Cancer, Stage 4

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.

Ephesians 3:14–15 NLT

“Cancer, most likely stage four,” announced the email. Since older women compose the majority of my Bible study group, a notification of someone’s hospitalization was not unusual. But this one? She seemed too young, healthy, and vibrant.

Shocked and saddened, I thought of my friend. She shows up prepared each week and fully participates in discussion and sharing. She notices when someone cannot attend. She asks about my well-being. I like her. She’s so kind and caring.

The email requested prayer of course. But I paused. How does one pray in times like these? Do I ask that God heal my friend? Take away her pain? Make the hard stuff all go away? And what about my prayers that don’t seem to change the outcome? Just take my dear Lori gone these five years.

Actually, I considered, what do I most often request of God? What is the predominant theme of my prayers? Is it simply that life would get easier? That God would remove obstacles and hardship? That good people would enjoy blessing and not suffering?

I quickly reviewed a few of the principles of prayer:

Ask for anything in Jesus’ name and he will do it (John 14:13).

If you believe, it will be yours (Mark 11:24).

You don’t have what you want because your motives are all wrong (James 4:3).

The effective prayer of a righteous man has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16).

Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

May God’s will be done on earth (Matthew 6:10).

He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him (1 John 5:14).

I wanted God to click his fingers and make my friend’s disease go away. I desired everything go back to normal. Scripture tells me to ask so I turned to the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 for guidance.

[My] Father, Creator of everything in heaven and on earth, I pray that from [your] glorious, unlimited resources [you] will empower [my friend] with inner strength through [your] spirit . . . make [your] home in [her] heart as [she] trust[s] in [you]. And may [she] have the power to understand . . . how wide, how long, how high, and how deep [your] love is. May [she] experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then [she] will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from [you]. (Ephesians 3:15–19 NLT)

Think of someone you know needing prayer today. Use these verses or another of the many prayers of Scripture when you don’t know what to say.

Suggested resource: In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer by Joanie Shawhan, a collection of vignettes, highlighting the stories of everyday women with everyday lives interrupted by cancer.

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