The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Prayer list

It has an effect on me when I am open to its call

Sliding into the pew before the opening hymn, I glance through the bulletin, stopping at the long list of people requesting prayer.

Many face life-threatening illness: a young mother undergoing chemo ... a child critically injured in an accident ... an older couple who sold their house to travel the country and learned a day before departure that the husband’s cancer had returned. Others on the list are struggling through divorce, unemployment,depression.

The names are of young and old and in-between, but most are of older members whose bodies have started the slow process of shutting down.

I wonder at times what good my prayers do—especially for those people I don’t know or those for whom death is inevitable, perhaps even welcome, after a long life.

I don’t pretend to understand the power and effect of prayer. Its workings remain a mystery to me. I have, though, come to understand two types of prayer—prayers of the lips and prayers of the hands.

Prayer of the hands I most vividly witnessed several years ago when a 36-year-old friend battled breast cancer. I was part of her support group. Our goal was to meet the daily needs of Suzanne and her family, allowing her to focus her energies on getting well.

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March issue

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