About the Episode
I have never associated prayer with rest, but for Lanie Ehlinger, it is a key component of her Sabbath practice. And it’s not just prayer for herself; Lanie’s prayer time focuses mainly on others. Until our conversation, I hadn’t even considered that interceding on behalf of another could bring a rest and refueling for the everyday, but this conversation with Lanie gave me another perspective regarding prayer and the Sabbath. I hope it does the same for you.
About My Guest
Lanie Ehlinger is an educator, storyteller, mentor, writer, and mom, who loves prayer and people. She once heard a speaker say prayer began as desperation, became a discipline, and now is her passion. That is Lanie’s story as well.
Lanie’s day job is serving as an academic coach to scholarship athletes at Wake Forest University. She has also authored two books, which are available on Amazon: Extraordinary in the Ordinary: How God shows up miraculously in the ordinary moments of life AND Practical Jesus: How Jesus is relevant every day in every way.
Click for Transcript
Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. If you feel like you’re about to break from exhaustion. Let me invite you to Simply Sabbath, a podcast for the burnt-out Christian mom, who longs to get back to the core of who she is and to reclaim the deep joy and stabilizing peace Jesus has for her in her every day– without the mom guilt that often accompanies self-care practices.
Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach and I help busy moms just like you add a simple restful family Sabbath to their week. So they can experience a refueling that gives them exactly what they need to live the life that God has called them to. I’m so glad you’ve joined me today. Let’s get to it
Today I’m talking with Lanie Ehlinger, I’m saying your last name wrong. Aren’t I? [00:01:00] Okay. So I’m talking to Lanie today about her Sabbath practice. Lanie is an educator, a storyteller mentor writer, and a mom who loves prayer and people.
She once heard a speaker say prayer began as desperation, became a discipline, and now it’s her passion. And that is Lanie’s story as well. Lanie’s day job is serving as an academic coach to scholarship athletes at Wake Forest University and I want to talk to you a little bit more about that later because that’s intriguing to me.
Um, she has also authored two books, which are both available on Amazon, Extraordinary in the Ordinary: How God Shows up Miraculously in the Ordinary Moments of Life and Practical Jesus: How Jesus is Relevant Every Day in Every Way. Those sound fabulous. I’m definitely going to have to check those out later.
Lanie before we get into the details of your Sabbath practice, I want you to dive a little bit more into your Instagram handle prayer strategist. Can you share what prompted that name?
Lanie: Yeah, so, um, like, the [00:02:00] quote, how prayer became my passion and so. As I always feel like the story of the prints in the sand, but mine are more like drag marks where God’s dragging me along.
Lanie: It just happened that as I prayed more, I prayed more and started doing, um, prayer strategy for local events and, um, for businesses with prayer or prayer over houses. And then, um, started doing like 24 hour prayer walls. And so. Um, as I would do that, people would say, you need to, you know, start writing this down.
And so, um, started doing an Instagram so that I could put those publicly. And also I’m writing, working on a book, prayer strategies to have all those with stories, because you can pray all kinds of ways. Like you can do prayer journal where it’s structured prayer in your phone calendar, but also there are a [00:03:00] lot of different strategies.
And just as you do those things and learn them, it can help other people.
I love that. And I love the fact that you say that you can do prayer a different way, because I think sometimes we can get caught up in, oh, it’s got to look this way. It’s got to be done in certain ,words, have to be said a certain way or they have to pray in a certain place. And I just love the fact that, you say that that’s not the case that you can pray wherever, whenever.
Pray as you can not, as you can’t. You learn about praying through praying. That’s where the more you pray, the more you pray. And, um, it’s just really fun.
Rachel: I think about in my practice of Sabbath, I’ve really started to spend time in reflection with Jesus and a lot of that has to do with praying. And I have found that for me, I need to write things down. Like my prayers need to come out in writing, but I’m a writer. So that kinda makes sense. Like you, sometimes it makes sense that you would pray in a way that’s, you know, uh, that goes along with the way your personality [00:04:00] is and how you’re wired.
