Yesterday, I took a walk to try to help me shed these pounds that do NOT want to leave. I also needed time to think. There was plenty to think about!
A few weeks ago, a friend who used to live here, woke up with a numb hand only to find out she had a brain tumor! Within two days she had brain surgery and her world and that of her family was turned completely upside-down!
She not only had a brain tumor, but it was malignant. I’m sure she is still in her 40’s. Her oldest turned 16 shortly after she got out of rehab…and just before she came from CA to TX for further treatment of the cancer.
Reading the Caring Bridge blog that she and her husband write, is encouraging and downright funny much of the time. Kellie tells about the lipstick colors she found, finding scarves to cover her shorn head, and learning to walk and use her hand again. But there is the dark side too! She also talks about trusting GOD to care for her kids if it isn’t His plan for her to see them grow up! It is a story of a moment by moment walk of faith.
This is a story we don’t know the end of. We are all praying Kellie’s treatments will work. We want her healed so she can continue to finish raising her family…and admittedly, so does she! We don’t know what God’s plans are for her yet. “All” we can do right now is pray. Will praying for her do any good?
Two days ago, I heard about another friend, Carrie. She lives in the Peoria area of IL. She is about the age of Kellie, maybe a bit younger. An aneurysm in her heart burst, tearing part of her aorta and damaging a valve in her heart. Surprisingly, she survived surgery to save her life, as well as a second surgery yesterday to stop more bleeding. She is still alive this morning and even talked to her doctor!
In real life, she is a funny, fiesty social worker and mom of three. It seems that part of her is still present! She will need all that fight to get through the months ahead…for sure!
Friends, church groups and people all over are praying for her…and have been since this event took place. Her three children are teens on down in age and her husband is waiting nearby as well. All are hoping and praying for her recovery…which will be long and difficult…and will require many more miracles to come!
Today, she will be air-flighted to the University of Chicago to await a heart for transplant. (She has two pumps working for her heart right now.) I told you she needs many more miracles before she is back on her feet! (That plan changed because of the bad weather. They drove her to Chicago in an ambulance followed by her husband. They arrived about 8 PM.) Is all this prayer helping?
One of my Favorite Books on Prayer
These events were all on my mind as I was reading a book I have read before…on prayer. Yes, I read/listen to my husband’s Kindle while I’m walking sometimes! It is A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller. His chapter on What Good Does It Do? was most apropos!
When prayer challenges like this come along, I always feel very inept for the challenge. Prayer is one area where most of us can feel inept at best. Or is it just me? Of course, the One to whom we are praying is the All-Sufficient one…
There is something about prayer for these impossible things that feeds our cynicism. Yes, we know GOD can do anything, but few of us have seen these rare healings and interventions of GOD. We are afraid to trust Him one more time to intervene in this scary way! It feels like we are setting ourselves up for one more huge disappointment. Or we stick to generalities in our prayers because we find the “no’s” too devastating. Or we pray and won’t allow ourselves to think about the “what-if’s” that would involve His negative answer because we fear that is a lack of faith.
I still remember my first sad disappointment when a close family friend and mother of children who were our age, came home from Korea for the second time with cancer. They were missionaries. We prayed and prayed for her to be healed, both as individuals, a family and as a church. But she died. It was a crushing disappointment to a ninth grader (I think) who just knew God was going to heal her.
Since then, I’ve seen some people healed and some not. I’ve also seen ways GOD used both events for good. Understanding that we live in a very broken world helps to not be so devastated. It doesn’t lessen the pain of our loss, it just gives an understanding of one of the why’s. This isn’t the way life is supposed to be. Sin and death have ruined everything! That’s why we are so desperately in need of redemption.
Prayer is really where the rubber meets the road in our relationship with GOD. We are talking about GOD’s characteristics on Mondays. But really, these are more informational facts about Him. I want it to be down-to-earth, but I’m giving too much information for that! Prayer is when we put our head knowledge of GOD to practice. Is He the GOD we can trust or not?
Prayer, to put it simply, is talking with GOD. When it comes to any relationship, the way we deepen the relationship is by talking to the person. The more mutual the conversation, the more satisfying the relationship. Prayer is the way what we know about GOD is put into practice in our relationship with Him. He has told us everything we need to know about Him in His WORD, the Bible.
Prayer is a time to be quiet. We need to be still and quiet before Him so His Word can sink into our hearts. We also need to be quiet long enough so that we can think through what we really believe…in our gut. He already knows the truth of what is there. However, it is helpful for us to be able to be honest with Him; to tell Him that we are afraid, happy, lonely or even cynical. For us to admit those things to Him is helpful to us as well.
I have found so much practical help from Paul Miller in this book. He talks about the cynicism with which many of us…ME…approach prayer. I would never have put it into words the way he did, but it comes from living in a broken world. Our natural cynicism knows no bounds! Often we think of GOD being able to “fix” a marriage, but not an illness…or vice versa.
The truth is, He is able to do any of the above. But will He…and is it best for all concerned from an eternal perspective? Only GOD knows the answers to those questions. So ultimately, we take our requests to Him…pleading for an answer. In the end, we must accept the answer He gives as being the best for all concerned, “…that good and perfect will of GOD.” It is called faith. Learning to trust GOD with the people and possessions we hold most dear! There is nothing easy about that!
In prayer, we learn to see things from GOD’s perspective…if we make the time for it. His perspective is an eternal one. I don’t have that outlook. I am stuck in the here and now. GOD’s perspectives are all good. He defines the word good! As I pray, I learn to trust Him and His ways.
Does prayer do any good?
- Yes, because as I pray specifically for others, I become more involved with them in the changes GOD is making in their lives.
- Yes, because as I pray and spend time with GOD where my focus is on GOD and not on prayer per se, I come to know Him more and learn His perspective on life and the issues I am praying about.
- Yes, because He changes me as I pray. He changes my attitude. He changes my focus. He gives me insight into problems that I didn’t have before.
- Yes, He often answers my prayers directly. At other times, He answers them in unexpected ways and with unexpected side effects.
In what ways have you found prayer to “work”?