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Issue 10-9

The Exchanged-Life Prayer

People satisfied with where they are in life seldom aspire to anything more. This is the reason why spiritual breakthroughs, when traced back to their beginnings, characteristically start with a deep-seated sense of dissatisfaction. So discontent can be a good thing if channeled properly.

I have spent a lifetime studying the topic of revivals—individual revival, church revivals, national revivals. These amazing times of new life, whether personal or corporate, begin with one person, or a handful, saying, “If our God is as great as we say He is, how come we’re living such a lowly existence?” It’s the barren-wife syndrome—“God, I want children. Give me children or I die!”

If you feel your spiritual life is less fruitful than it should be, I believe the prayer I will talk about next has the potential of turning things around for you.

I first read about this kind of request or petition in the writings of Dr. V. Raymond Edman, who was the president of Wheaton College back in my student days. For a long time, what he was describing intimidated me. It doesn’t nearly as much now. Prexy Edman called it “The Exchanged Life Prayer.”

I’d like to quote directly from a chapter in Edman’s book They Found the Secret, where he describes the experience of Dr. Walter Wilson. I recall Wilson speaking at college chapel in the late 1950s. Walter Wilson was a medical doctor, and at the time he was also the president emeritus of the Kansas City Bible College.

I pick up his story when Wilson was struggling in his Christian walk.

Then came January 14, 1914. Dr. James M. Gray, at that time a clergyman of the Reformed Episcopal Church, and later the beloved and revered president of Moody Bible Institute, was speaking in Kansas City on Romans 12:1. [That text, as you probably know, reads: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”]

Leaning over the pulpit, Dr. Gray said, "Have you noticed that this verse does not tell us to whom we should give our bodies? It is not the Lord Jesus who asks for it. He has His own body. It is not the Father who asks for it. He remains upon His throne. Another has come to earth without a body. God could have made a body for Him as He did for Jesus, but He did not do so. God gives you the privilege and the indescribable honor of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be His dwelling place on earth. If you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb then yours is a holy body, washed whiter than snow, and will be accepted by the Spirit when you give it. Will you do so now?”

At the end of the service, Dr. Wilson … went to his own room. Utterly heartbroken over his fruitless life, yet filled with a great hope because of the message he had heard from a teacher in whom he had all confidence, Dr. Wilson lay upon the carpet of his study, prostrate in God’s presence. This is his testimony:

“There, in the quiet of that late hour, I said to the Holy Spirit, ‘My Lord, I have mistreated You all my Christian life. I have treated You like a servant. When I wanted You I called for You; when I was about to engage in some work I beckoned You to come and help me perform my task. I have kept You in the place of a servant. I have sought to use You only as a willing servant to help me in my self-appointed and chosen work. I shall do so no more. Just now I give you this body of mine; from my head to my feet, I give it to You. I give You my hands, my limbs, my eyes and lips, my brain; all that I am within and without, I hand over to You for You to live in it the life that You please. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. You may blind the eyes, or send me with Your message to Tibet. You may take this body to the Eskimos, or send it to a hospital with pneumonia. It is Your body from this moment on. Help Yourself to it. Thank You, my Lord, I believe you have accepted it, for in Romans twelve and one You said, “acceptable unto God.” Thank You again, my Lord, for taking me. We now belong to each other.’”

And what were the results of that surrender of body and appropriation of the fullness of the Holy Spirit?

The very next morning two young ladies came to the office to sell advertising, as they had done previously. Up to that time the doctor had never spoken to them about the Lord Jesus because his lips had been his own and he had used them for business purposes. Now that his lips had been given away, the Holy Spirit was to use them; and He did so at once. Out of a brief conversation and testimony to his visitors, Dr. Wilson led both of them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They were the first fruits of a great harvest of souls that Dr. Wilson has won for the Savior.

In another illustration Dr. Wilson tells of his being alone in the great city of New York.

Before he went out for a business appointment he had a prayer in his hotel room, and requested: “My Lord, this is a large city of seven million people, and I am just a weak, unknown servant of Thine with no knowledge of the city and no acquaintance with the hungry hearts that may be there. Thou alone dost know whom Thou has been dealing with. Here is my body—my feet and my lips. Wilt Thou take them today to some troubled heart and speak through me Thy Words of light and life? Thank You, Lord, I believe you will do it.”

As he walked eastward on Thirty-second Street he passed a stationery shop and noticed a small leather-covered notebook in the window. This brought to mind his need of a book in which to keep his prayer list. Upon entering the shop he inquired of the little German owner about the notebook. The size and the price were satisfactory; and the shopkeeper began to wrap it up. Just then Dr. Wilson said, “Do you know what I expect to do with this little book?”

The storekeeper did not know, and was astonished to learn that it was to be used as a prayer book. Thereupon he began to unwrap the package saying, “I am sorry, my friend, but this is a blank book; it is not a prayer book.”