Let’s get into your family. Tell me about them. Tell me about you and your family.
Lanie: Yeah, so I have four adult children. And, um, from 32 down to almost 24 and two boys and two girls and, um, the oldest is engaged and the second one’s married. So great-grand dogs.
Rachel: Okay. Got to throw in those granddogs. Great. So how, how would you define Sabbath? Like what does Sabbath mean to you
Lanie: Now, I looked up the definition and its absence from work. And so I think that, um, one thing that I love about God is like my prayer life is individual to me. So is my Sabbath. And so it’s like, what may be abstinence from work for me may not be it for you. And so for me, it’s mainly rest and recovery and [00:05:00] also part of mine is, has to do with my prayer life because one day walking into work, the Lord said, if you don’t do anything, but pray, that’s plenty. Sabbath is become just a really time where I can, you know, do that, accomplish that. So that’s part of my Sabbath story.
Rachel: So tell me about that moment when, what you just said about, if the only thing you do is pray… are you talking about like at work, if the only thing you did at work is that what?
Lanie: Walking into work, I tend to be a doer and God’s kind of recently, especially with Covid, says, stay in your lane. My lane is prayer.
Lanie: Um, wanting to be accomplished and successful and those kinds of things, but God’s just like, Stay in your lane, if you don’t have anything but pray, that’s plenty, even though I still do– and one thing with my work it’s been really huge is that I, every semester I write down all of my [00:06:00] athletes that I have that semester and their names on a card. So that’d be in the summer, I start praying that God gives me who you want me to have this semester. So then I write their names on the card and I pray every day through their names.
And I see how I have wisdom. I have favor. That is just like, it’s not about me. It’s just a miracle. The one semester I was halfway through the semester and things were going awful. Like I wasn’t doing a good job. My athletes were doing hardly. And, um, I was just like, Lord what in the world and he was like, you never got your list to your Bible. It was in your car. So you weren’t praying everyday. The rest of the semester. I prayed every day for those names and by the end and it turned around and God’s like, it’s not about you. It’s about me.
Rachel: Yes. Amen.
Lanie: Gives me perspective, but also I just see how the power of praying names it is transformational.
Rachel: It is. Oh my goodness. That is, that’s so good because I think that’s really what Sabbath does for us. It reminds us [00:07:00] that at the end of the, at the end of the day, all the things that we’re called to do ultimately belong to the Lord. And it’s he who orders our steps. Then he, who is sovereign over what comes out of it. We were not responsible for the results, we’re responsible to be obedient. And so I love what you just said about that. That that’s really, really good.
Lanie: I had a pastor that said Sabbath reorients our life. When I really realized how important it was to have a Sabbath to reorient our lives.
Rachel: So tell me about that moment. When did you realize you needed the Sabbath?
Lanie: I started, like you were talking about, started hearing about it on podcasts, that kind of thing. But growing up, um, we did it, but it was more legalistic. Like we couldn’t sew, we couldn’t cut grass.
Lanie: My mom would always, after making, you know, going to church and having to make a huge meal, she would stretch out on the bed and read the paper and take a nap. And I always loved doing that with her and it was like [00:08:00] the best sleep ever.
And so when my kids were coming along, I started doing that where, you know, after lunch on Sunday, it was like, you know, time to crash. And, but then started hearing about podcasts and, and really, you know, make it more of a Sabbath. And so, um, so several years ago I started my own where, um, but mine also had to do with the prayer where I would after I would fast until I’d done my Sabbath, my prayer stuff.
So after trying not to schedule anything on Sunday and then after church come home and I have a prayer journal. Whenever anyone asks me to pray for anything, I date it and write it down. And so I have years of prayers. And so if it’s answered, I check it off. And if it’s answered great I do check star.
Rachel: Oh, that’s fun. I love that.
