Prayerful Purpose

I have a question. You told me you were praying for us, but for what were you praying?

Were you praying for a cure? Were you praying for a prolonged life? Did you pray for a change of heart, that he would pursue chemotherapy?

Or were you praying that we all may accept God’s will and stop creating our own? Were you praying for a peaceful end, a peaceful departure? Did you pray for unity in the face of a divide?

Prayers are appreciated, but take a moment to think about your reason for praying. When the phone rang from a doctor with a diagnosis, I prayed to wake up from my nightmare. I wept in agony when he said it did not seem that we could pursue treatments for this cancer. I prayed to keep my dad with me forever. And ever. I prayed to keep him.

As a firsthand witness of his distress, I slowly began to realize that these prayers were selfish. My prayers were actually not in my dad’s best interest but rather in my own. I was praying to keep him because that was what I wanted, not what he needed. Of course I want my dad with me forever and ever, but I do not want that at the expense of his internal misery. I want him to be healthy and back to normal, but I have accepted that is not our reality. The reality is that my dad is dying in hospice. Praying to keep him for my own benefit was perhaps the most selfish thing I have done.

I now pray for his comfort. Every night I pray that he will sleep well enough to have some energy for the day ahead. I pray for his pain to be as little as possible, or maybe even not be there at all for a few moments in time. I pray that he knows in his heart how deeply loved and cherished he is.

Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks so bad. I utterly abhor cancer with every inch of my being. I wish my dad did not have cancer, but he does. That is a fact, and it is okay. It is okay because I believe in the power of prayer. I have decided to channel that power to his peace and benefit, not my own. I hope you make that decision, too. When we think we are praying for someone else, we may really just be praying for ourselves.