We Are About Relationships
Can I admit something to you all? I don’t really know how to pray. Being an employee of a church, you would think that would be part of the minimum employee qualifications. Good prayer. Check! Well, I feel I don’t have this qualification. Frankly, one of my biggest fears is performing a public prayer. The last thing I want is proof of how poorly I am at something. Just ask anyone who heard me singing Karaoke in Shanghai that one fateful night… never again will I sing with a microphone in public. Thank goodness it was half a planet away.
Almost every time I pray, I question in the back of my head whether God is even listening to me at all. I am one person of a billion or so Christians on our planet. In addition, another 6 billion or so other souls live on this planet with us that should have God’s grace. It has been estimated there may be over 100 million habitable planets in our galaxy, and maybe millions or so of those planets have life like us. Potentially, my voice is then one out of over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 souls begging for help or peace or strength. I feel small, insignificant, and unworthy of God’s time and attention.
At our home, we all take turns saying grace prior to dinner. I listen to my daughters’ prayers and they are filled with hope, grace, and thanks for what we have. They pray for God to take care of loved ones, the hungry, the poor, and the sick. It is not forced or canned or fake… WHY CAN’T I DO THAT?!
I think I really only have prayed deeply a few times in my life. The first was when Hannah was about three weeks old. I was carrying Hannah down the stairs after one of those sleepless nights you have as a first-time parent. I tripped on the top stair and lost my footing. We both tumbled down the entire flight of stairs and slammed into a wall at the base. At the moment I tripped, I tucked Hannah into my chest and thought, “God, take care of her and I don’t care about me.”
The second time was when Hannah was fifteen months old. She had developed a septic knee from a bacterial infection. The bacteria were resistant to most antibiotics and we were on the last one that could beat back the infection. I sat alone with her in her room, kneeling by the bed. I begged God to give me the strength to bear whatever was going to happen next. I had no control of the situation, and I was terrified I would not have the strength to be there for Hannah and my wife Susan.
The third time was when my father died. His mind had been ravaged by Alzheimer’s and his body by a MRSA infection. The last six weeks of his life were truly horrible. It was filled with extreme pain, and he was terrified almost the whole time. He begged for the pain to stop. We reached a point where we had to decide whether to extend his life or help hasten his death. See, my mother and father had been married for 46 years, so I was not going to let that decision rest on her shoulders. After I denied care, it took him over seven days to die. I prayed each day the same prayer at his bedside. I asked God to speed his death and to forgive me for killing him.
Today, Hannah is a happy, healthy 10-year-old. We laugh about daddy throwing her down the stairs at least once or twice a year. She has no lasting damage from the knee infection and we still laugh about breaking her out of the hospital one night to get her a sundae at McDonalds. We remember the joy of those days at the hospital and in many ways that time strengthened my marriage with Susan. Prayers answered… It has been almost five years since Dad’s death and I hope I have been forgiven. I know he is at peace. Maybe two out of three prayers being answered is not too bad.
I hope one day I figure out how to have these honest prayers with God on a daily basis instead of just when I need an emergency life line.
By Mike Deweese