Maybe prayer doesn’t really work

Maybe prayer doesn’t really work

or does it?

It’s been an emotional week.  About 10 months ago we got news from a friend that his wife, Tina, was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Her story was particularly heartbreaking because she had just given birth to an incredibly special baby boy and was immediately hospitalized.  When we heard the news, my family started praying for her every single night.  Now, before you paint some Norman Rockwell type image in your mind of a family on their knees, I should be more specific.   Every night we pile into bed together and “say” prayers.  Some may say, myself included, that our prayers seem a little less than holy.  Often times said with eyes half open and occasionally not even finished with an amen.  My youngest, Ellie, often says, “Dear God, what I usually say, and especially what I said last night, Amen.”  A good 4 out of 7 days may go that direction for her.  None-the-less, we do the same routine every night.  There are a handful of people we usually pray for and whenever I have updates about the friends we pray for I share them before we pray.

Last week, we learned that Tina would be entering into hospice care.  So, as usual, I shared about her progress before we prayed.  For many reasons, I suppose, I cried when I shared the news.  I tried so hard to be stoic, but as always; failed miserably.  As the tears streamed down; and I fought for the right words, my daughter stopped me and asked, “Why are you crying for someone you don’t even know?”  I was caught a little off guard, but she was right, I didn’t know her, but after all this time I sure felt like I did.  Valid question.  I answered, “I’m sad for her, for her kids, for her husband, for her family, and it really makes me think of how hard this would be if it were us”.  Both girls nodded solemnly.  We talked a little more and prayed for Tina and her family again.  After a longer-than-usual hugs and kisses time, Nathan and I walked out of their room and sat down with a sigh, we had our own thoughts and emotions to collect.  After a few minutes had passed I could hear my youngest crying.  I walked back to her room and climbed in bed next to her.  I rubbed her back and asked her what was wrong.  Her little eyes were so red and she looked at me with such sincerity while she tried to choke back tears and take a breath.  “I don’t want Tina to die”.   I nodded in agreement and we held each other and cried.

What shocked me was that she didn’t say she was scared of losing me someday.  She was really sincerely heart broken that Tina might die.

For 10 months we prayed for a miracle.  We tried to put ourselves in her shoes, we tried to imagine the pain and worry her family felt. For 10 months, the miracle didn’t happen.  For ten months, however, we all found a deep love and compassion for someone we’d never met.   Ellie may have felt her prayers weren’t answered and, well, that was true, but I, for the first time, saw something different in prayer.  This strong women, in her fight for cancer taught us all to love someone we’d never met.  Taught us compassion and care for another family.  Taught us that life was worth fighting for.  Helped us to see blessings and have gratitude for even the small things. This women, who didn’t get her miracle, had miraculously affected hundreds if not thousands of lives.

I don’t mean to make this a religious thing.  I think it’s simply a love thing.  If we all spent a little more time, even if it’s not the story-book kind of time, thinking about others, hoping for them and trying to understand their struggle, we’d stir up some serious love.   And now, more than ever, we need love.   Love, in the end, does conquer all.

mom and girl crying

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