182 – Plugging into the Power of Prayer Teams with Guest Shadia Hrichi, Part 2

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Plugging into the Power of Prayer Teams with Guest Shadia Hrichi Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungEveryone knows that writing is a solitary endeavor. We sit at our computers, lost in our heads and imaginations, trusting God to guide our fingers on the keyboard. And with God at our side, we can do anything. But sometimes we need a little in-person help. And guest Shadia Hrichi is here to show how a prayer team can be exactly what writers need.

About Shadia Hrichi

Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies and a master’s in criminal justice. Her Bible studies include TAMARHAGARLEGION, and WORTHY OF LOVE, endorsed by Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis-Higgs, Chris Tiegreen, Bible Study Magazine, and others. Shadia enjoys speaking at retreats and events, and loves to visit the ocean each week for “a date with Jesus.”

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

Erin: Welcome, listeners, to the deep. We’re excited that you’re joining us today, and we’re excited to be continuing our conversation with our guest Shadia Hrichi (find part 1 of the interview here).  Join our conversation about plugging into the power of prayer teams. We’re diving in midstream like we usually do.

Shadia, how often would you say that you communicate with your prayer team? I’m sure it’s probably individual for each writer, or will be, but what’s been your experience? 

Shadia: It’s always been once a month. I don’t really know why. Sounded like a good plan, so we just started there, and it’s always been there.

Originally, as I said, I was doing in-person meetings as well as email. As the numbers grew, obviously I couldn’t keep doing it that way since the people were all over the country. So that’s how it’s been, and now it’s all been email for the last couple of years.

Lately, I’ve been including short video messages because sometimes things happen and I’m like, “I really have to share this story, but I feel like I need to just say it instead of trying to write it out.” 

You forget that personal connection, how much it means. I got so many people responding, saying things like, “I just love seeing your face and hearing the passion and the excitement of what it is that God is doing.”

Erin: How did you share that video? Was it a link from YouTube or what did you do to share that? 

Shadia: I put it in Vimeo and then I just put the link in the email. But you could probably do that from YouTube, too. 

For me, my prayer team gets information about things that I don’t make public. Not everything is made public, that’s why they’re on the prayer team. These are things that I don’t always share or I can’t share yet. You know, things like that. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Shadia: Now that we’re kind of past most of this covid stuff, and I’m currently on a book deadline until January, starting in January or February, I’ll be doing prayer team meetings at home again for the local friends who can come. 

That’ll be nice because one of the things that you had said, Karen, about when your team meets, your gals, the Spirit is moving in the center of you and he’s speaking and he might say something through them. That’s difficult to do through email correspondence. 

For me, I became a Christian as an adult. I was thirty years old. I wasn’t even raised in a church. I knew nothing. I mean, how God called me to seminary just makes me laugh. Like, really? I know nothing. 

Do you want to hear a funny story? I wasn’t planning on sharing this, but when I went to seminary, I was walking through the break room and there was a little discussion going on amongst some students about Calvin.

Erin: Ha! You were wondering where he is in the Bible?  

Shadia: No, it’s worse than that. The only Calvin—and I knew they weren’t talking about this Calvin—but the only Calvin I had ever heard of was the designer jeans. 

Karen: Oh, I thought you were going to say Calvin and Hobbs!

Erin: Me too!  

Shadia: Well, yeah, I’d heard of them, too, I guess. But I’m like, “I know they’re not talking about the designer jeans, so like, wow, what am I doing here?” But yeah, just so funny. All right, where was I going with that? I forgot. 

Karen: About meeting in person.

Erin: But wait, let me say that what I love is that you went anyway. You didn’t let that intimidate you. You were obedient, and I bet those people would have been gracious had you wanted to ask. But how many people whine, “I feel called to writing and I don’t know how…” And they don’t do it.

I mean, that’s where we all start, right? Not knowing how? But you weren’t so intimidated that you didn’t go. And after that conversation you heard about Calvin, you weren’t so intimidated that you didn’t go back.

Shadia: Yes. 

Erin: I love that!  

Shadia: I appreciate that. For me, I didn’t realize it at the time when I began writing, but I was just doing what most writers do to begin. Most, not all, Christian nonfiction writers would typically do a devotional blog, right? That’s kind of how you get started. 

I was just doing that naturally because I just felt like doing that. But the more I was doing it, the more I found myself holding back because I didn’t know that God made me to be a teacher—like a teacher, teacher, you know? So I was like, “Well, what if I’m teaching wrong? What don’t I know that I don’t know?” 

