Jesus told them a story about their need to pray continuously and not to lose heart. -Luke 18:1
When I had cancer, I felt very strange being the recipient of so many people offering prayer for me. My knee-jerk response was to refuse the attention, especially the prayer. I wanted to say, “Please, if you are praying, pray for the families fleeing Syria, the pregnant mothers wandering homeless and cold because their home has been ravaged by war. I’ll be fine compared to their plight!” But I didn’t said that, of course, because when someone offers to pray for you, you don’t say that. Just like when someone offers you a brownie, no matter how many brownies you’ve already had that day, you say “yes!”
But that’s really how I’ve felt, full of prayer brownies. Just rich and stuffed with people’s prayers. So here’s what’s happened with that.
I had two unusual things (so they tell me, since I’m not a regular I don’t know) happen with my surgery. One, the imaging experts didn’t have the guide wire to the tumor in exactly the right spot, very important of course, so they had to put a second guide wire in me. That was awkward, to be wheeled around the hospital with not one, but two, wires sticking out of my chest to my chin.
The other weirdish thing that happened is that my surgeon put in an internal port for radiation although one hadn’t been ordered. He assumed it was needed and put it in so they could internally radiate the tumor bed. I was surprised and a little scared by this at first. I had only planned to have external radiation.
So two unexpected things. When the pathology report came back, guess what? I went into surgery for one tumor. But there were two tumors. The “accidental” first wire was on top of a tumor we didn’t know was there, so the surgeon removed it. And of course, what did the pathology report suggest was the best protocol for my situation? Yes! Internal radiation with my “accidental” port first, followed by external radiation.
That was my personal miracle.
How could anyone have known exactly what I needed but Holy Wisdom? Because I’ve had exactly what I needed, my cure likelihood is over 95%. I know that not everyone who prays faithfully gets this kind of good news. I have been there praying over people when I’ve had to say, “Lord, this is not what we asked for! Please listen this time!” While I claim God’s goodness to me, I also claim a complete lack of understanding why I am okay and many are not.
Prayer is just not a vending machine that we invest in and reliably get out the same thing. But I do believe, no, I have experienced, that prayer works. I don’t know what else to say except that prayer is a mystery that surrounds and guides us towards life overcoming death, health overcoming disease, and peace overcoming confusion, in one way or another.
So now I say, humbly, thank you for the prayers. And I realize that prayer, like love, is not something that we have to guard stingily. Prayers for one person do not take away from prayers for others. I think all prayer adds to the healing grace that is released in God’s world, to bring shalom. Maybe God has far more healing to give than we ask for.