Our Secret Weapon for the Battles of Life—Prayer: Bishop T.D. Jakes & Lt. Col. Dan Rooney
T.D. Jakes: Both of my grandmothers were praying women. So I say dream like your daughter, dream that the sky’s the limit. Dream that you can reach the stars. Dream that you can go where no other woman has ever gone before. But while you dream like your daughters, pray like your grandmother.
Our Secret Weapon for the Battles of Life—Prayer: Bishop T.D. Jakes & Lt. Col. Dan Rooney – Episode #225
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. We’ve all heard stories of answered prayers and how praying for people can have power in others’ lives. But why is choosing to make prayer an ongoing part of our lives important—even if we don’t always see or understand if our prayers are answered? Our guests this week, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Lt. Col. Dan Rooney, have seen from different perspectives the power of prayer—not only the kind that others do on our behalf but the discipline of incorporating this act of faith into our daily lives.
For more than forty years, Bishop T.D. Jakes has helped millions of people realize their purpose through his life-changing ministry and champions for people of all ages, races, and backgrounds to find their purpose and passion. Early on, Bishop Jakes has recognized the extraordinary role of women in the church and believes they have the power to change the world. Jakes’ tells us why he believes that when women pray, things happen.
T.D. Jakes: I am Bishop T.D. Jakes, I am the senior pastor of the Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. I’ve been ministering for about forty-three years. I’m also the CEO for the T.D. Jakes Foundation, and I have a for-profit company called T.D. Jakes Enterprises.
Recognizing The Power of Women
I think it’s important to understand that my international notoriety, to whatever degree it exists, began because I started a conference for women called Woman Thou Art Loosed, and that started as a Sunday school class. It was actually about forty-three women, and ended up with 86,000 women in the Georgia Dome.
So I have a long history of ministering not only as a pastor, but to women in books and conferences and crusades who have gone through or are going through various levels of trauma. When women pray, things happen.
Jeremiah said, “Send for the women who are mourning and let them pick up a wailing.” And the fact that he would call for women to pray at a time of war really moved me to say, “This is a good time to amass women and challenge them to pray, because we are being attacked on so many fronts today: personally, nationally, medically, economically.”
“This is a good time to amass women and challenge them to pray, because we are being attacked on so many fronts today: personally, nationally, medically, economically.” – T.D. Jakes
This particular book comes at a time that our whole world is going through trauma, and I thought it would be a good time to write the book. The book is called When Women Pray.
I open up the book talking about Mother Teresa. I have a pretty global view of the body of Christ. And I think Mother Teresa would not normally be in my orbit. But I think that’s what fascinates me about her, is that she transcended denominational entanglements and became a global name without singing songs or speaking messages. It was her compassion for the poor and the rejected and the ostracized.
So many people have said so much about what she did. But there’s not been a lot said about how she prayed. And I think the real strength behind our ability to be potent with what we do, it’s predicated on our private prayer life, and it affects our public persona. She had this power about her. And I think that points to the power of prayer that is not always demonstrated in the intensity of our expression, but in the fervency of our consecration.
I wanted women today, as busy as they are, as many hats, as so many demands are placed on them more now than ever, to be able to figure out, How do I take time to pray? How do I pray? What are the words that I need to say? And really, the power of prayer, when your voice sings, muted by the noise of the times we’re living in, the noise in the workplace, that noise of the media, of the noise coming from the challenges of COVID-19 and everything else is challenging us today—that voice can be as soft as Mother Teresa, and yet it can shake the very heavens itself when women pray.
Dream Like Your Daughters, Pray Like Your Grandmothers
And so when I say, “Pray like your grandmother and dream like your daughter,” I’m saying that you don’t have to forsake one or the other. You can still have ambition and tenacity and drive and still be grounded like your grandmother was. It might be a reflection of my own experiences of both of my grandmothers, referring to women. Our community tends to be matriarchal. When I think of my Baptist grandmother, my first remembrance of her is sitting in a rocking chair with a Bible in her lap, a big Bible up on the mantel.
And my paternal grandmother, I mean, she went to church. She took care of sick people. We had to go visit everybody and bring food to everybody and have had the reverend over for dinner. She knew all the hymns and all the scriptures about both those women.
But I can’t even begin to express what an impact they had on my life. So, you know, being surrounded by them and my sister and later in life, my wife and my daughters, I’ve seen a wide periphery or view of femininity at different stages, in [different] ages, and have a great deal of respect for the tenacity and the endurance of women. And in almost every case, somewhere in the backdrop behind the curtain was prayer.
