Most of you know that I am now on the other side of a nightmarish illness. I’m so grateful that the Lord reveals himself through our trials. His tremendous love for us never wastes a moment or experience in our lives. Sometimes we may know in our minds a certain godly principle. Then, wham, that truth is zapped into our hearts. I’d like to share what He revealed to me about prayer.
To recap my experience: Patrick and I drove to Ann Arbor, MI on August 23, our 40th anniversary. At the University of Michigan Hospital, on August 24, I had a long, complicated, rare surgery to repair an aneurysm in an artery behind my pancreas. During the next few days, my body retained so much fluid that I was ‘drowning’. The fluid ruptured my gall bladder, which then spewed gangrenous stuff into my abdomen. Emergency surgery. In ICU on a ventilator, I had elaborate hallucinations that a bomb had been placed down my throat. But the staff refused to call in the U.S. Marines that I demanded. (Crazy effects of pain meds!) Then my heart rate went berserk. Then for days I could not keep any food or medicines down. After one month, on September 22, I was allowed to go home with a feeding tube in my nose. That lasted another 3 weeks. Now I will be convalescing for a few months. The fact that I am alive has been declared a medical ‘miracle’.
In that seemingly endless few weeks, how was my prayer life? Was I crying out to God? Did I see visions? Did I see my life pass before my eyes? No, no, and no. I simply could not pray, and I remember feeling guilty about it. I was aware that if I died, I would be with Jesus, but that was the extent of my spiritual life.
After I was home the Lord spoke to me, ‘Take heart, no guilt.’ My physical self was too ravaged for my spiritual self to ‘work’. God did not expect me to pray. This was the time for the prayers of the saints to carry me. There are times when my prayers will join others’ prayers to carry someone else. We’re in this together.
Hebrews 12:1 says that “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” This truth was made profound to me. Not just today’s Christians, but all believers from the beginning of time to the end.
Now I feel a special closeness with each of you. From my heart, I thank you for holding me up in your prayers.