Friday, November 7, 2008

The Point of Prayer

On this journey of grief, it seems to me that very often we take two steps forward only to take three steps back. I felt like I had been doing pretty well, and now, I seem to be at a bit of a stand still. We have a lot going on in the Bolte household right now and I find myself busying myself with all of those things and again I find myself leaving God out of the equation. I know he needs to be the center of it all, but I am struggling with that right now.

Howard and I had a talk recently about prayer. In this discussion, I thought I was pretty solid, but Howard's questions brought up a lot of stuff. I could not answer ONE of his questions. I mean, what is the point? If God already has a plan that He is going to work out anyway, why pray? More than that though, we know we are supposed to pray, but feel like we must be missing something. I mean, how are we supposed to pray? What are we supposed to pray for? Are we ALWAYS supposed to pray for just God's will or are we supposed to give him specifics. He knows our hearts, so do we need to give specifics, does he really care about the specifics anyway?? I mean He is going to do what he is going to do anyway.

I know this all seems cynical. But it is where we are at right now. We wonder why some prayers get answered and some do not. Some people pray for healing and get it while others pray the same prayer and they do not. I know many of you might say, ALL prayers get answered. We just don't always get a yes, or we don't always see what God is doing. I get that, but it all seems kind of random. We prayed harder for Isaac and Asher than we have ever prayed. We developed a faith in Him that surpassed any faith we had known previously and our children died! He could have saved them. Yet he chose not to. They BOTH died anyway. That is a hard truth to swallow. It seems so unjust. I hate to sound like a whiner here, but we prayed, thousands prayed and our babies still died. We had faith. We trusted God, and yes He has pulled us through this far, but our children are dead. That is a fact.

I am not saying that I don't see the beauty in our story. I am not saying I don't understand why suffering happens. I am not saying why me. I get all of that. I know that NO one is exempt for suffering. I know this story we are living out is written by our creator. I know that none of this is a surprise to him, but why do we pray for healing when God is going to carry out His plan as He sees fit.

I often hear, "so and so was saved by the power of prayer." Really? I don't get it. Does our praying change the plan God had for a person?

I guess I am just at a place where I need to better understand what prayer is, what God wants us to use it for, and what is the point? I know that it is about our relationship with our savior and not just some request we are asking him to grant. It is not a wish list. I know that it is supposed to be something we do because He wants to know our hearts. But he does. He knows. I am not understanding where to go from here. I don't know what to pray for. I seem to have an easier time praying for others than I do myself, and I want to know how to pray for myself and my family again.

Any insight?


Stacy D said...

No real insight except to say that I could have written this very post myself. Your words spoke to my heart this morning, and I am right there with you. It does feel random and unjust... why do some people pray and get the miracle they beckoned God for, while others are told no. My husband and I have had similar conversations recently.

I wish I did have some insight, but I don't. I just wanted you to know that you're not alone in your struggle...

Erica said...

How I wish I could give you the answer you're looking for. May I say, I think your transparency and honesty is the most God-honoring thing you could offer Him and the world right now. It brings such comfort to know that others struggle and "God has a plan", while true, does not offer all the answers and comfort we might desire. It is just so hard to understand sometimes.

You see, I am on of those whose prayers were answered the way we would have chosen. My son was deleivered from a condition that had the distinct possibility of leaving him with catastrophic disabilities. From diagnosis to healing was 2 short weeks. We are so incredibly grateful.

But I can't shake the "Why us?" Especially because it came on the heels of dear friends burying 3 of their precious babies in 2 years. I assure you, my faith was no greater than theirs and in fact, I would say they were far more mature Christians than my husband and I. So why did God say yes to us and no to them? I simply don't know. It's hard for me to swallow.

For a short while, it prevented me from fully given God glory for what He had done. I felt guilty (which is a natural tendency of mine).

Now I simply trust in His sovereignty, give Him glory for what He's chosen to do for us and cry with and pray for those who have not gotten the answers they so desperately desire.

The only answer I can come up with to "Why pray at all?" is simply because He asks us to. Obedience? Does our prayer make a difference? Scripture seems to say's just so hard to see on this side of the veil how it works.

Praying for you as you walk this road of suffering.

Christa @ Quintooples said...

Oh how I could have written this. I was born with an extremely cynical nature. This is something I have struggled with my entire life.

Has I suffered as you have, I honestly don't know if my faith would have held. I obviously want to think it would have....but I don't know. I was so angry at him during my many miscarriages. I would look around the office and see so many girls that were unwed, and would leave the office only to smoke in the parking lot...and I would think, WHY???? What is the point?!?!?

I wish I had something profound to say....but I don't. I did want to say that I understand your thoughts. You are not alone there.

I know that someday when we are in glory, none of this will matter. I just wish our human minds had just a LITTLE more insight!

Brenda said...

