It’s Okay To Stop Praying ~ Life Unmasked
I stood slowly after the closing prayer. The long sit on hard wooden pews had stiffened my muscles. I rubbed my back as I slid sideways into the aisle. My mother-in-law motioned me to stay put.
“I’ll go get the kids.”
As I gathered up Bibles, papers, and bags, an older lady approached. “Joy, I just love to watch Elli while you and Scott sing. It makes her so happy.”
I never know what to say in situations like these, so I just smiled at her. Elli’s face shone and the joy in her soul exploded from her entire body when she heard music she loved.
She continued. “I pray every day for Elli to be healed.”
My smile froze. Elli was five years old. She had a permanent brain injury from lack of oxygen. Her heart hadn’t formed right. How could she be healed of that? These weren’t ongoing processes that could stop or reverse. It simply was.
“Oh! Well, thank you,” I managed. I knew her intention was good.
As we rolled Elli down the wheelchair ramp and into the sunny parking lot, the second-guessing started. Mother-guilt, my old faithful companion, back again. Had I failed her? Was my faith weak? Should I be asking God to heal her?
Then the thought (maybe it was from the Holy Spirit?). I need to accept our circumstances as they are today. Praying for healing would feed my discontent, my anger, my resentment, and my clamor for relief from the suffering.
I realized that it’s ok to stop praying for something. I hadn’t stopped praying altogether. I asked God for help to be a good mother to a child who couldn’t talk to me, feed herself, or walk. I asked for wisdom for the doctors treating her. I asked for help not to waste my scant energy on worthless activities like worry.
That didn’t mean it was wrong for others to pray for different things, like for Elli to be healed. I could thank this dear lady for her prayers and genuinely appreciate them as a gift of love from her to us. But it was no reflection on me, my effectiveness as a mother, or my faith in God, that I could not join her in that prayer.
This past week, I read the following in the book “The Heart of Prayer: What Jesus Teaches Us” by Jerram Barrs. I had never read or heard anything like it before. It speaks directly to our experience with our daughter.
“We do not know the precise nature of the thorn in the flesh with which the apostle Paul wrestled–whether it was a physical malady or some other problem. In this particular case, Paul tells us that he prayed three times that his thorn in the flesh would be taken away. And then he stopped praying for the thorn’s removal, but this was because he sensed God telling him that he would have to endure the thorn (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Paul had to be ready for a different kind of perseverance, and to be willing to persist in different prayers from those for healing. His calling was to pray for grace to endure the thorn, to pray for God’s strength to sustain him in his ongoing weakness.”
Have you ever stopped praying for something? Why or why not?
On Wednesdays we gather to share our unmasked moments from the week. We take off the everything’s-FINE false front and share what we are learning in our humanness, our flaws, our weakness. We believe that it is more encouraging and more real to offer comfort and hope from a place of shared struggle than from a place of perfection.
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