The kindest words anyone can say to me are: “We are praying for you.”
Family and friends are praying for me. My name is on temple prayer rolls. A Pentacostal group in Greenville, South Carolina is praying for me. A Presbyterian group in Salt Lake is praying for me. Sharon’s mom’s prayer group in Wisconsin is praying for me. Many Catholic friends in Mexico are praying for me. People I hardly know tell me that they are praying for me.
Being on the receiving end of this many prayers is new for me and it has completely changed the way I view prayer. I am changed mostly by the way I feel physically. When people say, “I am praying for you,” I respond, “I can feel it.” Their prayers are giving me joy, a physical sense of peace, and a comfort I can only describe as a substance. It is not just a feeling, but a physical presence that feels like tangible matter surrounding me. It is a physical display of a spiritual idea. Your prayers support and uplift. They cheer me and comfort me. Prayer works.
I will never pray for other people in the same way again. I now have greater confidence in the tangible reality of the support that is provided through prayer. My increased faith in prayer makes my prayers more fervent when I ask for blessings for others.
Actually, the entire nature of my prayers have changed during these two transplants. Before cancer, it was easy for me to fall into patterns when it comes to prayer – repetition, distraction, or presenting my “wish list.” But building a relationship with my Creator takes serious effort, “Prayer is a form of work,” (Prayer, BD) I am told. Cancer’s blessing is more powerful prayer.
I have two assumptions when I pray. The first is that God loves me and wants me to be happy. The second is that He wants me to grow as much on my own as possible and wants me to use my free will to do the growing. He offers a condition with a promise: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). The responsibility lies with me to do the asking, seeking and knocking.
With these two assumptions in place, my prayers have changed in three major ways. First, my prayers have changed in intensity. An intense cry for help was my first prayer. Cancer had my attention.We had much to gain or lose by the decisions we were making about my treatment and the kids. The decisions were literally life-changing for every family member. We were at a new level of complexity that warranted a new level of intensity.
The nature of my prayers also changed. Now, they are more conversational. I still use terms of respect like Thee and Thou, but I open my heart and share everything as I would to a close friend. I describe the situation as a whole; the factors that exist, the possible options, and the decisions we’ve already made. When I am at a loss, I have become very good at saying, “I don’t understand with my limited perspective. Please teach me.” I am counseling with my Counselor.
Lastly, I have more gratitude in my prayers now than ever before. You would think that I would have more requests than gratitude during a health crisis, but the opposite has been true. I have noticed more about what could have gone wrong but hasn’t. I went through three rounds of chemo during an entire fall season and into the winter without a cold, flu, or sore throat. I have not contracted pnemonia, something that I caught 3 times in the last winter I was in Utah. Our children have thrived, even during a time of great stress. They are doing well and have been safe. Work has progressed steadily and stressfully, but well. I have been very aware and grateful for all of the support and love from family and friends that has made this whole thing possible.
How have my prayers worked so far? Like I said before, I can feel the support from prayer. My prayers have in many ways been answered by the angels around me – the family and friends who have tended to our many needs. When it comes to receiving answers, I have learned much over the last few months. I rarely get answers to prayers in the moment of prayer. It is when I get off my knees and start the seeking process that I will run across a great talk, a song with words that inspire, advice from a friend, or a scripture that gives me my answer. I have learned the most in the last few months by the answers not immediately received. Sometimes I felt like I was praying but not being heard. In some cases, I already had received an answer and I was praying for constant reassurances when in fact I needed to trust in the answer I had already received. “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23)
For answers still not yet received, I realized that it was a timing issue when I wanted the answer now. I am working on patience and I am slowly getting better at it. He has a plan that involves more people than just me and I can see His hand in the work happening around me.
While I wait, I will continue to pray.
Thank you to all who have been praying for me. I am eternally grateful for your faith and your love.
I will forever pray for you during your times of struggle and challenge and I know my prayer will be heard and answered .