Whenever the subject of prayer is mentioned, most people immediately think of a prayer request. Whether you’re in a Sunday school class or a Wednesday night prayer meeting and there is a call for prayer requests, you can expect a plethora of voices asking for healing of a loved one or for comfort in a situation where someone has experienced a tragedy or death. Certainly those are important and need to be voiced. But let me ask — in your prayer life, how much is devoted to praise for what the Lord has done?
How quick we all are to bring our petitions before the Lord, but then when our prayers are answered, our prayers of thanksgiving are either limited or, sadly, non-existent.
I’m reminded of the account in Luke 17 when Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one thanked Him. Scripture says that this one came back “praising God with a loud voice.” That account speaks directly to us. Think of the many prayers you’ve offered to the Lord, and then consider how often you have praised Him in your prayers.
Pause to consider your specific prayers of the past. Think of those situations where God not only answered your prayers, but did so in a miraculous way. Have your devoted time in prayer to glorify Him, to praise Him, to exalt Him for His grace to you in those situations?
For our family, we praise God publicly and in our private devotions for the miraculous answer to a great prayer need 13 years ago. Our daughter Cindy was 31 years old and life was wonderful. She had finished a five-year clinical trial after a scare with melanoma. She and her husband, Ivan, decided to begin a family, although they were cautioned that a pregnancy could result in a strong reappearance of cancer.
They told her doctor at Vanderbilt that they had prayed about it and believed it was the Lord’s desire for them to have a child. She soon became pregnant, and on July 4, 2006, gave birth to a son, Preston.
Ten months later, on a family vacation to Florida, Cindy experienced severe shoulder pain. Thinking it may be a torn rotator cuff caused by lifting a chunky baby, she went to a sports medicine doctor. When he called her later, he was in tears — her melanoma had returned with a vengeance. Soon she underwent surgery on her neck to remove part of a tumor, then had radiation to try to remove the rest of it. But a month later, our family sat in an oncologist’s office and heard news that no parent ever wants to hear.
The melanoma had spread to every part of her body. Tumors too numerous to count in some places. The oncologist said one treatment option existed, but he said her body would soon shut down because of the potency of the drug that would be used. The prognosis was dire that August day. The oncologist said that if the treatment didn’t work, she wouldn’t be alive for Christmas. Later we learned he didn’t expect her to live another six weeks.
In September she began the treatments at Vanderbilt, and miraculously her body didn’t shut down. In fact, she was the first patient there to be able to take all the treatments in an eight-day period. She went home for a few weeks, then returned for another round of treatments.
During that time our entire family prayed diligently for her, praying God would work a miracle of healing, praying that her son would not grow up without a mother. Our church family prayed, our community prayed. Our extended family and their churches prayed. Those connections resulted in churches across the state and in many other states praying by name for her. We became aware of people in other countries, such as Brazil, praying for her. There were so many times my wife and I wept as we pleaded with God to do a mighty work. Many others prayed with that intensity as well.
Christmas came and Cindy was still with us. A month later, she was able to return to work. For the first time in many months, she was able to lift her son into her arms. Before the year was over, she was not only declared in remission, but Vanderbilt termed her their “miracle girl” — the patient at that hospital with the most severe case of melanoma to ever be considered cancer free. And this May, she’ll celebrate her 44th birthday with her family, her church and her community who prayed with power for her healing.
God was faithful to answer the multitude of prayers on her behalf. We trusted in the power of God to do what only God could do. Thirteen years later, my desire is that my prayer life will focus on interceding for those who I know who are lost and for those I encounter in life’s paths who will respond to the gospel and accept Jesus as Savior. My prayers should always involve praise — glorifying God through what He did for my daughter and for other blessings too numerous to mention here. May I always be like the one leper who glorified God, not like the nine who didn’t thank Him.
Chip Hutcheson is interim managing editor of the Western Recorder, a monthly magazine of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org