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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Prayer changes us

Perhaps a greater miracle is what happens to us when we pray

When Sue, wife and mother of two, was being treated for stage 4 sinus cancer at age 38, she was often plagued with overwhelming anxiety. Knowing that she had no control over cancer or the outcome of her treatment options, she would run upstairs to her bedroom and fall to her knees.

"I knew in my head I had no control over my circumstances, but prayer was the one way I could still do something whether or not my prayers were answered," she said. "It was my way of getting everything off of my chest. It helped me to express my anger, my fear and my anxiety to God about what was going on. When I was finished, I felt like I was able to face my life and take on whatever was ahead of me. I felt more peaceful, more levelheaded and more brave. I pleaded my case before God and as a result was able to face whatever was going to happen...good or bad."

Through honest and sometimes desperate conversations with God, Sue discovered a mysterious paradox: though things rarely went the way she wanted, through prayer she was changed and made new.

 

Cheri Mueller (right) says
Cheri Mueller says "we are given far more than we came to get" when we pray.

"Through prayer, I found what I needed to go on," she said. "I don't know how anyone could go through a difficult circumstance without the privilege of talking to God."

We all pray. We ask for help finding lost car keys. We beseech God to intervene with difficult people and impossible relationships. We ask for protection from tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters that threaten to destroy homes and entire personal histories. We beg for healing from multiple sclerosis, addictions and other "incurables." We plead for peace between parents, for peace in the Middle East, and for HIV orphans in Africa. We pray for simple blessings on our lives and homes, blessings on bread and wine, on babies, new beginnings and dreams.

Every day and in many ways (on our knees, in our cars, in bed at night) we pray for God's active help and presence in our lives. But through all of our praying, pleading, beseeching and begging, it's easy to miss that perhaps a greater miracle is taking place. Is it possible that through prayer, God is doing a creative work in us?


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