Clara’s having a rough go of it.
Our poor little girl has been constipated off and on for the past few weeks. Usually when discussing bowel issues with my friends we make jokes and laugh about it. Hearing Clara scream her head off because she’s in so much pain is no laughing matter.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so helpless. It’s not like I can do to Clara what Lloyd did to Harry in Dumb and Dumber; I don’t think babies are supposed to take laxatives. Our doctor told us to start giving her water and that we could try giving her prune juice. The only person I know who enjoys prune juice is Worf from The Next Generation, so hopefully Clara has that in common with the Klingon lieutenant.
Last night she was having another crying fit and I felt totally compelled to just cry out to God. With our daughter wailing in Alycia’s arms, I just laid my hands on her and said a prayer. It may have been one of the most sincere prayers I’ve ever prayed. I felt like so many of the psalmists who wrote, “I cry out to you, my God!” In that moment with Clara wailing like a banshee, I definitely cried out to my God.
I’ve been praying for Clara the entire time she’s been sick. She’s gotten a little better and then a little worse. In that moment last night, though, my prayers took on an entirely different tenor. I was more engaged and more desperate than I had been before.
Does God take our desperation into account when answering our prayers? Is a casually offered prayer less effective than one that comes from a deep place of crying out?
In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus teaches his disciples the importance of not giving up in prayer. The widow is persistent in approaching the godless judge, who eventually responds. Jesus asks his disciples how much more will God be willing to respond since he is eternally good and loving.
The persistent widow definitely had quantity to her prayers, but is there also an aspect of quality? Jesus offered potentially the most desperate prayer of all time in the garden of Gethsemane, yet his request wasn’t answered. If Jesus’ prayer offered while he was sweating blood wasn’t answered, then what does that mean for Clara?
This is the mystery of prayer. Abraham and Moses pray to change God’s mind while Jesus prays and still has to face the cross. God is sovereign and he’s going to do what he wants, but our prayers have some influence over what he wants to do. I don’t know if God wants to heal Clara of her constipation, but in my desperate prayers I have reminded him that it’s both within his character and his power to heal her. Whether Clara gets better or not, I’ll continue to pray for her, trusting in the goodness, faithfulness and power of the one I’m praying to.
When have you cried out in desperation to God?