Praying and praying and praying and praying and praying

I remember that before I was healed a friend posted a comment on here about what a roller coaster all the cancer stuff was. I was still cautious about being so vulnerable on here so I was a little offended. I felt like she was saying I should stop getting my hopes up about about things, to just sort of live in neutral. Since then I have had seasons of wishing for this neutral myself. It is hard to be so passionate about whatever’s going on in life that when it turns out badly it’s like part of you dies a little. 

Luke 9:41-43, Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here”…

Starting a few months ago I got sort of leveled off, the way I guess I wished. It felt like God didn’t hear or care about me or what I did. After countless heartbreaks and unanswered prayers I suppose some of my faith died off. Looking back I know I sinned, but don’t know if I turned away from Him a bit and He responded with increased distance, or if it was a period of testing that I failed. But either way, because of His mercy and grace, His boundless love, we have reunited and it feels so good! Colors are more vibrant, His presence is clear and weighty, my heart…feels again. Day after day He reminds me that His mercies are new each morning, and that He knows it all. He knows what we think, what we do, what we want, what we feel…and He knows why we feel it. God is not this impersonal, strict parent who judges what we do as sub-par. He is involved in every aspect of our lives, and encourages us to be better for our own well-being and for the good of the whole body of Christ. 
…While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father…
It would not be right to serve this amazing Savior in a neutral way. We can’t be fully devoted to living for Him while protecting our hearts from disappointment. So, we must immerse ourselves in Him. Look for the good and lessons in the daily struggles. Keep getting up after we fall. Keep pursuing the kingdom and His righteousness. Love those who hate us. Pray without ceasing.
 And all were astonished at <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-25336BQ" data-link="(BQ)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>the majesty of God.

A lot of people ask me to pray for their loved ones. I’m not good at it. I don’t like presenting a prayer list to the Lord, even though He is the only one who can do anything about the list. I never know exactly how to pray that is not some version of my selfish desires to manipulate or manhandle God. I think that’s some of what I did over this period of not hearing much from Him. The word says He leaves us with authority to do great things on earth, but He still has the right to make the final decisions and the Spirit blows wherever He wills. I just don’t know how to approach all of that with the faith needed for the really big stuff.
And all were astonished at the MAJESTY OF GOD.
Anyway, sometimes the Lord really opens my heart and I guess the lines of communication for praying for specific people. It’s never when or how I expect it. He has me praying now for Barbara, who many of you have prayed for over the past few years now. Her health has declined but she has always been a prayer warrior and has always believed He will heal her. I remember how fearful I was when I first started blogging, that I would believe He would heal me and then He wouldn’t. I was certain that would be the most heartbreaking way to go. And I was so sad to see how at first people prayed for everyone to be healed, then as they got sicker eventually people started praying that they’d be put out of their misery. All of these things stir my soul. We know that the Lord alone numbers our days and Barbara would not be put to shame if He chooses to wait until she’s in heaven to heal her. But I pray so deeply that she would experience the fruit of this faith while she’s on earth. That the doctors and nurses around her, who are surely counting her out, would see the cancer literally vanish. That all the health problems that have resulted from this cancer would dissipate in front of their very eyes. That her labored breathing would become smooth, the fluid in her lungs and the cancer itself would be loosed and flow right out of her as the Holy Spirit replaces the void with healthy fluids and cells. Technically, this is not possible. But, all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. He’s proved it time and again, please pray boldly that He will add this woman’s life to that score sheet.

AND ALL WILL BE ASTONISHED AT THE MAJESTY OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Big Prayer Request!

A few weeks ago the Lord put it on my heart to set up a 24-hour prayer time for a few of the very sick ladies I know with cancer. I would have liked to do it with more notice but there’s a sudden, more urgent need for it so we went ahead and scheduled it to start this Wednesday (7/9). We are trying to get people to sign up to pray in 1-hour increments for 24 hours, so please consider taking a slot (or, 22 of them… :).
When you look at a day it doesn’t seem hard to pray for an hour, but I think when you sit down to do it it’s overwhelming. People who’ve done tons of this can pray for several hours, but those people are much holier than me. So, I’m going to share my “Praying for Dummies” tips. I’m not name-calling here, just thought I’d break it down so it doesn’t seem so daunting.

