Posted by Danny
I’m a praying man. Have been for a very long time. But every time I think I get prayer figured out, something throws a kink in it.
Before September 2009, I prayed every day. Often more than once. I typically followed a prayer pattern that I learned at some point in my past, probably Mrs. Byrd’s sixth grade Sunday School class: P – praise, R – repent, A – anyone or anything, Y – yourself. I’d say that my prayer life before last year had become somewhat rote. I was consistent, but there just wasn’t anything on a regular basis that I was worried enough to really pour over. That all changed last fall.
As Lisa’s disease progressed, I became the most passionate and dedicated prayer in the world. I prayed morning, noon and night. I prayed from places deep, deep inside of me; places I didn’t even know I had. I argued, I pleaded, I begged, I cried, I bellowed. My conversations with God were real. It was like yelling at my brother, but with more emotion than I’d ever expended before.
I knelt in prayer. I prayed while I drove. I fell down in the shower, naked and on my knees. I prayed with eyes closed; with eyes open.
I did not pray for God’s will to be done – I was afraid of what the answer might be. I prayed for healing – full and complete physical healing for my Lisa.
I told God I was not going to pray for anything but her healing – I told him that was the only acceptable answer. I don’t think I could have prayed for anything else at that time.
The week before she died, I remember laying across the ottoman in my bedroom – exhausted; emotionally, physically and spiritually drained. She was in so much pain. I couldn’t watch any longer. Quietly I said, “Uncle. You got me. I can’t watch her suffer like this. You win. If this is how she will live, take her. But your butt (I didn’t use the word butt) better walk with me when she’s gone.”
I continued to pray after her death – but not for others. I selfishly prayed for myself. And I socked it to Him. I called God names that would curl your hair – names that an Elder in a Presbyterian church probably shouldn’t even know. Ask my boss, I’ve never been one to hold back my opinions with people in authority. Apparently God was no exception.
I couldn’t accept the fact that God had the ability to heal but made the decision not to act on my behalf. So, I decided that God didn’t heal. He just didn’t do that. How could he? I prayed with more vigor and passion than anyone in the world had ever prayed before. We had thousands upon thousands praying for Lisa. We even had at least one atheist throw a shout out up on our behalf. There is no way that if God responds to prayer for healing that He wouldn’t have heard and moved on our impassioned request. I didn’t question that He had the power to heal. I just decided that He chose not to get involved in earthly illnesses.
I was comfortable with my new outlook on prayer.
And then, a few months ago, I was talking with my buddy Brad. I told him I now prayed for strength, peace and support for those going through rough times, but not for physical healing. Iwasn’t going to spend time praying for something that was not going to happen. I’d pray for stuff that God might actually be interested in doing something about. I don’t like to waste time. I let Brad know that I had figured it out and was mighty proud of my new-found knowledge. Internally, I scoffed at those who were still wasting their time on the healing thing. It just wasn’t happenin’. I was glad I had the answer.
My friend Brad, father of three males, smiled and said, “You know Bruce, there are a lot of times that I tell my boys ‘no’. Often, I don’t even hear their request before I tell them ‘no’. Sometimes I tell them ‘yes’, but I’ll have to admit, not as often as ‘no’. And then sometimes, I say ‘no’ and then after I really listen to their arguments and pleas, I change my mind. The bible DOES refer to God as our Father.”
I swear! Here we go again. Another thing to think about.
Art, another very wise man, told me recently that faith was a journey. It wasn’t about having all of the answers. It was about asking the questions, finding your way. I like Art! According to his theory, I’m the most faithful man alive.