Lanie: And so it’s like, [00:09:00] um, Sunday afternoon after church, I go through my whole prayer journal and then I also have a prayer binder. Things like, Missionary specific request. Like the Supreme court justices. Gary Chapman is at my church, I pray through his speaking schedule. So I have lots of in like, um, when I get wedding invitations, I’ll pray for those couples.
And so I have just all these things that I pray for and like my kids realms of influence. For me at my stage of life where my kids are grown and I have time, my Sabbath is, um, kind of like holding the rope for other people. Um, in a devotional this morning. It says far be it for me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. in first Samuel 12:23. That’s what God’s called me to, and I have this huge privilege of holding the rope for other people. When you hold the rope for somebody, when they need it, [00:10:00] God yanks your chain. It happens all the time. Like I’m praying regularly for these people that have been in my life, but when they need it, God will yank my chain.
So last year, one day I was driving through the parking lot at work. And God put this girl on my heart. Who had have been one of my Young Life kids. I hadn’t seen her in years. So I texted her and said, how are y’all doing? And she was like, pray right now, we’re in Mexico. My husband is in a confrontation with this guy is trying to gauge us at the gas station. The kids and I are terrified it in the car.
Rachel: Oh my goodness.
Lanie: Just like I was like, I’m praying for her and God knew she needed it and let me know and it’s just like, it just reminds me that it’s not about us. And we have this privilege of holding the rope for other people and being a part of their lives.
There’s stories like that all the time. They’re just crazy of, you know, just how big God is and how he lets us be a part of it.
Rachel: Thank you for sharing that. That is so cool. Two things out of [00:11:00] it one, I currently have some wedding invitations on my refrigerator and now I’m like, oh, every time I see that I should be praying for that couple. That’s really, really, really smart. And I like that so much. And then two, um, I often talk about Sabbath as being a time where we can reconnect to God and others. And I love that you are reconnecting with God and others through prayer. Like I never thought about that you are, um, actively going to God on the behalf of others. And so in a way you’re connecting to them in a much deeper spiritual, um, spirit work type stuff. Like you’re really interceding for them. I just I’m really, I’m kind of like taken aback right now because I never really thought about prayer being a connection point. But I think that’s, that’s really profound and I really appreciate you sharing that.
Lanie: One of my mom’s favorite prayer authors was Jennifer Kennedy Dane she wrote Legacy of Prayer, talked about praying for your future [00:12:00] generations and everything. My mother’s mother was a prayer warrior and then my mother and me, so it’s like this legacy, you know, carried down is so special.
Rachel: That’s fabulous. Let’s get into the nitty gritty let’s get into what does your Sabbath look like? So when you’re preparing to go into Sabbath, do you Sabbath on a specific day of the week, do you do it for a specific amount of time?
Lanie: Yeah, I do it every Sunday. I’m not legalistic about it. If something comes up it’s okay. But I do, you know, go to church, Sunday school and church, and then, um, and I do the fasting as part of mine. Then when I come home, I do my prayer journal and my prayer binder.
Rachel: So do you fast you fast before?
Lanie: From Saturday night until I’ve done all of my prayer stuff.
Rachel: Oh, okay. And then after you do that, do you have a meal?
Lanie: Yeah, then I eat.
Rachel: That’s cool.
Lanie: Yeah, that’s part of my Sabbath, breaking the fast, enjoying meal and then [00:13:00] enjoying the rest of the day.
Lanie: But not doing anything for me that’s work.
Rachel: Okay. And what would you say is work for you?
Lanie: I mean, like cutting the grass, cleaning the house, you know, um, or parts of my job. I’ve tried to have that done.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s really easy. Isn’t it to let, cause like we have emails on our phone now and we’re just so accessible that it’s really easy sometimes to let that work come into our home and into our weekend. And so it’s to make that intentional break of like, Nope, not happening today. That can be hard sometimes, but, um, it’s so important that it doesn’t.
Lanie: And that’s what I’m not opening my computer until, you know…
Rachel: So do you put, like, I’ve heard of people like putting their electronics, like in a different room and closing the door. Do you do anything like that?
