DAY TO DAY PRAYING: LIVING IN THE MIDDLE
In 2013, when three of my five children were diagnosed with the same serious genetic condition (Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency), my world flipped upside down. In my previous post in this series, I shared that I didn’t know what to think at that time, let alone what to pray. Maybe you’ve felt the same way.
“Perplexing circumstances can so often leave us at a loss for words when it comes to prayer. Is God listening? Does he care? When the situation in front of us seems so tangled and messy, how do we even start to string a sentence together?”*
Like many families facing the unknowns of a chronic condition, my family lives in the middle chapters of an unfolding story. We don’t know how it will play out. Yet over the past several years, not only has the Lord helped my husband Scott and me to grow in prayer for our children in the day-to-day, but he’s also shown great mercy in his answers to those prayers.
FLUCTUATING DAYS: TIME TO PRAY AGAIN
Our days fluctuate. Shortly after my children’s diagnosis, a condition that “may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age,”* there was a flurry of specialist appointments, repeated blood tests, and new medications to administer. The night before taking a child to the lab for blood work, I’d text some friends and ask them to pray. In my church small group, I’d confess my own struggle coming to grips with parenting through these unforeseen challenges.
Then, in a matter of months, one child was diagnosed with a rare form of food allergies and hypoglycemia in addition to Alpha-1. These new conditions involved allergy tests, monitored food introductions, and overnight stays at the hospital. Desperate times called for desperate prayers.
When two children later tested positive for celiac disease, requiring a strict gluten-free diet, our reset button was pressed again. It was time to adapt our kitchen and family menu. It was also time to pray…again.
Our daily life—yours and mine—may look different depending on the relative health we and our loved ones experience, but Scripture invites us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). On the up days and the down days, at home and in the hospital, when we feel good and when we don’t, the Bible says, “let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The exhortation is clear—pray.
IN THE NITTY GRITTY DETAILS: GOD HEARS AND ANSWERS PRAYER
When we pray, we can be confident our heavenly Father hears us: “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears” (Psalm 34:17a). We know that God hears ….
- our prayers for forgiveness,
- our pleas for mercy,
- our long prayers, but also our short ones: ‘Lord, see.’ ‘Lord, do something,’
- our one-time requests, but also the ones we’ve been praying for years,
- the whispered ones — the silent ones, the ones we can’t put into words.
God hears, and he answers. He may or may not remove our suffering, but as he told Paul:
My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9a)
Today, I thank the Lord for the relatively good health my children experience. Although all three of my children with Alpha-1 had elevated liver enzymes at the time of their diagnosis, their numbers have normalized. My other child outgrew the food allergies and no longer displays the more severe symptoms of hypoglycemia. My children with celiac disease have adapted to their diet. These are all examples of God’s merciful answers to prayer.
This doesn’t mean that our family’s perplexities have disappeared. Scott and I still take our children’s health situation seriously, but in the nitty-gritty details of setting out vitamins and inhalers, the Lord teaches us to pray about all these things. His faithfulness to our family up to this point encourages us as we pray toward the future.
* Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article are taken from Katie Faris’s book, He Will Be Enough: How God Takes You by the Hand Through Your Hardest Days, published by The Good Book Company, June 2022.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- When have you asked others to pray for you and/or your family, and what difference has it made to know that others are linking arms with you in this way?
- Even if the Lord hasn’t removed your suffering altogether, how have you experienced his answers to prayer and faithfulness to you in the middle of it?
Katie is the author of He Will Be Enough: How God Takes You by the Hand Through Your Hardest Days, God Is Still Good: Gospel Hope and Comfort for the Unexpected Sorrows of Motherhood, and Loving My Children: Embracing Biblical Motherhood. A pastor's wife and mother to five, Katie lives with her family in New Jersey. To learn more, visit katiefaris.com.