How do you know what to pray for?
When things are going well for us, it’s easy isn’t it? We pray for our friends who are a bit sad, or for our family who might be going through a bit of a “bad patch”.
When things are terrible and you feel weighed down by the world, that’s easy too isn’t it? We ask God to guide us through our troubles, we ask for strength to endure them and we ask for him to release us from our pain.
But what about when there is no easy thing to ask for? Two things are very much on my mind today and I’m struggling to know how to ask God for help. What do I ask him to do? Where do I ask him to be? How do I ask him to fix something that can’t be fixed?
Let me explain.
I heard tonight about a friend who has received the results from the doctor who has confirmed that her cancer has returned. She almost died about two years ago, first of all from the cancer and second of all from the treatment and surgery she received to take it away. Our church rallied round her and our prayers were for her to recover and to be returned to us. God answered our prayers and made her well again, but the devastating news that the cancer was back has been delivered today and it is difficult to know what to ask God to do. She feels that she is not strong enough to withstand the treatment again, so our prayers obviously are to ask God to help her with that. But what if by giving her strength to endure the treatment we are asking God to cause her to suffer longer? I know that God will do what he knows is best rather than what we think is best, but nevertheless, it is difficult for us to condemn her to pain and sickness and fear and worry by asking him to take her through it.
Something else that I’m struggling with is my daughter who is still waiting for the results of her medical to join the armed forces. She doesn’t have a plan B – all she wants to do is to serve her country in the way she wants to. She has passed her Law degree (graduating in a fortnight) but doesn’t want a career in Law at all. She has no other passion other than the one for the armed forces, but what do I ask God to do? Do I ask him to give her her heart’s desire and enlist, knowing full well that she will face dangers in her life that I can’t comprehend but that still will give me nightmares? Or do I ask him to keep her on land, with me, in civvy street. Safe and sound, but with no passion for life, no job, no career, no purpose?
I think both these situations, as disparate as they are, can both be handled the same way. My prayer for both of them is for God to keep them in his hands; for me to allow him to do what he knows is best; for me to accept that whatever happens to both of them, neither of them will ever be abandoned by the God who knows them and loves them and who wants the best for them.
It can be summed up in the words from Romans 8: 38-39:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So to answer my question above, my prayer tonight for both Gwen and Emma to know that they are held tightly in God’s hands, that they feel his love and his guidance in their coming days and weeks ahead, that they know that whatever trials and tribulations they are facing God is with them and holding them close. Amen.