Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prayer- Why Bother?

Before Micah was even born, Heather and I prayed for him. Once born, we continued to pray for him. During his dedication service on Mother’s Day, 2009, we committed ourselves to raising him so that he might, during his lifetime, make a commitment to Jesus Christ. During those 24 hours between his loss of consciousness and his death, we prayed and prayed that he would make a miraculous recovery. But God chose not to answer our prayers in the manner we desired.

Rather than causing us to doubt the power of prayer, Micah’s death has caused us to come to grips with our own limitations and how utterly dependent we are on God. We continue to pray even though, as was most clearly demonstrated in Micah’s situation, God does not always answer prayer as we wish. We pray not out of a strong willpower to achieve certain ends but out of powerlessness.

In short, we pray because we are weak. If you have ever sat on the deathbed of a parent, sibling, spouse or child, holding your loved one in your arms as death overwhelms them, you know what it means to be weak. If you have ever lost that which is most precious to you on earth, you know what it means to be weak. If you lay awake at night, tossing and turning because you realize that you cannot control or begin to understand God’s mysterious ways, you know what it means to be weak. As I sat next to Micah’s bedside during the course of his 24 hours on life support, I realized that my son’s life would forever change mine. At the time I didn’t realize that, through the grief that followed, his death would help to remove my illusions of self-sufficiency.

Heather and I now pray for Owen because, in our weakness, we realize how dependent we are on God for Owen’s every breath, for his life, and for his salvation. In "A Praying Life," author Paul E. Miller says that Jesus wants us to approach God with the humility and trust of a child to his father. Miller says that just as children do not “filter” the types of requests they make before God, so also we should approach God in prayer without any “spiritual mask.” Miller, A Praying Life, 33. We should pray for what we want, being attentive to God’s will and whether our requests are consistent with God’s will.

As Pastor Stokes recently pointed out to me, Jesus himself prayed, on the night of his betrayal, that the Father would spare Him from the cross. Jesus prayed for what he desired. Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42. Pastor Stokes noted that Jesus prayed this even after telling his disciples that he would go to the cross. Thankfully, Jesus abided by the Father’s plan, a plan that included Jesus’ torture, death and sacrifice on our behalf.

About our prayers, Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:7-11.

So, not only are Heather and I praying for Owen, but we are praying for things that we want for Owen. Last Wednesday, Heather made an appointment with Owen’s pediatrician for the pediatrician to examine Owen’s head, which appears to be growing in an unusual manner. There, the pediatrician was concerned that Owen may be suffering from fused plates on his head, and ordered that X-rays be taken of his head. If that is indeed the case, then a reconstructive surgery would be required, and fairly soon. Of all places, these reconstructive surgeries are conducted at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, the same hospital where Micah died.

After a day of praying, and enlisting others to do the same, the radiologist called last Thursday and indicated that he believed that Owen’s head plates are overlapping, not fused. It is my understanding that if the plates are indeed overlapping, then no such surgery would be required.

While this health issue is one that is not highly unusual in our age of advanced medical technology, Heather and I want to avoid additional anxiety over health issues. We very much want our children to be healthy. Even over issues that don’t appear to be life threatening, we want to avoid the trouble and burden of such health issues. So we are praying, in our weakness, that God would cause Owen’s head to grow normally and avoid the surgeon, his tools, the waiting area at Children’s Hospital, and all of the associated anxiety. I believe the Lord wants us, through prayer, to continually submit ourselves in reliance upon Him for Owen’s health and life.


  1. Joining with you in humble prayer.

  2. Just stumbled across your blog, I really feel for your family. I wanted to let you know that if your son needs to have surgery for his head that Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul also does this same surgery, I believe the neurosurgeons are the same but a different hospital might help. Respectfully praying for your family.