4word: Houston leader Tana Deshayes shares how she gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for prayer during her mother’s walk through cancer, and why she thinks Christians struggle to truly let go of their difficulties and hand control over to God.
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Tell our readers a little bit about yourself!
I am a daughter of the King, a fierce prayer warrior, and mom of two beautiful young men, ages 21 and 18. I enjoyed a diverse and exciting 20+ year career in the oil and gas industry and retired in September 2019 after receiving an invitation to leave corporate America to enter women’s ministry. It was an unplanned and unexpected invitation, like Jesus inviting Peter out of the boat and into the wind-tossed waves. Thankfully, I mustered enough grit to say ‘yes’ and now enjoy every step of this water-walking journey!
As of January 2021, I am the Community Leader for the 4word: Houston community group, a co-leader in two 4word Bible studies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and a Life Group leader for a book study on Thursday evenings. Leading and being a part of the 4word community is my passion. I love learning, teaching, and exhorting the women God has placed in my life. I believe ‘the heart is the womb where all actions, attitudes and ambitions are carried‘ and I’m grateful for every day that I get to encourage someone’s heart.
When was the first time you remember asking for God’s guidance on something…and getting that guidance?
My prayer life changed dramatically in the summer of 2015. Prior to then (I’m embarrassed to admit), my prayer life happened on Sunday mornings, rarely during the week, definitely sporadic, and was mostly lethargic. I was a busy, career-oriented leader, juggling a demanding job and two teenage boys. I was not aware of the power of prayer, and as a result, did not invest much time in it.
Fear was the motivator and catalyst that changed my mindset and behavior towards God and prayer. My mother was diagnosed with an aggressive, incurable uterine cancer in July 2015, and her doctors offered no hope for a cure. I knew the Scriptures declared Jesus as the Healer, so I began to place my hope for a cure in Him. I found a healing prayer ministry, joined a prayer team and started a prayer journal—all within a six-month period. I learned what God said, ‘…For I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26), and I began praying His Word every morning, searching the Bible for other healing scriptures, and petitioning His Throne for guidance and healing. I was desperate for a miracle.
In April 2016, His guidance came but not the way I was expecting. My mother’s heart had started failing, and she required an emergency procedure. During this two-hour procedure, she experienced a glimpse of heaven, or what some medical professionals describe as a Near-Death Experience. My mother described meeting Jesus, and looking into His beautiful, loving eyes. He had gently held her hands and told her, ‘Now is not your time, but I will see you soon.’ She saw her deceased parents and described her mother dressed in a beautiful gown of silver and gold. She heard indescribable singing, and watched innumerable angels surrounding Jesus—too many to count! She had a sense of urgency and wanted her three daughters to know that heaven was real! Jesus is real! He is love, He is life, He is all things. She also wondered aloud, ‘Heaven is so beautiful… why would anyone ever want to come back?’
Six days later, my mother went to heaven permanently. I had received His answer. But because of that one glimpse in heaven, my life and my relationship with God changed forever. 1
Why do you think it’s hard for some of us to leave a situation or decision up to God’s guidance?
For most of us, I think it’s difficult to ‘let go and let God.’ We want to trust Him—we say we trust Him—but actions speak louder than our words. When my mother went to be with the Lord, I was shocked, then angry with God. Even though I was given this amazing story of heaven, I was bitter and broken-hearted that she was not healed as I had expected. The beautiful truth is that God knows our expectations and sorrows, and He is in the business of healing broken hearts. I learned I don’t control, command, or demand from God. He is ‘Abba Father,’ but He is also Sovereign. When I learned to ‘let go’ and repent of my bitterness and anger, God responded with gentleness and love, whispering, ‘Tana, I will do what I say I will do. I am the Great Physician. Your mother is healed.’
If someone wants to go to God and ask for His help, how should they structure their prayer and how can they know that they are receiving God’s guidance?
Jesus demonstrates the perfect model in Luke 11:2-4. Prayer should always be opened with honor, thanksgiving, and praise to God. His Word says to ‘Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.’ (Ps. 100:4) After praise, submit your will and request His will to be done, His Kingdom to come, then bring your petitions to Him. Be specific and pray His word over and into every situation in the name of Jesus.
Any final thoughts you’d like to leave readers with?
I would love to share some encouragement and gentle exhortations:
- Prayer is a powerful weapon. We are in a war zone. In Ephesians 6:17, we are instructed specifically to ‘take…the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God‘ into battle. Make time for prayer every day, all day, vigilantly, persistently. We fight and defend, wielding the Sword of the Spirit, exercising His power and authority. Regardless of the situation, in work, health, family, relationships—in all things, prayer changes the outcome.
- God hears prayer. One of my favorite scriptures is John 11:41-42. Jesus prayed to God, the Father before He raised Lazarus, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me…‘ That is still true today. God hears our prayers, even when we don’t see anything in the natural. As Dutch Sheets says, ‘Tenacious endurance is often the key to victory in prayer…Victory goes to the persistent, …to the dedicated.’2 So don’t give up, God hears you!
- Heaven is for real. I know this is the title of a popular book published in 2010, but it is also a true statement. My mother’s ‘glimpse into heaven’ changed my work and personal life completely. I’m comforted knowing my mother is cheering me on as a part of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)
1 – For the rest of Tana’s story, read “Greater Things Than These” by Jan de Chambrier
Jan de Chambrier’s Glimpses – Greater Things (glimpsesofhope.org)
2 – “Intercessory Prayer – How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth” by Dutch Sheets, pg. 221, 235
Tana Deshayes is the Community Group Leader for 4word: Houston. She has a passion for teaching, encouraging and mentoring women in the workplace, and strongly believes “Prayer + GRIT” is the best formula in life.
Accepting God’s invitation to ministry, Tana retired from corporate America in 2019 after working 20+ years in the oil and gas industry. Experienced in supply chain, commercial contracts and negotiations, Tana volunteers her time with the Holocaust Remembrance Association (www.hra18.org), a Houston-based non-profit organization, with contract writing, development planning and fundraising. Tana is also a member of the Christian Healing Prayer team which unites medical care with compassionate healing prayer in hospital chapels.
Tana is a prayer warrior at heart and is blessed to be the mother of two warriors—handsome young men who are “skillful in playing, mighty men of valor, men of war who are prudent in speech, and the Lord is with them.” (1 Sam. 16:18)