I’ve been writing this blog for about five years now. My biggest concern going in was that you would read it, consider the words God gave me each week, and think I was some kind of authority on parenting, or faith, or education, or anything other than a fellow traveler with you. I am, as my friend Steve Rumpf used to say, “one beggar showing another where he can find bread.” For me, blogging is, as Mark Batteson says, simply “praying with a keyboard.”
As I’m beginning to round out this series of blogs on Praying Powerful Prayers, I wanted to remind you of two things: first, I struggle in prayer, too. I have days when I’ve prayed so much I don’t know what else to pray, when I’m just flat worn out, when it doesn’t even feel like God is even listening. I’ve been there, too, more times than I’d like to admit. But, I also want to remind you that He is listening. He does hear. Every single word.
Two years ago, my middle child had what appeared to be a three-and-a-half month long stomach virus- an already skinny kid who couldn’t keep anything down was really, really frightening for us. No one could tell us what was wrong with her, and we had no idea how long it would last, or if it would end. But, God knew. He heard, and He healed her. And, in place of that illness, He made her strong, and resilient, and trusting in Him, long-lasting fruit I of which I never could have dreamed, but never would have traded. I believed He was good in all of it, but I never knew just HOW good He would be through it. Now I do. So, I’m reproducing what I wrote then, because I know many of you are praying now, asking the Lord to heal you, to ease your pain, or to remove something from you or from someone you love. You need to be reminded that God is good, and that you are the Beloved, so precious to Him that He wouldn’t withhold the life of His own Son for you. I hope this encourages you as you pray powerful prayers.
Lord, she’s been sick for seven weeks now. People have been so kind, supporting her, praying for her, asking after her. I want to give them new news, want to tell them she’s getting better; I want to thank them for their concern. I want them to keep asking, and I want to be a good recipient of their care, because I love our community and I know that leading requires receiving well, in addition to giving well. I want to show them a model of steadfast prayer, of determination, of someone who sees your sovereign hand at work in his child’s life, because I write and teach and talk about it, and it’s one thing to teach it, but one has to model it, too, or it’s worthless. I want to do all those things.
But, not tonight. Because, tonight, I’m really tired. Tired of her not feeling well. Tired of her coming home and going to bed, with no energy to do anything else. Tired of feeling impotent as a father.
I know you love her. I know you care about her more than I even have capacity to love. Every time I’ve prayed by her bedside, every night since she’s been a baby, I’ve prayed that she’d have a faith that transcends mine. I’ve prayed that she’d be passionate for you, that no matter what happens to her in life, she would reach out to you, cry out to you, call out to you. If she has no joy in you, nothing else matters. That’s been my prayer her whole life. I know in my marrow that prayer is what you want, too.
So, why give her all this, Lord? Not just this sickness, but everything? My kids are like everyone’s kids: people see what they want to see. Maybe they see kids who “have it all together.” Maybe they see kids who “aren’t as great as their parents seem to think they are.” Probably they don’t really give my kids near the thought I do, or I think they do. But, my kids struggle and suffer, too, Lord. And, this one is struggling now.
Why not heal her now, Lord? Everyone would know it came from you. Everyone would give you the glory. The doctors can’t tell us why. It would be all you. Now is a great time. If the ultimate purpose of your work is to get the glory, take the glory, Lord. It’s all yours. I can’t do it. I can assure you, I have never felt as powerless as I feel right now.
Am I not persistent enough? Have I not fasted enough? Is there some unconfessed sin in my life? I know prayer’s not a recipe or a perfect mathematical equation, but it is relational. Am I out of right relationship with you, Lord? With someone else?
I know, in my core, that you are building strength and resilience in her. I know you are making her a warrior for you, in your name. Just please, please, don’t chase her off in the process. Give her the faith, the passion to hang onto you while you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing.
I also know you’re changing me; tearing me up so I’ll have a deeper more profound empathy for those I love, those in my community who have kids and husbands and wives who are really sick. I’m crying now as I think of them, and it reminds me to pray for them. I know you’re stripping me of all pretension, all belief that somehow I have any power, anything in my capacity to do but to just throw myself at your feet, groan, and say, “Please. Please.”
After spending an hour by her sleeping form, asking “please” for the ten thousandth time, I go to my room, and I open your Word. My Bible comes to this passage, an old familiar friend reintroducing itself to me in my hour of darkness: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Hab. 3:17-18.
Amen. And, I will. I love you, and I trust you.