Even in an overwhelming situation, there are ways to pray and reclaim hope.
Posted in , May 13, 2019
You write a book about prayer (or a couple of books about prayer) and people will ask you for prayer help with their deepest needs. Just this morning I got an email from a woman I’ve never met, someone who lives thousands of miles away. Her father was just diagnosed with lung cancer. How could she pray? Here’s what I suggested:
Pray With a Friend
Not for nothing did Jesus encourage the disciples to go out in twos to heal the sick and spread the good news. In the spiritual life, two is always better than one. Especially if you’re feeling lonely, worried or at odds. Can’t find a friend to pray with? Look for a hospital chaplain. Call your pastor. Email someone. Text someone. You are not meant to face bad news alone.
Pray for Healing
The stats might be really scary, the odds of beating the disease daunting. If you’ve made the mistake of looking for reassurance from Dr. Google (don’t!), you’ve probably stumbled over more frightening advice. Still, to pray is to claim hope. Grab it tightly. Hold on to it. You’re not being unrealistic. You are calling on God’s partnership.
Express Your Anger
Angry at God? Let God know. Every time I read through the Psalms I’m reminded of how honest the Psalmist is in prayer. God can take it. It’s not as though God hasn’t heard every angry word we’re thinking and doesn’t know them already. To be a praying person is to be an honest person, open to all possibilities.
Pray for the Medical Help
Sometimes I think it must have been easier to turn to healing prayer back in biblical times. The medical options were not promising. God would have seemed like the only chance for healing. These days, treatments have produced miracles. No reason not to claim them as such. Think of the doctors and techs and nurses as allies in the healing journey, working with God.
Pray Aloud. Pray Silently.
Pray in whatever way works best for you. My morning prayer practice is to sit by myself, eyes closed, looking for God’s presence. Sometimes I’ll use a word (just “God” is enough). Sometimes I listen to the silence, letting go of all the distractions in my head. Notice the fears, notice the hope—both can be present at once. In all of life, at all times, we can be God’s vessel.