Prayer…. What’s the point? Prayers didn’t keep my child from dying, even though I based my prayers on scriptures in the Bible. So why bother praying anymore?
This is one of the greatest struggles I hear about, in conversations with other bereaved parents. Here is part of an email I received recently on this subject.
We are told to “Ask and ye shall receive.”
When prayers are “answered” or miracles happen, we praise and thank God. But, when people die despite prayerful petitions begging to save them, people quickly say that it just wasn’t God’s plan. It feels like God is always off the hook.
Are the answered prayers and miracles part of God’s plan, too? Were those miracles going to happen anyway? Or did people actually influence God and change his plan with their prayers and fasting? If I’m “meant to” be hit by a semi-truck while driving the kids to school, should I bother asking God to ‘please keep us safe today’ during our morning family prayer?
Have I been asking for the wrong things in my prayers my whole life? I believe we can ask for and receive comfort, knowledge, understanding. But, I no longer believe we can ask for specific blessings and miracles – like healing someone, or protecting someone. I don’t think we can influence God. I think God is just going to do whatever the heck He wants and we just have to accept it.
I’m struggling to see the point of prayer if our prayers have no influence on God?
I will admit, this is something I have personally struggled with, along with my husband, Dave, even years after the death of our oldest daughter. I have continued to pray, and have conversations with God, but I can still find myself hesitant when putting requests before Him for things like healing or protection for my family (which can really frustrate me).
So, when I received the above email, I decided it was time to settle this issue in my own heart once and for all, and yes, I prayed about it! It took me several days before I was ready to sit down and write a reply.
The rest of what you will be reading is my reply (along with some thoughts I have had since then) on the struggle we can have for many years with the issue of prayer, following the death of our child.
- A precious friend of mine shared with me this past week that she grieved for 3 years for not being able to have children. She started out praying for “God’s will” and then got to the point that she ached for a child so badly she didn’t care about God’s will, she just wanted a child and would pay the consequences later.
That caused her to become hard hearted, and when God broke her, and she was able to once again pray for His will, even if it meant never having a child, she became pregnant. But then she lost the baby. Talk about cruel, right? But because she had wrestled with that issue, in her deep pain and grief, she was able to trust God to get her through it. (I will say she has been blessed with three children since the pregnancy loss, but she has also gone through breast cancer, which became another level of trusting God.)
My friend told me it was because of each thing she went through, she was able to pray and trust God through the next trial.
- Another close friend, who lost her son-in-law in a grain bin accident several years ago, has talked to me about her struggle with this issue. What is the point of praying at all, if God isn’t going to answer and just do what He wants, or not step in to save someone or protect them?
She has come to the conclusion that even though we don’t like this “Christianeze” answer (because people throw it around in a flippant way), that God does answer our prayers. But just because it isn’t the answer we wanted, it doesn’t mean He isn’t good or that He didn’t answer.
We need to keep praying because it is more about our communication and relationship with Him than it is about “having enough faith” to command things to happen in the name of Jesus. And if God backed us up by giving in to everything we prayed for, we would make a mess of things because we are so selfish and don’t see (or care about) the big picture! His will is not always our will, and we have to be okay with that in this life, until we join our children.
- In one of my books (When Tragedy Strikes: Rebuilding Your Life with Hope and Healing After the Death of Your Child) I share a couple of things that might be helpful. When our daughter, Becca, was only three years old, she was diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg. People were fasting and praying for her, and I truly believed the more people I told that God was going to heal her, the more it showed how much faith I had, so God was obligated (according to His Word) to heal my daughter! But it didn’t work that way. Becca still went through nine months of chemo and had her little left leg amputated. This sent me on my own journey about this faith stuff!
Years later, when our daughter Becca was married and became pregnant, she was put in the hospital at around five months along and given a 50/50 chance of surviving the labor and delivery because of heart damage caused by the chemo. I didn’t understand why I was crying so much when they wheeled her back to the OR take the baby early. My husband nailed it when he said, “It’s because we don’t know which direction we are going to have to trust Him for.”
We need to remind ourselves that Jesus said those who mourn will be comforted, not that we wouldn’t have death and difficult things affect our lives.
- The other thing mentioned in When Tragedy Strikes is when I tell about a time that I was praying one of those “fix it” prayers, quoting all the right scriptures, etc.
I heard God ask me in my heart which prayer I wanted Him to answer. I was confused, so He reminded me how often I have come to Him and given Him permission to do whatever He wants to do in my life to get me where He wants to be. He then said, “What if I want to use this circumstance in your life that you are praying against, to get you where I want you to be? Which prayer do you want me to answer?”
Wow! I took the “fix it” prayer off the table and reminded myself that I have made Him Lord of my life, which trumps anything I want, no matter how painful that might be here on this earth.
During my days of prayer and contemplating how I wanted to answer this parent’s email, God gave me a very strong earthly illustration of why it is still valid and important to come to Him with our requests. I have shared it with dozens of people already, and they all say it is really good, and helps to make sense of this quandary we find ourselves in.
I will share that in a part two of this blog, along with a few things God has spoken to me since then, as I continue to meditate on all of this, asking Him to continue solidifying this new foundation He is laying in my life about prayer.
Are you struggling to move forward in your life because of the painful things that have happened? Are you confused at God’s vision for your life? Do you need a deeper revelation of who God is in you?
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Expressions of Hope is written by author, speaker and singer Laura Diehl. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). Dave and Laura travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, including being invited to hold one-day GPS Hope & Healing conferences.
If you would like more information about Laura as a speaker for your next event or want more information on hosting a GPS Hope & Healing conference, click here.
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