This post is part four of our "Overcoming Stress" series. In this five part series, we've addressed how to pray through different stressful situations. Previously, we talked about how to deal with work stress, seasonal stress, and marital stress. In this below piece, we focus on an area many Abide members ask for prayers in- health. Read below to hear Shannon Owen's thoughts on praying through sickness.
You read the sad stories. You call them inspirational- until the day comes when you just call it life.
The things of the body, they come in a thousand forms: A slow, creeping diagnosis or a flash-bang life change. The highly visible or the invisible. The short, intense battle or the long, exhausting war. The life-threatening or the quality of life stealing.
Sometimes, it affects us directly; sometimes, we are the caregivers. Sometimes, we are left looking in, not knowing what exactly to say.
Me? I’m a special needs mama, though I don’t really love labels like that. I’m mama to two cute little girls, one of whom has a rare muscle, bone and joint disorder.
Over the past three years, we’ve been to more doctor appointments than I can count and spend most of our time in waiting rooms of various therapists and specialists. Formerly someone who used to feel light-headed at the sight of a needle, I now change trach tubes and g-tubes without flinching. I can tube feed a silly toddler while she giggles and tries running away from me. I can strap a pair of ankle-foot orthotics on a little one who has decided she hates shoes. I can rattle off an entire lexicon of medical terminology and convince people that I work in the medical field. This is our day-to-day, and it’s not sad or even particularly inspirational. It’s just our life.
There’s a part of me that feels stronger after everything we’ve been through so far. But then, there are the days when it all catches up to me, and I just feel tired.
With the things of the body, there are moments of trauma. We’ve had our share, and it’s adrenaline and divine grace that powers me through those times. But, it’s the invisible weight—the one that has become so much a part of me that I forget it’s even there—that wears me down. It’s made of worry and decisions and the daily push. It’s the small steps you take to get the miracle, or just to sustain where you are.
Those are the days that a quick prayer won’t do. Those are the days I get on my knees and tell God my burden. He knows already, but I tell Him anyways because He gives me peace and hope when I ask Him.
It’s hard to know where to begin talking to God, especially on the days when you just want to ask “Why?” or when you just want to rage. So, here’s where I start:
1. Find A Spot.
This is not an Instagrammable, coffee-and-hydrangeas spot. This is probably going to be somewhere in some position completely undignified. For me, it’s usually on the floor in my little one’s room. I’ve squatted next to her crib. I’ve curled up fetal position at the foot of the rocking chair. I’ve even lain all the way down on my face smack in the middle of the room. If anyone has ever walked by and seen me, I’m a little embarrassed. But, some days, you just have business to do with God.
2. Don’t Say Anything.
I know. You’re probably looking for a beautiful, poetic prayer. But, even as someone who lives and breathes words, I’ve found that the most effective thing is to forget the words.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
So, be still. Breathe in, breathe out, and simply be in the presence of God. Let the Holy Spirit read your heart and interpret the things that you can’t articulate without the words getting in the way. This is also a good time to cry if you feel like doing that.
3. Unburden Your Heart.
“God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life.” Psalm 54:4 says,
This gets really literal when you are dealing with any kind of illness, injury, or condition. The things most people take for granted—breathing, for instance—get harder when not all your body parts work in a typical way.
So, tell Him you need help. Tell Him what’s hard and what hurts. Give Him your weakness, and ask Him for strength.
4. Pray Big.
What is it you want the most? What’s the craziest, most daring thing you could possibly ask Him?
He is the God who can. Put your full trust in the God who is able to do anything, and ask that He might give you that crazy thing.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” 1 Peter 1:3
I’m not promising you’ll get what you want in the way you want it, but He is trustworthy and good. He will give you what you need to accomplish the work He has given you to do.
5. Remember Who He Is.
He is Father. He is Creator. He is Healer. He is Power and Glory.
What has He done in your life up to this point? What have you seen Him do in the lives of others? Take some time to remember the ways He has worked in your life. Remember the times He has answered your prayers with a resounding, miraculous “Yes,” and also the times He has said “No” or “Wait” and still proven Himself good.
Tell Him you trust Him, no matter what. Or, if you can’t say this right now, ask Him to help you trust Him, regardless of what happens in the future.
Whatever you are going through, pray about it. Give Him the struggle.