And this book about when women pray really gets down to when your heart is overwhelmed, when the challenges are demanding, when there’s little place to rest or lay your head and you don’t have time for a milk bath and candles—prayer can often be the only spa a busy woman gets.
So when I talk about when women pray, it not only soothes the soul, but it also changes the world. Every woman has to use prayer both as offense and defense. The sword as the offense, the shield as the defense, because you’ve got blows coming at you from every direction. And prayer is a shield, but you’ve also got it as a weapon as well. And you need both of them. You can’t just play defense and play offense.
“Every woman has to use prayer both as offense and defense.” – T.D. Jakes
I just wanted the book to be some kind of spiritual therapy, as it were, for people who often don’t have a place to go to therapeutically resolve the conflicts that come and the wounding words that come against you. Jesus talks about bringing forth much fruit. He is actually talking about prayer. He’s talking about the fruitfulness of a powerful reflection with God, that God is glorified by answering our prayers.
I would like to encourage every listener that God’s yoke is heavy. But He can love here, and His arm is not short, and He can see. I’m not suggesting that every time you pray that God will do as you direct. But in the process of praying, you will hear what He has purposed. And sometimes prayer changes things. And other times prayer changes you.
“Sometimes prayer changes things. And other times prayer changes you.” – T.D. Jakes
Narrator: To close out our time with Bishop Jakes, he blesses us with a reading from Jesus Calling about prayer.
I AM A GOD of both intricate detail and overflowing abundance. When you entrust the details of your life to Me, you are surprised by how thoroughly I answer your petitions. I take pleasure in hearing your prayers, so feel free to bring Me all your requests. The more you pray, the more answers you can recieve. Best of all, your faith is strengthened as you see how precisely I respond to your specific prayers. Because I am infinite in all My ways, you need not fear that I will run out of resources. Abundance is at the very heart of who I am. Come to Me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need—and sometimes much more! I delight in showering blessings on My beloved Children. Come to Me with open hands and heart, ready to receive all I have for you.
Narrator: To learn more about Bishop Jakes’ ministry, visit TDJakes.org. And you can find his book, When Women Pray: 10 Women of the Bible Who Changed the World Through Prayer, wherever books are sold.
Stay tuned to Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney’s story after a brief message.
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Get the latest updates, and build a shoebox online at Samaritan’s Purse.org/occ.
Narrator: Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney achieved not one, but two dreams that many have, and probably not together at the same time: becoming a US Air Force fighter pilot, and a PGA golf professional. Many experiences along the way shaped Colonel Rooney into the mission-filled man he is today—like the moment he encountered the family of a fallen soldier on a commercial airline flight. It was there that Colonel Rooney decided to honor the sacrifices of fallen and disabled veterans by launching an organization called Folds of Honor, which has turned into an incredible way for God to use his service in a whole new way.
Lt. Col Dan Rooney: I’m Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney. I’ve been an Air Force fighter pilot for almost twenty years, living my boyhood dream. I’m a strong follower of Jesus, and every day trying to be a vessel of impact.
Chasing Dreams With an “I Will” Attitude
My story growing up was an incredibly blessed one. I grew up with two devout Catholics as parents, and I have two older sisters. And as a way to get out of the house, I started playing golf with my dad and got pretty good as a golfer. When I was twelve years old, I had a moment of what I call synchronicity, or chance with a purpose. These are those moments where God put someone or something in your life that has a dramatic impact. I played a round of golf with a fighter pilot, and his name was Steve Courtright. And he was the coolest adult that I’d ever met.
I just had this epiphany as a twelve year old kid. I said, “Dad, I know what I want to do with my life. I want to be a golf pro and a fighter pilot.” And I had great parents, right, that said you can do anything you want to do. And he asked me a question, I’ll never forget it. He said, “Son, can you tell me which way an airplane takes off?”
I’m like, “Is it into the wind?”
He said, “That’s exactly right.”
And with so few words, he was preparing me for these inevitable headwinds that would stand between this twelve-year-old kid and this unlikely dream. Right? But these dreams would ultimately come together.
I’m the only guy in the history of the world to be a PGA professional and a fighter pilot. But I always say God has the bigger plan that often we’re not aware of at that time. And so I’ve poured my heart and soul into the game of golf, and would go to the University of Kansas where I played golf.
I met my wife at the end of my freshman year at the Sigma Chi house, Jackie, and she is most importantly my wife of twenty-five years and the mother of our five daughters.
