Friday, September 12, 2008

Does prayer change things?

There is a popular, oft repeated statement among believers that says "Prayer changes things." My response has always been: "Prayer does not change things. God does." Then I go on to explain what I mean. Once in a confirmation class I gave my view and was criticized by a mother who was attending with her daughter. Though I don't think she completely understood what I was saying, her criticism had some merit and did make me think. I went back the next week and began the class with some hopefully clarifying statements.

You, my readers, may not agree with me and might call me a "nick picker." Prayer is a powerful, yet intimate Christian discipline. In prayer we grow in our knowledge of God and closer in our relationship with Him. Our closest human relationships are those where there is trust and open communication. A close relationship with God requires the same. So, when I approach God in prayer, I approach in awe of who He is, in humility because of His mercy and grace, somewhat in surprise that He cares for me and what concerns me and in the absolute knowledge that He hears and He answers. Only with those approaches does my knowlege and relationship with God grow.

Maybe you have heard someone say when a prayer has not been answered the way we prefer that we haven't prayed enough. It's as if the length or the number of our prayers make the difference. For me, those things demonstrate the quality of our communication with God and the trust we have, not only that God does answer, but in the answer itself. I have been blessed and am being blessed by the prayers of God's people! My dear friend, Peggy, reminded me not long ago about the constant, fervent prayer support Tom and I both had when we were at FOPC. And her comment reminded me of how much I rested, knowing that God was working in both our lives and in their lives as well. I need that now.

Here are some requests: 1) Tom has gotten his meds mixed up two days in a row, making me know that he can no longer be left to take them on his own. Every dose will have to be monitored. He and I went alone for my treatment today and he was a real trooper and as much "in charge" as he could be these days. We got home about 3:30 p.m. and he immediately crashed. For the next six hours he has been nervous as a "cat on a hot tin roof" and needed assistance with everything. I have not been able to rest for having to tend to him. Please pray for the stress to be taken from him and that I will be patient as I care for him.

2) Today I saw an older lady and her adult daugther who have been in the office the last three or four times we have been there. The older lady is the patient and it is obvious by her actions and by some of what I've heard her daughter say that the lady is fiercely independent and quite a fighter. She won't even let her daughter go in with her to see the doctor. This morning the lady had on a makeshift sling and was there to get a shot--our doctor wasn't in today. The receptionist asked the daughter about the sling, the daughter told about some pain the lady was having and said she had hoped to ask the doctor. She was sent across the street to have the arm x-rayed. As I was leaving I noticed the lady and her daughter were back. Something told me to stop and talk to the lady and Someone put some words in my mouth. She told me that the source of pain is a tumor in her upper arm, pushing on the bone and threatening to break it. Now, after completing twenty something radiation treatments, she has to begin again to try to shrink the tumor. With that, she began to cry. At that moment I was no longer another patient, but Pastor Margaret. I simply said to her that I have learned that God is greater than any tumor or disease that has threatened me and I know He is greater than her current tumor. I asked her name and said, "Elvie, I'll pray for you." Will you pray for her as well? I went to the car and thanked God for that pastoral opportunity.

3) I believed that the blood drawn this morning would reveal really low red counts that were causing extreme fatigue. The draw revealed really low counts, but not red, white. The red is low, but not so low as to be a problem yet. Medicine itself is causing the fatigue. Low white counts started my crisis two years ago when I spent ten days in the hospital because I was neutropenic and highly suceptible to infection. They did go ahead with the treatment and gave me six pages of information of what I can and cannot do--including no raw foods and avoiding crowds and those with colds etc. Wouldn't you know that Elisa has a fever virus and I can't see her this weekend? Please pray that my body will respond positively to this drug and that the white count will have a miraculous recovery.

4) Join me in thanking God for the love and support of family and friends. Both of my children know how to encourage me in their own special ways. Liz and Tommy keep us fed when I don't feel up to cooking and fit us into an already busy schedule. Marty and I stay close by phone and her voice and the baby sounds of Christopher in the background put a smile on my face. What a wonderful family we have!

Maybe prayer does change things. It has changed my heart. It has drawn me closer to God and to God's people through whom He blesses me.

Pastor Margaret

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