Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

One of those days…  My 12 year old son called us from school saying he had a strange pain.  He’d been complaining about this for a few days, but now it was worse, and, he said, unbearable.  The appearance of this pain arrived – coincidentally – with the beginning of school last week.  But Michael is not a foolish child, and he generally doesn’t make things up. So, we took him seriously.

My wife, Jill picked him up from school and took him to see our family doctor, who after an initial exam decided he should see a specialist, immediately.  Jill called me at my office with the news.  Honestly, a bolt of fear ran through me.  I immediately packed my things and headed out the door to meet them for the next appointment.

Just last night I spoke to a young man on the phone, a friend of mine who’s preparing for pastoral ministry.  He was standing in the hospital with his wife.  Their one year old son had pneumonia and a collapsed lung and had been rushed into emergency surgery.  My friend was exhausted and terrified.  I understood then.  I understand even more today.

I was afraid. I prayed hard on a 20 minute drive to seek a specialist.  I kept the radio off, and I talked – I complained – to God. 

We’ve had a deluge of medical problems in our family lately.  Our 19 year old daughter who was working as a medical aid student in the villages of South Africa has suffered from dysentery.  Our older daughter is enduring back pain from an old dance injury.  After completing a marathon last October I have been nursing a gimpy knee.  It seems like a season of physical harassment, nothing serious, but troubling none the less. But when it comes to my children, my imagination runs wild with these kinds of things, running in the wrong direction.  Bad imagination is a form of backwards destructive faith. I see what is not as though it is.  As I prayed on my drive over, I had to battle the onslaught of fear and an imagination picturing the worst.

Prayer was my best and most healthy response at that moment.  I gave the matter to God, the best I could.  It wasn’t  a great prayer or a particularly noble or sacred one, but it calmed me. By the time I arrived a real peace had settled over me.  I didn’t know what was coming, but I felt peace. 

The appointment was… uneventful.  The doctor was thorough, and one by one eliminated various possibilities.  After consideration, he offered his verdict: the problem was not in any way serious.

As we walked out I realized what prayer had done.  I do believe that prayer changes circumstances, that God heals our bodies and moves mountains.  Prayer isn’t just a psychic game.  It works.  But in this case, my prayer prompted God to temper and correct my twisted and false imagination.  God through prayer had changed the state of my soul… because there really wasn’t a need for any other kind of miracle!

Sometimes when we pray for our children, God touches our children; sometimes he touches us.  Either way he does miracles.

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