Monday, March 15, 2010

Praying Big

Mondays are typically my 'at home' day to put my house back together again after a weekend full of family fun (translation: mess). Since my Mary Month experiment this Winter, I have been committed to keep this day free from appointments, meetings, etc. and just enjoy the quiet of an empty home.

Honestly, much of this morning was spent crying. I feel like I have had to hold it together all weekend for the sake of my familial responsibilities. My hormones are raging and I just needed a release. So, as I worked on my ever-massive laundry piles I was listening to an Andy Stanley sermon called Asking Big.

Here's just a sampling of the quotes from that sermon that convicted me this morning:
"What are you praying that's big enough to honor the size of your God?"
"The size of your prayers determine the size of your God for your children."
"God is not annoyed by your persistence. He is honored by it. Jesus says He is moved by it. Do you have a tenacity in your prayers that honors God?"

In the midst of all that I got a call from a young man in our community. (True confession time here. Don't judge me.) He called our home phone first. I did not readily recognize the name on caller ID so I let it go to voicemail. A few minutes later my mobile phone started ringing. I did not recognize the number, so I answered it. The young man on the other end of the line introduced himself and asked if I had time to chat. I was in the middle of a cathartic time of weeping and praying, so I told him I did not. I did not know what he wanted, but thought I remembered seeing his name as part of a group in a fundraising letter I had recently received. Frankly, I just wasn't in the mood to deal with a sales pitch--even for ministry. (Just keeping it real.)
But he was persistent.
"I understand, Mrs. Scott. Would there be a better time for us to talk?"
My mind was racing. I decided to tell him I would call him back around 2, when I was on my way to get my children.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I had straightened the house, washed the dishes, tackled the laundry, prayed, talked to a few friends and showered and gotten dressed. I was feeling a bit more refreshed as I gathered my things to head to the school for pick up. I looked at the clock and saw 2:02. I sighed and decided to keep my word and return the call. (Although not with a very good attitude.)

When A. answered the phone I cut to the chase.
"Are you calling about the fundraising letter I received last week?"
"No, ma'am. I am actually calling about something else."
I was intrigued. What on Earth is this stranger calling me about?
"I am calling you about Sweeney."

I don't want to tell stories that aren't mine to tell, but the next couple of minutes were spent with A. explaining how very burdened he had been this weekend over praying for Sweeney, a man he does not know. He spoke of how even this morning during a devotional time he was attending he brought Sweeney's name before the group through tears. Tears, A. pointed out, from a young single man in his early twenties for another man he does not know.

A. told me of how after the devotional time another young man approached him and said, "Sweeney's story is not over. God can still heal him."
These two young men committed to pray fervently for Sweeney. A mutual friend put A. in touch with me to see if it would be possible to go and pray over Sweeney.

I have to tell you, my first inclination was to 'run interference' for Cabell. Honestly, they are weary. This journey has become excruciating. I knew Sweeney's mother was arriving this afternoon and that they were awaiting word on a procedure to help alleviate some of his pain. It 'just so happened' the time these guys wanted to pray was when the procedure was scheduled.

The words from Andy's sermon were fresh in my mind. My fleshly, practical response was in deep conflict with the lesson I felt like God was teaching me. I called my accountability partner, Beth, and asked her what she thought I ought to do.
"You need to hang up and call Cabell."
Just as she uttered those words my call waiting beeped. It was Cabell.

I recounted the amazing story to her and she shared with me how the Spirit was at work in her life over this very thing. How just last night as Sweeney slept she was pouring over the Gospel accounts of all the different times Jesus healed someone. She had recommitted herself to faithful, fervent prayer for His divine intervention and healing.

Logistically, we could not make it work for A. & his friend to come pray at the time they had requested, but Cabell suggested they come to the hospital or go to her back porch. I passed along the message--along with my gratitude for their precious faithfulness and obedience. What love they showed to strangers today!

Just as I got a text from Cabell that they were in pre-op, I got a text from A. that they were on their way to the Sweeney's back porch. Meanwhile, my sweet husband was wrapping up his day in the OR and heading across town to the hospital where Sweeney's procedure was taking place. He was able to be in the room holding his hand and securing his damaged shoulder to prevent dislocation. (I am married to a tender, amazing man.)

As he later recounted the story to Cabell, it was very difficult to navigate the cancer ridden anatomy. Although it was a very experienced and excellent physician at the scope, there were tense moments where it seemed they might need to turn back. My husband was not an attending surgeon at that point--he was just Sweeney's friend. As such, he was praying like crazy that they could somehow finish this procedure. He prayed inside that OR, just as countless others were praying all over the place. Finally, through a somewhat 'blind stick,' the anatomy was cleared, a stent was placed and we all rejoiced at an opportunity for some pain relief for our friend. When Cabell was told this story she remarked at how amazing it was that she was specifically praying through the anatomy of his abdomen. She knows the Spirit led her to pray that way.

