Friday, February 5, 2010

The Power of Prayer

I can attest to the power of prayer. Three weeks ago I was laying in a hospital bed being pumped with blood thinners and scared out of my mind. Josh had seen the size of the blood clot on the ultrasound screen and from the look on his face, I could tell he was incredibly worried. When his eyes welled up with tears I shot a fierce look at him and said, "Don't you do that. Don't you start," because I knew that he had to be strong enough for both (well, the three) of us. He held it together and after staying a few nights we were released with a lot of questions. On that day, I was pushed to the car in a wheelchair. When I was at home, I used my husband as a crutch to get from point A to point B. When I sat in the recliner or on the couch, I could only lay on my side as that was the only position where I could find a little bit of relief from the pain. I watched as people helped out around the clock, making meals and cleaning our house. But since the moment we found out something was wrong, people prayed.

When I tell you that people prayed, I need to define exactly how many people we had praying for us. As a pastor, Josh is in touch with a large network of people and is quick to get information out. On top of that, our families were praying over us, friends that we hadn't seen in years were praying for us, and emails came in from people we had never even met. In the hospital and over the phone we had elders from our church and good friends gather around us and pray... it was humbling and comforting and something I will treasure always. Although I will never know for sure of course, during these past few weeks I think I have had more people pray over me and my family than any other time in my life. How is that for overwhelming?

Yesterday we had an appointment with our wonderful Baby Doc and I waltzed into his office without a wheelchair. I laid flat on my back for an ultrasound and did not even feel a hint of an ache in my left leg. I listened as he told me that our baby looks perfect, has not been affected from the medications, and is in the 85th percentile for weight already. And then he looked at me and said, "I cannot believe how well you're up and moving around. The last time I saw you, you needed a wheelchair." When I heard this, I realized that even though he had told us this would eventually happen, even he did not think it would happen this fast. Our Baby Doc is a man of God and did not doubt that I would get better, but his medical mind told him that it would take longer. And even though this does not mean that the clot has completely dissolved (but then again, it also doesn't mean that it miraculously hasn't!), it does show that I have experienced an incredible amount of healing in an incredibly short amount of time. And oh how I will not take that for granted for I know that this gift has come from above. He heard your prayers, and He answered them. When I left the office I had an extra spring in my step for I was told that I could resume my normal activities and even work out if I felt up to it. The risk of this thing moving into my heart or lungs is so very minimal that our fears have been alleviated. I am still on schedule to be induced at 39 weeks due to the fact that I have to stop taking blood thinners first, but oh how grateful I am that this is all behind us. The road ahead is now filled with the joy of our impending baby's arrival... how great is that?

Prayer has been on my heart a lot lately, which is probably why I felt the need to do an entire posting on it. Our church just finished 21 days of prayer and fasting, and while I am ashamed to admit that I did not pray more than usual, I have been hearing God speak to me more than ever. Some folks would read the story above and give the credit to luck or modern medicine, but I know better. There are too many stories and too many "coincidences" in life that are linked to prayer. When my aunt was sick this past fall with carcinoma meningitis and we thought we'd lose her, our whole family and this town I live in prayed. Although she is not 100%, we're so blessed to still have her and she gets stronger everyday. She's beating the odds. When a man from our campus was in a snowmobile accident and they said he'd never make it, those warriors prayed, and he's now moving to a rehabilitation facility after several successful surgeries. The list goes on and on. I don't know about you, but it sounds a lot like cause and effect to me... prayer equals results, even when the results are not what we expect.

Even as I write this, I have to confess that I do not spend nearly enough time in prayer. The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but more often than not I put it off until the end of the day when I have no energy left. No energy to talk to God? How sad is that? But even though we're taught to close our eyes and bow our heads, prayer is more than that- it's a conversation with the Maker, and it can be done no matter where you are or what you're doing. Back in the days when I had an hour-long commute, I would find myself talking out loud, as if Jesus himself was in the seat next to me, and it was such a great way to work things out in my mind and free myself of worry. Just speaking the words out loud allowed me to really connect in a way that I couldn't do when I was just silently saying them to myself. And then my husband taught me that prayer is not juts a one-way call, and that God wants us to open the door of communication by opening up His words, which are found in the Bible. Of course my first thought was, but what in the world am I supposed to read? Where am I supposed to start? So I started (slowly) in Matthew and moved on to Mark. Halfway through Mark I read something interesting about Ruth, which led me to read Ruth. When I was done with Ruth I felt compelled to read about Jacob, since that will be the name of our son and found myself in Genesis. I wasn't even through with his story when I was led to open up James, only to find that I must've read it some time ago considering that it had been marked up and underlined. The book of James mentions Job, so that's where I'm going next. Each time I open up those words, if I really open my mind to them and ask Him to reveal something new, I never go hungry. I walk away each time with something profound to think about and a desire to read something else, wherever that may be. My list now includes Esther and Hebrews, 1 Peter and Job... and although there does not seem to be a rhyme or reason to my reading patterns, He always knows where to take me. So if you feel like me and don't know where to start, just start. Just open it up and see what you'll find. Read it slowly and read the footnotes, write in your Bible and earmark things. And even if it doesn't happen right away, don't give up on it. The Gospels are a great place to start, but if you really just want to say you finished a chapter, start with one of Paul's letters in the new testament such as Ephesians or Galatians. Spending time in the word will enrich your life in ways that nothing else can, and all it takes is the time to open the book. It really is that easy.