Lanie: Nah. I mean, I just, you know, don’t take out my computer. So one thing that has been encouraging women in ministry to put rest into their [00:14:00] weeks. And so one of them wrote on her calendar every week, you know, rest. And the next time I met with her and I was like, how’s that going? She was like, I put it on my calendar every week. And I’m like, how many times did she do it? She was like, none. And so we talked about how for her rest was a negative word. It’s like, what if we call it Sabbath? And you do a Sabbath instead because Sabbath has a, a nicer connotation. The verse that comes to me a lot is this is what the sovereign Lord, the holy one of Israel says in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. And so, especially getting young moms who are in ministry and doing a lot to make sure that the repentance and rest and the quietness and trust are scheduled into their lives because otherwise those get pushed out. And then also realizing what is the lie that you were [00:15:00] believing that it’s not okay to take a Sabbath? That’s not okay to have rest on your schedule every week?
Rachel: Yeah. I loved that you talked about this because I often say that rest does not need to be a four-letter word and yet we oftentimes make it out to be right? And, and I think it’s so easy for us as moms to feel selfish in resting. And it’s a lie. That the world convinced us of, but it’s not the truth of scripture. God has extended Sabbath rest to us as a gift and as a way to reconnect with him and to be refueled and to understand his provision and his love and his goodness. And so. I love the fact that you were mentoring that woman and really encouraging her to take a rest. That’s really good.
Lanie: That’s what a friend I was in ministry with always said that you’ve got to give out of your saucer or not your cup and say, have your cup so overflowing that you give out your saucer. And I feel [00:16:00] like rest and Sabbath are besides daily time, are what allows us to give out of our saucer.
Rachel: I like that image. That’s a good image. So how has Sabbath changed your life? How has it impacted you?
Lanie: I feel like it’s given me margin and I feel like, um, in my time with the Lord and in my Sabbath, it allows me to take the peace of Christ wherever I go. That I’m not frazzled, I’m not anxious. And, um, I have time for God to fill me up and then I can take that into every situation.
And, um, there’s so much anxiety now that when somebody comes in with peace, it’s like, it kind of settles everybody down. So it’s just like a gift the Lord gives us that we can bring his peace, his joy, his hope in every situation. [00:17:00] And I feel like Sabbath is what does that for me because it gives me margin. It reorients my life. It allows me to be restful.
Rachel: You talked about the anxiety thing and I think that’s really true, especially right now. There’s a lot of anxious, um, thoughts and worries. And you know, our world is kind of upside down a little bit right now. And I think that has contributed a lot to the anxiety, but I also think that just everyday life sometimes can cause that anxiousness. I’m curious, this is actually a good segue into the question I was going to ask about working with college students. Have you noticed it, if that anxiety has increased at all for them?
Lanie: Yeah, it’s huge. There was so much pressure and with COVID and we had work online for the last 18 months, we’ve just come back in person. And I feel like it’s so much better for them when we’re in person.
Rachel: Yeah. That, that real person connection.[00:18:00]
Lanie: Everybody needs a cheerleader. That’s kind of and a mom, and that’s where you get to do it’s like, you can do this, you know, and it’s fun. Like graduation day is the best day ever, when you know, you get to see them walk and they made it and they did it. And, um, a lot of them just need somebody saying, you can do this. And I think we all need that. Somebody just saying, you can do this. It’s huge to be able to the privilege of doing that.
Rachel: Have you gotten that all to talk to them about rest? Have you like been able to, to remind them to rest?
Lanie: I have. It’s hard because they basically have two full-time jobs, they’re college athletes and they’re students. And–
Rachel: Because you work with athletes, right?
Lanie: Right. And almost all of their minutes are taken. You know, they’re told when to eat, when to work out, you know, it’s huge. So, um, it’s hard for them to. But there’ll be days where they get off, you [00:19:00] know, and just encourage them to do something.
Rachel: Do something fun. Take a break. Yeah. That’s awesome that you get to give them that wisdom because I don’t think the world’s giving that to them right now, especially when you’re young and you are staring at the rest of your future. And all the things that you need to do for it. It can be really easy to to rest. To take a step back and to rest.
