I don’t know what was more broken, my body, ravaged by disease, or my spirit, spiraling into hopelessness. I was several days into a long hospital stay for ulcerative colitis with little to no improvement thus far, and frustration and fear mounting over the treatment options looming before me. I was overdue for my next dose of medication, and my weariness was quickly turning to impatience and irritation. It had been nearly 2 hours since shift change, and the current shifts’ nurse had yet to make an appearance. I disliked her already and I hadn’t even seen her face yet. My husband and I were griping to each other about the situation when suddenly the door burst open and in bustled a small, older woman. She apologized for not rounding sooner, explaining she had another patient with a difficult case. She began scanning my chart on her computer screen and asking questions about my condition, which only increased my annoyance.
In my mind I was thinking, “I’ve answered the exact same questions for every nurse, tech, and doctor to walk through my door for the past several days! What’s the point of a chart if it doesn’t tell you all of this and I have to explain everything Each. And. Every. Time?! Just get me my meds already!”
Thankfully she couldn’t read my thoughts, but I’m sure she clearly read my pain and desperation as I failed to hold back frustrated tears. Looking from me to my chart, she started slowing shaking her head, and half talking to herself, she commented in disbelief about how I was so young and yet so severely ill. Suddenly she turned, and with a commanding voice stated, “Enough is enough! Medicine can only do so much. It’s time for prayer!” At this she abruptly sat down next to me on my hospital bed, grabbed my right hand in her left, firmly placed her right hand across my abdomen, and proceeded to pray boldly and with unapologetic authority for my healing.
I’ve been a Christian all my life, and even attended what could be considered a charismatic church for a time, yet I was completely stunned, SPEECHLESS! Tears spilled down my cheeks. When she finished I cast an astonished look toward my husband who met my expression with his own eyes awash, and I wrapped my arms around that precious woman. Glory, Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus! The nurse had come, but this one had brought medicine for my soul. A new hope sprung up within me. New peace. Renewed faith to keep pressing forward. And after 6 years of futile treatments, within a week of her prayer, I began the treatment journey that has finally led to my healing. I’m more than 2 years into remission and still going strong! Miraculous!
This woman had entered my room, and in less than 3 minutes, done what many Christians dance around doing even within the walls of their own church. With no regard for the possible consequences, she prayed with the door wide open to the hospital hallway for all to see and hear, having no idea if I was even a believer or if I “wanted” her to pray for me – None of that mattered. God called her to pray, and she obeyed, BOLDLY.
Every afternoon for the remainder of my stay, this nurse assigned herself to me. She fought battles with doctors over medications on my behalf, she lingered and chatted when her schedule allowed, and she even insisted on wheeling me out of the hospital herself when I was discharged. As I sat in the wheelchair on the curb that last day waiting for my husband, she stood next to me holding my hand. She prayed for me one last time as our truck pulled into the circle drive. This time, not only for healing, but also that I would write. I hugged her tightly, whispering a thank you that could never be enough. She planted a kiss on my cheek and helped me into the truck.
(Rebecca, if you ever read this, please know that you’ll always be my Daisy [which is an award the hospital gives to exemplary nurses]. But beyond that, thank you for knowing who your true master is, and obeying Him at all cost. Your courage and faithfulness have made a lasting impact in my life, and those prayers you so unashamedly prayed in faith, have been answered.)
Throughout my years of illness, well meaning friends and relatives have often asked if there was anything they could do to help. And while meals, house cleaning, and babysitting were huge, practical helps, and definitely made me feel loved, there was one thing I always asked for most earnestly. Prayer. Please, just pray, pray, PRAY! I do believe that many did pray faithfully for me, yet often I had nothing but speculation to assure me of that. I’ll never forget one friend though, who showed up unannounced during one of my worst flares. I was 3 months postpartum, ulcerative colitis flaring out of control, and a wicked case of shingles to boot (strong doses of steroids will do that to you!). You can imagine how I looked! I was embarrassed by my appearance when I first opened the door, but swallowed my pride and invited her in to my messy house nonetheless. She didn’t bat an eye at any of it. She visited with me, and before she left, she prayed with me. I wish I could put into words how comforting it was. Like a hug times a million!
