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Do Your Prayers Work?

Posted by happypizza on February 6, 2010


Photo by 'Babasteve'--www.flickr.com

To Pray or Not to pray

By Betty J. Dalrymple

The three of us huddle beside the recently covered grave, tears freezing on our cheeks.

“You know what, Mom?” my older daughter asked. “I don’t know if I believe in the power of prayer anymore. I mean, weren’t all those prayers just a waste of time?”

“Wow, do I understand that feeling,” my younger daughter agreed. “Hundreds of people were praying for Dad and he still died, I sometimes wonder, ‘Didn’t God hear all of our prayers?’”

Like a zombie, I stood there in shock and whispered, “At any given time, I often feel the same way.” The I asked the question that haunted me night and day, “How could this have happened? I felt sure our prayers would be answered and your father’s cancer would go into remission.”

As those days of shock and sadness dragged on, I often returned to that cold January morning’s conversation. But how could I give up my belief in the power of prayer? After all, prayer was a priority in my life. My husband, Richard, and I always taught our children to pray. As an adult, I studied books on prayer, and when I read the story of the battle between Israel and Amalek in Exodus, I became fascinated with intercessory prayer. I learned that it was not only the fighters on the field of battle, but also the intercessors on the mountain that made a difference. I didn’t want to bury my prayer life in that grave with Richard, but doubt became a monster that crept in during the night and chided, “Remember how hard you prayed and how sure you were that God would answer?”

Then I’d remember how I tried every possible way of praying. Maybe if I had said the right words in the right way that would help. Perhaps if I prayed on my knees, or visited the prayer room at church, that would make a difference.

Even if the doctors said there was no hope, I would not believe them. I could not imagine life without Richard and I knew God understood and would not let him die. I would not accept their prognosis because I believed in the power of prayer. I knew like those Israelites, our many prayers would help us win the battle for extra time together. The internal argument continued because I knew in my heart I could not live without God in my life and that meant including prayer in my daily schedule.

One morning as I wrestled with the prayer question, the phone rang and my friend asked, “Would you please pray for me? I just found out my breast cancer has returned.”

I put aside my questions, stuffed my doubts, and said, “Of course I will.”

I rejoined our prayer ministry team, prayer for my family, friends, and many others. But something was missing. I had trouble focusing during prayer time, both at worship services and during my personal times of refection.

As the cold winter days turned to springtime, my daughters and I continued visiting the gravesite. “How do you two feel about the power of prayer now?” I asked on morning.

“I’m still angry,” my older daughter answered. “But I’m joining a prayer group at church. Maybe that will help my attitude.”

“I’m trying to put some of those feelings away because they just cause me more pain,” my younger daughter responded.

“I’m glad,” I said, but inwardly I admitted, Something is still missing in my own prayer life. That miserable cloud of doubt sneaks in and haunts my prayer time.

“How’s your spiritual life,” a friend asked me one day as we met at a local coffee shop. This wasn’t an unusual question because she and I often discussed our faith journeys.

I paused, then said, “I just feel like something is missing and I don’t know what it is. Ever since Richard’s death I feel like I’m lost in a forest of doubt and I don’t like this feeling!”
“I’ll pray for you,” she offered.

Maybe God will listen to her, I thought.

This mental battle about whether to pray went on: however I continued participating in our prayer chain at Church. Because of that, I often caught glimpses of God’s grace and love. I wrapped those moments around me like a security blanket.

Finally, in a simple quiet moment, I heard God’s voice and found my answer that chased away those nagging doubts. As I sat in my comfy rocker one morning reading my daily devotion, I read about a man who faced a scary situation and suddenly, he had a sense of peace. His first thought was, My wife must be praying for me!

Someone must be praying for me!

“I know how that feels,” I whispered. “I’ve experienced that many times.” Memories flashed through my mind—the time I had the breast biopsy and it was benign; when my father’s prognosis was six months and he lived four more years; when we lost our family business and Richard was offered a good job at the right time.

And how many times had God shown me that He cared about the little things in my life? Like those times I’d prayed for my children’s success in their school events; the God-incidences of a nudge when I’d lost something; or the perfectly timed loving words spoken by a friend.

I sat back in my rocker, closed my eyes, and whispered, “Thank you, God.” In that still quite moment, I heard God say, “You always believed, but your mind was sidetracked by anger, confusion and disappointment.”

The following Easter, when my daughters and I took spring flowers to the now grassy gravesite, we talked about good memories. We laughed at their father’s humorous sayings and all the fun times we’d had as a family.

“Remember when we questioned prayer?” I asked.

“Yes, and I still don’t understand why our prayers weren’t answered as we wanted God to answer them,” my daughter said.

“I don’t either,” I answered. “But recently God reminded me of many answered prayers from the past, including some since your father’s death. Even though we don’t understand why God didn’t answer our big prayer the way we wanted, God loves us and wants us to continue talking to Him—and to keep believing prayer is the mightiest power on earth!”

“Amen!” they both agreed.

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3 Responses to “Do Your Prayers Work?”

  1. GOD love me

    • GOD DID ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS HE TOOK HIM HOME WHERE HE BELONGS,
      THIS IS NOT HOME THIS IS ONLY A JOURNEY .
      FROM GOD WE COME , HERE WE TRY TODO HIS WILL AND THAN WE GO BACK TO HIM WHO
      CREATED US, DID YOU FORGET?

  2. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually understand
    what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally seek advice from my web site =).
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