Lanie: I have a little wooden thing that says, just breathe that sometimes I bring to work.
Rachel: We all need that. We all need that reminder, right? Just breathe. That’s good. I have a couple more questions for you about your Sabbath practice. Uh, one of them is, are there any challenges that you run into when you are practicing Sabbath?
Lanie: Um, really, it’s just really, really fun, you know? And it’s kind of like to that I have the freedom to, um, [00:20:00] take a nap, you know. It’s like, um, just having the freedom, not to be legalistics about anything.
Rachel: With your background of growing up where it was a little bit more legalistic, do you have to fight a little bit more against that? Or are you like, oh, I’m okay. I don’t flip into that legalism mindset?
Lanie: I think it’s given me the freedom to like, like one morning, um, in my Sunday School class, someone brought in fresh scones, you know, that she had just made. And I was like, I have the freedom to eat that, you know, it’s like–
Rachel: Okay, because you normally fast during
Lanie: That kind of thing. But also I lead solitude retreats where you just have your bottle and your journal. Every time I go, what I come away with is just how much God loves me and how excited he is that I’m spending time with him and just overwhelmed with that. And that’s the same thing with the Sabbath where, you know, I feel like he’s so excited that I’m taking time with him. And even if [00:21:00] that’s, um, you know, taking a nap or doing fun things, just that I’m aware of that this was a commandment and what God called us to, and that we’re not supposed to go 90 to nothing every day. That we need time out. And, um, that, that is important to model for our families.
Rachel: Hmm. So good. Do you have any tips or tricks or anything?
Lanie: I heard this friend say that our call starts with God, not us. And it’s kind of like, our Sabbath starts with God, not us. That God made man for Sabbath, not Sabbath for man. And so God is he’s clear, you know, he doesn’t play games he’s not God in hiding. And so it’s just kind of like, if you want to set up your Sabbath, ask God what he wants you to do. What’s life giving and he will make it exactly what he wants it to be for you. And so it’s like, it, it never has to be what somebody else does. [00:22:00] It’s God, what do you want my Sabbath to look like? And your Sabbath may not look anything like my Sabbath and that’s fine. But the whole thing is that God is about life and abundant life and he’ll show us what is life giving for us. And so often we get caught up in what somebody else is doing. Have the kids brainstorm what, what sounds like a fun Sabbath for you, you know, and have your own traditions.
Rachel: Ask God what your Sabbath should look like. Such wisdom. But, we can oftentimes just forget to invite him into the process, right?
Lanie: Prayer is the work. And not preparation for the work. And it’s like, we can pray about everything and you have not because you asked not.
Lanie: Ask God about everything.
Rachel: Yeah. I often talk about using Sabbath as a time to ask, ask Jesus, to give you a renewed perspective on your week. So to ask him [00:23:00] show me the challenges and joys of my week through your eyes, Lord, because we can have such a skewed perspective on our week. And it’s almost the same thing that you’re saying right now. Like we can have a skewed perspective on what our work is or what our rest should look like. And so we need to invite him into that process and to look at it through his lens, look at it through his perspective of how does he want you to rest with him? I think there’s so much wisdom in that if it’s so good, ask God what he wants your Sabbath to look like.
Lanie: And it’s like, we feel like everything’s gotta be hard and it’s not. It’s just like, that’s what I feel like God is so fun and, um, is so in the details. And I’m always like, He freaks me out every day, you know? And it’s like so fun just to know that the God of the universe cares about what my Sabbath looks like.
Rachel: That he wants to have it with you.
Rachel: That he’s inviting you in and saying, come sit with me. [00:24:00]
Rachel: And it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be enjoyable.
Rachel: And you better hold on for the ride because it’s going to transform your life.
Lanie: And it’s like, we often think he’s saying, eat your beans and we hate beans and he’s not
Rachel: That’s not it at all.
