If God Cares about Jars

By Cheryl Mansell

Cheryl Mansell prays often for everything, whether big or small. After all, prayer is simply having a conversation with God.

My prayer journey began with my praying dad. As a young child, I would awaken early every morning during his long sessions of prayer. I was in my top bunk in our tiny house for a family of seven. Just on the other side of the thin wall, he was kneeling at his desk chair in his backporch-turned-pastor's study. He met God on his knees at that chair, and I listened. I learned about conversational prayer.

In those early morning hours I began my own prayer journey with the covers pulled up over my head, a practice I still follow to this very day.

With prayer and a song running through my head every morning, I become ready to face the day. “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word. Just to rest upon his promise, and to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord!’” It’s all about a conversation. Jesus has always been the constant in my life and I have had this habit of talking to him about everything for as long as I can remember. People say, “You must have a direct line to heaven. God always hears your prayers.” I agree, he does hear every prayer I pray. He is used to hearing from me, often. That does not mean he says, “Oh, it’s her, I’ll answer yes.” Actually, it’s not so much about the answers as it is the presence of God and peace that comes in the conversation.

A long time ago, I scribbled a quote from Oswald Chambers on a slip of paper and stuck it to my prayer wall in my study. It’s still there. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; Prayer IS the greater work!” I consider prayer to be the greatest, the most important thing I do. I am a busy woman. People wonder how I do all that I do. I wonder the same! But I know that my strength and endurance come from Christ. Talking with him is the most important thing I can do. Chambers goes on to say, “There is nothing thrilling about a laboring person’s work, but it is the laboring person who makes the ideas of the genius possible. And it is the laboring saint who makes the ideas of his Master possible. When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results.”

Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.

Oswald Chambers

I absolutely cherish my time alone in prayer, but also draw much strength from praying with others. Lately, God seems to have enlisted me to call others to prayer. It has been beautiful to watch him work and to see the faith that has blossomed in all of us in the process.

In early 2014, I was approached about leading a prayer initiative prior to the ALIVE 2015 Women’s Conference. I sensed immediately in my spirit that the request was his. But I knew I had to seek from him the way to go about it. Soon he gave me guidance to gather at least 100 women to pray daily for the entire year leading to ALIVE. I sent out an invitation for women to join me, and the response was beautiful beyond my expectations. A total of 250 women from across North America and around the world became a powerful force of prayer.

Every day for a year a call to prayer was placed on the ALIVE Prayer Facebook page covering every detail. Because of that year of focused prayer, women showed up at ALIVE with an excitement and expectation that cannot be described. We had created space in our hearts, in our lives, and in Nashville for God to move. We had worked at prayer and we could feel his presence powerfully. Prayer truly is the greater work! This is what I love so much about the Lord. When he places something on our hearts and we are willing to listen, he is so faithful to guide and bless us in the process.

I am never amazed that God does what he does. I am always amazed that he chooses to work through me.

Strength grows from sharing the stories of what happens when we pray. I get great joy from telling of his work in my life and the lives of those close to me. I love how it builds my own faith and the faith of others.

The past four years of our lives have taken my husband, Jeff, and me on a journey we could never have dreamed of at this stage in our lives. God called us to urban community ministry. We have done a lot of “listening prayer” as he guided us into ministries that we have never done before. There have been many, many conversations with him seeking his wisdom every step of the way. And he has been so faithful! On a hot summer day, I was preparing projects for an artistic expression class at the summer day camp we lead in our urban neighborhood. Since I pray about everything, this day I said, “Lord, I could use 45 jars if you know of any that might be out there.” Later that day, a nearby friend posted on social media: “Moving out west. Have some old canning jars if anyone can use them.” I picked them up and counted them. There were 43! When the children were making their beautiful art projects, one of the girls asked, “Ms. Cheryl, where did you get all of these jars?” I shared the story of my prayer and my friend. Then she said, “Well, if God cares about jars, he must care about everything!”

And that’s it! He does care about everything! He wants to hear about everything. He cares about the details that can be a catalyst to bring glory to his name. He wants to be in constant conversation with us. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 calls us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

There are days when the enemy attempts to place distractions in the way. Prayer requires intentional focus. For me, I often sit in one of my living room chairs and talk to the chair across from me as though God were sitting there. At other times I just go flat to the floor so that nothing gets my attention but the Lord. I imagine my neighbors might think me crazy if they witnessed me talking to an empty chair. But by now they know I pray about everything because I tell them the stories of God at work.

One of the most powerful ways for me to enter into moments of focused prayer is to begin with these beautiful lyrics:

Father, I love you

I worship and adore you

Glorify Thy Name in all the earth

Glorify Thy Name

Glorify Thy Name

Glorify Thy Name in all the earth

Jesus, I love you

I worship and adore you

Glorify Thy Name in all the earth

Spirit, I love you

I worship and adore you

Glorify Thy Name in all the earth.

- By Benny Hinn