When Tish’s four-year-old granddaughter, Brya, came down with the stomach flu, they had a conversation that went something like this.
Brya: Grandma, I threw up.
Grandma Tish: Oh, Brya, I’m so sad for you.
Grandma Tish: Sometimes that happens.
Brya: In YOUR bed.
Grandma Tish: Awwww… What?
I know that it’s horrible to be sick to your stomach, especially when you’re only four, but I have to admit that when my sister Tish relayed that conversation, I cracked up. You can feel the tension mounting until that final moment of revelation: All this happened to me, Grandma, AND it also happened in YOUR bed.
There’s nothing like that personal touch to bring home the reality of a bad situation.
A couple weeks ago, Jim, a close friend and cousin of ours, went through a very serious and scary heart surgery. I promised to pray for Jim, and my prayers were sincere and frequent. Then my husband and I visited Jim in the hospital. To see this dynamic and active person in a hospital bed, to see his family keeping vigil, lifted by their hope, and battered by their fear added a whole new dimension to my prayers.
I know we all hate going through tough times, we hate seeing those we love go through tough times, but I also know this. Tough times soften my heart, increase my empathy, and elevate my prayers. Tough times have also helped me understand that Bible verse which perplexed me for many years. “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)
How is it possible to pray without ceasing? Here’s what God has been revealing to me. You pray as if it’s happening to you. You pray as if you’re right there, seeing it, enduring it. As if that hospital bed is YOUR bed. As if the needles are in YOUR arm. As if the surgeon’s knife cut YOUR heart.
That kind of prayer, that’s the unceasing kind.
Photograph copyright, Logan Towsley, 2014. Used with permission.