Yesterday was a pretty good day for Bowen. He had some more blood sugar problems but his nurses kept it under control. He was really happy, smiled a lot and even did some cooing.

Today they will be keeping him on continuous feeds and are going to be raising his dose of diazoxide, which is supposed to control his blood sugar. Wednesday we have a meeting planned with everyone who is involved with his care to talk about his progress and what the next few weeks will look like. It’s crazy to think we were in the hospital for heart surgery but can’t leave because of something totally different. It’s not good for him to be here this long, babies get better faster at home. Pray that they figure this out.

Also keep our girls in your prayers. We can’t wait to take their little brother home and start living together as a family again. Bowen’s going to love being home with his big sisters and they’re going to love being with him too. Just look at him.

Another incredible smile

Sarah took this on her phone yesterday. I think he likes his new hair style.

Some Thoughts On How to Pray

Those of us who share faith in God have struggled with the question of how to pray, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances. I’ll give you a practical example of this struggle in my own life. This past week Bowen was taken for an MRI to determine whether or not he had a stroke. Even though an MRI is not a major event, my heart bent toward God and I thought about how to pray. I’ve poured out my heart before God so many times, asking him to just to make Bowen well. However, the reality is that he’s still sick and I want to pray for every one of his needs. I could’ve done any of the following things last week when they took him for his MRI.

1. Pray that it would show nothing was wrong, and that he wouldn’t have any more seizures.

2. Pray that it would show us what was wrong, so the doctors will know how to treat him.

3. Not say any formal prayer to God but simply bend my heart toward him with the attitude of trust, knowing that good will come from whatever he permits to happen each step of the way. (Romans 8:28)

There are so many questions that I’ve thought about in regard to prayer in my life. How do I choose what to pray at any given moment? Do I pray logically or just spill my emotions? When do I speak and when do I just listen? If I speak should I do it out loud or in my heart? If I pray for the wrong thing will God still answer my prayer, even if it’s not for my benefit? Should I be careful what I pray for so I don’t get the wrong thing?

Going back to my choices; I chose to pray that the MRI would show nothing was wrong and that he wouldn’t have any more seizures. I also chose to trust him no matter what. The next day the doctors told us that he had stroke and that they didn’t know why it happened. They also didn’t have any more clues as to what was causing his blood sugar problems.

Now God didn’t answer that prayer the way I wanted him to, so does that mean I prayed for the wrong thing or that I shouldn’t have prayed at all? The answer is “no”, but it gets me thinking in the right direction. The truth is that I should pray and should also remember that there are plenty of my prayers that God has answered the way I wanted him to. Like for Bowen’s life to be spared, for his peace and strength to sustain us, for joy in our suffering and the ability to trust in God’s sovereign plan.

I’m getting to the point that there’s some mystery surrounding prayer. Here’s another example; we always pray that the sick will get well and we’re meant to. Sometimes God sustains or heals them physically, but sometimes he permits them to die. Either way he wants us to rejoice in him and pray without ceasing. The mystery is that before we pray he knows what we need, what we will ask for and whether he will give it to us…but he still wants to us to pray all the time.

All these thoughts and questions have compelled me to keep digging into God’s Word with all of my heart and mind. Here are just a few of the answers I have found about why, when and how we should pray.

Prayer is Relational.

Let’s start with a simple analogy. Every night before she goes to bed, my daughter Emmy will ask me if she can eat candy. I know that she will ask, and I know that my answer will be “no”. If she were to ask me for a healthy snack, I would most likely say “yes”. Either way, for the sake of our relationship, I want her to express her thoughts, her heart, her wants, and her needs no matter how big or small they are. I also want her to be confident enough in my love for her that she can continue to ask me whatever she wants, even though my answer may be different than what she wants to hear.

When should we pray?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul says, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” When Paul wrote this he knew that our brains would never be capable of constantly communicating our thoughts to God while carrying out our daily tasks. I think he wants us to understand that beyond speaking and listening, prayer is living with our hearts bent towards God in an attitude of gratefulness and love. This is a truly satisfying way to live.

God knows our needs.

In Matthew 6:31-32 Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about anything, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

In Matthew 7:7 and in Luke 11:9, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Jesus himself tells us to ask, seek, and knock. God wants to hear from us, even though he already knows our needs and will meet them. I think it’s important to mention here that we need to pay careful attention to the word “it” in regards to what we get from God. In this passage he tells us to ask, seek and knock right after telling us how to pray. He teaches us to honor God in our prayers and ask for our basic daily needs of food, faith and forgiveness. I’ve heard a lot of people pull this scripture out of context and try to replace “it” with whatever they want from God. We have to look at Luke 11:9 in context and realize that God is not promising to give us whatever we ask for in this passage, but to meet our basic physical and spiritual needs. I’m not saying it’s wrong to have (or ask for) health and wealth, it’s just never the priority in scripture…and it shouldn’t be the priority in our lives. It takes us back to the relational aspect of prayer. God should be our treasure, not what we get from him. In any loving relationship, you find true happiness in valuing the person, not what they can give you.

God knows what we will ask for, before we ask for it:

In 2 Chronicles 1:7, God appeared to Solomon and said to him “What shall I give you?”  Solomon asked God for knowledge and wisdom. If Solomon would have asked for earthly riches, he wouldn’t have had what it took to write the most beautiful book about sex in the history of the world, the most profound thoughts on the meaning of life, and especially not the Proverbs. God wasn’t wiping the sweat off his forehead when Solomon asked for wisdom instead of riches. God doesn’t leave anything to chance. He knew what the answer from Solomon’s heart would be, and I believe that God put it there.

No matter how we pray, God will do what is for our good and for his glory…even if it’s suffering.

No matter what we pray for, God knows what we need. Nobody wants to suffer, and let’s be honest, no one’s going to pray for it. However, God is clear in his Word that suffering is a part of his redemptive plan. Maybe we should pray for it, then we would be blown away by all the good things that come our way instead of taking them for granted. And when we suffered it would simply be expected. Something to think about.

If you want to read a suffering man’s conversations with God, read the book of Job. This will teach you more about prayer and suffering than this or any blog ever could. Job, after losing all of his children and more is wise enough to say, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”

I love how the ESV bible introduces the book of Job.

Job is an honest portrayal of God allowing a good man to suffer. The test of Job’s faith, allowed by God in response to a challenge from Satan, revealed God’s loving sovereignty and the supremacy of divine wisdom over human wisdom (personified by Job’s friends). Believing that God is good despite the apparent evidence to the contrary, Job rested in faith alone. In the depths of agony he could still proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (19:25). In the end God silenced all discussion with the truth that he alone is wise (chs. 38–41). Yet he vindicated Job’s trust in him (ch. 42), proving that genuine faith cannot be destroyed”

Closing Thoughts:

God’s love is greater than our own desires, so our desire should be for him.

If our desire is for him, then he will show us how to pray.