Have you ever stopped and thought about who might be praying for you? What do you think that they are praying for? For you to find Jesus? For you to find a new job, a spouse, the child that you feel like you'll never have? We were at a church event about a month ago and our lead pastor said, "Every one of you is here tonight because someone prayed you in." WOW. As I look back on my life, on the poor decisions that I made and the road that did not remotely travel straight, there is no part of me that can take any credit for where I am today. I married a pastor- me! The most unlikely candidate in the world. And I know without a doubt that someone, somewhere (or multiple someones somewhere) prayed for me during those years that I wandered astray. And whoever you are, I thank you, for my life is rich with blessings and overflows with joy living in this light. And I want that for everyone. The more I am blessed, the more I am burdened for those who are wandering far from this path. A question we ask almost every Sunday to our congregation is whether we know someone close to us who is far from God. Yes! We all have those people. So what can we do? We can pray. Pray them in. If you do nothing else, you can do that. And prayer works... just wait and see.

Okay, so I was not planning on getting this lengthy, but like I said, this has been heavy on my heart and I had to share. I challenge you to work on your prayer life, and as I say this I am taking the same challenge. Approach things with prayer instead of taking your own way and wait and see what happens. If something you have been working toward has been difficult, whether it be a relationship or friendship, a search for a church family, or a big life change, consider that maybe you are taking your own way instead of God's way and ask him repeatedly (without ceasing) to help you find the way. The right path will be easy- He will make sure of it. Granted, you might end up in Small Town, Illinois freezing your buns off, but things will fall into place in a way that will prove to you it was His will and not yours. And that's a beautiful thing.

"Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? Your should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you will. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great powers and produces wonderful results." My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins."

~James 5:13-16, 19-20


  1. Beautiful post, Kim. We've been praying for you and will continue to do so. You're right! It works! I'm so glad that you're doing so much better!

  2. I'm so glad that your clot is getting better and that Baby Jake is growing so well--yay! Since you are delving into theological topics, though, I have to ask, what do you make of families that pray earnestly for a loved one's health or a baby's survival, and still lose that person?

    I never really worried about theodicy issues before I was a mother, but now it really concerns me when I pray for my child. If I didn't pray for her health and well-being, I wouldn't blame God if something happened to her, but if I do pray for her and she dies...what should I conclude about God?

    I've been meaning to write a post about this for a while. It's an interesting theological question, with major emotional implications for parents.

  3. What a beautiful post Kim, your words are so real and encouraging. That sweet baby is so blessed to have you as his mother, you are in my prayers.

  4. Jessica, I'm not even sure how to answer that. I think I would struggle if something ever happened to our sweet baby and I already worry everyday, but I know that God wouldn't take him without reason and firmly believe that it would be God that chose to take him from us for a reason that we can't possibly understand. Faith is pushing aside our human desire to ask "why" and instead finding ways to work through the hard time to make a greater impact and find a deeper trust in Him. I would love to chat more with you about this, just because I think it's interesting, so maybe we'll have to swap email addresses soon!

  5. I read the comment about prayer and felt led to write something. First we have to understand one thing, God does not authorize the death, loss, or pain that we experience in this life. He does allow it, but we also have to remember that it was men who introduced that first sin into the world, not God. So God allows sin, because he has given us a way out and the ability to choose a faith in Christ.

    The second thing that we can not forget is that prayer is a petition to God. It is a humble request to the maker of everything you see, touch, smell and experience. Our culture tells us that if we ask for something from anybody and dont get it then there is something wrong with the giver not with the asker. So we can not forget that prayer is humbling approaching the creator of all things and asking for help. The trouble is, God is not a vending machine, insert two prayers and get out whatever it is you wanted. If that kind of God was the God we served I wouldnt want any part in it. God wouldnt have the control, he would be at the mercy of whoever prayed. If God had to answer every prayer we prayed in the moment we prayed it, simply because thats what we wanted, then what would stop people from praying that God would kill their boss so they could get a promotion or praying that God break the legs of the bully at school. People have told me they dont really believe in God because they prayed and the thing they wanted didnt happen, and so now they dont believe in him. That would be like a child standing in the son and dying from the heat and then the mother saying she no longer believes in the son because if the son existed it would have dehydrated her kid.

    The final thing is this. The Bible tells us all things work to the good of those who serve the Lord and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

    People quote that verse all of the time. Even people who really dont go to church or have any relationship with God, but they will quote that "All things work to the good"

    The problem with just quoting that is that you cut out the qualifier. All things work to the good of those who 1) Serve the Lord [which means live by the commandments] and 2) Are called according to his purpose. [Have accepted Jesus Christ as the savior of their life and seek after a relationship with him]

    So I believe that the Bible paints a clear picture that prayer works, if we remember that we are humbly requesting and not demanding, and that even in a situation that would seem horrible God can work it out for good if you are living a life that Honors him, and are seeking to follow Jesus.