When she offered the prayer I was both surprised and touched. When she took back the offer I was amazed.
The patient was a sweet Christian woman in her 80’s. She and her husband were in together for a medical visit and they had noticed the brace on my knee. I explained that it was due to arthritis and was worn to help relieve pain. She instantly made the prayer offer, "Oh doctor, may we pray for you?"
“Sure” I replied. I felt a little awkward, but I thought, "why not?"
“If we pray will you believe that God will heal you?” was her next question.
“I believe He can heal me,” I replied, “I do not think He will, but you are welcome to pray.”
“Well, if you don’t believe then there is no reason for us to pray for you,” and with that the offer was rescinded!
I was taken aback by her response. She actually believed that God’s response was totally dependent on me! I saw no point in arguing (and for once in my life didn’t) but I was saddened nonetheless. I wondered how many times in her life she had blamed herself for unanswered prayer, how many times she had thought that if she had just believed a little bit more that God would have answered.
There are many things about my faith that I do not fully understand but I am certain that God does not act according to my wishes and to the limits of my faith. I do not control Him and He is not bound by me. I pray and ask for His blessings and for Him to relieve my pain, resting in the knowledge that He is able to heal me and trusting in His ability to sustain me if healing is not His plan. He has shaped me and molded me through each challenge in life and I have learned that sometimes, pain can bring good things.
But you can still pray that God will take mine away!
Thanks for reading. I post 2-3 times a week on topics of faith, medicine and life in general. You can have posts delivered to your inbox by subscribing to the blog and comments and questions are always welcomed. You can also follow me on twitter @bartbarrettmd.