I’ve been a Christian more than fifty years, and I’ve believed strongly in the power of prayer ever since surviving acute viral encephalitis in the eighth grade and learning that many people–including people who didn’t even know me or my parents–had been praying for me.
I don’t doubt the power of prayer, but I recognize that God has the knowledge of everything going on here on earth and that some prayers are in accordance with His will at the time, while others must wait until the time He deems best. Then there are prayers which He simply is unwilling, in His infinite wisdom, to answer at all.
The answers to prayer fall into the categories of “Yes,” “Wait,” or “No.”
For several years I have been praying for relief from a particular pain that the specialist hadn’t been able to determine the source of–or to help me get rid of it. He even performed a minor surgical procedure in the hopes that removing a particular item that had some cysts might help, but it didn’t. Major disappointment.
Not one to give up easily, he had an MRI done earlier this year. Everything looked normal except for one very small hernia. He seemed confident that pain from the hernia had radiated to the nearby area where I could really feel it. He told me I could either have the hernia repaired–that didn’t seem like a very pleasant prospect–or go see a pain management specialist.
I was torn. So I started praying about which way to go. Specifically, I prayed that God would do something to make clear which choice would be the best one. I’ve been praying that prayer for many months now. I felt that an answer was near. But what was it?
Flash forward to last Sunday night. After getting home from church and having a light supper, I almost immediately started having severe chest and abdominal pains. Stronger than anything I could recall ever having had before. Although I didn’t have any other heart attack symptoms, that was still the first thing that came to mind. After waiting a little while to see if the pain would lessen, I shared my concerns with my wife, and she drove me to the ER.
The ER doctor quickly confirmed that my heart was fine. He thought my acid reflux was no longer responding to the medicine I’ve been taking for a number of years and gave me a new prescription. A “GI cocktail” gave me relief from the pain, and we headed home three hours later.
I went to see my primary care physician the next day. He thought it might be an intestinal bug and gave me samples and a prescription for something to help with the pain if it flared up again.
I had been home only a few minutes when his nurse called. He’d been thinking about it some more and wanted me to have an ultrasound ASAP. I had that on Tuesday afternoon, and–sure enough–the problem was my gall bladder.
On Thursday I had an appointment with the surgeon my PCP wanted me to use. This guy was great! When I mentioned the little hernia to him, he said he can repair that when he removes the gall bladder!
Can you believe it? I’d been praying for a sign about which way to go about the hernia, and now it’s become a non-issue. I can hardly wait for the laparoscopic surgery–too bad I have a writers conference to attend before I can have it done. But I feel so strongly that this is God’s way of guiding me gently into the best possible of solutions that it’s going to be a real pleasure to replace those prayers for His help with praise for His loving care.
What about you? Have you ever prayed for something that turned out to have an unexpected outcome? How about sharing in a comment?
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