Lanie: It’s cake and your favorite kind
Rachel: Exactly. We were like, oh, I’ve got to do this whole take a break thing now. And it’s like the Lord’s like, come on! It’s like the best part of the week.
Lanie: Right. And He gave us permission to do it.
Rachel: Yes. Permission and a plan. That’s what I always say because it’s, he not only has the, you can rest and you should rest, he’s saying here’s how to rest. I’ve given you a structure for it. Well, Lanie, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you for letting us get a glimpse into your weekly practice. I love it so great. And I’ve made some notes for myself. I’m like, Hmm. I need to make some adjustments here and there. Um, I think some of the things I’m going to implement into my own Sabbath practice, I really appreciate that
Lanie: Can I pray? [00:25:00]
Rachel: What was that?
Lanie: Can I pray?
Rachel: Yes, I’m going to have you pray. You can pray in just a minute. I want you to tell the listeners about the resources you have for them. I know you have two, um, videos, and so you want to explain those to us briefly, and then I’ll make sure to put a link in the show notes to those, but why don’t you need to tell us what those are.
Lanie: Yeah. So I, um, during COVID I do a lot with young life. I was a volunteer for 19 years and I do a lot of prayer on the committee for a young life, um, middle east, north Africa, and lead the prayer team. But, um, so we were doing a family camp and, uh, during COVID online. And so I did a seminar on how to pray for children and also for adults. So those are those links. And then, um, the devotionals, you can just look up Amazon, you can, and then also I have a blog. And I think you’ve got all those links.
Rachel: Yep. And I’ll make sure to put all of those in the show notes that people can get in touch with you. And is [00:26:00] there any other way that we can support you in the work you do as a prayer strategist?
Lanie: Um, so I have a Instagram that’s, um, @prayerstrategist. And so, and then I’m working on that book. So I just need to finish that, but it’s really fun just to, um, learn prayer strategies. Cause you can be spontaneous, but also organized. And just the more you pray, the more you wanna pray, it’s really been a huge privilege of being a part of people’s lives and their stories. And, um, when people share their pearls with you and don’t take that lightly.
Rachel: Well, thank you so much. So I’m going to let you go ahead. And normally I actually, ask if I can pray, so no, this is great. Like you’re going to get a chance–
Lanie: I can be a prayer hog. Sorry.
Rachel: I know it’s fun. It’s fun to let somebody else do the praying that’s time. So, but I love that. So go ahead. Why don’t we we’ll close with prayer.
Lanie: Great. Father. We just praise you. We thank you [00:27:00] for the privilege and gift of Sabbath. I thank you for Rachel.
I pray blessing upon her and the ministry that she has encouraging to Sabbath. I do pray for wisdom for each of us. Have as you call us out Lord and, um, give us life and peace and joy and hope and just give us each wisdom, what our Sabbaths should look like and how we can honor you with our time and our lives. And, um, but we can never out-give you Lord, we just thank you for your blessing and your great love for us in Jesus name. Amen.
Rachel: Amen. Well, thank you again for being here and sharing with us and thank you, our listeners for listening into today’s episode as we continue this conversation about all things Sabbath and the deep joy and stabilizing peace that it brings back into our lives. Until next time.
Hey, I just want to say thank you for joining me for today’s conversation. I know many things demand your attention. I don’t take lightly the privilege it is to share your [00:28:00] time. I want to make things as easy and simple for you. So I’ve linked to all the resources mentioned in the episode in the show notes, and you can always find the link and more helpful information on my website, www.simplysabbath.com.
As we say our goodbyes, let me remind you that what we’re talking about in this podcast is not just another thing to add to your to-do list. This is not another expectation for you to live up to. It is a gift out stretched from the hand of your creator. An invitation to press pause on walking alongside Jesus in all the things He’s called you to do. And instead sit down, across from Him and just be with Him.
It is an invitation to Simply Sabbath.
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I help busy moms add a simple, rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. If that sounds like something you want for your week, but don’t know where to start, grab this free how-to resource: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath.