Meet Denise Keeter, A Gracious Hostess

The Gift of Hospitality

The NIV Women’s Study Bible defines hospitality as “the practice of welcoming, sheltering, and feeding — with no thought of personal gain — those who come to your door. Much more than elegant menus, elaborate table settings, or lavish entertainment — hospitality is sharing what we have and who we are with whomever God sends.”

God Gives and Develops Our Gifts

As a military wife and a stay at home mom, our Soul Searching Sister, Denise Keeter, moved ten times, lived in two other countries (Germany and Italy) and had the privilege to build relationships with a diverse group of people. For Denise, “It is a joyous occasion when she can sit down and share a meal with people who speak a different language or have a different cultural background than her. She’s always learned from others by having a genuine interest in their lives. Listening and sharing with others gives her a better appreciation of humanity as a whole.” According to Denise, “It’s like the conversations go deeper with food present. It’s almost like we’re family and it feels like we’re having a family meal together.”

Even before Denise fully understood what the gift of hospitality was, she operated in the gift and calling on her life. (This is natural. God gives certain gifts to us at birth, and He develops them as we draw closer to Him). Over the years, Denise used the gift of hospitality to show kindness toward her neighbors as a way to make friends and build a support network. For example, she invited neighbors, family, and friends to their home and hosted events such as holiday parties, birthday parties, cookouts, and socials. In addition, she formed a prayer group in Wiesbaden, Germany, from 2018 to 2020. According to Denise, “God has been teaching her about the gift of hospitality in greater detail over the last few years.” For example, she read Jennie Allen’s book, Find Your People. In this book, the author explained the importance of making connections within our communities. Last month, Denise listened to a sermon from John 21. This sermon reinforced the point that hospitality is biblical and extremely important because she saw Jesus operating in the gift of hospitality. In verse 9, the disciples came ashore with their “net full of fish.” When they arrived, they saw the fire, fish, and bread prepared for them by Jesus. Denise said, “God is so awesome. He continues to show me the importance of hospitality and thinking of others more than myself. These discoveries spur me on to continue inviting people over for food, fellowship, and prayer in our home.”

Hearing the Call

During the month of January 2022, God pressed upon Denise’s heart to begin a prayer group in her home. She was new to the area at the time. “I was desperate to find women who loved Jesus and wanted to pray together. I told myself if my friend Elizabeth was willing to co- lead the group, I’d do it and she agreed to be my co-lead. In March, I had lunch with my neighbor, Tina, and she mentioned that if I organized a bible study/prayer group in my home, she would attend. When I mentioned all of this to a friend and spiritual mentor, Ms. Pat, she told me that was confirmation and I should do it. Afterwards, I was excited and prayed for God to show me the women who would be available to meet.”

It was important for me to include this process in the article because I wanted our Soul Searching family to understand that God will meet us where we are. For example, Denise wanted a co-lead, so God pressed upon her friend’s heart to agree. In addition, He allowed her to see that there was a need for this group in her own neighborhood. What about you? Has God pressed it upon your heart to begin a prayer group in your home? Is He following up with signs and moments of confirmation?

Group Preparation

As God began to show her the women to invite, Denise prayed for the women in advance with her friend, Elizabeth over the phone, planned the brunch menu, chose a devotion to read, and established initial ground rules. The ground rules included the following:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Encouraging one another through the word of God and prayer
  3. Keep it a Community Prayer Group, so anyone could attend
  4. Stay connected over email, text messages, etc.

On April 27, 2022, Denise and Elizabeth hosted their first Wednesday Prayer Group. Eight women attended and I was one of them. At the first meeting, the ladies agreed to welcome Holy Spirit each time we met and we agreed to let Him lead the group. According to Denise, “That has worked out very well. Powerful times of prayer and confession have happened each time we have prayed together. Another great thing is that our group of women is very welcoming. We have new ladies join us quite often. If they love Jesus and love to pray, they have a seat at my table.”

Denise’s Testimony

When asked how this group has impacted her life, Denise said, I have learned that it is ok to lead with my junk/personal struggles because everyone has stuff. Transparency is key. Some of our most powerful prayer sessions come from times of repentance and asking the Lord to help us overcome a difficult circumstance. Our group is understanding and not judgmental. We keep our conversations confidential and have earned everyone’s trust. God helps us with that. We do life together. If someone needs help around their house, my husband and I have gone to help. When someone is struggling, I call them so we can pray together or I text them scripture verses. If someone is having surgery, I take them meals or make sure they have transportation. I also follow up with them. Following up is critical, so they know someone cares. If someone has done an excellent job on a project, I send them an encouraging text message afterwards. All of this happens over time and loving each other well has helped us establish a sisterhood. We are stronger and better together.”  

Denise’s Advice to Other Sisters

Anyone who feels led to begin a prayer group in their home should consider taking the following steps:

  1. Pray and ask God to confirm the idea to begin a prayer group
  2. Pray and ask God to show you the people to invite
  3. If you’re married, please speak to your husband about it. It is important to receive their blessing as well. (On a personal note, I can attest to the kindness Denise’s husband always shows us when he is in the home. He always greets us with a warm smile and he makes an effort to say hello. That makes a difference for sure!)
  4. Be prepared to reap the benefits from having a prayer group. Denise said, “Being a part of a regular prayer group has made me a better wife and mom. Each time we meet my faith is built up and I am more patient and loving afterwards.”
  5.  Rest assure that nothing you do for the prayer group is in vain. Based on Denise’s experience, “All of the time, efforts, and preparation is totally worth it.”