1. Try to get somewhere alone. Even from the dog, who seems so sweet and cuddly until you try to focus on prayer and he starts bringing you the ball. Move anything distracting away–there is no such thing as multitasking appropriately while praying. I have prayed in the car (parked in the garage), in a variety of different closets, the yard, Abi’s bed, the bathroom…I do best praying late at night or early in the morning because then I can sit at a table but still not be interrupted.
2. Prepare your prayer list, a Bible, paper, a pen, any notes/scriptures you’ve been meditating, and any good lists of scriptures you have (I have a Biblical promises one that’s good, and I try to look those up in the Bible to get a better idea of the context while praying).
3. Set your clock for a start and stop time (if it’s for something like this day of prayer–otherwise you don’t need an end time). You might be having such a great time with God that you don’t want to end it, but usually if you don’t have the end time set it’s like working out–you start watching the clock to see how much longer. Once your clock is set you can turn that part of your brain off and just wait for it to tell you you’re done.
4. Pray out loud. Doesn’t matter if you’re alone or not (although obviously alone is better). This helps you stay awake (What’s that? I’m the only one who falls asleep while praying? Riiiight…). It also helps you stay focused. Your ears hear the way you drift off to planning your day or making a shopping list, and get you back on track.
5. Write down the random, off-topic things that come to mind so you don’t deceive yourself and think you’re supposed to cut your prayer time short and do those things. Once they’re written down, forget about them until later.
6. Also write down the cool things God shows you, because sometimes when you’re done you can’t remember it all.
7. When you’re out of things to pray about, go through the little tips you know, like praying the way Jesus did, ACTS, ABCs (look these up), or just ask God to help you pray. If you’re praying for another person, ask for empathy and brokenness for her, and He will increase your passion and interest in interceding for her. Make sure to think back to all the amazing things He has done for you or others and thank Him for those.
8. Remember that prayer is communicating with God, so just talking at Him isn’t enough. Talk to Him and leave time for Him to answer. Ask Him to prepare your heart to hear from Him, ask Him to show you anything you need, and then just be still. Jot down anything that comes to mind but wait, wait, wait for more. It’s not always the first thing that comes to mind that you need to know. Sometimes it’s waiting in faith for more answers. More of His heart. More wisdom. When you find your mind wandering off, do your best to control it or just move back to talking out loud to God.
9. Don’t be ashamed to be honest with God. He knows it all anyway, and the brokenness that comes from admitting your sin and struggles helps you grow closer to Him and to be more holy.
10. Seemed like a good idea to have an even 10 points here, but I can’t think of another.

Anyway, here is some information about the 24-hour prayer-a-thon. Please consider signing up. You can pray from anywhere for an hour and it’ll bless you so much to see how He answers! Sometimes it isn’t in the way we expect or desire.

