A friend of mine has a child with severe food allergies. After a number of emergency room visits, filled with breathless worry and too many needles, she prayed to God to heal her son.
“I have,” she heard.
And yet, after many more visits to the hospital, that seems absurd to believe.
Four years ago, my mom prayed the same thing for me. “Lord, please heal my daughter of MS.” She heard the same, “I already have.” And yet, my daily dose of cocktails to combat this nasty disease goes on.
There are studies that prove that prayer is worthless, dangerous even. In one discouraging study, the participants that were prayed for had an even WORSE recovery rate than those not being prayed for. (They think it may be because these patients had the additional stress to try and get better, making it seem like a miracle had indeed happened instead of random chance.)
So why pray?
As someone who has a severe illness, a child with food allergies, and two special needs kids, I’m a strong advocate for prayer. But I’m rarely on my knees looking for miracles. I don’t ask for healing, or for my kids to be changed. I understand why people ask for those things, but that seems, somehow, “less-than” compared to the reality that there’s something more that I can ask for.
Prayer, for me, is walking with a partner. It’s being heard, and having someone to hold me up. It’s a steadying power, when, left to my own devices, I’m going to be swallowed whole by worry, fear, control, and circumstance. It’s about connecting to a source of power that’s on the other side of what I can see. And yes, then, it’s also about being able to talk about the process of the in-between: the promised, but not yet.
But prayer really is, first and foremost, about this connection. The connection allows me to make a decision. To chose to let go of worry. To choose not to be a control freak. To trust the doctors with my body. To resist comfort and build character.
And in the process of making and walking out that choice, God stays. And a love and trust is built with a Friend that I believe I will spend eternity with.
Prayer becomes about that. It becomes about Us. About what we have together.
So if you pray for me, pray for that. Pray that I’ll remember that my God is a God who’s all about being here. Because that’s what I’ll be praying for you, too.