ASKING FOR BLESSINGS
by Eric Elder
In this photo: Janette Oke praying for me and signing my notepad the night before my daughter and I visited the set of When Calls The Heart, a Hallmark TV series based on Janette’s book by the same title.
Last month I had the rare opportunity to meet Janette Oke, author of the book which served as the basis for the new TV series running on the Hallmark Channel called “When Calls The Heart.” My daughter and I were invited to attend a special event on the set near Vancouver where the show is filmed, as my daughter is going into acting herself. I have to admit, I’ve never read any of Janette Oke’s books before; I’ve only seen them all over the shelves at bookstores (she’s written over 75 novels, selling more than 30 million books!).
And yet, when the key people were introduced at a gathering for fans and friends of the show on Friday night–including actors, producers and script writers–I was floored when Janette was introduced. Why? Because here was the woman behind this entire “world” I had been watching for two years on TV with my family. She’s the one who envisioned the characters, described the settings, and infused them with her faith and values. While it’s taken hundreds of cast and crew members to bring that world to the screen, it all started in her mind 33 years ago when she first wrote the book When Calls The Heart (she’s now 81 years young).
As a writer myself, I was struck by how our words can have an effect on people all over the world, even decades or generations after our words are first written. I thought, “I would love to have a portion of whatever God has given to Janette!”
When I saw her standing in the ballroom at one point during the night with only one or two others around her, I thought perhaps I could ask her to pray for me. Although I didn’t know what she might say, I thought it was worth it to try. I walked over and introduced myself, saying, “Thank you for using your gift to reach so many people, including me. I’m a writer, too, and I wondered if you would pray for me, that God would use my words to reach many people for His kingdom as well?”
Janette said she’d be glad to pray for me, pulled me in close, and launched into a beautiful one or two minute prayer, speaking directly into my ear.
After praying, she signed a notebook I was carrying, writing, “Eric, May God continue to lead you. Janette Oke”
It may seem bold or unusual to ask someone to bless you with a portion of that which God has blessed them. Yet it’s not the first time I’ve asked someone to pray for me like that. I’ve taken courage from those in the Bible who have asked others to bless them as well, like Elisha asking for a blessing from Elijah: “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” (2 Kings 2:9b) or Jacob asking for a blessing from the man with whom he had wrestled all night: “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” (Genesis 32:26b).
It’s not that I’m expecting instant answers from these prayers, and it’s not like I’m trying to rub a magical charm for good luck. It’s asking for a prayer of blessing from those whom God has already blessed. And as a believer in prayer, I trust that God will answer those prayers some day, in some way–and even in ways that might go beyond all I could ask or imagine.
I remember asking a famous singer one time if he would pray for my voice. He said, “Sure,” then asked, “What happened to your voice?” thinking that perhaps I had injured it in some way.
I said, “Oh, my voice is fine, I just wish I could sing like you!” He laughed, then prayed for me, gladly. It’s not that I thought my voice would suddenly change to sound like his, for we’re all gifted and wired in unique ways. He didn’t get to where he was by just a prayer–it takes lots of hard work, training, and “practice, practice, practice.”
But I also know that Jesus has “good gifts” He wants to give us, and He encourages us to ask in order to receive them. As Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
My daughter and I asked for prayers of blessings from two other people during our weekend on the set, too.
We met the father of one of the child actors on the show and were able to talk with him about how their family got connected with the production. As he answered our questions, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if he would pray for my daughter that God would open some similar doors for her?” I didn’t know if he was a Christian or not. But at one point while we were talking, he mentioned how “blessed” he felt by all that had happened to their family. I decided then and there that it was worth asking him for a blessing, too.
I asked, “Would you mind praying for my daughter that God would bless her as you and your family have been blessed?”
He paused for a moment, then said, “No one’s ever asked me to do that before. But sure, I’d be glad to.” He took our hands in his and prayed an honest, godly, and heart warming prayer.
The third blessing we received came at the end of the weekend’s activities when my daughter talked to an actor with whom she was very impressed. He wasn’t an actor on this particular show, but happened to be on the set that day with us. Again, we weren’t sure if he was a Christian or not, but had heard from a member of the crew that they thought he was involved with a church nearby. My daughter stepped up to talk to him, looked at him sincerely and asked, “Would you pray for me? I’m going into acting, too, and I would love to receive what you have.”
He looked at her and said, “Not many people ask me that! But okay, let’s pray.” He then launched into a lengthy prayer for her, which turned into a 45-minute conversation about acting, Hollywood, boundaries, and balancing work and family life. That prayer and conversation turned out to be the highlight of the whole weekend for my daughter.
I tell you these stories not to be a name dropper, for I have no interest in that. I tell you these stories because I want to encourage YOU to ask for blessings from those you meet, those who have been gifted in ways that you may want to grow, too.
It’s good to check your motives before asking for a blessing, as this isn’t meant to be a substitute to try to curry someone’s favor or as a way to get close enough to someone to get their autograph! It’s simply and truly a way to ask God to bless you as others have been blessed. If that’s your desire, then let me encourage you to consider asking, too! If the person you ask says, “Yes,” then receive whatever blessing God chooses to pour out on you. Who knows how your life and the lives of those around you–perhaps even the lives of people all around the world for generations to come–might be affected by your asking!
When I came home from our weekend in Vancouver, a friend told me that she had been praying that I would receive everything God wanted me to receive on the trip. As I thought about her prayers, I thought about those three blessings that others had prayed over my daughter and me. I thought, “Yes, Lord, I think I have received everything You wanted me to receive.”
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Ask God, yes, but don’t be afraid to ask people sometimes, too. Their prayers of blessings may rock more than just your world.
P.S. If you’ve never seen When Calls The Heart, Season 3 starts tonight, Sunday, February 21st, here in the U.S. It’s a show that’s filled with faith, strong values, and beautiful characters and scenery, all shot in the Canadian West. If you have a DVR, set it to record the show every Sunday night! (You might even catch Janette Oke in a cameo role in the season finale!)
And here are some links if you want to catch up on previous episodes:
In this photo: “Cody,” “Clara,” and dozens of other cast and crew members sign posters on the set of When Calls The Heart. Bottom: a highway sign we saw on our way to the set for the show (the set also happens to be named “Hope Valley.”)