Ps 5:3

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I didn't tell the women at the pregnancy center that we were trying until just this year. There are a few things that went into this decision, including...

I am a member of a more traditional Christian denomination. Many of the women (volunteers) at the pregnancy center are members of evangelical churches. We are all Christians, but sometimes the ways of praying are a little different. And that is okay.

But last fall, we had an inservice where the speaker had volunteered at our center years before. She shared her testimony, which included that she was having trouble conceiving #2, and so she asked the then-volunteers to pray over her, and of course, she got pregnant that month.

At the time, this struck me as kind of presumptious. I mean, it almost seemed like (in the way she presented it) that the prayer over her was so amazing that God had no choice but to bless her. I just remember thinking, who are you to tell God what to do?

And over the last year, this sort of scenario has come back from time to time, and I have never gotten completely comfortable with it. I mean, I pray every DAY for a baby, and God has not put one in my womb yet (that I know of, maybe today though, haha!). Tons of mothers pray for their children to be healed of sickness, and yet so many have to say goodbye too soon. Parents pray their kids will come home from war, but many do not. These people pray for something once and it appears!

As I have reflected on it, I wondered if maybe some denominations don't emphasize prayers that haven't been answered because they view them as less of a testimonial. Obviously, it makes a way bigger impression to have the testimonial that the speaker gave, compared to mine which includes praying for over three years with nary as much as a bit of encouragement yet. Or is it possible that God does answer all their prayers?!

But I had a new revelation the other day as I was continuing to reflect on this phenomenon. Maybe the reason that their prayers are so powerful is that they believe 200% that God WILL answer this prayer! Maybe I don't have enough expectation that God will bless us with a baby.

There are many places in the Bible that direct us to pray with expectation (Ps 5:3) and with perseverance (Luke 11:1-13 and Luke 18:1-8). Maybe I need to renew my gusto of expecting God to answer my prayers for a baby. But at the same time I write that, it feels a little odd because it's not like God is waiting for me to be busting at the seams with expectation of His response, before He will give it to me. I don't believe there is a threshold of faith that he is just waaaaaaiting for me to reach. He can bless me at any time.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be exposed to all kinds of Christian prayer. There are good things about all types of prayer- written, spontaneous, directed, and silent. As "luck" (or something) would have it, I had a mini-breakdown during our pre-shift prayer time about 3 weeks ago, and all my gusto'ed-evangelical sisters in Christ prayed aloud over me that God would open my womb immediately!!! And true to form, I believe that they honestly would not be at all surprised if we are pregnant this month. That is how much they believe that God answers prayers. Quite a lesson for me. Because I'd be surprised ;-)

(Edited to add that I love my evangelical Christian sisters just as much as my Methodist ones or any of the other Christian ladies! Like I said, there are good things about all types of prayer/denominations, and I think we can learn alot from each other! Hope no one was offended...)


Thankful said...

Great post! I agree with your observations - prayer is such an integral part of being Christian, but there are definitely differences between denominations.

Amber said...

I've struggled with prayer as well. The Bible says he knows the desires of our heart. Was I not doing something right? Did I not say it or mean it or believe it enough? But then I heard a sermon that spoke to me...we can't DO anything. I was trying to get a baby by works. If I prayed more, if I had more faith... It has nothing to do with me. I learned to pray and tell God the desires of my heart to have my womb open up, but then I always end with, but if this is not YOUR will (or timing), then I submit to you and your perfect plan for my life. IF is a journey, and I've learned many things from it. Praying for you!

Coco said...

I love this post. And how many times have I thought about this!!! My family is very diverse religiously. My oldest sister is very... how does she put it?... a "holy roller?"... Hahaha. But her faith is TREMENDOUS! It is more like expectation than faith. But we are all God's children, and he knows and loves all of us...exactly where we are today. He longs to bless us. God only has 3 answers to prayer.... yes, not yet, and I have something better in mind..... or as my sister would say....yes, no, and grow. I think that your testimonial is just as powerful as the miraculous pregnancy lady. You have perservered through years of hardship. You have never given up on God or become bitter. How inspiring is unwavering faith! The faith that has the strength to be battered in storm after storm, and yet never yield because of the Rock upon which it is planted! Your story IS amazing! He loves you and will bless you. We will all pray for you. This month would be a GREAT month to be BFP! :)

the misfit said...

