Over the last 12 years of parenting a child with severe special needs one might think I had mastered the art of prayer, but that would be false. In fact, it is an area in my life that I experience great struggle. When I pray I often second guess what I ask of God, if He knows the plans He has for me then who am I to ask for something different. But His plan can be tough and I have a long list of requests. So what words should form my daily prayers?
Way too often I ask God for changes that would make my life easier here on earth. “God, please help Katie learn to communicate!”, “Dear Lord, if you could stop Drew’s temper tantrum, right now, that would be great!” or “Please, make that annoying person in my life a little more bearable!” and my favorite, “I need help with this crazy chocolate addiction, make it go away.” The problem with these prayers are the desires behind them. I’m too focused on what God can change in the world around me, when I should concentrate on my own heart.
Andy and I recently watched the movie War Room (which I highly recommend)! In the movie Elizabeth’s marriage is on the brink of divorce, but when Miss Clara teaches her how to pray, her change of heart transforms their family. We can fight our battles every second of every day, and we can waste our time trying to change things that are out of our control or we can hit the floor and use the only weapon that really works.
“To win the fight, you’ve got to have the right strategy and the right resources, because victories don’t come by accident.” Miss Clara in War Room
We have to have the desires of Jesus. When my ego is at the center of my prayer I want others to change, I’m too proud to admit that I may need some fine tuning. But if our goal in prayer is asking for help to emulate Jesus’ qualities, then God is happy to oblige. God wants us to look beyond ourselves and love like Jesus does.
“But to you who are listening I say: LOVE your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
And that my friend takes the right kind of prayer, because our earthly egos default to the exact opposite of these words. We all need a War Room like Miss Clara’s, a place where we can adjust the desires of our heart, a place where we can talk to God and listen to His precious guidance for our daily lives.
But what about all those BIG miracles I ask of God? The ones for Katie to be physically spared from the disorder that takes so much from her, or those prayer requests I encounter every week asking for miraculous healings for a one year old with cancer or for God’s saving grace for a dying mother of three. I do believe in modern day miracles. Like saints who have died, but their bodies stay incorrupt. Or the two miracles in which communion hosts physically turned into bloody flesh and when they were analyzed they were scientifically linked to the heart tissue of a man from the Middle East who had been beaten in the chest…Jesus. These miracles like the ones occurring in Biblical times serve a purpose, they are gifts from God to say, “I am here even though you can’t physically see me.” So when we pray for miracles our intention has to be focused only on God’s glory, not the easing of suffering in our own life here on earth.
“It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, ‘Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’” Luke 5:12-13
The words “Lord, if you wish” are key. My Regnum Christi devotional says those words portray the lepers true desire…he wants God more than he wants his cure. When I pray for a miracle for Katie, no matter how hard I try, my primary desire is for her to have a normal life, to eliminate her suffering and to ease the extra workload that our family experiences. I have promised God that I would claim His miracle every day for the rest of my life if He healed Katie, but God knows in my selfish flesh that I want it for us more than I want it for Him. My prayer now is that my spiritual life will mature in a way that all I want is His glory, not my own escape.
“Being self-absorbed and not accepting problems and defects is, in itself, an obstacle to being cured of them. Some lose patients in the fight because they want the cure more than they want the one who cures. … Openness to God’s time, detachment from an easy life, and total abandonment into Our Lords hands permits illness to cure the soul.” Regnum Christi
I believe the pain can sometimes be our miracle, it can be our healing. Katie’s suffering has changed my soul, as well as the souls of many others. It may not be the miracle I was asking for, but it’s pretty amazing. I think miracles like the healing of the leper happen to people who have soaked up every ounce of good that comes with the bad, those who seek Him above ALL else, those who want only what God wants, those willing to suffer for His glory. So as I enter my War Room and alter my desires, I pray… “Dear Lord, may my desires be your desires, may I want what you want, and may I accept what you give me with strength and dignity. Please humble me to love others the way you love me always forgiving and always looking for the good!”