I have prayed with many friends through times of crisis in their lives, and every single time I’ve been told that they immediately felt much more peaceful. That’s what laying our trials in the capable hands of God does for us when we trust in His sovereignty and come to Him in earnest prayer; it releases to us a peace that surpasses understanding.
Sadly, many times people say, “I’ll be praying for you.” or “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” but we have a sense that they don’t actually intend to pray, or if they do it is a canned, half-hearted attempt hastily cast heavenward as they rush to their next to-do list item. A scripted and hollow utterance that holds no power and no promise. I understand the current sentiment in the media against such empty words. But don’t let the cliché rob you of the truth that true prayer, powerful and effective prayer, is just that… POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE! True prayer is a soul cry. A deep and sincere appeal, or a genuine and overwhelming gratitude for the grace of God.
As we are confronted by anguish and fear over the violence and suffering in the world, may we not make the mistake of turning away from God, but instead press into Him more deeply and with renewed resolve. Pour your heart out to Him. Pray for victims and their families because you know on a heart level that the Spirit of God can and does minister to us in a way that no human is capable of – peace that truly does surpass understanding, a hug times a million. He can bring comfort, peace, and strength that are completely beyond our power to attain without Him. Let us meet their practical needs as best we can, but let us not neglect their deepest soul needs. They need our prayers! Don’t rob them of this incredibly powerful gift! Sending “good vibes” will get them nowhere! If anything is trite, hollow, and powerless, that is. There is nothing trite about saying you’re praying, when you actually are! Pray for the nation, for the world. This isn’t a gun issue we have on our hands, it’s a heart issue, and the Spirit of God convicts and changes hearts. Refuse to let that truth be diluted!
It’s time to stop giving lip service to prayer and start giving knee service to prayer! When we seek God wholeheartedly, we will find Him. He will hear our cries when we humble ourselves and pour our prayers forth from sincere hearts. His answer is not always the ease that we hope for, but sometimes a strength and a peace to sustain us through the trial.
To echo Rebecca’s wise sentiment – Enough is enough! Government, policy, laws, and our good vibes can only do so much. It’s time for prayer!
Lord, we believe You are who You say you are! You are Almighty. You are the One and Only true God! You are I AM! And we believe that what You say is true; that You hear our prayers and they move You to action! We are broken, Lord. Our land is broken, our world is broken, and our hearts are broken. We need You!!! Please, Lord, reach down and touch the hearts of the grieving as only You can. Draw them near in Your embrace and surround them with a comfort and peace that completely surpasses their understanding. Reveal Yourself to them; Your immense love for them, how You are holding them in the palm of Your hand. Provide for all their needs, and sustain them. Bend low and kiss away the tears from our cheeks and scoop us up that we may rest our weary hearts in your capable arms. Let us not forget that You are both our loving Father, and a fierce and powerful God! Lord, we don’t understand the evil and darkness in the world and why you allow certain things to happen, but help us to rest in the truth that You are sovereign; that you see so much more than we see – all of eternity played out together. Our inability to understand doesn’t change the fact that You are in control, and You are good, even if everything mankind does isn’t good! Help us to not push You away, but to run to the only true hope and help we have – You! We believe that You will bring justice to the evil of this world. We believe that You rule over the nations of the earth and can cast down rulers and confuse the schemes of the wicked. God we pray for an unleashing of your power in this world. Overthrow the wicked and defend Your people. Bring righteous leaders to power over the nations. Give our leaders humility and wisdom as they govern and create laws. Direct their decisions and bring them to unity in leading the people according to Your ways. Turn the hearts of the people back to You. Shake us awake from our everyday, mundane faith! Let us not be content to go through the motions when You have sacrificed so much to make Your power accessible to us! Give us renewed faith to pray with boldness and power! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7