Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: What Is ‘Successful’ Prayer?

posted by mpratt

We do live in a competitive, success-driven society!  I once heard someone say that she had prayed for a cure for her kidney-involved lupus and her prayer was successful; she believed she was cured completely, lupus-free, although her kidneys were still failing and she eventually needed a transplant.

The topic of the use of the words “healing” and “cure” within a spiritual, Christian context is the topic for another (perhaps many other) blogs. Here, in the midst of Lent, I’m finding myself musing over another question, “When you have a chronic illness, what is a ‘successful’ prayer?” Is it one where you ask God for a cure and you get it? Or, is it where you ask for a cure, don’t get it, but believe you’re cured anyway? Or, is it something else, something more subtle?  Or, is there such a thing as a ‘successful’ prayer?  Or, an ‘unsuccessful’ one, for that matter?

Although the Apostle Paul spoke of “running the race” to spread the Gospel, I’m inclined to think that there’s more to prayer than it ultimately being successful or not. The act of speaking with God and listening is so much deeper than “ask and get.” Although I think I know what I want, God knows even better; his idea of ‘success’ is probably not mine at all – and I would do well to listen closely to what He wants and what He says instead of anything, in my humanness, I think I want.

Hmm…perhaps it’s not about success at all, but a process where we become closer to God each time we sit in quiet and pray and listen. And, this might be the most difficult part of practicing true prayer in today’s world. Results, races, and success don’t really apply to coming to the point where we say, “Thy will be done,” and then take up our cross again and walk step-by-step.

There is strong Scriptural support for the belief that God already knows what we’re going to ask for before we ask for it. Moreover, He has a purpose for each of us, and already knows what that is.  God loves us, too, so He surely wishes each of us to thrive in the spirit. For Him to work in our lives, I’m finding more and more that it’s not so much the things we ask for and either or or are not granted, but rather our attitude toward God’s eternal listening and presence in our lives – as well as our obedience to accept and follow His will, not matter what.

By getting away from measuring the success of prayer, we get closer to immeasurable faith!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Lent 2013: The Grace in Pain

posted by mpratt

So far, this has been a more painful Lent than usual. Lung inflammation, joint pain – ah, lupus! The twinges, aches, and stabs sure make pain immediately present. And one of the things I’m trying to do when they occur is bring Lent into the present, too.

So often, pain takes us out of where we are, as if we’re on the sidelines of life, even if we’re in the middle of a crowd. Pain draws us inward and can easily become the focus of thought and prayer. In contrast to this, I’m including pain in the prayer dialogue of Lenten reflection. In other words, I’m aware of pain, but quickly move to acknowledge it as one part of being human – and something that Our Lord experienced too. It’s much like a conversation with a friend, where greater closeness is forged by sharing like experiences. Something in common. Something that enables one person to relate better to another, to understand, and to feel support.

In bringing pain into the ongoing conversation with God, and as a deeper relationship is forged, grace springs up and flourishes. It’s no longer “pain and me” and “prayer and God,” but rather “Pain, me, and God equals grace.”

And the more grace for our journey, the more blessed the way!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Chronic Illness: You Do Not Have to Do It All

posted by mpratt

Calling all multi-tasking, over-stressed, well-intentioned people with chronic illness! (and I mean myself, too): You do not have to do it all. Not even if the nicest person from church calls you to ask you a “favor” because he/she knows that you’re home all day and you “must have a few minutes” to help out (sound familiar?). No, (yes, I said ‘no’), you are perfectly entitled to carve out time, energy, space, and brain power to, (shudder!) say, “No,” and take care of yourself. Who? Yes, you!

If you are someone who thrives on reaching out to others, this business of saying “no” may seem completely foreign to you. You might feel guilty about denying the favor, asking for space, or taking that precious opportunity to “just veg.” But you know, deep down, as I do, that illness takes a lot out of us, and if you don’t revive once in awhile, it will take even more and more. And you know, too, that although to an outsider, it seems as if your days are stretched lazily before you with absolutely nothing but time to give to everyone else, that is hardly the case; managing life with illness takes a lot of time. For some of us, it’s like a full-time job!

We might not always succeed in saying, “no,” But, I’m learning, even insisting, that each day is not fully charged, but allows ample time with rest and dreaming and God. I don’t like to, but I do tell someone if I only have time for a brief phone call instead of a long chat (or an email instead of a call at all). I try to look ahead of a week, and not pack in activities that I know will take more time than energy will allow.  Yes, I try,which is more than half of the point itself.

We cannot do it all any more than we can “have it all” – but we can give ourselves the opportunity to nurture health and then be of service in a more balanced, blessed way.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

 

 

Chronic Illness: Taking Our Time

posted by mpratt

In one of my first blogs, I shared a picture of an African violet that I grew from a single leaf. It had just bloomed for the first time, only a few months after the leaf cutting was taken. That bloom stayed for a few weeks, then died off, and it has taken many months for that plant and others that I’m growing from leaves to bud and bloom abundantly. Here, I’m sharing the latest flower to emerge – frills and all (this grew from one leaf, too)l.

Because of my lupus, I cannot go out in the sun and garden. But my affinity for “digging in the dirt” is still alive and well with cultivating these African violets indoors. Besides the beauty and satisfaction of seeing something go from leaf to blossom, I am learning to like the lessons of patience and calm cultivation that these plants require. And I’m realizing even more deeply that, in our own lives with chronic illness, the cultivation of our souls and the bountiful harvests in our lives take just that patience and calm, too. Each watering with the Word, each pruning, however painful, enables us to gather strength and wisdom in order to be just what God wants each of us, individually, to be. What a power witness that is!

There are many more buds appearing, and soon to be many more blossoms. In time. In good time. In God’s very good time.

Blessings for the day,
Maureen

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