Our pets...dogs, cats, birds, whatever type of critter they are, we love them and care for them on a level that ranks as 'family'. It's sad that in comparison to human years, most are only with us a fraction of that time. Illness happens, senior years set in and our beloved friends befall maladies that necessitate more than a vet visit or prescription medications. When people are sick, many times we pray for their recovery. I think some people however, don't tend to think of praying for an animal, even when it's a family pet.
When I first came to the world of social media, via FaceBook, I hadn't even started this blog, but I had been a pet parent since 1995, and been involved in small dog rescue/fostering since 2008. It wasn't too long after (2011), I came across Caren Brodt's page, 'Prayers for Pets'. (PfP) I'm sure it was because I had a sick pet. My blog is geared toward canine nutrition, (I obtained certification in April 2013) but I have benefited so much from PfP, that I wanted to share this wonderful ministry with my readers. Caren graciously imparted her thoughts in this, my first virtual blog interview for ‘Talk To The Paw’!
Anita: Do you get many questions from people who are skeptical?
Caren: (While) it’s true, most people don’t think of praying for even a family pet; thankfully for us there are some who do. (God really does care about every detail and every creature: Matthew 10:29-30) When I meet people and tell them what I do there is rarely any skepticism, surprisingly. Almost every person I tell about the page in a personal conversation has a story to tell about a friend (neighbor, relative) who has or had a pet problem which really needed a ministry like Prayers for Pets, but they didn’t know about us. Many of the new people we get see us as a last resort. They are unfamiliar with what we do, I often feel as though they are crying out in the dark, hoping that someone will actually answer their plea for help. Some are genuinely surprised and appreciative that I answer their plea.
Anita: What kind of responses have you received when pets are healed, sometimes against the odds?
Caren: Some people are surprised when their pet gets healed, others seem to expect it. Some seem to see God as Santa Claus or a service provider. In this consumer society we tend to believe that we are owed good service therefore if they ask for healing through a venue such as Prayers for Pets, they are owed an answer commensurate with their expectations. It may sound silly, but I do get that impression from a lot of people. Others are elated and ascribe miraculous powers to the website and FB page. Neither view is very realistic. Psalm 115:3 says: ‘Our God is in Heaven, He does whatever pleases him.’ He is often pleased to answer our prayers according to our expectations, but often his answer is: “no”, or “not now”. I believe that God calls us to pray out of obedience to Him, it is not a laundry list of the things we want God to do for us. Prayer is about conforming our will to God’s will. When we do that we succeed no matter how God chooses to answer.
Anita: I have long felt that prayer changes the pray-er....can you recollect instances in these past many years where an answered prayer from your page has changed someone's life/belief in some way? I'm sure there are some stories....can you share one or two of your favorites?
Caren: Changed Belief: The downside of running a ministry like PfP is that I don’t often know just how the page makes a difference in people’s lives; they rarely tell me. It wasn’t until FB began to call for reviews of pages that I even had a clue about how people have been affected! People see the posts I put up on a daily basis, but most of the actual one on one ministry lies behind the scenes thru messages. One woman whom I’ll call Diane thought that she had a relationship with Jesus when she began her journey with us. Through hours and hours of communication over about a 2-year period she realized that what I was encouraging her to learn through the Bible and prayer was not the same as her traditional upbringing. I was delighted to learn that she made a commitment to repent of her sins and become a follower of Jesus Christ not according to her traditions but as the Bible teaches. Changed Lives: There is one family which stands out to me whose lives were definitely changed thru the ministry. I met “Jane” on New Year’s Eve several years ago. Jane’s husband was dying and they would soon be homeless. She was desperate. We talked a lot in the days and months to come and we were able to be of more than just spiritual encouragement. One of the people in our community became Jane’s pet angel, paying for Vet visits. Jane was so afraid her pets would be taken from her during their period of homelessness, but God was gracious to enable her to keep them. We helped get Jane and her husband into a caring community of believers; they found housing, furniture and a new life. Her husband is still alive to this day. I know Jane would tell you that PfP has made a big difference in their lives. We happen to have another family going thru a very similar situation at present. God is beginning to answer in marvelous ways and he’s using Jane to help this family as a representative of the PfP community! It’s such a privilege to be able to bring people together from different sides of the country to help each other. It’s only thru the Internet that a ministry like this is possible. I thank God every day for the opportunity to serve Him this way!
Anita: I particularly like the R.I.P. video you and Victor made...what kind of feedback have you received from that? Obviously when our beloved pets pass on, it is devastating, because for most of us, they are family...we pray for healing, but it doesn't always happen. It's sad that these beautiful creatures are around for such a short period of time! I was already aware of the 'soul' connection and references/wording in the Bible regarding that...are many people surprised by this? I certainly cannot image that God would not have them in Heaven when we derived such joy from them here on earth...truly innocent creatures, why wouldn't they live forever?