I ended up talking to my pastor and he was the one who said, “I think you should definitely consider going to seminary. That would be perfect for you. You’re called to teach, and it’ll give you the confidence to teach correctly.”

I don’t want to teach incorrectly, so I went. Four years later, and blood, sweat, and tears, and I finished. 

Erin: What do the meetings at your house look like? If there are writers out there who might want to invite people over, what would be the format that you do that they might want to think about doing?

Shadia: Well, it’s still also sort of an informal thing. Most of the people who do come to my house are generally people that I know well. You know what I mean? I usually don’t have strangers showing, so like people that live close by, that I’ve known, and so it’s not very different from any other prayer meeting.

If I’ve already communicated through the email some prayers and praises, I’ll have copies with me. Like, here’s the latest one so that they can pray off of those things or celebrate with me those things. But they don’t have to. That’s just there if they want that. It’s very informal.

I’ll make some decaf coffee if it’s evening and put out water and some snacks, you know, and we’ll chit chat as well because these are people that I love and they love me. Then we’ll get to pray for an hour or whatever. I mean, the whole time we’re there has been hour, or an hour and a half at the most. So not very different, I think, from an average prayer a meeting. 

Karen: Right.

Erin: That’s neat. Well, I almost hate to ask this, but we probably should. Have you ever needed to ask someone to leave your team? Would there be a reason for that to happen, or what would be a reason that might happen? 

Shadia: Thankfully, I’ve not had to take anyone off of my prayer team, but I have had to take people off my email list. This actually happened very recently. I was getting this person who, initially, I was like, “Do they need my help?” 

But it was just very toxic communication that didn’t go anywhere, like a person that was not connected. I felt bad, but I’m not called to be a counselor. That’s not my calling. Reaching out to me with those issues is not the right connection. I’m not the right person to reach out to if you need therapy. That happened several times and I thought, “This person’s just confused and this is not where they need to be.”

Because I did respond once or twice trying to be helpful, but I ended up just taking them off the list because the intent was not to get help. The intent was just to be toxic. I felt like it was just something to trip me up or something. 

If it’s an email list, I mean, that’s easy. You just go in and hit delete. If you have a prayer team and a person who for some reason they were not who you thought they were or something and they’re causing disruptions or so forth, if it’s someone you know personally, I would probably reach out personally and try to have a conversation with them.

I wouldn’t do that by email. I would do it at a minimum by a zoom call, or in person if you can. I think it’s just like any other kind of relationship within group dynamics. If there’s one person that’s disrupting the group in some form, they’re not feeding into the group, but they’re hindering the work of the group, whatever it is, you need to have the conversation. 

If that doesn’t work, the Bible says to bring another person along and hopefully that helps. If not, at the end of the day, it’s your house and it’s your email list. At some point they’re just not invited. 

Karen: The other situation could be a break of trust. You say that you share things with your prayer team that don’t get shared publicly, so if you find out that someone has breached the confidentiality or the trust, then that’s something that needs to be confronted and addressed.

Shadia: Absolutely. 

Karen: You give an opportunity for them to reestablish trust if you feel that that’s what God is leading you to do. But sometimes the enemy just brings people who seem on the surface perfectly suited and a great fit, and it just isn’t, because when they come in, they bring their own—we all do—we bring our own issues and our own struggles and our own weaknesses. 

And there are some that each one of us, in the people that we meet, there are some things that just isn’t iron sharpening iron. It’s acid on skin, so it needs to be addressed in that context. Unless God is saying, “No, don’t say anything.” But when there was something that was damaging the group, I’ve never experienced that God has said, “Leave it alone.” Either they have left or I’ve had to confront. 

Shadia: Yeah, sometimes God will fix it for you. The person will move on. 

Karen: Oh look, she’s moving to outer Mongolia. So sad!

Erin: The thing that I love about this conversation still is that, circling back to something you said, Shadia, God was in the center. He was in the center of the relationship you developed with Francine, and the relationship with you and your prayer team, and the relationship with people who you just meet and maybe they’re not on your prayer team, that’s fine. But God is in the center and that’s the thing that we need to trust.

Shadia: He’s always working. 

Karen: Amen. 

Shadia: And he’s on our side. Prayer is important to him or it wouldn’t be, you know, on every page in the Bible almost. 

