Sometimes It is Difficult to Know How to Pray

February 11, 2011 — Leave a comment

Sam Rainer wrote a heartfelt post about prayer in the midst of a trying time.  His brother Jess (a high-school friend of mine) had their second son Will die just an hour after he was born.  Here are Sam’s words about the situation.

Sometimes it is difficult to know how to pray.

The apostle Paul struggled with how to pray while sitting in jail waiting on his potential execution. Would God spare him for fruitful ministry? Would God bless him with eternal worship? In Philippians 1 he writes, “I don’t know which one I should choose.”

On Thursday February 3rd my family received difficult news. My brother’s unborn son had a rare disorder which created a dangerous situation for his wife and child. Jess and Rachel were devastated. Would child and mom live? Would God bless either of them with heaven? We did not know how to pray. Uncertainty trumped any emotions. Quite frankly, we were stunned.

William Thomas Rainer was born, lived one hour, and then came to know the joys of God. He will never know the sorrows of this earth. He will only experience the presence of King Jesus. His mom was spared, given the fruitful task of raising Canon, their firstborn son, and—hopefully—more little Rainers.

Baby Will’s shallow breaths were not in vain. His hour on this earth was not grace-less. God was glorified as two parents gave their son back to the Creator. King Jesus called Baby Will home early. It was a painful reminder that we are not citizens of this earth, but rather, as James writes, “heirs of the kingdom.” Will’s death was a heart-aching, nauseating demonstration of the fallen nature of this world. But his death will be a marker in my spiritual growth—a point in my life where God lavished His grace.

How should I pray? Which should I choose? Paul’s words ring as true today as they did in his prison, “To depart and be with Christ is far better.” As David says in 2 Samuel after losing his newborn son, “I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.” One day—come quickly Lord Jesus—I will see Will again. One day—come quickly Lord Jesus—Jess and Rachel will go to him. That day will be glorious.

Baby Will’s lungs did not last him. His heart could not pump fast enough. But he has new lungs now—lungs that are like the giant bellows of a pipe organ, belting forth the praises for a good God. He has a new heart—a pure, glorified, and complete heart that knows only the glory of a God slow to anger and rich in mercy.

See you soon, Will. We love you.

Patrick Schreiner

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I teach New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am married with three children. This blog, against all wisdom, includes anything I am interested in. That includes movies, music, theology, culture, hermeneutics, the Gospels, and politics. Feel free to comment and let me know you are reading or that you have found something helpful. I reserve the right to delete unhelpful or rude comments. Many of these posts are simply things I find interesting and therefore I am not asserting I agree with everything I link to.

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