But the other moment of synchronicity that occurred, I was signed up for what I thought would be the easiest class at the University of Kansas, and that was sports psychology 101. I remember showing up the first day, and the professor shows up five minutes late to the class. And he goes to the front of the room and writes on the whiteboard the word volition. And he takes his place behind the podium and he waits. And it’s probably, you know, three or four minutes until we settle into this awkward silence. And he said, “Can anybody tell me what this word means? Volition.”
It’s crickets, right? Not a word.
And he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the most powerful word in the world.” He said, “Volition is the power of choice. Every day you wake up, you are free to choose. But understand the choices that you make will culminate to write the legacy of your life.”
And then he goes back up to this whiteboard, and he writes down what he calls the volition matrix. He said, “Every choice you make follows a logical path. And it starts with, I won’t do that. I can’t do that. I’d like to. I’ll try. I can. I will.” He looks out at the class, and he said, “But I will tell you right now, if you can make it to I will, nothing can stop you. And I made the choice right then and there as a junior in college that I was going to chase that crazy dream with everything I had in my heart.
“Every choice you make follows a logical path. And it starts with, I won’t do that. I can’t do that. I’d like to. I’ll try. I can. I will.” – Lt. Col. Dan Rooney
Becoming a Fighter Pilot
I left the University of Kansas, and I had to get my private pilot’s license and take a bunch of tests to apply for the Air Force pilot training program. And thankfully I got in. But I’ll never forget the first day of pilot training. I was in a room with about forty-three other people, and looking around the room, I’ve never been so intimidated in my life.
And the colonel comes into the room and he looks around. He said, “Everybody in here has an opportunity, and you’ve made it to this moment. And you get to chase your childhood dream of being a pilot or a fighter pilot in the Air Force.” But he made it very clear, he said, “Most of you aren’t going to make it. The pilot training program from start to being a fighter pilot is about two and a half years long in the United States Air Force. Only 4.8 percent of the people who start the program will successfully complete the fighter pilot course.” And it was, again, a defining moment in my life where I realized I couldn’t do this by myself.
And so I woke up thirty minutes early the next morning. It was really early, because we’d go to work at like 4:30 in the morning. And I dedicated myself to thirty minutes of daily prayer. And it was a life changing gift that the Air Force, probably above all else, gave me. And this routine of prayer has never stopped for me. I read Jesus Calling every single day. But it all started because I had this, you know, impossible mountain to climb at that point, which was to become a fighter pilot.
“I dedicated myself to thirty minutes of daily prayer. And it was a life changing gift that the Air Force, probably above all else, gave me.” – Lt. Col. Dan Rooney
I would make it through the program, got my wings. And then you go off to the F-16 school. The F-16 is just an incredible machine. I’ve got a couple of thousand hours of flight time, three combat tours in Iraq, and I’m still flying in the Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base, now outside of Destin, Florida. But you go through this program, and you show up at Luke Air Force Base, and it’s fighter country, USA. You spent about a month and a half going through academics and simulators and all this kind of stuff. And then you get four rides in a two-seat model of the F-16, so the instructor sits behind you.
And your fifth ride is a very crucial point in the program, whether you’re going to succeed or just be a statistic to wash out, because you’ve got to go solo. And I literally remember climbing in this fighter jet and looking around at buttons and switches and green monochrome screens. And I’m sitting on top of a $40 million fighter jet that I’ve flown four times with an instructor. The fifth time I am by myself, and I go off and successfully fly. And I come back, and I remember raising up the canopy of the F-16, and another divine lesson hits me. It’s, Go before you’re ready.
I would say the defiant thread of true greatness in faith-based people is you get to a place in your life and you’ve got to go before you’re ready. And so often, people wait for everything to get perfectly aligned. I’m going to move when this happens. I’m going to quit this job and do something I really love when I get this much money in the bank, or after we’ve had kids. This reckless faith that I’ve learned as a fighter pilot in an inherently very dangerous business is such a gift. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
“I would say the defiant thread of true greatness in faith-based people is you get to a place in your life and you’ve got to go before you’re ready…This reckless faith that I’ve learned as a fighter pilot in an inherently very dangerous business is such a gift. Life is not a dress rehearsal.” – Lt. Col. Dan Rooney
I have to push myself every day, and when I find myself at these stopping points, I really think that’s the purest form of your faith. You can say, “Hey, I’m a Christian, I’m a believer in God.” But when you have the courage and the faith to really put it in His hands and say, “Hey, my heart’s on fire. I want to do this, but I’m afraid,” you’re just like, “Hey, screw it, I’m jumping. I’m going. Because I know You. I know You’ve got me. And I know that You’ve given me the gifts to succeed in my life. And I’m going to honor You by having this reckless faith and just going and doing it.”