Caren: Pets and Animals in Heaven Video: The video has been a blessing in many, many lives. My husband, Victor was inspired to make it to explain to a young boy (the boy on our PfP book cover) how he could know his dog would be in Heaven. Michael attended a Christian school where he was told to not expect to see his beloved Scooby in Heaven. Victor felt the need to counteract what we have come to recognize as a false view of Scripture. The Bible is very clear that animals have souls and souls are eternal. See: http://prayersforpets1.org/pets-people-heaven In answer to the question, most people do believe their pets will be in heaven, but there are those who are unsure. We know with certainty that there ARE animals in heaven. Victor hopes to write a full scale book on the subject in the near future. Please see http://prayersforpets1.org/welcome/ as we unroll more videos and articles about animals and heaven, there are also links to pet care, pet news, pet resources and special pet art.
Anita: You have a couple of books....what brought about your first one, and now your resource book?
Caren: PfP Book: I wrote the Prayers for Pets 1st book because I wanted to tell some of the many stories that came my way; they were too good to keep to myself! When I post prayer requests daily they need to be presented in a concise format so people will read them and know how they can pray. I found that thru my communications with the many pet parents I talk to on a daily basis; there was so much more to their story than the simple prayer requests and prayers I published every day. I wanted to let people know that there was far more going on behind the scenes. My goal was to write each story in the “voice” of the pet parent. I collected each story and edited them (some more than others!) and compiled them to create the book, which is over 300 pages, and also contains some of the many Scriptures I use in daily prayers as well as the Hebrew Names of God used daily and their meaning. Prayers for Pets: Resources is an E-book or free PDF for those who donate to our website: http://prayersforpets1.org It is meant to be a searchable document containing resources I’ve collected over the years which have been helpful to many in our community. The resources include everything from diet and supplement recommendations to natural treatments people have had success with to funding options available for Veterinary treatment.
Anita: I know you credit the 'birth' of your FB page coming from a very difficult week for the FB dog community...what is the story on that?
Caren: The page came into being on November 29, 2011. I saw much sorrow on the pet pages on Facebook; but there is one incident which stood out to me and spurred me on to begin the ministry of Prayers for Pets. It was “Sparky’s Story” https://www.facebook.com/Sparkys-story-188454227901896/?fref=ts Sparky was a little mixed Terrier who was mauled by a pack of big dogs that week. His condition was tenuous for the rest of his life, but he did survive for more than 5 years after that incident! I believe that our prayers had something to do with his longevity and his survival especially thru the first few months of recovery which were very touch and go.
Anita: What question(s) have you always wanted someone to ask you, but they never did? What is that question, and how would you answer that? I'm sure you have some unusual things happen!
Caren: The one question I’ve never been asked is, “How do you know what to pray for each creature and how do you happen to have Scriptures appropriate for every post?” The truth is I don’t know what to pray, I do my best to learn as much as I can about each pet we post and trust the Holy Spirit to guide me to ask for the appropriate answer. There are some requests I get which are sadly lacking in detail. People often see us as a “last ditch” effort so they say very little about the pet and their condition. When they don’t enable me to message them back to draw out more detail I have to really rely on God to put the words in my hands to pray over these precious creatures. As for the Scriptures; I maintain a document of over 100 pages into which I have added Scriptures for the various categories we use, such as: Adonai Rapha (God our Healer) to Adonai Rohi (God our Shepherd) to Remembrance, God of Mercy, etc. At present there are 49 categories I have collected Scriptures for. I plan to create another searchable E-book containing these Scriptures as well as the Hebrew Names of God we use on the page.
There is another question I’ve never been asked: “Why do you always list the Names of God in Hebrew?” The answer is easy: I’m a Jewish Christian! No one has ever asked me, but I have mentioned this to a few people behind the scenes. I was raised by an Orthodox father and Reform mother. Victor was the very first Christian (he’s a goy! Note: that’s a Jewish name for a non-Jew) I ever met. We met when I was 21 years old. Someday maybe someone will ask me to tell how I came to faith in my Messiah, Jesus. I’ll gladly tell them! I met my Savior on November 9, 1979 in Florence, Italy.
I love having the privilege of praying over people’s pets and ministering to their families in some of their darkest moments. My prayer is that God will continue to use me as long as I live to minister to more and more people and pets. I hope that the people who read this will join us at: http://prayersforpets1.org or under the name Prayers for Pets1 on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Prayers for Pets on Twitter.
Caren added “Some of the most compelling stories are completely behind the scenes and need to stay that way…it's a shame. When people understand that you care enough about them to pray for their pets they recognize that you are trustworthy for other prayer requests.” And I say, ‘thank you, Caren for the insight into ‘the little window of your world.’ I hope this blog interview spreads the word to many and grows the PfP community. This adds just one more way we can love our pets. Even though prayers aren’t always answered the way we would like, because God’s ways aren’t our ways, I can say personally, He is always right…and always good, all the time! I firmly believe my pets will be in Heaven to reunite with me for eternity.