“Thank you Mary Rabe for sharing your wisdom with us on this incredible gift God has given us on: PRAYER! It is always a pleasure to be encouraged by you! Thanks for your wisdom to our RaisingRices Village!” – Marissa Rice
A few weeks ago my son came down with a terrible case of croup. Now, we’ve dealt with croup several times, but this time was different. This time all of our usual “tricks” didn’t work, or were a very short-term fix; within an hour our boy was once again coughing and wheezing, and was beginning to seriously struggle to breathe.
After the third time being woken up by an “attack”, we finally decided to pack him up and get him to the ER. As I loaded him into the car, though, he suddenly began to panic and sobbed out, “My chest hurts!” Of course, adding crying to croup is not a good mix, and his already labored breathing instantly worsened. This was probably one of the most helpless moments of my life. I knew I couldn’t do anything to help him, and I began to wonder if I should just call an ambulance for him. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel panicked or as afraid as I thought I would (being raised by a 911 dispatcher definitely lends itself to being calm in an emergency!), so I was able to maintain a soothing, in-control tone as I gently reminded him, “Sweetie, I know this is scary. I know it hurts. But you need to try really hard to stay calm, and not cry, because your lungs will work better if you can try to breathe nice and slow.” Then, I felt a strong sense of God saying, “Pray for him.” So I placed my hand on my little boy and began to pray out loud for him, asking God to help him stay calm, to comfort him, and to help his lungs work well enough to get us to the hospital for help.
As soon as I said “Amen,” my son was able to stop crying, and relaxed enough for us to get him buckled up and headed to the hospital. It was still a nerve-wracking ride, with me calling back to him every 5 minutes, “Give me a thumbs-up if you’re ok, Bud”, but we made it to the ER and got instant help as soon as we walked in. After a little work and time, they got things under control for him, and we were able to get back home within a few hours. This was not my favorite way to spend a night, of course, but God used it to show me something so amazing: the power of prayer.
I’m sad to say that my first response to trials, conflict, challenges, and emergencies is not usually prayer. Typically I reach for my phone to text or call my mom, husband, or a friend. I want the “instant” reassurance of a human voice, camaraderie, and advice; none of which is wrong in and of itself. However, how much more effective would it be if I instead reached out to my loving, powerful Heavenly Father first? God is there, ready and waiting for me to ask Him for help, comfort, wisdom…whatever I need. His Word tells us in James 5:16 that, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” and that is something that God is really showing to be true in my life lately. Here are some of the things I’m learning about prayer, as well as some changes I’m trying to make in my prayer life.
Prayer Grows Our Faith
One of the biggest thing I’ve seen in my life as I’ve tried to turn to prayer more is that every answered prayer leads me to grow in my faith and belief in what God can and will do. Seeing how instantly my son relaxed and was able to breathe better after I prayed that scary night was a huge boost in my faith, both in God Himself and also just in the power of prayer. Every answered prayer has the potential to mature and strengthen our faith as we see God accomplish what only He could do.
Prayer Reveals More of God to Us
As I am working to pray about more in my life, I have been so touched by the different aspects of God being revealed in how He has answered even my most seemingly insignificant prayers. There have been times I have been hurt by someone and wasn’t sure how to handle it, so I poured out my hurt and frustration to God (some might even just call it “venting” to Him) and was so humbled and blessed by how He provided reconciliation and healing. He cares about even our hurt feelings, Guys. I’ve heard that and read it plenty of times, but I have been experiencing it more and more lately, and there is something just so wonderful about seeing that truth about God.
Prayer Draws Us Closer to Others
There is something so sacred and special about praying for and with others. This weekend I was blessed with a chance to meet with a lady I consider to be my mentor as well as close friend, and we had a great time visiting over coffee. My favorite part, though, was just before she had to go, and she asked if she could pray for me. Holding my hands in hers, she asked God for help and guidance in struggles I’d shared with her, as well as an overall blessing over me and my family. It deeply touched my heart to have her go before God on my behalf, sharing my burdens and challenges with our loving Father. Then I got the blessing of praying for her, and felt the gift of sharing in my friend’s life in a deeper way by bringing her before God. Prayer knits us together in a way nothing else can as we share each other’s burdens and enter into the presence of the One who made us.
Prayer Gives Us Hope
There are times in life when no one on earth can understand, help, or comfort us, and it is only in turning to God that we receive hope. Whether it is a case of others not being able to grasp our situation, or of us not feeling safe to share with anyone, there is something so reassuring and hopeful in knowing we can cry out to God in prayer and He will listen. He is the only One who totally understands us, knows exactly how to help, and has the wisdom and power to step in and change things.
I can’t count the number of times I have turned to God, knowing He was the only One who could help, and He has always come through. Sometimes it isn’t in ways I expect, but it is always just what I need. One memory of this is particularly sweet to my heart. It was smack-dab in the middle of last year, one of the roughest years I can remember having, and I was struggling in a big way. My husband had already been out of town for three weeks in a row, and we were on the last day of his fourth week gone. Throughout that entire time, the kids and I had taken turns dealing with some kind of tummy bug that just would not stay away. I was knee-deep in laundry, unable to help my poor sick kids, physically wiped out from being sick myself, and lonelier than I had ever been in my life since I had been quarantined (due to the tummy stuff) almost this whole time. I had absolutely hit my breaking point. All I could do was lay on my bed and weep, wishing desperately that someone, anyone, would come and help me. I finally cried out to God in sheer desperation, “Lord, please. Please send someone. I need someone to come right now, or I’m not going to make it.” Immediately, I heard a soft knock on my bedroom door, and then my oldest son timidly walked in. Without saying a word, he crept over to my bed and laid his beloved Monkey lovey, his most treasured possession, next to me. He gave me an uncertain smile as I sobbed out a thank you, and then he walked back out. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. I didn’t have the words to ask anyone on earth for help; even my prayer to God was very disjointed and, honestly, a bit hysterical. Yet in spite of that, God sent the perfect little messenger of hope and comfort, and it got me through the rest of that time.
As I am learning all of these beautiful truths about prayer, I feel called to make some changes to the way I approach things in my life. Here are some of the applications I hope to make:
- Pray first. When I face a trial, challenge, emergency, or even just an irritation, I want my first response to be to pause and pray. Ultimately God is the One who can help more than anyone else, and I want to act like I truly believe that by making Him my first resource.
- Offer to pray for others when they share a hurt, trial, or challenge they are facing. It’s one thing to say, “I will pray for you”; I want to actually offer to pray, in the moment, with those who open up and share with me. I know that I cannot always offer the right comfort, advice, or help to others; but saying a prayer with them, bringing them before God in faith and hope that He will help them, seems like one of the best things I can do for them.
- Pray like I expect God to act. Sometimes I think I treat prayer like something I am supposed to do that doesn’t actually do much. I want to pray now, though, with expectancy, recalling all of the ways God has come through when I have prayed, and remembering His promise that if I ask, I will receive.
I feel like God has taught me so much about prayer lately, but I also know that there is still a lot left for me to discover. I hope you will join me in seeking to know all we can about this wonderful gift of communication with our powerful, loving God.