If you’re local, we’ll be ending the 24-hours with group prayer at 9am on Thursday at Four Oaks Community Church.
To sign up to pray:
 1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/s6X85n
   2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot) 
   3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders.
Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please email epetscher@gmail.com and I can sign you up manually.
Barbara H.
Barbara has been praying with faith for her physical healing from cancer for 18 months. Back in January of 2013, she was advised to contact hospice but chose to trust in the Lord instead of that fear, and He has blessed her for it. However, she and her husband, Dan, are struggling with some discouragement and despair as her body is exhausted from chemotherapy and the cancer metastasized to her liver and lungs. From Exodus 17:11-12, we remember that Moses was tasked with holding his arms up so his men could win a battle. His friends came along and helped to hold his arms up. Barbara has been praying for others for many years, and in that way she has taken a turn holding up the arms of others. We are ready to hold hers up now and to see the Lord’s glory as He completely heals her and restores her health.
Exodus 17:11-12
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.
Gulan
Gulan was born in Cuba, the daughter of a Cuban woman and a Chinese immigrant. She is the loving mom of two daughters and grand mom to eight grandchildren. She and her husband emigrated to the United States in 1970 from Cuba in hopes of making a better life for their children. She and her husband later divorced. She made many sacrifices including working in a non-air conditioned factory for years to provide for her girls, many times going without for herself so that her girls would have what they needed. With God’s help she put both girls through college. She was a smoker. She gave up smoking ten years ago.  She was diagnosed with adeno carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer five years ago. She also has emphysema and heart disease. She is a strong woman, dealing with a lot of fear….but courageous, nonetheless because she has faced her fears over and over again. God has been good to her in many ways. She came to know Him and realize that He was the one that watched over her on a Mother’s Day many years ago. She can point out His faithfulness in her life over the years. Thank you for your prayers for her.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Karen W.
Karen has been battling breast cancer for many years and the more it spreads into her body, the more desperate she is for the miracle it will take for her to survive and be healthy to continue to raise her children. She has two daughters and a son—her son is the youngest at 11 years old. Karen has an amazing husband and is saddened that her whole family has had to sacrifice and form so many memories of her being sick. Karen is going through chemotherapy and is unable to eat, so is extremely thin and frail. Her mother is moving in to help physically support Karen and the rest of the family. Please join us in praying for her total physical healing, and that she will spend many years completely pain and cancer free, enjoying the gifts the Lord shares and serving as a living testimony for the power and mercy of the Lord God Almighty!
Job 9:15

Though I were innocent, I could not answer Him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.

Not Enough

It’s been almost 2 years since my diagnosis. This time in 2012 my dad drove from West Palm (7 hours) to watch the girls while I went for an ultrasound on the lump in my breast. I had prayed for immediate, good news and that is what I got. Too bad we learned a few weeks later that they were wrong!!!! During the ultrasound the technician proudly announced that my lump was just a clogged milk duct and cancelled the mammogram I was supposed to have right after. I thought that meant my dad had driven all the way across the state to help for no reason, and I had missed Abigail’s Halloween parade, which was at her school at the same time. Of course, when we learned that it was actually a misdiagnosis and I had cancer, those details turned out to be the least of my worries.

I will always think of that day around Halloween, and it was on my mind today as I watched my biggest baby march proudly around the school in her unicorn costume. I can say with absolute certainty that she is no worse for having gone through my cancer and treatments with me. In fact, her faith is stronger and she sees the Lord in more things than before. We prayed so much that the girls would not be destroyed because of the attacks from the Destroyer, and God definitely answered those prayers. Plus, obviously, many, many more.

By the end of today’s parade I was smacked in the face with the reality that the world didn’t stop being a horrible place just because the Lord healed me. I learned that a strong, young believer named Jaime is days from death. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer when she had an infant, and that little boy is now 4 years old. By all accounts, that little guy is about to lose his mother. The cancer is in her liver and is causing her excruciating pain.

I remember ruminating once that this is how it goes: First, everyone has high hopes, then that fades and so do the prayers and belief that a miracle could occur. Finally it gets so bad that everyone starts praying for death to take you, to put you out of your misery. I think this has happened with Jaime’s family. She has a husband and parents who love her and no one can stand seeing her in this pain. I imagine she would rather not live more days like this but feels so guilty succumbing because of her child. Her son. Her lovely, precious, and perfect son.

I don’t know the boy’s name but I know he’s wonderful. And that he doesn’t understand. And that he’s on track to have to go through all the awful issues I prayed my own children could avoid. I often think the good Lord answered my prayers for my daughter’s sake…and with some difficulty I’m going to stretch my faith for this next part: I BELIEVE HE WILL ANSWER OUR PRAYERS TO ENTIRELY HEAL JAIME . For His glory.

