Changing What We Pray For

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mfree6464
Posts: 34
Joined: 23 Feb 2016, 17:07

Changing What We Pray For

Post by mfree6464 » 07 Oct 2019, 11:41

Sadly, a young family in our stake recently lost a father to cancer. They have 5 children ages 5 - 15. It was and still is terribly heartbreaking. Needless to say a lot of fasting, priesthood blessings and prayers were offered on their behalf. Prayer has sort of been a focus of my spiritual journey lately. I am in the process of trying to reconcile my old views on prayer with experiences that have given me new perspective on life, religion and spirituality in general. I couldn't help but notice how many different things we were all asked to pray for during the approximately 2 years this man was ill. My father-in-law is this family's Bishop and he kept us closely informed throughout the ordeal. Here is a general idea of how it went:

The initial 0 to 3 months
Prognosis: This brother has been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer.
Prayer Effort: There was ward fasting stake-wide for him to be healed and priesthood blessings from many men all over the stake to heal him.

3 to 6 months
Prognosis: Things haven't gotten worse but they aren't better either - it's still stage-4 cancer.
Prayer effort: Priesthood blessings for full health recovery continued but the ward fasting stopped.

6 months to 18 months
Prognosis: He is deteriorating slowly. Cancer is spreading to other organs. He has a 10% chance of being alive in 5 years. He tells my father-in-law he just hopes to make it 5 more years.
Prayer Effort: Priesthood blessings continue but are no longer asking for healing by the 18 month mark. Most blessings are simply for comfort. Focus of prayer has turned to asking God to allow this man to make it 5 more years.

18 months to death
Prognosis: Cancer continues on its terrible path, he slowly loses weight, becomes unrecognizable and passes away. His final wish is to go on one final vacation with his family to Mexico.
Prayer effort: Priesthood blessings of comfort continue for him and also extend to his wife and children. Blessings and prayer requests for healing are non-existent during this time. Focus of prayer becomes comfort and asking God to allow this man the strength to make it out of the country for a weekend with his family (which I'm happy to report he was able to do.)

I don't really want to address the idea of whether or not prayers were answered but rather I'd like to take a look at why the focus of the prayers changed as his prognosis changed. If someone believes enough in a God who can hear them and grant a request, why not stay the course and pray for healing until the bitter end? Why did everyone ask only for comfort in this man's final days when they could have continued to ask that same omnipotent being for full health?

I have thoughts but I'm curious to hear some of yours.

Roy
Posts: 5684
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Changing What We Pray For

Post by Roy » 07 Oct 2019, 15:01

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.
It is possible that this represents a form of modified stages of grief. It is almost like we go through a sense of communal Denial, Bargaining, and finally Acceptance.

I love how the LDS community (and other communities) can rally around members in a time of need. This can be a huge lifeline in a period of relative darkness.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

nibbler
Posts: 4120
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Changing What We Pray For

Post by nibbler » 07 Oct 2019, 19:13

When we go through difficult trials, feeling like we're in it alone compounds the hardships. Maybe the benefit is knowing there are other people out there that care about you?

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