When You Pray But Nothing Changes

“What do you feel like it would take to be healed? Is the Lord putting anything specific on your heart about it?” Our pastor has been calling regularly to check on me and pray with me.

“We have all prayed and prayed for healing. That should be enough…” I couldn’t help but cry.

My Shepherd is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our Healer (Ex 15). But, as of today, He has not yet healed me.

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A weird migraine that turned into days and days of pain has stretched into eleven months of doctors, tests, treatments, and no solution.

From the moment it started, I’ve been praying for healing. And my husband has been praying and praying too. We’ve been praying and waiting and trusting and hoping. And thanking Him and praying more. And reading His Word about healing and prayer for healing. I have been laying my heart open before Him and asking Him to point out everything I need to confess. And I have confessed the things His Spirit has pointed to. And I have been prayed for by prayer warrior friends and elders and our pastors. And we are all praying still.

But, as of today, I am not yet healed. This has turned into a marathon.

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I like sprints. A quick fast race that has a clear view of the finish from the starting line. With the end in sight I have high motivation and a determined will. I have bold strength. I have confidence.

Want prayer for healing? Sure thing! I am totally good for praying for healing. Because I believe. And The Word displays it. And I’ve experienced it first hand. Yahweh is The Healer.  So let’s pray!

But, sometimesoften… always…? He doesn’t heal instantly.

Sometimes…. often… always…? It takes time. His Time. His Timing. His perfect, magnificent, always-good timing.

And sometimesoften… always…?! Prayer for healing becomes a marathon. A marathon that takes dedication, passion, perseverance, endurance, tedium, discipline, pushing beyond what I feel like doing.

Can I be honest? When healing takes time… I find it hard to keep praying. Have you ever felt that way??

Isn’t it tempting to give up?! Isn’t it tempting to disengage to protect our hearts from the disappointment?! To release ourselves from having to persist?! And quit the marathon. Isn’t that tempting?! Whether we are the one needing healing or we are praying for the healing of another member of the Body, it’s so very hard to be in a prayer marathon.

Here I am after months and months of praying and nothing has changed. What I am supposed to do?

What are we supposed to do when we pray but nothing changes?!

Remember Daniel.

“[Daniel] prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” (Dan 6:10 NLT)
“Then [the angel] said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here…” (Daniel 10:12-14a NLT)

Dan10v12Oh Daniel. You know what this feels like. Praying day after day without an answer. Praying when it was against the law. Praying when it would cost you your life. Praying regardless of circumstances. Praying because Yahweh is God.

When you pray and nothing changes: Remember Daniel. Remember that prayer is a spiritual battle. And keep praying.

Remember Elijah.

“Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’” (1 Kings 18:41-44 NLT)

Oh Elijah. You know what it is to feel powerless against evil and far from God’s care. Surrounded by darkness. Praying for the impossible. Audaciously calling on the power of God. Even when your friend saw nothing. But you saw a giant miracle when it was merely a tiny puff of possibility. Praying and praying and praying for God to move.

When you pray and nothing changes: Remember Elijah. Remember that nothing is impossible for God. And keep praying.

Remember Jesus.

While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:49-50 NLT)

My Jesus, You know what it is like to pray for healing when it looks like death has already won. When it looks like time has run out. When fear is so much bigger than faith. When you are praying for what seems like an impossible reversal of circumstances. Enduring in prayer even when there seems to be no hope.

When you pray and nothing changes: Remember Jesus. Remember that He is bigger than death. And keep praying.

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These have been difficult months.  I feel like a shadow.  I am discouraged and frustrated. I am physically, emotionally, and financially done. I am desperate for healing yet I am losing energy to keep praying for it.

Today I am wrapping my heart around the Hope I see in the marathon prayer journeys of Daniel, Elijah, and Jesus. And so many others. Truth is: God’s Word is full of the stories of people who unwittingly developed incredible prayer endurance. That is: They walked with God and their conversations with Him (aka prayer) became deeper and stronger amidst their pain and challenges.

Praying for healing is not just about the actual healing. Praying is relationship. And praying for healing means spending time with our Healer. And time with Him is more important than my healing.

Let me tell you: It’s hard to say that. I don’t like it. But God is good. And time with Him is good. So I will choose to keep talking with Him about my healing long after I emotionally want to keep praying for healing. And, let’s be honest, I will have to re-choose to embrace my time with Him each day.

I know I will be healed. Today or tomorrow. In this life or the next. And in the mean time His Word gives me Vision and Hope: Rom 5:3, 2 Cor 4:8-18, Is 40:25-31. Selah.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray… Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:13-18 ESV)

What do you think?