The Point of Praying

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Went to the doctor today. Nothing new about that. But so far, every time I see this particular doctor, progress is made. And that’s new. So last night, I was preparing my mind for the appointment, and I had a few questions I desperately wanted to ask him. However, they weren’t on the agenda. Meaning, I was due to speak with him about my medication, and I wanted to tack on a conversation about muscle problems.

My experience with doctors is that sometimes you get a word in edge wise, sometimes not. Depends on a lot of things: how much time they have, how sick I am and therefore able to articulate what I want to say, what mood they’re in, their personality, my personality, what time of day it is, if anyone is hungry, etc. There’s never telling, really, how an appointment will turn out. Many frustrating factors go into it, and the frustrating thing about these frustrating factors is that they’re frustrating! Sometimes? I’ve mentally given up before the nurse even calls my name.

No matter what I say, the doc is going to do what he’s going to do, I think. He’s the know-it-all, and I’m just the patient, living in a body of slow death, trying to communicate what that feels like so he can determine what it is exactly that’s killing me slowly – and definitely not softly.

Those thoughts are my Eeyore-itis kicking in, but the struggle is real. I’ve been in and out of hospitals and docs offices for thirty-four years. Healthcare has improved in those years, technologically speaking. But bedside manner has plummeted to a new low. This is partially due to the government sticking their noses in everything, in turn causing doctors to be understandably crabby. And partially due to patients abusing pain killers and being hypochondriacs in general, making doctors highly suspicious of anyone who has unexplainable symptoms, especially if one of those symptoms is pain.

All that to say this:

When I finally come across a doctor who’s been blessed with a copious amount of common sense, is not suspicious of hypochondria, and is easy to talk to? I recognize him as the rare bird he is, but I also recognize the need to not botch the appointment. Which in turn makes me nervous. Which in turn makes my mind race. Which in turns presents the potential to mess up the appointment. The fleshly way to deal with jitters is to give in to them. Seems like that’d be the easy way, too, but it’s not easy at all. And in the long run, it’s more expensive as it generates more doctor appointments!

So because I needed to chill last night, I did what any mature Christian would do:

I ate a box full of chocolate cupcakes.

Oh wait. That was in my dreams.

Actually, I prayed – mostly for the conversation to take a turn that would allow me to say my piece about the muscle problems. I also quoted Scripture to myself, mainly Philippians 4:6-7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

And then I mentally hummed an old hymn:

O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear, 
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Good news is that my prayer was answered. The conversation with the doctor took the exact turn I wanted, and I was able to discuss what was on my mind and heart. Not surprisingly, he answered reasonably, assuredly, and sensibly. We don’t always get the answer we want when we pray, but that’s not the point of praying. The point of praying is to align our wills to God’s will and in the process, find peace by placing trust in Someone far greater and more powerful than ourselves. It’s to grow our faith. Not necessarily get what we want. Clearly, God does give us our desires at times. But while fulfilled wants are a tangible blessing, the intangible blessings, the blessings of the heart, are what make prayer worthwhile. Such as a properly aligned will, peacefulness, and a deeper faith.

My Mom watches TV a lot, and every day a commercial, or more likely twelve commercials, will come on pleading for the viewer’s money. The invitations are to save abused pets, starving children, even our own country (ha! give us your money and we’ll make sure politicians don’t do you dirty!). I can supposedly remedy all sorts of awful, tangible problems in the world by cutting a check. Sometimes, giving money a valid option. But more than our money, I think the world needs our prayers, just as our own lives need our prayers. I will be cutting a check to the doctor. But that is not what brought me, or will ever bring me peace, deeper faith, and a tangible result.

Honestly, I’m pretty much the most pitiful pray-er on the planet. My consistency is lacking, to say the least. But I think God sometimes answers our prayers within the span of 24 hours, because even if the answer isn’t what we desire, just getting an answer (any answer!) swells our faith. It tells us God clearly heard, and the result is a desire to keep praying.

I’m grateful I’ve been given a great physician. He takes ample time to listen, and practices medicine well. But he’s fallible. Someday, he’s going to fail me, simply because he’s human. I can’t say the same for my (big G and P) Great Physician. He is always listening. Always at least planning on answering. He is faithful. Just. True. Infallible. And has big ears.

He will never fail me.

Makes a girl wonder why in the world she wouldn’t always, without fail, carry everything to God in prayer.

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