Thursday, June 9, 2016

Strong

  I prayed for my daughter every single day of my pregnancy, multiple times a day. Basically, every time I thought about her. I couldn't help it. When I started these prayers, I found myself beginning with, "Lord, please make this baby strong." I don't know why I kept saying that. What I meant was healthy. I would pray for other things too and I would even get real specific (I figured that it couldn't hurt). But I began every prayer asking for her strength. 



I've been reworking my prayer life ever since my Dad passed away. It has been a long road and I am still walking it, to be honest, but I am coming a little closer to believing in the power of prayer. For the last few years, I have been practicing what Richard Foster, author of "The Celebration of Discipline", calls "giving God time to answer your prayers". Foster believes that most Westerners don't actually believe in prayer because when we were children we were taught to pray too big. His idea is that we did not develop the faith that it takes to believe our prayers could be answered because we pray for cancer to leave someone's body or for world peace. He suggests that we should pray first for the small things and develop a faithful prayer practice, one where we allow God time to answer our prayers. If we start to see our small requests answered then over time, we might develop the faith to believe that our big ones will be answered too. After all, Jesus literally left towns where people did not have faith in him because he could not perform miracles in the midst of so much doubt...

Noelle, just a few minutes old
I have been trying to give the Creator some room to work in my life before I make space for doubt. Sometimes it's the little things, like if I pray for my headache to go away and I pause before I reach for the Advil. A lot of times, we humans, take care of things ourselves too. Not that this is a bad thing to do, it just isn't going to feed our life of faith. Like with all things that are worth doing, there is a balance to be struck.

Noelle, 2 days old
When I was pregnant, I had an overwhelming sense of faithfulness about prayer. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to answer my prayers for Noelle. I have not ever felt this way in prayer before, but for those 10 months, I practiced praying in sheer faithful belief. Most of the time my prayers were so unconscious, like the rhythm of breath or steps in my day and I wasn't even thinking about what I was requesting or praying for. These prayers simply came to me and from me. For example, I was not even aware that I had been praying for Noelle to be strong. This was such an unconscious part of my practice.

2 weeks old

It was not until I was literally pushing this child out of my body when I heard the doctor say, "This baby is STRONG!" that I realized what I had been praying for. Suddenly, all my prayers seemed to whirl around me like a cyclone and I realized God had heard me and they were answered. 

1 month old

It was a good reminder of the power in persistent prayer. Jesus tells a story about a widow who keeps bugging the town judge for something. He doesn't want to grant what she asked for but she wouldn't stop asking. She didn't give up and finally he gives in just because she is so annoying. Jesus ends this story with something like, "Even this old nasty judge can do the right thing, imagine how much more your Father in Heaven will bless your persistence." In addition, I know that our prayers are answered in love, not annoyance.

3 months old
People continue to comment on how strong Noelle is which has become a daily reminder for me that God hears my prayers and that praying will make a difference. It is still yet to be seen whether Noelle has super human strength or not, but for now, I am encouraged that my Father is listening and responding to me in love.

4 months old


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