For what it may be worth, if I know of anyone who prayed with REAL expectation to become a mother on a consistent basis, it's you. I'm debating about my use of the past tense here, but am going with it because I get the impression that you're starting to think about the possibility that you may never have a natural child. Obviously no one knows yet how your story plays out, but we know that some of us are never going to have biological children. The grace there is for us to find peace and joy in the future God has planned for us, whatever that is. That sounds nine kinds of trite, and I want to emphasize that I'M NOT THERE. But I think I have a realistic hope of getting there. I don't think I have a realistic hope of getting pregnant (though I know "all things are possible...").

I also have a thought about your evangelical friends. My perception is that Protestant denominations of all stripes have marginal appreciation for the cross. To Catholics, by contrast, it's central. It would be unusual, I think, for a devout evangelical Christian to aver that God blesses those He loves with LIFELONG suffering. Maybe just long enough for them to pray really hard so they can have a good "witness" story about their blessings. Whereas the canon of Catholic saints fairly shakes with the very holy who suffered and suffered for decades - the entireties of long lives - in ways that God could obviously have alleviated. Not to mention the fate of His Son, right? It's ultimately a different approach to Christian theology. And then there's the additional wrinkle of those who are actually predestinationist ("reformed" churches etc.), who believe that God blesses those whom He loves with materially good things. If He loves you, on the long view you WILL be materially blessed, not suffering. And if you DO end up mainly suffering, then it is a sign that you are not chosen. At least, that's my understanding of the theology.

Anyway...I don't think any of us disputes that God listens to the prayers of those who love Him, which clearly includes your coworkers. This would be a great month for Him to demonstrate that!

Anonymous said...

My sister goes to an evangelical church, and they have similar thoughts on prayers. Since my sister struggled for 3 yrs to conceive my nephew and 6 years for my niece, she had a hard time understanding why her prayers weren't answered. Of course, my nephew's Sunday school class had just started praying for her a couple of months before she got pregnant, so they are claiming it's because of THEIR prayers that she got pregnant. She would like to think that, but really believes it's because she found out she had a corn allergy and removed all corn from her diet.
I don't think God is sitting up in Heaven with a scorecard and keeping tabs - the louder, the more often, the more emotional, the more fervent the prayer, the more points and more likely you are to be rewarded with what you want. But I do think prayers are sometimes answered. Why though? I don't know...
I do like the idea of more people praying for the same thing - which is why I don't mind (too much) that my mom blabs about our infertility. I know that she and everyone she knows is praying for us to conceive, and I like that.
I hope your friends' prayers are "fruitful" this month :).

Hillary said...

I know exactly the tension you are referring to...the desire to pray with 100% faith that God CAN open our wombs, but also to pray in faith even if God doesn't.

I think a difference that you described your friends praying for you that you WILL conceive and they believe that you WILL. I don't know....that seems presumptious to me :) I attempt to pray in faith knowing that God CAN and asking him to answer my prayers "yes," but I don't know that that is God's will for my life, and that is the thing that will bring him the most glory. Perhaps me faithfully following him even if his answer is "no" and I must suffer is how he will be most glorified in my life - I don't know. But I want to pray and give God the desires of my heart, while also trusting whatever his will is.

Oh, and I'm evangelical, haha :) But I don't think the praying culture in my church is to pray God will do something, but to pray for his will to be done. It is powerful that your friends prayed that for you, and I do pray that God will. :)

Jennifer said...

Love this post. It's great! I soooo agree about their being different ways to pray. I don't think we have to reach a level of faith before we are blessed either. Otherwise the unbelievers would never be blessed. I'm finally learning to trust that God will bless me in the way that He feels I need to be blessed...not what I necessarily think I need. I'm still working out all the details of this thinking and learning to trust Him more.

Lisa said...

It is so hard knowing how to pray. I struggle all the time with knowing what to ask for and how to pray in general...I know without a doubt that God could make me pregnant and carry a baby to term at any point. But the question is, is that His will? And if so, when is that His will? I go back and forth between asking God that THIS be the cycle and asking Him "your will be done" and help me be at peace with that's hard, but God knows our heart regardless of the words that come out of our mouths!