I have copied and pasted part of Erica's comment, because it struck a cord with me. "I assure you, my faith was no greater than theirs and in fact, I would say they were far more mature Christians than my husband and I. So why did God say yes to us and no to them? I simply don't know. It's hard for me to swallow." Erica Shier

I believe everything is a test allowed by God, as he tested Job. Satan does not like the ones that are trying to further God's kingdom, therefore, he asks God for permission to test us. You all are being refined into gold. You are mature Christians, God is testing you, and growing you into a deeper faith than you and Stacey already had.

God did not promise a perfect life, just the opposite he said there would be trials and tribulations. We are each tested in different ways. I have never lost children that I actually got to see and spent time with, but I have lost three children. My biggest tests are through persecution. So please don't ever think that you are alone, we all struggle with the same doubts and questions. That is okay though. God knows are hearts, but he still wants us to tell him. Be honest with him about your feelings, whether it be anger or joy. Jesus asked to be released from what was supposed to happen to Him, yet he finished with your will. So he told God what he wanted, but ultimately he wanted God's will.

I don't know if any of this helps. I pray that it does. Yet again, I don't truly understand what you ladys' are going through, but I do know from your blogs that you are walking through it and glorifying God in the process. From my prospective you all passing the test. In Christ Brenda

mrsrubly said...

i am right there with you also. no i have walked a single moment in your shoes. BUT to give my 2 cents...i just talk to God. i give him the specifics. i give the just of what it is i am praying for. however your post stung my heart this AM in a great way. it has opened my heart to be involved in a bible study to find out how to pray. what the bible needs to tell me and live a better christian life. it is a confusing question like you mentioned. like PP what pray? the HOLY BIBLE does tell us to do so. so we must honor that! also your not alone! let's dig a little deeper. best wishes to you...

zanesmommy said...

Totally understand. I feel like it does not matter what I pray, sometimes I don't feel like there is an answer. I was fortunate enough to hear an awesome sermon on how to pray. It is the only time Christ tells us how and what to pray. It is the LORDS prayer. I know that there is a book that goes with it, but can't remember what the title is. But I do remember that it opened my eyes as to why he tells us to pray that way. I want to say it is along the lines of Praying the Lords Prayer. If you go through and look at the set up it starts out praising God and understanding that his will will be done. Then we ask for our needs, then for forgiveness of our selves and others, protection from the evil one, and ends with praise to him. Other than that, I have no clue except that it is a conversation with our maker and savior. Just like you talk to your best friend and tell them what is on your heart, even though they may know. They want to hear it. It is the same. God wants to hear you say what is on your heart. Will be praying for you and keep you lifted up. Thank you for your sweet spirit and insight.

Sheryl said...

oh you could be inside my brain right now! i have just been asking God to "teach me to pray" because i feel like i don't know what prayer is any more. i have been questioning the purpose and why some get & some don't. like you - i know all the real answers but still question.

your honesty is such a gift to God. He is so thrilled that you are not putting on a spiritual face and pretending. let me tell you that this post alone will help SO many.

i know i'm not giving you one single answer to your question, but want you to know you're not alone. i want my healing so badly, i want to be the mom my kids used to have and he keeps saying "not now". i don't know why & i don't know if i'm supposed to keep asking. so for now i just ask Him to "teach me to pray".

Love ya,

Emily said...

Kristy, first let me thank you for your honesty and transparency. You're simply asking the question so many of us have asked a thousand times before. But forgive me, but I believe you know the answer to your own question deep in your heart. And I love you enough to say that. Kristy, you know. You know that prayer is about making your heart more like the Lord's. You have been broken - run right over, really - and you have every right to feel as though your prayers are hitting the ceiling. You have prayed as hard as anyone and you're right, you have heard, "NO!" twice. No one knows what that has done to you or your heart but you. But I've seen you stand and praise your Lord. I've listened to you thank Him for your boys and I've heard the peace in your voice when you talk about them and when you accept that they lived every moment in this world that they were meant to. They do live on and they are better off. Heaven makes this place look like Hell's door step. It hurts. It breaks us. But it does not change the Lord. He weeps with us. He longs to see us rejoice, but He can see all that we cannot see and when we draw near to Him in prayer, our perspective becomes more like His, meaning that it become more eternal driven than driven by our present world. We, you and I, want all our children HERE NOW. But our God, who loves us more than we even loved them, knows what is best and He has promised many things to us... none of which include bending His will to ours or compromising His plan. It's frustrating to not feel heard, but you know you are. And when He chooses something different than what we ask for, we simply have to offer our sorrow and disappointment as a sacrifice to Him and pray He will bless it. It's not about us. It's not about what we can see. It's ALL about Him. We're all here, for however long we're here, to bring Him glory. And we both know that we CAN trust Him that He will carry us through all things. And, sweet sister as frustrating as that may be some days, that's all we get to know and that is all we are guaranteed. I am praying for you to feel His hand on your shoulders and for you to be able to see His hand in every single one of your children's stories. It will be beautiful. It will be happy. And if it's not? It's not the end. Hold fast to His promises and let go of all the rest. It's all we can do.

