Stormie Omartian is a popular speaker, musician
and author of 12 Christian best sellers. She and her husband, Michael,
have enjoyed a longstanding ministry as Christian artists, producing
records, videos, books and other resources. Stormie spoke recently with
Scott Harrup, associate editor, about the challenges of relating to
an abusive mother and her discovery that God can bring healing in the
most trying circumstances.
EVANGEL: Your childhood was difficult. Could
you talk about some of the pain you faced?
I was raised on an isolated ranch in Wyoming in a home without running
water or central heat. My mother was mentally ill and my dad was gone
a lot. Even when he was home, Dad was so tired that he barely seemed
to be there. Mom was always talking to the voices in her head and she
would put me in the closet to punish me, although I never was sure why
I was being punished. If I protested in any way, however, Id really
get punished. Often, she forgot I was in the closet. Our house was old,
so there were mice and spiders and once there was a snake. The dirty
laundry was kept in that closet, so I spent the hours sitting on the
laundry basket pulling my feet up so nothing would crawl over them.
I was very afraid and I believed that life was hopeless and futile.
We moved when I was older. Mom no longer locked
me in the closet, but she continued to be abusive and referred to me
in the most obscene manner. When I went to school and was able to visit
friends houses, I realized for the first time just how abnormal
my home life was. Mom was so unpredictable, she could become violent
at any time. So I never brought friends to my house. This only intensified
my feelings of isolation and lack of love.
As an outgrowth of those experiences I tried to
kill myself when I was 14. As I grew older, I relied heavily on alcohol
and drugs and I became involved in unhealthy relationships. I delved
into Eastern religions and the occult. I was trying to find some way
to dull my pain. Whatever I tried would seem to work temporarily, but
ended up sending me into deeper pain. There was always a backlash.
EVANGEL: How did you come to Christ?
OMARTIAN: At 28, I was at the end of my rope.
Id tried everything there was to try to beat my pain. I felt I
couldnt live any longer. I planned my suicide more carefully this
time, hoping it would look like an accident. A friend I was doing a
record session with noticed my depression and insisted that I meet with
her pastor, Jack Hayford of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif. The
three of us met at a restaurant. He talked with me a long time about
Jesus Christ, and he made the gospel come alive for me for the first
time in my life. He gave me three books to read: The Gospel of John,
C.S. Lewiss The Screwtape Letters and a book on the working
of the Holy Spirit. I went home and read them. My eyes were opened.
I know people must have been praying for me because the words just seemed
to leap off the page. We met Pastor Jack the following week in his office.
I accepted Christ as my Savior that day in October of 1970. Its
been nearly 32 wonderful years.
EVANGEL: Several of your books focus on the power
of prayer. How has prayer transformed your relationship with the Lord
and with loved ones?
OMARTIAN: Prayer has saved my life. My husband,
Michael, and I were married in 1973. Between my salvation experience
and finding a marriage partner, my life had turned around. I believed
that all of my problems would be solved. But I still struggled with
long-term bouts of depression. Going to church regularly and studying
the Bible were helping, but I had not yet identified my depression as
something that needed to go. Several pastors wives were really
gifted in helping people who were depressed. I began to attend counseling
sessions at my church and it was eye-opening to discover that I did
not have to live with those feelings.
My counselor fasted and prayed with me and helped
me see that God had a different plan for my life. A big part of my recovery
was confessing my unforgiveness of my mother and asking God to set me
free to forgive her. As I prayed, I felt my depression lift from me.
It was like someone removed a crushing load from my shoulders. I had
discovered the power of prayer. I began to wonder what else God could
do in response to prayer. I discovered that God wants us to pray and
to partner with Him to see His divine plans enacted. When we realize
how prayer can affect our marriages and our children and our work and
our relationships, we can begin to bring God into those situations in
a deeper way. There are so many things we just dont think to pray
about, and God waits for our prayers to act in our behalf in those areas.
EVANGEL: What are your newest ministry opportunities?
OMARTIAN: Writing is my favorite thing to
do, and that outreach has continued to open up over the years. About
six years ago, I felt led in my prayer group to pray that my current
book at the time, The Power of a Praying Wife, would break through
all barriers and reach the widest audience possible. I wanted to reach
women in other countries and speaking other languages. I prayed this,
believing it was the heart of God. And as my prayer group joined with
me in that prayer, we really felt it was Gods hand at work. Now,
not only has that book been translated into 15 languages, but the other
books are also around the world. I remember when I saw the first case
of books translated into Chinese I just cried. The thought of Chinese
ladies reading the book and being touched people I will never
know or see just confirmed to me that God was in it.
EVANGEL: If you could give a word of encouragement
to a mother today, what would it be?
OMARTIAN: A mother has tremendous power and
authority in prayer over her children. I would tell any mother to always
remember she has that authority and power and that God is on her side.
What she nails down in prayer will be set by the power of God. When
she prays against the enemy and says, "You are not getting my child;
I claim this child for the kingdom of God," and then prays over
every stage of that childs life, it is amazing what happens. I
know a lot of parents get intimidated with their children, especially
if a child becomes rebellious. And a rebellious spirit is intimidating.
But parents need to recognize that that rebellion is not of God and
that they do not have to stand for it. In prayer they need to go to
battle for their children. As wives, women also need to hold up their
husbands in prayer. They need to take authority over the enemys
attacks on their partner and break down spiritual strongholds that might
endanger their marriage.
EVANGEL: Having come through a difficult relationship
with your mother, how have you seen God at work in your own years of
OMARTIAN: My children are grown. Christopher,
25, is a musician and record producer. John David, 22, just married
recently. He and his wife, Rebekah, bought a home near us and were
so excited about that. We adopted John David when he lost his parents.
His mom was my best friend in high school. Amanda is 21 and in college.
I prayed over them all even before they were born. I was a prayer partner
with John Davids mom when she was expecting him. And I prayed
over them every day they were growing up. Prayer preempted a lot of
issues we might have faced otherwise. There were some battles. My children,
coming up in a family of musicians, would not always discern the kind
of music they should listen to. Wed have to take some CDs away
on occasion and pull down a few posters of music groups. But God preserved
them from so many things. And to this day, I still pray for my children
that no one will ever influence them away from the Lord.
EVANGEL: Anything else?
OMARTIAN: Im writing another book in
response to a lot of letters and e-mails. The Power of a Praying
Woman addresses the needs of women in so many walks of life. The
focus is on praying about your own walk with the Lord praying
that your intimacy with God would grow and that you would remain in
the center of His will. Its a book I need for myself. Im
always reexamining myself to see if Im on target with the Lord.