Folds of Honor
Folds of Honor is where I feel like I’m truly serving God in my life. Thirteen years ago, I am on a commercial airline flight from Chicago O’Hare to Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a dark, delayed, crummy night. I’ve been stuck in the airport, and remember finally getting on this flight, United Flight 664, Chicago O’Hare, walking through first class. And I glance over and there’s a corporal in dress Army greens. I don’t think much of it. Press on back to coach. But an hour and a half later, we finally land in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The captain comes over the P.A. and makes an announcement that we’re carrying an American hero on board, and that we have the remains of Corporal Brock Buckland, who was killed in Iraq. His identical twin brother, Corporal Brad Bucklin, is in first class and has brought him home. The captain makes another request that everybody stay in their seats until Brock’s remains are moved from the right cargo hold.
You know, for me, I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in combat [and I will] leave it at that. But I’ve never seen this side of war. And that night, I watched the Buckland family on the darkest night of their lives: his brother, his parents, his wife, and his four year old son watched as his father’s American flag draped coffin inches down the cargo ramp.
And the finality of it hit me—that this little boy is never going to play catch with his dad, or go get ice cream, or get tucked in at night, or have a weekend together. I mean, those things that are so sacred. And in this moment of despair, like so often in my life, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and it was the hand of God. And He picks the least among us, but He picks the willing. And that was the inspiration that would start Folds of Honor.
“He picks the least among us, but He picks the willing.” – Lt. Col. Dan Rooney
And my wife and I started it above our garage thirteen years ago in Broken Arrow. No money, no platform, from zero. Just us and God. And our mission since we started—and I wrote it down—has been unwavering, that is to honor the sacrifice by educating the legacy, providing scholarships to spouses and children who’ve had someone killed or disabled, defending the freedoms that we enjoy each and every day as Americans. And it’s just been so humbling and it makes you feel so small to watch God’s hand and know that He is truly using you as an instrument for good.
The least expected thing that has happened to me at Folds of Honor and working with thousands of recipients is, I mean, to a person, they were like, “We couldn’t go to college without the money that you give us. We’re so grateful. But the greatest gift you’ve given us is honoring the sacrifice that our parent or our spouse made. Remembering them, so they are not forgotten.” It’s a beautiful ministry on a whole lot of fronts.
Fly Into The Wind
My book is called Fly into the Wind: How to Harness Faith and Fearlessness on Your Ascent to Greatness. And as fighter pilots, we always take off into the wind because we need that resistance to ascend, and our lives are no different. I’m a firm believer in that.
And what I’ve outlined in Fly into the Wind, this personal code of living, it is about prioritizing the unconditional pursuit of being your best self. This is about engineering a life of fulfillment, which is possible everyday through the right choices. What are you filling yourself up with?
So the code of living that I’ve engineered for my own life, I call it CAVU. It’s a fighter pilot acronym, it stands for Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited. So it’s those perfect infinite blue sky days, right? But the code of living, CAVU puts together ten lines of effort. We call them LOEs, again, another military term, that if you execute them every day, ensures that you prioritize your mental health, your physical health, your spiritual well-being.
And for me, it’s about this daily process of excellence, right? That’s hyper-focused on things you can control. Because when I went through my ten-year life storm, right, there was just so much chaos around me all the time that I built this little insularity, daily process that I could say, “Hey, regardless of what’s happening, the outcomes of my life today, I can make choices that I know God is going to be proud of.”
I’m thankful every day for the challenges that the good Lord has put in my life and the way that they’ve transformed me into being a much better good and faithful servant of our Lord and Savior.
Narrator: To learn more about Folds of Honor and how you can support families of fallen and disabled soldiers, please visit foldsofhonor.org. And check out Lt. Col Dan Rooney’s new book, Fly into the Wind, available in stores November 17th.
If you like stories about the power of prayer, check out our interview with Christian singer Charles Billingsley.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we speak with Super Bowl champion quarterback and football coach Trent Dilfer. Trent was on vacation with his family at Disneyland when his five-year-old son Trevin caught a cold. But what started as a normal illness made a sharp turn, as it turned out to be a virus attacking Trevin’s heart—and Trent found himself facing a faith dilemma he never could’ve imagined.
Trent Dilfer: They had him on this heart lung bypass machine, waiting for a heart. And early on, it seemed like it was going to happen. Why wouldn’t he get a heart? And then you start realizing, Well, for him to get a heart, another family has to lose their child. But that was kind of my greatest faith dilemma was: do you beg God to save your own child’s life, knowing that that was going to cost another family their child’s life?