Many people remind me that He doesn’t heal us all, but (I will say it again, and again), who are we to decide who He will heal? If we pray halfheartedly for healing “because He only heals some of us”, do we actually follow His command to pray in faith (James 5)? And to pray AND believe (Mark 11:24)? Are we actually doing it because we afraid that if he doesn’t heal the person and we thought He would, we will lose faith in Him? Is it just an easy way out to not really put our hearts into praying for healing?

It takes some difficulty to believe Jaime will be healed, but I am doing it. I did it for Debora and when He healed her it was so much more meaningful to me than if I had been just watching from the sidelines. Or waiting for her to die. So I challenge you all to pray with me. To suspend all understanding of what you know about science and the way things usually work, and to go all out in your prayers and belief that she will be healed. Ignore Satan and His lies. Those that whisper “it’s too late” and “no one is healed at this point”. By definition a miracle is a supernatural, unexpected change that we cannot explain away. So we do not lose the hope that He gave us two years ago. Or last week. We maintain this hope and earnest expectation of the good news to come.

Come, let us glorify the Lord together. We shall rejoice together for the upcoming healing of  the Lord’s daughter, Jaime. For her sake, for her son’s sake, and for yours.

Psalm 17:17
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in them from their foes.

Summary

Thanks to all for the prayers, support and encouragement. It really helps and I wanted to update everyone as much as possible…
 
I realize plenty of you might think I’m about to die. You might think I’m crazy because I think the matter is still open. However, I’m still alive and am not going anywhere. Nothing changed in Texas, there were actually a few positives. For one, we found a third doctor who agreed with the treatment I’m receiving. That’s apparently unheard of. For another, I have the blessing of a closed door. I don’t have to consider going back there, making the decision of switching treatments or doctors, etc.

So, the case about men finding a cure for me is closed. In less than two months I’ve gone from thinking I’m fully healthy to being told time and again that I am about to die. I don’t accept that though. I embrace that as evidence that no one on earth has the power to heal me. What I hear is actually these learned men declaring, “I have nothing for you. Don’t put your faith in me. I am worthless, go elsewhere.”  They are right about that, and I’m so grateful for the discernment. I don’t need to get confused about who to trust or follow. My guy says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John 8:12)

I have spent a lot of time over the past few months praying for God to tell me if He will heal me before I die or wait until after. I believe He has officially confirmed His answer–His lips are sealed. Until now I have found this issue of not knowing to be the worst part, but I’m peaceful about it now.

I have peace about this silence for a few reasons. For one, throughout history God has been silent for our own good. He didn’t tell Job that he’d suffer for a given length of time then heal him. He let him suffer, watched his response, then restored him. He told Abraham He’d be the father of nations, but didn’t tell him how that would pan out. Again, Abraham’s belief in the promise was credited to him as righteousness. Even Jesus, who was all God and all man cried out for release from his circumstances and said God forsook Him, but again the all-knowing father didn’t just tell him how it would work out. Finally, Mark 13:32 reminds us that God doesn’t tell anyone, even His son, when heaven and earth will pass away. So, I do not blame God for leaving little old me without answers.

Mark 13:32-36 clarifies that we cannot know when the end will come because the unknown will keep us alert. This is a reason I believe He is keeping me from knowing what is going on. If I knew I’d be healed soon I might lose focus on Him, and if I knew I was about to die I’d probably stop spreading His word to go inward. Plus, He has to see how I will handle all this. If I knew I’d be healed next month I would be able to handle this situation with such grace and ease. Wow, I would be amazing!

The truth is, I can’t change God’s mind. Romans 9:15 and Mal 1:2-3 says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion”. However, time and time again Jesus told us to bring our requests to Him so that’s what I’m doing. And I do know He will heal me, it’s just that it could be on earth or it could be when I’m fully restored in heaven.

In the end, God has opted not to tell me what will happen today, tomorrow, next year, or in the next decade. That’s okay. He’s watching my response and that is something I can foresee: I will act in faith, I will pursue Him, try to please Him, and praise His name until my last day.