A girl in my church was hit by a car in December. I’m sure I prayed for her when I heard the news… O Lord, please save this girl. Protect her brain from the swelling. Let her wake up from the coma. Bless her family and keep them strong. Amen.
I had never met the girl or her parents or anyone in the family. And I was not in the habit of praying regularly. I prayed on an ad hoc basis. I prayed when called upon in church or Sunday School. When I heard the sirens of an ambulance or police car I might pray… Lord, please be at work in this situation. Amen.
I did not pray for anyone as part of a daily practice or habit of prayer. But then my Sunday School class decided to begin a study of prayer in January and I am a good student. I read our textbook and a dozen more supplemental texts and began to develop a daily practice of prayer to maximize my learning.
Many people who are serious about prayer maintain a prayer list, so I created one. I added the girl and her family because if anyone should be prayed for every day it was them. So it has been 7 months now and I am still praying for them every day. The class on prayer ended months ago, but my daily practice remains in session.
The girl has been discharged from the hospital and discharged from rehab and is participating in an intensive home and school based program now. She has been in church several times and I have seen her. I cried when I saw her. I did not walk across the room to meet her or her family or tell them that I pray for them because after 7 months of praying every day, I realize that I am praying for me every bit as much as I am praying for them. Let me explain.
I am praying for healing and steady recovery from injuries, of course, but my emphasis shifts from day to day and week to week. Some days I have asked for her to feel a strong sense of God’s love. Some days that the family might one day look back on this period as the time when they became stronger, more hopeful, more loving people. Some days that they would not lose heart during the long, hard work of recovery. Some days that they would experience simple blessings. Some days that they would experience God’s kindness.
I began to appreciate the fragility of life revealed by life-threatening injuries. I saw how important it is that we all hold onto each other during storms. Over time I realized that everything I asked for this family was what I wanted for myself. The girl was a point of focus, but I was really asking God to bring order out of chaos and to show mercy and goodness to all of us, to me.
So when a friend told me a few weeks ago that she has a cancerous mass and is afraid, I embraced her in the face of the coming storm because… we hold onto each other during storms until the thunder and the lightening and the rain passes and the sun begins to shine again.
I might have made the same commitment back in December, but 7 months of prayer has been important preparation to ready me for what lies ahead.