Prayer is a conversation with God…then where is He? Why isn’t He answering me?
Prayer can change God’s Will….or can it?
God has a plan and it doesn’t change….then why do I pray for Him to change the plan?
Prayer isn’t working….or is it?
Prayer is a waste of time…or maybe it’s the only way to spend time?
These questions and so many others have crossed over and over in my mind the last few weeks – actually months. Am I doubting? I am not sure, but I am absolutely questioning. Questions tend to happen when you are hit with bad after bad after bad moment. I have found it hard to take a breath after each incident the last few months which is why I am wide open for questioning my prayer life and faith.
First I lost my job teaching. I questioned God on the timing of it all. Why? What was the purpose of this? Do the kids in my class need to suffer without a teacher for the last 6 weeks of school? Was He trying to tell me I couldn’t do it all? I had been so lost in caring for my daughter, Katie, with multiple neurology appointments in Cincinnati that I couldn’t take the time to figure out what God’s message was, I just had to keep moving through the motions.
Prayer: God, please care for the students in my class when I cannot. Help me to see that you need me elsewhere.
Then Katie had multiple week long hospital visits. Test after test after test…. Surgery which entailed more tests. It was something I knew had a great benefit for Katie (who has suffered with Epilepsy for 13 years of her 14 years of life), but that did not make it any less exhausting or scary. On top of that we were moving to a new state and into a new home.
Prayer: God, please help the doctors determine how to help Katie. Grant her with complete healing. Please help us all find comfort in our new city.
Then my brother’s pancreatic cancer took a turn for the worse. His prognosis was not good. My hands were tied…I couldn’t fly down to see him in Florida because Katie had brain surgery scheduled, then recovery, then started a new school. Life is messy.
Prayer: God, please help heal my brother. I know you have plans for him, but we want him with us here a little longer. Continue to watch over Katie. God, I am beginning to wonder where you are? I need to see some light at the end of the tunnel…
Shortly after school began, my brother left us. His pain and suffering had ended.
Prayer: Please take my brother up to heaven to grant him the peace that he so much deserves. After such a long suffering, give him rest.
Then my dear great nephew, Mighty Max, was born. I received word from my sister that she had a new grandbaby, but I could tell that something was wrong…or at least she felt something was wrong. Her instinct was correct. Max was born with undetected diaphragmatic hernia. Within 18 days, Max was taken from us as quickly as he arrived on Thanksgiving Day. This was 4 days after Katie’s second brain surgery.
Prayer: Why are we receiving so much suffering God? What have we done to deserve this? What can I change in my life to stop this all from happening?
Then the day after Mighty Max was laid to rest, we received a call that my sister Sandy down in Florida had been rushed to the hospital with bleeding on her brain. She would spend 21 days in ICU with multiple surgeries, strokes, and delirium. She isn’t out of the woods yet as she fights to regain her life the way it was.
(Insert breathe here….really fast….like you are searching for air while drowning in the ocean…gasping and aching for one last chance at life….just get to the air)
Prayer: Lord, I don’t know that I can handle one more thing. Please grant Sandy complete healing. She needs you more than ever. I need you more than ever. This is too much. Really….Too….Much….
I really was questioning where God was. I began to think….if God has a plan, then why on earth am I praying to change it? I mean I am not going to change God’s mind. So why am I praying?
I googled (because that is what we do)….nothing
I went to Mass – almost everyday. Certainly a priest would have an answer….nothing
I read my devotions – Every. Single. Day…. Nothing
One day, on my facebook feed came an ad. It was for the book “It’s Not Suppose to Be this Way” by Lysa Terkeurst. I bought it, and four others to divvy out to my family. Soon I found exactly what I was looking for.
I had allowed myself to get to the point where nothing – even good news – seemed to be good. I was cautiously happy about things that in the past I would have been overjoyed with. I was placing myself in this pit of awfulness that I seemed to be pulling people into. I didn’t mean to pull people into it, but it just happened. I needed a sign strung over my body. “Bad things happen to me….stay away….it could be contagious!”
I picked up the book, and this is what I read…
“Darkness has such a way of swallowing up enthusiasm for the future.”
“God allows suffering to happen in doses to increase our trust. Our pain and suffering isn’t to hurt us. It’s to save us. To save us from a life where we are self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed, and set up for the greatest pain of all…separation from God.”
“God loves me too much to answer my prayers at any other time than the right time and in any other way but the right way.”
Focus my eyes on God. Fixate on Him. Draw Him near by PRAYING to Him.
Keeping my eyes on God means praying to Him. Trusting that He will answer in His time and in His way is hard.
I need to share my questions, my desires, and know that by keeping that communication ongoing, my eyes are on Him and not anything else.
Prayer is not about changing God’s mind…it is about changing my heart. It’s about maintaining a relationship with the most important presence in my life.
I don’t need to be cautious about what I say to God – He wants to hear it all – my fears, my worries, my burdens, my expectations, my desires, and my openness to His plan (and sometimes I am not really open to His plan). Sometimes it takes multiple conversations before I am ready to accept His plan.
My heart must be centered on God…not humans, not the things of this world, but on how I can allow God to mold me into exactly what He needs me to be. Right now. In this moment. One day at a time.