That was just the opening Dr. Wilson needed. He explained that he made his own prayer book, using the left-hand pages for petitions and the right-hand ones for the answers. Then he added his testimony of knowing the Lord Jesus as his Savior, and invited the shopkeeper to do the same.

The reply was not surprising. “Mister, I have tried to find God for many years. I have gone about Manhattan and Brooklyn and the Bronx, night after night, attending many services, but failed always to find God. Can you tell me how to get to Him?”

After explanation of the Scripture that the Lord Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Dr. Wilson led his new friend to the Savior. The quest of the years had come to an end, for now the shopkeeper knew the Lord Jesus for himself.

And for the soul-winner only twenty minutes had elapsed from the prayer in the hotel room to the winning of another soul to Christ, because the life and lips of the servant belonged to the Holy Spirit.

Well, you get the idea of what the exchanged-life is about. The exchange is moving from treating God as our servant to help us perform our given tasks, to giving the Holy Spirit full reign of our bodies to live in them the life He pleases.

For years I found this to be a scary prayer. I thought often about the “exchanged-life,” but I wasn’t ready to make that kind of commitment. The truth is, I was not sure God could be trusted.

Periodically I would go back and reread parts of Edman’s book, but for the longest time I put off making that kind of prayer request. One of the reasons I was hesitant was because of the very Walter Wilson’s soul-winning illustrations I quoted. That kind of witnessing to strangers, or friends, for that matter, was not something with which I was comfortable.

Eventually I came up with the idea of seeing if God would go for a one-day trial. To be on the safe side, I picked a Sunday when I knew I would be around Christians for most of the day.

So on a Saturday evening I prayed, “Tomorrow, Holy Spirit, I give You this body to live in as You please—my lips, my hands, my legs and so on, are Yours to use in whatever way You want. Of course, I’m trusting You not to take advantage of this one-day offer to inform me that I now have cancer, and there will be no available treatment because You’re also sending me immediately to Zambia!” Hey, I readily admit it wasn’t all that bold a prayer on my part.

How did Sunday go? It turned out to be a rather good day. The only real difference I noticed was that I felt more sensitive than normal to the needs of others. At one point I was led to pray with a person at church who talked about an immediate family need. I confess to an abnormal nervousness through the day, but I also had this great peace that I was living on a different plane than normal.

This is significant. As the day unfolded, I believe the Lord made it clear that how He would use my offer would be markedly different from how He used Walter Wilson’s. That was helpful.

When the day ended, I talked to God during my normal prayer time and told Him I was open to the exchange again on Monday. That second day I found more than normal clarity regarding priorities. It was like there was a prompting saying “deal with this first” and so on. Interruptions didn’t seem to annoy me as much as usual. There were also what I would define as clear nudges regarding phone calls to make, the proper attitude to be assumed, routines to alter, words to say AND temptations to be instantly shunned. These were not huge changes, but more like noticeable fine-tunings, and I felt good about them.

Over time, now I would report that a great peace can be found through praying daily the exchanged-life prayer. That great peace and contentment is the exact opposite of where I began this talk. You recall I referred to feeling spiritually discontented, falling short of where we aspire to be spiritually, sensing you are missing out on something better, but not being sure of what that is. That’s gone by the wayside, and what’s replaced it is a noticeable calm, a greater desire for quiet and more frequent times throughout the day to check with God as to how I as His servant am doing, and an acceptance that He is in charge of what’s going on in my life more than I am.

I know I have opened a large subject and not covered it adequately. For this I apologize. My key sentence states: A great peace can be found through praying daily the exchanged-life prayer. (Incidentally, the prayer is no longer intimidating to me.)

Allowing the Holy Spirit to live Christ’s life in us and through us does not mean we will be perfect, only that we will come daily closer to Christ-likeness. This prayer and its impact are a sure cure for spiritual dryness. It can lead to an amazing state of spiritual renewal.

A great peace can be found through praying daily the exchanged-life prayer.

Dr. David R. Mains


Dr. David R. Mains

Since Karen is heading into a heavy writing schedule, she is gratefully sharing writing space in the Soulish Food e-newsletter with her husband, David Mains. An inner-city church planter, David was awarded an honorary doctorate from Roberts Wesleyan for “his contributions to the life of the local church.” For 20 years, David was the host on the radio show The Chapel of the Air, which broadcasted over 500 outlets daily. He also hosted the daily television show You Need to Know, was the publisher for Mainstay Church Resources, and conducted some 137 yearly pastors’ conferences, training them in the use of the 50-Day Spiritual Adventure, an all-church spiritual-growth tool he designed in collaboration with pastors from across the country.

Good News for the Global Bag Project

We have been given a gift of $650 to refresh the Global Bag Project Web site in order to iron out some of the glitches that slow it down. This is a direct answer to prayer! Mary Ogalo, our Global Bag Project Manager in Kenya, e-mails that Salome, one of our bag-makers who came down with malaria, is now doing better. This also is an answer to prayer!

So now we need help in the following ways...

