Be careful what you pray for! It’s a well-known principle that when you ask God for patience, you can expect trials. When we tell Him we want to love more, He sends us the unlovable. And when you want to strengthen your prayer life, well, you can be sure that you’re going to have something to pray about.
One of my goals for 2020 was to improve my prayer life. I dared to ask God to teach me to be a better pray-er—to hear His voice more clearly, to feel His heart more strongly, and to pray with more faith and more passion. Please don’t blame me for a global pandemic, but I have to admit, we’ve all had plenty to pray about lately. Between the coronavirus itself and the resulting economic fallout, we could spend hours on our knees. God has our attention, and He’s taking full advantage. But sometimes, God aims closer to home.
For the past few weeks, my prayer life has been largely focused on a good friend. (I’ll call her Nancy to protect her privacy.) She’s someone I enjoy hanging out with, looking at birds, taking photos, and camping. In fact, we’d planned a two-week camping trip to Iowa and Missouri at the end of this month, to see and photograph eastern birds we don’t often find in Colorado.
As the stay at home restrictions went into effect, we quickly realized that our long-awaited trip wasn’t going to happen, at least not this year. I admit to a bit of sulking, as I’d been eagerly looking forward to our adventure. But then something happened that put our disappointment into perspective.
Nancy is on immunosuppressants and therefore at high risk for a serious COVID-19 complications. She’d been carefully working from home while her husband, an “essential worker,” did all the errands. But in spite of her best efforts, Nancy got sick. And sicker. Two weeks ago she was admitted to the hospital, and two days after that she was moved into the ICU.
She ended up spending a week in intensive care, on a respirator and heavily sedated. I, along with many others, prayed long and passionately for her healing. While it would have been easy to worry, God helped me to hand it over to Him as I prayed, and my fear gave way to caring concern—and peace.
For seven days there was no news. No change. She wasn’t getting worse, but then she wasn’t getting better either. And then, a glimmer of hope. Her oxygen levels were rising. Last Sunday, the doctors began to reduce the sedation meds and she slowly emerged from her induced coma. She was doing so well, they decided to remove the respirator, and by that evening she was breathing on her own. Then, just this past Wednesday morning, my phone rang—a chirping bird ringtone that meant one thing. Nancy was calling me!
As I grabbed my phone, I had a fleeting thought that maybe it wasn’t actually her, that maybe her sister was using Nancy’s phone to call the friends in her contact list because the news was too serious to post on social media. But then I heard a weak “Hi” and knew that God was truly at work. After two weeks of wondering if I’d ever see Nancy again, she was well enough to make a phone call.
Her voice was so faint, I could barely make out what she was saying. She told me that that morning she had been moved out of the ICU into a private room. She was weak, so weak, with barely the strength to get up and walk just a few steps. But clearly, God is healing her.
I know that God doesn’t heal every time, at least here on earth. Many people have prayed for those they love, yet they still died. God is sovereign, and we have to believe that in every case, He does what is best for those who entrust themselves to His care. After all, we all will die eventually. We need to maintain an eternal perspective, realizing that this life is fleeting and the one that comes after is everlasting.
I’m just grateful that my friend has been given another chance—more years here on earth, more years to discover the God who loves her enough to die for her.