Yesterday I wrote about a lesson on prayer that I learned while standing in a hospital room. Today, I continue that story.
When my dear friend received the news that she had a brain tumor that was likely cancerous and likely terminal, one of her immediate responses was to pray. As I wrote about previously, she started her prayer with thanksgiving – expressing her gratitude for all that God had done and all that He would continue to do. We are accustomed to saying “thank you” when we get something we want; my friend taught me to say “thank you” regardless of what we get – for God is great, God is good, and He deserves our gratitude.
The next thing that my friend did was to pray for the people in her life. I wish I could describe the holiness of that moment, but words are inadequate. I think my response would have been to ask God to help me – to get me through the pain and the uncertainty of what laid ahead. But not my friend. Instead, she begin praying specifically for the people that she knew would be effected by the diagnosis – for her husband, her kids, and her dear friends. Her thoughts weren’t on what this news meant for her – but how it would change the lives of everyone else. She was ready to meet her Maker, if that’s what God had planned, but she knew that her absence would leave a big hole in the lives of those that remained. She knew that we would need God’s strength, wisdom and endurance, and so she asked Him for those things…for us.
It was a powerful lesson and one I won’t soon forget. Too often during “good” times, my prayers are punctuated by personal pronouns. The focus of my petitions are on what’s happening in my life, what I want, and what I ostensibly “need.” Yet moments after receiving horrible news, Sharon wasn’t concerned with herself – she was concerned with others and she was committed to lifting them up to her great God and King. She knew that although she might not be able to be there for us, she knew the One who would be. She knew that in our moment of despair, we needed the God of peace. And so her focus was on asking for His presence in our lives, on making sure that even with tragedy we would be equipped to do the work that He had called us to do.
And so it should be with us. Our prayers should be punctuated by the names of others. We should be looking out for what others need and asking God to provide it. After all, the primary purpose of our relationships should be to glorify God within them, and that should be how we pray.