Pancreatic cancer. On a ventilator. Recovering from brain surgery.
I have several close friends whose spouses are very sick. They are enduring deep pain, heartache, and valleys that are, as my one friend said, “harder than they ever imagined.” All of them believe Christ died for them and their eternal life is secure,
But they’re struggling.
It’s a privilege to pray for these friends, especially since I can’t do much more. Having experienced God’s supernatural peace so profoundly myself in the past, it’s a joy to ask with confidence for Christ’s peace for them. It’s a gift to step infinitesimally into their pain by asking the Creator of the universe to heal, comfort, and sustain them. I’m thankful I can intercede for them knowing how little margin they have for anything right now, but
Praying is difficult, too.
Praying for my friends makes my chest literally ache. Praying through my own what ifs for them, forces me to face my own doubts about God. Praying aloud for my friend’s husband when she asked me to, after listening to her fear, pain, and desperation, felt weighty and difficult. Praying for my friends has given me subconscious fears about getting older, being alone, and my own families’ health. Painful, heartfelt prayer is a way to help and love others, but I’m learning it’s also exposing the fragility of my own faith in seemingly hopeless situations.
Prayer does many things when we enter it deeply, authentically, and desperately. Some of it good, some of it difficult and ugly. As I’m praying for my friends, I’m realizing I have to pray for myself, too. Although that seems selfish, I’m learning I can only pray well for others to the extent I experience God’s authentic power, love, and healing myself. And I’m being reminded that the most powerful change prayer brings is not necessarily a change of our circumstances, but
the altering of the state of our souls.