My husband Micah enrolled in Dr. Harris’ prayer class, which started the second week of January. The class went through The Cup and the Glory with its accompanying workbook, and Micah bought me a copy of the workbook to go through as well, so that we could learn and converse together. I read the book and completed the workbook in accordance with the class schedule, and God’s sovereign timing could not have been more perfect. Through this class, book, and workbook, my view of prayer drastically expanded in three life-changing ways.
As I mentioned, the class began the second week of January, and by the fourth week I had once again been hospitalized for dehydration from severe morning sickness. The next few months would see the deaths of a dear family friend and my grandma. Also, our fifteen-month-old daughter, Ava, fell severely sick. We fought consistent viruses with her for the next two and a half months that resulted in sometimes daily — or several times a day — doctor visits, urgent care experiences, and emergency room stays. She would go on to lose over two pounds during the next three weeks, which is substantial when you only weigh twenty. Doctors would repeatedly try to come up with a diagnosis. By the end of March, doctors talked with us about examinations for more rare and grave causes of Ava’s illness. During this sleepless and demanding time, the lessons that we learned through this class became instrumental in helping us surrender the circumstances to God and trust Him especially with our daughter.
My Three Lessons
1. I recognized the shallow depth of my prayers prior to this class and learned to pray and praise God regardless of my situation.
At the time, prayer was far from an opportunity to walk deeply with the Lord in fellowship for me. Circumstances throughout the day triggered me to pray, whether to praise God, thank Him, or petition with a request, but I hardly endeavored to spend time in prayer just to know God more and experience the grace found in Him despite situation.
However, in the midst of changing Ava’s bed sheets for the third time in a night before 3 a.m., I started to see a change in how I prayed and viewed God. I began to see His sovereign hand leading our family through such struggle – for our benefit to know Him to greater degrees. Suffering became an opportunity for us to trust God more and to better see His glory. Prayer overflowed from this drastic change in frame of mind. I no longer required a trigger – whether it was something good or bad – to turn to prayer. I sought to pray and glorify God in the midst of our night and day battles with hardship.
2. I learned through experience that God uses suffering to sanctify, and prayer engages me in that process.
Like Jacob’s wrestling became a blessing, my wrestling would become a blessing. Abiding with perseverance through whatever God ordains, and for however long He ordains it, allowed me to be refined, more conformed to the image of Christ, and ultimately blessed. Suffering through the deaths of loved ones and sickness, God developed resilience in me and a greater trust in Him that would not have been there otherwise.
Clinging to Him in prayer sustained me through this time, kept me mindful of God’s present work within me, and refocused my attention onto Him and His greatness instead of trial. I did not need an answer to why I was going through what I was going through, I just needed to see and surrender to God through the turbulence. I saw that suffering was not pointless. It comes with an invitation to know God more in prayer and to become more like His Son through the process.
3. I perceived to a greater degree the indispensable treasure that Christ is, and this inspires prayer.
Paul abandoned status, a respectable reputation, wealth, relationships, a significant religious role, and everything he had to be mocked, slandered, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, rejected, and arrested to gain Jesus. His goal was to know God more, and Paul experienced deep fellowship with Him through suffering.
Struggle offers an opportunity to know God in a way much deeper than just information. It is one thing to say that I depend on Christ and another to live out that reality. I could honestly say in the midst of the heart-wrenching challenge as doctors tried after repeated failures to diagnose Ava, that I would not trade the intimacy with God for anything. Of course, I wanted our daughter to get better as well. Days and nights became infused with prayer and comfort, knowing our precious daughter was in God’s hands. We were able to see God’s grace and sustenance through sleepless nights, and we were able to better see God’s glory and love for us in the midst of our struggle. Mostly, I was awestruck by the love God has for His Son. Although He had the power to intervene and stop the cross, He allowed His Son to die that we might be saved even though we were sinners (Romans 5:8).
The Significance of Prayer
Prayer should persist despite situation, engage in sanctification, and magnify Christ. These lessons each resulted in exalting God and eradicating both circumstantial and self-focus. Developing a love for and value of prayer has been instrumental in helping my husband and me surrender the situations we walked through to God, especially in the area of trusting Him with our daughter. I know that we walked through this season as we did with both the peace God gives (Philippians 4:7) and fellowship with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) because of the concepts we learned from this class and from The Cup and the Glory. Through these means, God prepared us to walk through suffering and to know Him deeply through prayer like never before.