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Jared Brock's Year of Living Prayerfully

Jared met his wife, Michelle, in seventh grade.  He was a pastor’s kid and she was a missionary kid.  They both grew up in church and were familiar with the things of God.  They saw people give their lives to the Lord and watched God perform miracles.  “To the average church attendee, there was little doubt we were prayer experts,” jokes Jared.  “But our experience of prayer weakened with time.”  By the time they were 26, Michelle and Jared both felt God was distant.  They were reevaluating their lives and were in the middle of shooting a documentary on human trafficking for their charity, Hope for the Sold.  They were in the red light district in Amsterdam and the scene was overwhelming.  Hundreds of men were drunk outside a bar, police were on horseback, and women were sitting in the windows.  Tragically, the oldest church in Amsterdam stands in the middle of the red-light district.  Every hour on the hour, to the sound of church bells, men rent women’s bodies.  As he stood in the scene, Jared cried out to God.  “You need to end this!  I need power in prayer.”  

By this time, Jared felt his prayer life had become routine.  He asked himself, “What do you do when your prayers feel like they’re hitting the ceiling and going nowhere?” “What do you do when it becomes a rote tradition?”  “What happens if God is silent?”  Jared and Michele felt they were stuck.  “Prayer was a habit I did out of guilt,” says Jared.  “If I’m really honest, God was my Santa Claus.”  They decided to embark on a year of living prayerfully.  Jared compiled a list of Judeo-Christian faiths and decided to research their prayer methods and beliefs.  The idea got pitched to a publisher who would fund the trip if Jared documented it.  “I longed to be a deeply spiritual being, highly in-tune with my Creator and His world,” says Jared. 


Their 37,000-mile journey started in New York City during Passover.  “Michelle and I decided to start our year by exploring the prayer traditions of the Jewish faith because Christianity grew out of Jewish roots.”   Jared felt the Jewish traditions were part of a rich history and contained small invitations to connect with God.  He learned to pray more, but Jared says he still felt he needed something more. 

Along the way, they visited 12 countries.  Some of their highlights include:

  1. North Korea.  They went to North Korea for the New Year.  The New Year’s tradition is to visit the palace to bow seven times before their fallen yet eternal leader, Kim Il-sung, and the statue of him and his son, Kim Jong-il.  If Jared didn’t bow, he could have been shot or imprisoned.  (North Korea is said to be the most dangerous place in the world for Christians.  There are at least 50,000 Christians imprisoned in work camps.) Once inside the palace, Jared refused to bow and instead prayed the Lord’s Prayer as he made his way around the dead leader and also in front of the statue. “Thankfully, I wasn’t arrested. North Koreans worship the Kim family, but ultimately they worship themselves. They’re just like the rest of us,” says Jared.  “Left to our own devices, we will make God in our image.”  On his last night, Jared sang a song by Bluetree called “God of This City” outside his hotel window.  “You’re the God of this city, you’re the King of these people…and greater things are still to be done here.”
  2. Italy.  Before embarking to Italy, Jared faxed the Pope’s office asking if they could meet him.  Within 24 hours, Michelle and Jared got a phone call from the Pope’s personal assistant.  They were invited to meet Pope Francis!  Jared had the opportunity to ask the Pope what prayer meant to him.  “Prayer is opening up your heart to God! In silence, it is letting God’s power come inside you,” he said. It dawned on Jared: the Pope wanted God’s power just as much as he did.
  3. Israel.   Jared and Michelle visited the Holy Land and sites within the ancient part of Jerusalem but wanted to visit Bethlehem.  A number of Messianic Jews warned them it was dangerous.  Jesus’ birthplace was on the

Palestinian side of the wall.  To Jared’s surprise, there were a number of churches.  His guide reminded him that Palestine was first a Christian territory.  “There are people who love Jesus in Palestine,” says Jared.  He was so sad for the city.  “The Holy Land is one of the most unhappy places I visited,” he says.  “It was exactly the environment in which Jesus was crucified.”  Jared says he fell in love with the Lord’s Prayer in Jerusalem.  “Shalom is the prayer I placed in the Western Wall,” he says.  “And shalom is the medicine I’d prescribe for Jerusalem – a deep, God-breathed indwelling of peace, prosperity and blessing.

Through his year long journey, Jared learned that we become like the people we spend time with.  “If you spend time with Jesus in prayer, you will become more Christ-like.”  He says prayer changes us and then we in turn change the world.  His prayer life looked much different at the end of his journey than it did at the beginning.  “I pray a lot more.  I also feel less guilty when I forget to pray.”  He says prayer is the main dish; everything else is gravy.  “We must never take prayer lightly.  Every prayer has the potential to change the course of history.”

Mentioned in the Video



Guest Info


Author, A Year of Living Prayerfully (2015)

Co-Founder, Hope for the Sold, an abolitionist charity that fights human trafficking

Filmmaker: Red Light Green Light

Has written for Huffington Post, Converge, Esquire, Relevant Magazine, etc.

Wife: Michelle


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