I always thought the prayer, “Lord, please be with the hands of the doctors…” was a strange prayer. We are asking for God to intervene without having to ask Him to do it all himself. It’s like saying, “God if you have time could you help this person?” We are asking for the doctors to be an intermediary of God’s power. If we think God can work through the doctors wouldn’t it also make sense to think He could also just do it without the doctors as well? Do we pray as if we are imposing on God? Or do we approach the throne of grace with confidence? Are we praying too small?
One of our church members is a cardiologist. He mentioned Wednesday night that he never prays that God will help him do a good job. He said that he can do a beautiful, perfect job and the patient not survive the operation. His hands did all they could do but it didn’t help the patient. Other times the job might not be done ideally and the patient survives. His prayer before such an operation is for the well being of the patient and for God to give them health, not for his skill. My father in law is a chiropractor and he made the point a few months ago that he doesn’t heal anything. He aligns things so that the body can heal itself. It is only by God’s grace that he gave us bodies that are able to do that. Surgeons can do their best and chiropractors can give their best shot but ultimately God is the one who has to make the difference.
Do we pray too small?
When Jesus, Peter, James, and John came down from the mountain after the transfigurations they found a crowd had gathered and the nine were arguing with the teachers of the law. The center of the dispute was a child who had an evil spirit. The disciples had been trying to cast it out but they had not succeeded. The man brings his son before Jesus. The boy falls at his feet and goes into convulsions. You would expect Jesus to immediately heal him but instead he asks the father, “How long has he been like this?” The man tentatively requests healing for his son. He uses the word “If” – “Jesus, if you can heal him…” Jesus points to the need for faith. In one of the most honest moments in scripture the boy’s father replies, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” Jesus commands the spirit out of the boy. The spirit obeys. Jesus later tells his disciples they couldn’t do it because they had not been praying as they should. What should those disciples have prayed for, “God be with my hands so I can touch this person and cast out this demon.” No. They should have prayed, “God, remove the demon from this child.” They either hadn’t been praying at all or had been praying for the wrong things. Maybe they were praying too small.
How can we challenge ourselves to pray prayers that are big enough? How can our prayers reflect a recognition that God has time to hear our prayers, that he cares about our concerns, and that he is powerful enough to take care of it?