I love you so much more than you could ever know and I admire you more than words.

Anonymous said...

I have what I call my "God box." It's a cedar box my father gave me when I moved to Colorado after our sophomore year in HS. My sister's is a cigar box from a thrift shop. My friend's an old shoe box.

The point is this...

I find when I try to "say" my prayers, just saying them out loud isn't enough for me.

I got a note pad that is 1" x 1" - bought some Sharpies (I have a problem, I need a 12-step Sharpie program), and I write my prayers down. I write ones for myself, my family, my friends, the world, the universe, a tree out back - whatever is coming to my head. Then I fold them up, and put them in the box.

When the box is full, I go and re-read my prayers, leaving the ones that have been taken care of, or "answered" out, and putting the ones that still apply in.

While yes, there is a place for each and every one of us, know this: God/Universe/Allah/etc gave us free will. While I think there is a plan, I think of it more as a general outline - I have to fill in the details.

I don't know why horrific things happen to good people. I don't know why amazing things happen to not-so-good people. I wish I could answer these questions. I don't know why a mother would ever have to endure losing her child, much less more than one. It's not fair, it's not right, but it makes you who you are. I can't even imagine the pain - except that I know I want a child, and right now, in my life, I'm furthest from having one as I have ever been. So, I live vicariously through my friends with children, treat them as my own, and hope, that someday, someone will call me "Mommy."

Much love to you, H and all your boys.

Melanie said...

Sometimes I feel like Paul in the Bible..."perfect Christian pedigree". I practically grew up in the church, was there every time the doors were open, went to a Christian middle/high school, went to a BIBLE college, was a missionary in Africa...and I have more unanswered questions today than I ever did.
I have no answer for you.
I do know that GOD NEVER CHANGES and that HE LOVES YOU! He is not offended or put-out by our questions. Love, MELANIE

Steve+Marie Douglas said...

Feeling "that" too. I had been real frustrated and unable to pray.
I DON'T EXACTLY HAVE "THE" ANSWER FOR YOU but heres what I have been doing... reading and pondering on THE NAMES OF CHRIST - just been absorbing that for this whole week. It has really helped me out

Robyn said...

Hi, I feel a little bad that this is the first time I've commented (I only found your blog not long ago) but this is a post that I can certainly relate to. In 2003 I was pregnant following a miscarriage six months earlier. We went for an early ultrasound and were told that there was an empty sac but that maybe my dates were off and to come back in a few days. We spent two weeks having bloodtests and ultrasounds that were inconclusive, maybe everything was ok and it was just my dates, maybe things were bad. In the meantime I contacted just about everybody I knew to pray for the life of my baby. Finally an ultrasound confirmed that Anna had stopped developing (we had chromosomal analysis done to confrim her gender). Prayer was my big question...why do we do it if God has a plan that is going to be carried out?? Does it really make any difference?
I asked that question to lots of more mature Christians seeking an answer and after much consideration and crying out to Him I honestly believe that there IS a point in praying. Even if the answer to my prayer is not what I was seeking, then if only for myself I needed to reach out to my God, to share my heart, my pain, my confusion. He already knew my heartbreak but I needed to TELL Him. I don't believe that miscarriage and infant death is part of His plan. I believe that God's original plan was very much for your four beautiful children to be healthy and living in your family, but we live in a fallen world where there are chromosomal problems, where kids get sick and die. The great thing is that He can help us through and more than that, through Him the terrible tragedies of life can become something that becomes good, like the blessing you are to other grieving parents. One of my big prayers after our miscarriages was that my baby girls' lives wouldn't have been for nothing and God has answered that prayer wonderfully. My experience has enabled me to reach out to other moms in a similar experience (and my nursing background and knowledge of tests that can be done has meant that they have been able to find out the gender of their babies and name them as well as accesing resources etc). Also we sponsored two little girls in honour of our babies...two little girls whose lives our different because of my babies in Heaven. It has helped to heal my mummy heart to know that my babies have made a difference in this world.
I don't understand why some prayers are answered the way we want and some aren't. I know that prayer does change things sometimes eg Abraham changed God's mind Gen 18: 16-32 and the Bible talks about praying without ceasing and there is the parable about the persistent widow Luke 18: 1- 8, which indicates that prayer definitely makes a difference BUT Jesus' example was to pray frequently and to cry out to His Father with the proviso of "Your will be done".
So I guess that is my approach now, I pray believing that God is sovereign and that NOTHING is impossible for Him, but also acknowledging that I don't understand but I'm going to trust Him and when His answer is different from what I would have desired then I'm going to trust that He is still sovereign, that He will work it out and carry me or whoever is hurting through that experience. There is so much I don't understand but it does help a little bit to think that maybe if my baby girls had lived that two other little girls may not have lived to know Him, may not have received the food, healthcare, education or learned about God. I wouldn't have chosen what happened to us, but I'm grateful for the good that has come out of it. I don't know if any of this is helpful at all, but my prayers are with you guys as you grieve and as you process all this. I don't want to compare my own experience with yours at all but I do know that as a Christian I did wrestle with similar issues and my heart really goes out to you.

