“Hear my prayer, O Lord”
I pulled a name off of my prayer list this morning. It was a guy I knew in high school, and I won’t be praying for him anymore, because he passed away yesterday ~ a victim of ALS.
I really don’t think I’ve seen him since high school. I might have, at a reunion, but even if I did, we probably wouldn’t have gotten much farther in our conversation than, “Good to see you!” “You too!” We were never really in each other’s circles; we just shared some classes and a couple of extracurricular activities. He was kind, fun, athletic, talented and smart. Everyone who knew him liked him, but he never let that go to his head.
I’ve known for months that he had ALS, and immediately began praying for him when I found out. I prayed for strength and healing and courage and peace and faith for him… And I prayed for his family. I prayed for their peace and faith during what was surely a difficult time.
I don’t know anything about his family. I don’t know if he was married or if he had kids. I only know that he had people in his life who loved him, and that they needed (and need) prayer.
It’s hard to know, in a case like this, if my prayers were accomplishing anything. I can’t verify that his dying was any more merciful than it would have been without my prayers. I don’t know if his family has been able to fight through the hurt and fear to find the peace that God promises. (And yes, He does promise us peace.)
I don’t know that my prayers were being answered in the way I hope. But I have faith that they were. After all, faith is the reason we pray to begin with. And that same faith sees us through the waiting for a response, and the perceived lack of response, and when the response is not our will, but His.
This morning while praying, I happened to glance through an old prayer journal. I don’t always keep a prayer journal, meaning I don’t always write them down. But there have been times in my life that I have.
I was reading prayers from about five years ago, and one of them just said, “Noelle’s husband Adam”. That’s it. But that was enough. I remember well those prayers. My friend Noelle had asked for prayer for her husband’s drug addiction, and for their marriage and most importantly, for him to develop a relationship with God. He attended church with his family occasionally, but only because she pressured him.
I had never met Adam. I prayed because Noelle asked me to, and because this was a man ~ and a family ~ who were struggling. I prayed for him regularly. And today I saw Adam’s name, and I smiled.
You see, I know Adam now. He attends our church, along with Noelle and their kids. I’ve worked with him in ministry, and we have become friends. We’ve laughed together and had amazing theological discussions. He is spiritually wise, passionate about studying the Bible and living a life focused on loving his neighbor and His God.
Oh, right… That’s how I know prayer works.