope Seems Lost. When you can’t see God’s activity in your situation, you might begin to feel hopeless. You’re tempted to doubt His care and involvement in your life because He feels so . . . absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but you.

But God is never absent. He is as involved in your life today as He was when He protected Queen Esther and the entire Jewish nation from annihilation, and He will bring victory.


  1. Hi Cathy, I think it is wonderful to have a friend like that. Sometimes their spirit just encourages you to hold on, or to be a better person, or dig deeper in the Word and reach even further into relationship with Christ. Thank you for the great read.
    God bless

  2. Bless you, Tracy. You're right - such friends are a blessing from the Lord.