Denise C said...

I feel the same way you do...we take two steps forward and 3 backwards. We are doing ok and then something reminds us of Landon and it's like reliving the pain all over again. Prayer still confuses me too. I just pray...that's really all I know LOL. But I know that no matter what the Lord's plan is I know we are supposed to pray and there is power in our prayers. I never really have thought about it though. It's got me thinking about it now =)

Erika said...

I constantly seek answers as to why my twin girls did not live, and others (in my mind less deserving!) have their babies with them. I struggle with this a lot.

One book that has been so helpful to me in my journey through grief is the book "A Grace Disguised" by Jerry Sitser. It has begun to help me understand how to make sense of intense, profound tragedy and how to make a beautiful life inspite of seemingly random, cruel events. I also like his book, "When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayer" but I don't find it nearly as helpful as "Grace Disguised."

I am, like you, at a loss as to why some prayers are answered and some are not. It's easy to say that God answered your prayer when you are the recipient of a miracle. But when you're on the losing side of things, it's so much harder to deal with and to make sense of it all.

I've been struggling with this since I lost both my twin daughters suddenly in July to Twin to Twin Transufsion Syndrome. I'm still looking for answers, and it's just hard.

Thank you for sharing.

Just Me said...

I do not have any insight either...

I recently had someone tell me they didn't think God took individual cases when it comes to be honest, I'm not sure what I think about that...

Thank you for sharing your struggles, your questions. I've been wondering how you were doing. Wish I had more to offer, but know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Prayer does sway God. It does make a difference with Him. I am going to go find scripture to support this because I know you will need it, as I would also. It is so tough sometimes following after God and not understanding why to some he says, "yes" and to some "no" and it seems llike it has no rhyme or reason. It's very late at night so I am going to stop babbling and tomorrow I am going to come back with scripture and more coherent thought. Hang tough. Satan is the AUTHOR of confusion, discouragement and lies. Defeat him with the WORD of GOD.

Laura said...

You have the courage to ask the hard questions, the thing is, no one really knows the answers and hence the concept of faith. I believe in miracles, I just don't know why they happen when they do. I also think that God has given us free will to decide how we will handle the choices we are given and that has an impact on all our intertwining circles of life. Your prayers tell him that you believe even if you don't understand, that you choose to love and worship Him in His infinite power that is beyond our comprehension, and while he knows what it in your heart, you choose to express yourself to him. Just as you know your husband and your boys love you, it means so much when they take the time to hug you and tell you so. God wants us to love one another and I am going to do that by praying for peace for you.

Melissa said...

When my sons died in January, I thought to myself,what was the point of praying and asking for prayers from others. We had so many people praying for us but it didn't do any good, my sons still died. I was so angry and bitter (at times I still am) but one day I thought about it and realized that maybe the prayers did work? My water broke at 21 weeks but I didn't deliver my sons until 24 weeks. Maybe because of all the prayers I was allowed 3 more weeks with my sons. Maybe I was allowed to deliver them breathing and alive. I was aloud to give them a chance at life, to see them move, to hear them cry, to hold them, to kiss them, to love them alive for 2 amazing days. Without all of those prayers, would this have been allowed or would I have given birth at 21 weeks to two dead children? I don't know? But, I do like to believe that it was because of prayer that I was given these opprotunities. Was it the outcome I wanted or prayed for...absolutely not but I was given more time with them and for that I am so grateful to all of the prayers.

I still question praying and even my faith at times, what is the point if god is going to do what ever he wants. But, then I realize that praying can't hurt, it can only gives us a chance to change that path that god has for us and it can give us an outlet. It can give us comfort and help us to find love and peace. I also believe that god wants us to question all of this pain, grief and even why he does what he does. He wants us to look deeper in to our faith and in to ourselves.

Please know you are not alone in your many of us are on that struggling path with you.I am grateful to so many of you whom are supporting me daily on my journey through this grief.


Anonymous said...

During a Bible study in Alaska the whole topic of seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you, ask and you shall receive came up.
THIS was the way I wanted to word my question but I just couldn't seem to put it into words that everyone would know where I was coming from. I mean, just because I ask for a million dollars doesn't mean I'm going to get it. Why ask if He knows what the answer is anyhow?
I totally know where you're coming from on this one.