Bible teacher and best-selling author Sheila Walsh believes prayer is the "single most underused weapon in the Church."
“Over the last two-and-a-half years, I’ve had this burning thing inside of me that every morning I wake up with this word ‘prayer’ on my heart,” Walsh told The Christian Post. “I’ve been a Christian for many years, but I didn’t understand the importance of prayer."
"I kept recalling the words of Corrie Ten Boom: ‘Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?’ In other words, is it what guides my life, or is it a last resort? I am convinced there’s nothing the enemy would love more than for us to stop praying.”
Walsh knew she wasn’t alone in her struggle. She spent two years researching what God says about prayer, looking at how the early Church fathers viewed prayer, and even penned a survey asking women what they thought about prayer. The results, she said, were astonishing.
“So many women said they got bored, distracted, felt like they were repeating themselves when they prayed,” she recalled. “Others asked, ‘Why bother to pray when God already knows all?’ or, ‘I prayed and God didn’t answer, so why would I keep praying?’”
“That,” she added, “gave me a fresh passion to provide women a practical, step-by-step handbook as to how to pray through some of the toughest times of life.”
The Scottish-born evangelist is gearing up for the Feb. 4 release of her latest book, Praying Women: How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say. In it, she teaches women to experience the power of prayer through conversation with God by inspiring them to develop a lifestyle of prayer.
While researching for her book, Walsh said she discovered that for many women — herself included — the most difficult time to pray is in times of pain and suffering. Yet Walsh stressed the importance of “processing your pain in the presence of God.”
“I believe Satan makes us feel like we don’t want to pray; it’s a strategy of the devil,” Walsh posited. “We do have an enemy who would love to make sure that we don’t pray. I think sometimes when we’re walking through painful situations, we think, ‘God, you’re powerful enough to have changed this, but you didn’t.’ We get confused in our pain and the last thing we want to do is pray.”
On Feb. 15, Walsh will lead the charge in praying for victory over depression for She Loves Out Loud, a historic livestream broadcast encouraging women across the country to gather in prayer.
The event seeks to encourage women from coast-to-coast to "come together in homes, college campuses, churches, pregnancy centers and rescue missions to love instead of hate; to heal instead of hurt; to be listened to instead of shout; and to pray together for healing and hope in intimate small groups."
Walsh told CP that while on the cross, Jesus Himself exemplified how to “process your pain in the presence of God” — a mantra she continually repeats to herself.
“Christ modeled that for us in the darkest moment of His life, instead of hiding one single emotion, He poured out the pain of what lay ahead,” she explained. “When you’re able to empty yourself in front of your Father, it makes space for grace. Christ was able to say, ‘Not my will but Yours be done. The son of God didn’t hide His pain from His Father; Christ has modeled for us that we get to come as we are and tell the truth.”
Walsh revealed the one-word prayer she utters time and time again when feeling overwhelmed, simply, “Jesus!”
“There are times where you don’t have a ton of time to come up with a great lofty prayer, or it’s painful and you don’t know how to pray,” she said. “I’ve discovered that’s the most powerful prayer to pray, you’re acknowledging, ‘Lord, you’re my prayer and hope and shelter.’”
“There’s power in the name of the Lord,” she continued. “There are times when none of us know what to say, but I want God’s daughters to know: When you call out the name of the Lord, you’re immediately connected to all of Heaven’s power.”
A wife and mother herself, Walsh stressed the importance of praying over one’s family to protect them from spiritual attacks. Doing so, she said, is one of the “greatest honors” God gives to women.
“It’s such an important part of prayer life,” she said, adding that throughout her son’s life, she has prayed over him, from folding his tiny, newborn clothing to anointing the door of his college dorm with oil.
A strong prayer life is also essential to a healthy marriage, Walsh contended.
“So many women write me and say, “I know the man is supposed to be the spiritual leader, but I don’t’ feel he is taking on that role,’” she shared. “But Peter, in his letters, tells women: ‘Don’t let your witness be your words, but the way you live your life.’ We can try to nag our husbands into deeper spirituality, but there’s nothing more compelling than a wife who loves Jesus.”
“Have a journal, write down prayer requests for your husband and children, and then go back and see how God has been answering those prayers,” she advised. “When you look back and see how God has been faithful, it strengthens your desire to pray.”
Though she has written over 50 books that have sold over 5 million copies collectively, Walsh said none have personally impacted her like Praying Women. While writing the book, the author said she learned to pray the Psalms — something she called a “life-changing experience.”
“God gave the Psalms to the people of God so the people of God would pray the Psalms back to God,” she explained. “It’s like spiritual gymnastics; It’s how we get fit in our faith. The thing I love about the Psalms is, no matter what you’re walking through, you’ll find yourself there. Either the best or worst days of your life. When you’re praying the word of God back to God, you know your prayers hold power.”
For women struggling to develop a consistent prayer life, Walsh recommended starting with Psalm 23, as it focuses on God’s provision.
“It tells us that Jesus is close to us,” she said. “He loves it when we take a moment and pause and come to Him.”
When readers put her book down, Walsh said she prays they are “more in love with Jesus than ever before.”
“That’s my biggest prayer,” she said. “I want women to realize that the Word of God is alive and powerful, but my greatest prayer is they’ll have a more intimate relationship with Christ, realizing just how much He loves us.”