The first time I heard Debbie Jourden share her story, I was mesmerized at its uniqueness, as well as with the honesty and faith of the woman telling it.
Debbie was diagnosed with Polio at the age of 2, in the last US epidemic. (The vaccine for the virus came out just one year later.) Her childhood was filled with surgeries and braces with months at a time away from her family. She contracted Post Polio Syndrome as a young adult, further deteriorating her muscles and confining her to a motorized chair. Her beloved husband, Scott, committed suicide, leaving her with two teenage boys to raise alone. Tragically, her oldest son later died of suicide as well. Through it all, Debbie has emerged as a woman of deep faith, hope, and prayer.
She is a follower of Christ, Mom to Gabe, Mother-in-law to Lisa, and Grandma to Chris and Caleb. She facilitates a ladies sunday morning Bible Study, a sunday night small group, and a Celebrate Recovery Friday night small group. Debbie runs two small businesses from home in her power wheelchair. A student of prayer who learned to really pray and trust in grief after the suicide loss of husband and youngest son…she is still learning.
Vickey: You know that I have quite literally coveted and purposely sought your prayers. What has had the biggest influence on the way you pray?
DEBBIE: The simplest thing I can say is I believe what the Scripture says—that He hears our prayers. In James he essentially says, “If you don’t believe while you’re praying, you might as well not pray.”
Second, for about 20 years I’ve prayed that God would help me understand and be quicker to recognize Satan’s schemes in my life. Before, I was the queen of worry. I worried myself right into an ulcer. God helped me realize that through using the tool of prayer that I didn’t have to worry. I could take that worry and ask the Holy Spirit to help me with it. And He has. The tool of prayer has changed how I’ve handled things. I’ve prayed to recognize Satan’s schemes all these years and slowly He’s been teaching me discernment. I am much more sensitive to the presence of evil and of wrong motives in myself and others.
V: Why is praying for others so important to you and how do you pray for us?
D: I want to pray for others in part because I remember how desperate I was for people to pray for me. Because, if you all had not, I was just going to pass on. I remember grief so strong I felt I couldn’t breathe.
As far as how to pray for others, when a friend asked me years ago to pray for a job opportunity she had, God taught me then to just ask, “Lord, what do You what me to pray for her?” Because, I didn’t know. I knew what she wanted, but I didn’t know if that was what He wanted. I seem to always be asking God to teach me how to pray.
And, if somebody asks me to pray for them, I’ve found the best thing I can do is pray with them right then. So, if we can—on the phone, in the halls at church, wherever—I ask, “May I pray with you right now?”.
I don’t know if you can put it in the Blog, but I often pray in the bathroom! I think the other thing a lot of people would find awkward or weird is that I don’t pray quietly. I pray out loud. I live by myself and God is the One who lives with me so I talk to Him out loud.
I also pace in my chair—I must drive 100 miles a day when I pray. From one room to the next in my house. I’m pacing, driving all around. “Now God, but here’s the thing...and what about this...that can’t be right, can it...how do I address…” I just focus better when I’m moving, even it’s my chair that’s doing the moving!
V: Love your advice about praying for someone when you are with them. I know it can seem awkward to do so at first, but hearing someone pray for you can be so comforting and powerful. Okay, tough question now...How do you deal with being a woman of prayer and not seeing God heal your own body?
D: Hmmm. That’s an interesting question. Just yesterday I had a conversation with Him where I told Him what I tell Him all the time, “God, you could do this if you wanted to, but for some reason, this is where you want me (pointing to the motorized chair she sits in) and this is where you can use me to my maximum.” Anyway, the truth is God knows, I’ve told Him so many times, “If today is the day you want me to be up and walking, I’m ready! And if not, I’m still ready for whatever.”
The biggest thing God has taught me in my prayer life is to be grateful for what I do have.
Not too long ago a nice gentleman said to me, “Ma'am, I just wonder. I don’t want to be forward here, but I wanted to invite you to my church. If you’ll come and let us pray for you, I believe we can pray for you to be whole.”
I’ve dealt with this before. I said, “You know, I love your concern. I am so appreciative of that and I’ll take all the prayers you have. But I want you to know, I am whole. Because I received Jesus Christ and He lives in me. You can’t get any more whole than that.” He was just looking at the outside. I said, "The outside is going to go away one day anyway. A person can be whole and live a complete life when they have Christ in them. Even if they’re in a chair. And quite frankly, who knows. I might have been this snobby, yucky, ‘I don’t have time for you’ person!”
V: Okay, one more question. What words of encouragement would you give to the woman who wants to improve her prayer life?
D: First I would ask, “Do you really believe He hears you? Do you pray believing He hears you even if your prayer is not answered the way you want? If you don’t believe, don’t waste your breath.
Then, I think a perfect way for a person who is not a pray-er to begin is to just list things you have to be grateful for and thank God for them. Gratitude is a great place to start.
Pray wherever and whenever God prompts you. When I’m in Walmart and thinking about something I need to figure out. I might not be going up and down the aisles saying aloud, “Thank You, Lord God!,” but I am praying.
Regardless of what’s going on, you can pray where you are. “Thank You, God for this baby whose diaper I’m changing and that his plumbing works.” I know that might sound weird, but people in my situation often lose control of the muscles that make that all work. Probably TMI, but I think that is how you start—you pray being grateful and throughout your day..
Another thing, pray against the enemy. I have lived in fear so much in my life, and the fear of being alone can sometimes overwhelm me. When it does, I have to remember Him caring for me beforehand and promising, “Wherever you are, I am. Whatever you need, I’m going to give you.” I’ll also pray, “In the name of Jesus, get away from me, Satan. You will not make me afraid.” I am as verbal and obnoxious to the enemy as I am sincere and loving towards God.
V: That’s my friend, Debbie Jourden. Honest with, dependent on, and grateful to her God. She’s a prayer warrior and she can fight for me anytime.
Meet the Author!
Bible teacher, author, inspirational speaker and disciple-maker, Vickey Banks is passionate about helping women connect the dots between God’s Word and their everyday lives. She loves serving as Women’s Ministry Director at Council Road, celebrating her people, playing with her puppy and getting lost in a good story.