Have you ever longed to experience more of God’s power in your life? Do you wish you felt closer to him?

So often, we keep God at a distance—we know a lot about him, and about the Bible, but we don’t know him. He remains an idea, a concept to believe in, rather than an intimate friend and guide.

So we try to get closer, but we’re not sure how. We step up our study about him, or the amount of time we pray. Prayer and study are great, but are we listening? And beyond listening, are we obeying when he challenges us to put our faith into practice? The secret to experiencing God’s power and presence in your life is to take a God-directed risk when he asks you. To say yes.

Henry Blackaby famously noted that prayer is “noticing where God is at work and then joining him in that work.” Prayer is not just talking at God, it’s walking with God. It’s responding to his calling. The most life-altering prayer you can pray is “Yes.”

But how do we do this in the midst of our daily routine?

Summer is fading away, a new season is beginning. The children are back in school, and my role is relegated to driving evening carpools and writing checks for various miscellany needed for their “free” public education—gym uniforms, hot lunches, and today, a Spanish workbook.

So I get up with my teenagers, who do not need me to get up with them, as they make their own breakfasts and lunches, brush their own teeth and get themselves out the door (although they do seem to need me to write those checks).

The return to routine helps me to get things done—including a book manuscript which I finished this week. Whoo hoo!

This book will not be out until about a year from now—it’s a devotional called Simple Compassion: Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood and Your World. Writing it has been an interesting process. Writing a non-fiction book is like doing a term paper. You research, you study, you write—you learn as you go along. As I was finishing the manuscript, God created an opportunity for me to put what I was learning and writing into practice.

How? In the midst of this busy season, he gave me another teenager to care for. If you read my blog, you know about a young man named Lawrice.

I wrote about Lawrice in my book Listen: Finding God in the Story of Your Life. I learned his story from a Chicago Tribune article back in 2005, which told about his struggles growing up in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, and his strong faith, and how he had listened to God and was overcoming enormous odds. Click here to read his amazing and inspiring story.

As most of you know, God asked me, politely but insistently, to help this young man. You can read more about it on my blog. At first, I said no. But God wore me down and told me to step out in faith and raise some funds.

More than a dozen people so far have made contributions—ranging from $10 to $350—to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Lawrice’s name, so that he can pursue his dream of getting a college education. We’ve raised over $1300 so far, plus got him a very reasonable plane ticket so he could get to L.A.

I know some of you think I am nuts for helping a young man I don’t really even know. My husband, while very supportive, says this is the craziest thing I have ever done.

But I can tell you this: there is very little downside to this, as far as I can tell. Well, alright, the other morning when I wasn’t sure if he would make it to the airport in time for his 6 a.m. flight was a little nerve-wracking.

Still, I wish each of you could experience what I have these last few weeks. The nearness of God, the exhilaration of being on this adventure. I get to watch God make a way where really, there was no way. It has revived my faith in amazing ways. I feel like I know God not just in my head, or even in my heart, but in my hands and feet.

John Ortberg writes: “Is there any challenge in your life right now that is large enough that you have no hope of doing it apart from God’s help? If not, consider the possibility that you are seriously underchallenged. If you want to walk on the water, you have to be willing to get your feet wet first. Then you discover it is worth the risk.” (If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat)

Getting to know Lawrice and his grandmother Delores has been an adventure. This is a challenge I have no hope of doing apart from God’s help.

I’ve only said I will try to raise money, not that I will provide all of it. But even if I can’t raise the money, I won’t back out of the relationship. I am willing to let God use me to help this kid and his family. To encourage them, to offer advice, to tell Lawrice I am proud of him. These too are things I could not do without God’s help. But I believe it will be worth the risk.

Lawrice wrote me an e-mail telling me I was his angel, but in a way, I think he is mine. Helping him, seeing a community of diverse friends come together to do what none of us could do alone—that just fans the flames of my faith. I have felt the presence of God in a palpable way these last few weeks. If your faith is dry or seems routine, here is the path to revival: to honor God. How?

The Bible says, “whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31). Our obedient action (based not on trying to impress God, but listening to his direction) revives our faith.

Lawrice is now, thanks to all of our contributors, at school in Los Angeles. Like any freshman, he’s trying to adjust to living in a dorm with a lot of other guys, finding his way around campus. He’s a little overwhelmed, and would appreciate your prayers.

He is going on faith, because there are still supplies that he needs to get. Contributions have covered his first month’s tuition and books, as well as some money for meals. We’re well on our way to gathering enough to pay his second month. But he still needs, believe it or not, ballet shoes, for a class he’s taking (ballet is part of his curriculum).

He’s looking for a job. But he could use our prayers, and if God leads you, a bit of financial support.

I’d love it if any of you in the Los Angeles area would be willing to help him. He’ll need a few things for his dorm room—if you have used items in excellent condition and would be willing to donate them, let me know by emailing me.