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Useful Prayer

June 5, 2018
Useful Prayer, June 5, 2018

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15, NIV 1984).

I know God heals, and I often pray with those who are severely ill. But I rarely pray for the impossible in fully sincere ways, with my personal experience that God is very selective with His miracles. With Daryl I did pray sincerely, in full faith. He was at the end of our possible therapies and still worsening in his illness. I placed my hands upon his shoulder and called upon God to heal him. I did not use the escape clause, “If it is your will.” I left the room expecting the impossible. That was two weeks ago. Today, while in Albania on a mission trip, I received word of Daryl’s death.

What do I do with this? I rarely open my faith in a vulnerable way. Here I did—and I did not see God answer it my way for His glory. What is God up to? Where do I plug in with my prayers of faith? I know God is not a light switch to turn on so that I may magically obtain my wishes; and I know at the same time He has the power to heal anyone He chooses. How then do I pray for my patients or my family when they are in great distress? Do I pray for God to heal everyone? Do I simply just pray for His will to be done? Do I cry out for God to heal, knowing He is fully able but may not?

I recently sat in a small group discussing prayer with several unbelievers in another country. A young female medical student asked, “Why do all people pray when they are in desperate need, regardless of their religion?” My best answer to her question was that we are made that way. We are all created with a vacuum in our hearts that is hidden by our perceived self-sufficiencies. That vacuum becomes clearly visible and raw when our self-sufficiencies fail. That is when we come to know the truth of life: that we are desperate without God. Then we cannot help but cry out, understanding the truth of life.

And so, listening to my own words, as I learned of this sweet man’s death, though I do not fully understand the theology of prayer, I am still convinced it is natural and right and the truth of life that I cry out to God when I am in need; and it is right to trust Him completely with the results, knowing He hears, He cares and He can.

Dear God,
Teach me how to pray.

Al Weir, MD

About Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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