Weekly Devotions - February 27, 2018
A Prayer Skeptic
“So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick’” (John 11:3, NIV 1984).
“Five years ago I changed the way I prayed.”
Dr. David Hafer is an energetic, generous, retired, Montana maxillofacial surgeon who loves the Lord. With no known risk factors, he developed a malignancy that required horrendous chemotherapy and radiation to cure. The severe discomfort from such therapy usually begins to abate about two weeks after its completion, but his did not. Two months after finishing the treatment, David was discovered to have a deep, non-healing rectal ulcer. Five months post therapy, the pain remained severe and the ulcer was growing, requiring six oxycodone a day, with limited options short of a colostomy. His local surgeon had no answers, so David called a Christian colleague at Dartmouth to seek the advice of another colorectal surgeon. Dr. Richard Johnson agreed to connect David’s surgeon with one he trusted, and then he added, “Do you mind if I pray with you before we finish our call?” David describes the prayer as the most beautiful and sincere prayer he can remember. When the prayer ended, David’s pain was gone. Two weeks before, a sigmoidoscopy had documented an enlarging five-month ulcer. Repeat sigmoidoscopy soon after the prayer revealed normal mucosa and no ulcer. David never took another oxycodone. “I was sort of a prayer skeptic,” David said. “But not anymore.”
Are you sort of a prayer skeptic?
Most of us have prayed earnestly with tears for great needs that have never been met. Such experience may lead us to a skepticism about the value of our prayers. And yet, most of us also remember a time in our lives when only through God’s power, after prayer, we were delivered from great tragedy or great sin in our lives.
Such a dichotomy of experience leads us to ask the question, “Does prayer really work?”
And then we realize that this is not the right question at all.
The right questions are, “Does God really work in our world?” and “Does He really care about me?” and “Can He really do anything to change the pain in my life?” and “Does my prayer influence the way God acts in my life?”
“Can He and will He make the rectal ulcer go away if I ask Him to?”
God’s answer to David Hafer was, “Yes, but wait a few months. I am doing something grand through your pain that someday I will tell you about.” Much like His answer to Mary and Martha as they watched Lazarus dying, “Yes, but wait a few days.”
Prayer doesn’t work but God does.
Our God of power, the God of love, does hear our prayer.
He may say, “Yes, now.”
He may say, “Yes, but wait.”
He may say, “No, because I love you, because my story of love is greater than your present pain; and one day even this will be redeemed with all things through my work on the cross.”
I beg you and I trust you.