The Only Thing Left To Do Now Is Pray?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

Have you ever been in a hospital when the doctor tells the family, “I have done all that I can do.  The only thing left to do is to pray?” Or maybe you have heard these words in a dramatic scene in a television show or movie?

I find these words sad because I wonder if the message that is “heard” by the family is something along these lines – The doctor has run out of options, so I guess we should now turn to God and see what He can do for us.

Prayer should not be viewed as the last option of a desperate person but rather a constant part of a Christ-centered life.  Each day, a Christian actively seeks a closer walk with God by praying. In fact, we are all called to pray without ceasing.  Since prayer is the foundation of everything we do, nothing changes when we go to the hospital.  Before and after we know something is wrong, we pray.  While the medical team is at work, we pray.  If the medical team elects not to proceed, we pray.  And regardless of the outcome, we pray.  Of course, we would all prefer to lift a prayer of thanksgiving after a successful outcome.

Sometimes, the result is not what we want, but we are still called to pray.  At times like this, we may cry out in anger or frustration, which is the theme of some of the Psalms by King David.  Or perhaps we are too tired to offer anything more than wordless groans, but we are grateful for the intercessory prayer of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Stan Purdum is a Biblical scholar, and he wrote the following.  “So, if we believe God is all-powerful, praying for the impossible makes sense only if we also believe that God wants things to be different than they are.  We cannot by ourselves bring about world peace, end all racial discrimination, eliminate hunger, and make all Christians one as Jesus and the Father are one. We may be able to accomplish small parts of those things, but only God can make them happen in a complete way.

What we do know, however, is this: In praying for everyone who follows Him to be united and one, Jesus asked for the seemingly impossible.  When He taught His disciples the prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He included the petition, “Thy will be one,” which is another seemingly impossible thing when applied to the population as a whole.

If Jesus prayed for the impossible, is there any reason that we who follow Him should not?  Is not the act of praying for the impossible an expression of that mustard seed of faith that Jesus said was crucial? Is it not, in the end, a way of saying that we believe that whatever happens, ultimately, we are in God’s loving hands?

Yes, hospital scenes can be grim, but Job’s trials were also grim.  His story is a great example of a faithful person who remained steadfast in prayer when the enemy was determined to try to break his faith.  I think of Job as I read James 1:3-4. “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

If we believe that possibilities are limited and the boundaries are set, then praying for the impossible makes no sense. At a minimum, it is wasted effort. But even more, it is evidence of how ridiculous we are. But if we believe in God – in God’s power, love, and goodness – then our prayer is cooperation with God’s will. It may even be that our prayer, which is a new element in the situation, will be part of how God’s will is done.”

So, returning back to the hospital scene. I was told years ago that everybody who goes to the hospital gets healed.  Some are healed, and others are Healed.  This means that the doctor heals some of them, and they go home. Others are Healed by the Great Physician, and they too go Home.

The advances in medical science are amazing!  Miracles occur at hospitals every day, yet Isaiah 2:22 teaches, “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.  Why hold them in esteem?” Returning back to King David, he echoed the words of Isaiah in Psalm 118:8.  “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.” I believe that doctors are often the Hands of Jesus.  However, we would be wise to put our ultimate trust in God and pray while in the valley and on the mountaintop.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Forgive us for the times when we turn to You as a last resort.  Help us to live a prayer-based life that remains steadfast regardless of our circumstances.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Speaker with the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Board Member for Gulf South Men, an Action Team member for The Kingdom Group, and a Board Member for the Lagniappe Country Walk to Emmaus.  Todd is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and remains active in this and many other local, regional, and international ministries.  Todd is the proud father of Emma and Kyle and resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Additionally, he’s the author of the inspiring book “Fathering A Special Needs Child.” Todd also enjoys filling the pulpit for pastors to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior.

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