Erin: That’s a really important point. This is something we can pray that God will bring about, because clearly having people pray for us is something he would absolutely want. So yeah, we can trust him with that. We can put that over in his lap and be like, “Help me.” 

Karen: I think one element of this, too, is that if we go this route, if we try to establish a prayer team, we have to be willing to hear what they have to say to us. We have to be teachable. We have to be humble. We have to not get defensive if they come to us and say, “I just want to express a concern. I’ve prayed about this, and I feel God wants me to bring it up.”

I can’t say that I’m a hundred percent always able to accept it when people say hard things to me, but it’s happened often enough in my life because I tend to be a little bit of a rebel. I also tend to be a little bit of a Tasmanian devil that mows people down without even realizing it.

So there’s been times when people have come to me and expressed those concerns. Unless they come in with an attitude of glee where they get to say this thing to me, most of the time when people come in, it’s with fear and trembling, not of me, but of what God has asked them to do. 

People in the church just don’t do well with confrontation. They’re afraid of it. And they’re afraid that people will think they’re judging, when what they’re doing is being obedient in speaking a truth to someone that God has given them to speak. 

When that happens, and knowing the cost to the person who’s doing that out of obedience, we really need to listen. We really need to keep our mouths shut and take it in and then take it to prayer ourselves, and even offer it to the prayer group and say, “Please pray about this, and if God gives the amen to it for you, please tell me that because I need to know what I need to do about this.” 

Shadia: Absolutely. If we really do think about our prayer team as, well I use the word foundation, it might be a different visual for somebody else. But I think of it that way, and we don’t want a foundation that’s crumbling. 

Karen: Right. 

Shadia: We want a foundation that’s strong and firm and unified together. The Bible says, I don’t remember the verse, but in the proverbs it says that the wise leader has many counselors.

Well, in a sense, your prayer team, they’re listening from God, the Counselor, so it’s wise for us, like you said, Karen, to hear what they have to say. If there is confusion or doubt or whatever, bring it to the team as you said. I love that because if we really do believe they are our support and foundation, we would want to hear what God has given them to tell us.

Karen: Yes. 

Erin: One of my biggest regrets, it was early when I had become a Christian in college and I was tasked with leading something in a group, and I thought I knew the way to do it, and somebody older than me came to me and said, “You know, I think you need to think about the way you’re doing this.” 

I didn’t take it to heart. I still remember that and I regret it. It’s taken me a lot of years to understand that, but he was right. What he was saying was right. I wish that I would’ve had the openness to listen or to even know what to do with that. 

I wasn’t very skilled at this Christian thing, and I certainly wasn’t super skilled at interpersonal communication at the time, but that’s not an excuse. I wish that had gone differently. So, there you go. Everybody out there, don’t let my story be yours. 

Karen: I’ll tell you something, Don and I have had a very difficult marriage and we were in marriage counseling for twenty years. Barely survived it. If I learned anything from years of being in both marriage and individual counseling, it’s how to deal with confrontation.

It’s how to be constructive when you’re the one confronting, and it’s how to listen when someone confronts you, because people just aren’t good at it. People in the church, especially like I said before, are not good at it, and they need to be because we are called to some very difficult things.

Shadia: Yes.

Erin: Because we are the church. We are one body, and we’re not good at communicating like one big team. That is an unfortunate thing. 

As we’re coming to the end of our time here, Shadia, do you have any final words of wisdom or encouragement about this or anything else you feel led to tell us?

Shadia: I was just listening to what you were just sharing about the body, and I think it’s so true that we can have the disconnect. But because Christ is the head of the body, the more we individually and collectively seek him, go to him, try to do everything through his leading, the more united the body will become. 

That’s Christ’s heart. You read that in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s writing. Unity is such a burden on God’s heart. I think this whole topic of prayer and prayer team is one of the ways that we do stay connected. As long as we’re listening to him honestly, the body will work and come together.

Karen: Amen. I really love that. 

Okay, guys, you’ve got your marching orders. Get out there and set up a prayer team. 

Shadia: Yes. You will not be disappointed, I promise. 

Erin: That’s our New Year’s resolution—well, resolution might not be the right word. That’s our New Year’s thought of something to accomplish.

Shadia: Yeah. It’ll only make you stronger. 

Erin: Amen!

Guest @ShadiaHrichi shares how a prayer team may be exactly what you need! #amwriting #ChristianWriter Click To Tweet
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