Charity Plant Sale

Karen Mains will be holding a charity plant sale at her home in West Chicago on September 10, Saturday. ANY VOLUNTEER HELP this week will be greatly appreciated. If you garden, you know this is work, but Karen’s garden has become prolific and she has plenty to share. Proceeds will go toward defraying some of the above costs to underwrite the Global Bag Project. Contact Karen at Or leave a message on the office phone: 630-293-4500 (also for our address).

If you would like to buy plants at bargain prices, this is the small window in time where you can still transplant them and give them a couple months to root before winter and freezing temperatures arrive.

Will You Hold a Pre-Christmas House Party?

Last year a house party with about 24 guests sold an average of $1200 of bags. In the Chicago area, one of our team will conduct the party, which takes about 1.5 hours from the short presentation through the purchase of cotton, kanga-cloth reusable shopping bags made by artisan seamstresses in Kenya. If you live elsewhere, we will ship a “Party in a Box” with instructions for hosting, with a DVD that tells the story of one of the bag-makers (every bag has a story) and that, with a television screen and a remote, will guide your guests through the event. As a way of thanks, a beautiful kanga-cloth apron will be given to you for making the effort. Contact Carla Boelkens in the Global Bag Project office at We are praying that we will be able to set up 12 parties.


Annual Advent Retreat of Silence

This notice comes from Tiffany Stamen, the Director of Breathing Spaces, who will be leading the Annual Advent Retreat of Silence.

As summer winds to a close and fall is upon us, the Advent Season will be here before we know it. We are already thinking and praying and working on the ADVENT RETREAT OF SILENCE and want to invite you to pray about participating once again this year. Sibyl Towner (author, Listen to Your Life) and I will be facilitating, and we look forward to entering into this time of corporate silence as a powerful way to begin the Advent Season. There are only 50 spaces available, and this retreat does fill up, so please let me know (by e-mail or phone is lovely) if you would like to attend. I have also included a link to a simple registration form. Here are the details:

Date/Time:  December 1, 4:00 p.m. – December 2, 3:00 p.m.
Location:  Bishop Lane Retreat House, Rockford, IL
Theme:  Flesh and Blood: The Incarnation
Regular Fee:  $130 (after October 15)
Early Registration:  $110 (by October 15)
Newbies/Friends:  $100 (for both the newbie and the friend)
Shared Room:  $90

The fee includes your room, three meals and all retreat materials. Registration forms (download link below) and checks may be made out to Bridge Ministries (now the parent organization to Breathing Space) and mailed to:

Tiffany Staman / 10810 Keokuk Trail / Roscoe, IL 61073

If you are on Facebook, you can also view this event at:!/event.php?eid=239882179384105

We look forward to seeing many of you again this year! Blessings on each of you this day—

The link to the registration form is:

oneLife Mapping Retreat

'LISTEN TO MY LIFE' Workshop/Retreat

Friday, Sept. 23 at 5 p.m. - Sunday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m.
Marytown Retreat Center, Libertyville, IL
with Sibyl Towner & Sharon Swing
Listen to My Life is a journey that helps you invite God into the process of reviewing your past, assessing your present and continue walking with God into your future.

• you want to discover who you are through God’s eyes.
• you are seeking new, grace-filled ways to walk with God.
• you have thought, “I don’t know myself anymore.”
• you wonder, “Is there something more?”
• you stand at a crossroads in life and ask, “Which way will lead me toward expressing more of who I am made to be?”
• you are looking for a way to understand the restlessness you feel inside. 

For more information, click here:


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

David Mains

Dr. David R. Mains

“Allowing the Holy Spirit to live Christ’s life in us and through us does not mean we will be perfect, only that we will come daily closer to Christ-likeness. This prayer and its impact are a sure cure for spiritual dryness. It can lead to an amazing state of spiritual renewal.”


They Found the Secret
by V. Raymond Edman

Let me return to the writings of Dr. Edman, where he chronicles the experience of J. Hudson Taylor, the well-known early missionary to China.

The way to heart satisfaction and rest of spirit for Hudson Taylor was learned from a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. In a letter to Mr. Taylor he wrote:

“To let my loving Saviour work in me His will … is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; trusting Him to subdue all inward corruption; resting in the love of an almighty Savior; willing that His will should truly be supreme—this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the first dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a sea which is boundless; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies.”

The Lord used this letter literally to lead Mr. Taylor “into the realization of His unfathomable fullness.” It was read in the little mission station at Chin-kiang on Saturday, September 4, 1869. The missionary was always reticent about telling details of his transforming experience; but he did say, “As I read, I saw it all. I looked to Jesus; and when I saw, oh how the joy flowed!”

Let the man of God speak for himself regarding the life that is Christ. Writing to his sister in England, Hudson Taylor said:

“As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps, the happiest of my life…

“When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory): ‘But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.’

“As I read I saw it all! … I thought. ‘I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me—never to leave me, never to fail me?’”

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