As I sit here on the sleeper couch in Children’s Hospital, Madylynn is getting all cleaned up. I can hear Nicky laughing with her and Madylynn laughing back. Indeed the sound is exquisite to my ears tonight.
Last Friday night, Nicky discovered a few bruises on Madylynn. We both asked Madylynn how she received them, expecting to hear some tale that only Madylynn could create! Her reply was startling to us – “I’m not sure. I don’t remember anything.” What could have been easily dismissed as a childhood bruise, fired off warning flares and sirens in Nicky’s mind.
Backstory is necessary to explain. When Nick was about 9 years old, she experienced much the same – discovering bruises that she could not recall receiving. What she would eventually find out over the next 4 years was that she had an autoimmune disorder known as ITP. The short version is the spleen gets all confused and begins destroying platelets (blood clotting). When this happens, the body bruises because of the lack of platelets. The danger, then, is a fall or cut that causes excessive bleeding either internal or external. Over 4 years of Nick’s childhood was spent in and out of Children’s Hospital fighting her own body. In the fourth year, the docs took the next step – surgery to remove her spleen.
She’s been right as rain ever since.
Nick, being well acquainted with ITP, picked up on the signs, and we reacted quickly. A trip to Marion General for a blood draw revealed what she suspected – an extremely low platelet count that landed Madylynn an ambulance ride to Children’s Hospital.
What Nicky endured with ITP consumed my thoughts as Dave Greenich drove me down behind the ambulance. I shared all that and then some with Dave and as I did I began to sense a spiritual battle. Not sure how to describe it. Not really sure if there is a physical description I can wrap around it. Closest I can come to it would be feeling the presence of heaven and hell at the same time.
Now, before I go further, I am well aware of the whole physical side of this. We are human and we get sick. However, I’ve tried to pay close attention to events that surround us, both good and bad, and keep myself aware of what is demonic in nature. A trend was emerging that wasn’t coincidence. I began to shift my prayers from healing alone to healing through rebuking.
We’ll be going home tomorrow, assuming Madylynn’s count continues to trend upward. However, sitting on this side of things, it’s easier to swallow events of the last 36 hours. Last night, my disposition was not what it is presently. Sitting on this side, I see Gods hand in the people assigned to take care of my little girl. Sitting on this side, I’ve witnessed the body of Christ rallying around one of its own, supporting through encouragement and prayer. Sitting on this side, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit’s provision of strength, grace, mercy, and wisdom. Sitting on this side I’ve fought against the enemy in a spiritual battle.
I wish I could say I was always sitting in that position, but sadly I can’t. Last night, from where I was sitting, very little of that which I just mentioned existed for me. Last night, from where I was sitting, I felt powerless on my own to do anything. Last night from where I was sitting, I was witnessing a battle that I didn’t want to participate in.
I had to remind myself of what James penned,
James 5:16 The active prayer of a righteous person has great power.
The word active (or effective in other translations) in Greek is energeō and is the basis of where we receive our word for energy. Active prayer is one that invests sufficient time and energy that does not easily give up! Indeed, active prayer requires work and does not work in microwave popcorn fashion.
But we expect that don’t we? It’s as if the first prayer wasn’t answered, why continue?
Let me just say that when you hear that your child has something that you can’t pronounce and sounds terrifying when it is, you live the verse, “Pray without ceasing!”
I can’t expect God to act on a half hearted prayer. It takes work on my part. I have to pray and act on those prayers! As we sat in Children’s emergency department, I needed to act on my prayers that God had already begun His part!
I find this little bit fascinating!
Most often, energeō is used in the New Testament to “denote supernatural powers.” (Mounce’s Expository Dictionary). The active prayers of a righteous person are a supernatural power! Think about that one for a minute! But there’s a catch – we must have a prayer life that doesn’t consist of words alone. God sees past the words and into the heart of His servant. Therefore, active prayers of a righteous person must come from a faith-filled heart that believes God is actively hearing the prayers and will move on them, if aligned to His will and purposes.
This leads me to write about my faith. I mentioned earlier of where I was sitting positionally in the course of things. Where I sit, figuratively in my spirit, becomes a thermometer, a gauge to measure my level of applied faith. Faith is worthless unless applied. If my prayers spoken in rebuke or healing are from a skeptical heart that isn’t moving actively in faith, how then can I expect God to act on a skeptical request?
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no works? Can that kind of faith save him?
I can believe in God with all that I have, but if faith is never applied and placed into active duty, it is worthless. I cannot say I live the life of faith if I’m never required to use it! In verse 14, James refers to an empty religion, empty of deeds or works, one that does not take action and only possesses a belief in God.
Even demonic forces believe in God.
Deeds energize our faith as we perform them, out of faith that God will respond. A faith without such works, without action is fruitless and void of God’s activity in a believers life. Peter would never have walked on the water without action. Faith in Jesus simply wasn’t enough. His water walking experience was made possible because out of faith, he activated his feet and stepped out of the boat. It was Jesus that empowered him to water walk, but it was action out of faith in the empowerment that opened up the opportunity for Peter to experience something incredible!
My question was how do I do this in my prayer life? It must be of the same mold. But it becomes much more of a challenge…mostly because it lives in a world that we cannot physically see. How do I step out of the boat spiritually?
I step out in hope. Hope is the expectation that something is going to happen. Hope in prayer, and in this case spiritual warfare, is expecting something to happen that is from our Heavenly Father. It is praying with an expectant heart that knows God will do something!
I’m now sitting here in my office exactly one week after the first bruise was discovered by Nick. I still sense two forces at work, heaven and hell. The battle ground continues in my life, specifically, my family! Recognizing and identifying the battle is paramount. Just as Nicky was able to quickly identify what was going on with Madylynn so I’ve needed to develop an awareness of the spiritual battle. I still need to pray without ceasing and pray with an expectant active heart that tells God I’m all in on this and not holding anything back. No skepticism allowed!
Unfortunately, I’m just a dense man that needs to remind himself of this about every 15 minutes!
I close on this final thought. Madylynn had another blood draw yesterday (Thursday). Children’s called Nick this morning with the results. My prayer was 150,000. Her count came in at 46,000. Some may see that as discouraging. The docs at Children’s were indeed looking for a number a bit higher.
God is still working…He’s not finished. He’s still doing something through these circumstances. He’s making things happen! He’s healing, teaching, and allowing us to be examples; witnesses to those that we encounter. Nothing has occurred that’s caught Him off guard. He knows exactly what’s going on and knows my heart.
Do I give up because my prayer wasn’t answered the way I wanted it? May it never be!
I continue to fight! I continue to pray for healing and with every opportunity I beat hell down with scripture! I refuse to cave and I reject the devil’s desires.
That’s how I actively pray!