As I am typing this, I am cognizant that much of the 'amazing' in this story is getting lost in translation...but those of us on the ground in this fight are incredibly encouraged by the way God showed Himself to still be VERY MUCH in the picture in this situation. Although it may seem like a small thing in light of the severity of our friend's situation, it is a huge reminder of what happens when we storm the gates of heaven with faithful prayers. I am praising God for His compassion. He does not leave us or forsake us. He is full of mercy. Praise be to Him!

And I challenge you to consider if you are praying big, God-sized prayers that honor the BIG God we love?

My family is praying for complete healing for Sweeney in this life. We have involved our children in this request. I am resisting the fleshly urge to make excuses for God in advance, in case He decides to heal him in heaven rather than on Earth. We will not borrow worry from tomorrow. We will pray in faith today. Lord, help me model BIG faith for my children!


twiceasnice said...

My family is praying BIG for Sweeney to, he is on our prayer chain at our church of 800+families in Austin, Texas~We are being BOLD in this prayer. Amazing post,

Traci said...

Awesome. We'll pray BIG for Sweeney too. He's been an inspiration to my 13-year-old boy. We follow his Caring Bridge site and pray regularly. No matter the outcome, his is an incredible story.

Kris said...

Thank you for sharing the stories of the day. Amazing. I was just thinking of this very question today (that I have not been "praying big" with my children) - thank you for your example. I will include Sweeney and Cabell in my prayers as well.

The Amazing Trips said...

J, I'm so sorry to read about your friend's struggles, but I've got goosebumps at the love he is receiving. What an amazing thing to have happen today. His story isn't over. Miracles DO happen.

I'll be praying BIG for Sweeney and Cabell. And for you, too.

Anonymous said...

To many families are affected by cancer in today's world. I lost my aunt to cancer she was 18 years old at the time. It's a scary thing. I too will be remembering your friend in my prayers tonight. Our God is a Mighty God!

dee said...

Amen! Praying BIG for Sweeney.

k and c's mom said...

After walking through a seven year journey of cancer with my husband, I'm here to testify that the mercy, grace and PRESENCE of God is persistently real. Oh, that we would catch the hem of His garment for Sweeny and Cabell. Thanks for your life-giving post.

Bailey's Leaf said...

I've had Sweeney on my sidebar prayer list for some time. In fact, I dropped in on their site just last week to see what updates were there.

Thank you for sharing this story with us. Certainly we will pray.

Michelle said...

God's timing is perfect, isn't it? It was no coincidence the timing of A's call. I will continue to pray BIG prayers for you and your friends.

Jeni said...

Praying for Sweeney and Cabell. My heart goes out to them. I lost my father to cancer, and he was only 40 years old. But, I know God can heal on this earth as well. May God tenderly hold Sweeney and Cabell in His loving arms and show Himself in a magnificent way.....

Side note, do you have a link to the sermon you were talking about? You said the sermon was called "Asking Big," but I don't see it on your link. We have been talking about this very subject in my mentoring group.

Unknown said...

Following Sweeney's Caring Bridge, and praying constantly for him.

God is so amazing. This post today encouraged me. God is right there in all of the details, even when we don't understand. He knows just what to do and just who to send our way.


Tonya Ingram said...

The 'amazing' in this story did NOT get lost at all! All I saw was AMAZING throughout. All the tears that flowed from you was to release things from you to make room for what was to come your way this day. God is STILL in control. Always has been. Always will be!

D said...

"cold chills"
Our God is a Mighty God

Jennifer said...

To get to the specific sermon, follow my link then click over the the 11th album cover. It is "Q3." There are three sermons in the series. The one I am referencing is Asking Big from 1/7/07.

Jessica said...

Thanks for posting this! It was just what I needed today! My dad is going through agressive chemo now for stage 3 lung cancer, and while there have been several times that God has shown me through His word that Daddy will be healed, I tend to "go there" and think, 'well.. He just means He will heal him in Heaven.' What a reminder that God is God and He can do anything that He wants in spite of all the odds stacked against my Dad.

Praying for your sweet friends today!

Lindsey said...

I heard this sermon for the first time in May 07...right after I graduated from UA and moved to Atlanta. It was one of the first Andy Stanley sermons I heard, and has remained one of my favorites. I listen to it at least 4 times and year and have given it as gifts more times than I can count.

Praying big for you and for Sweeney!

Betsy Huey said...

I don't personally know Sweeney, but know of him through friends and join you in praying BIG prayers for him.

Your blog continues to encourage me. Thank you!

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.
~Zephaniah 3:17

S said...

I sat here reading this with tears absolutely flowing...conviction for me, love for you, amazed by the way God works. Thank you for humbling yourself and posting. Words cannot express the lesson I've learned here. God bless you! (and praying for Sweeney!)

Tee said...

I have been praying for your friend for months, even though I do know know him. I add my agreement that God will heal Sweeney here on earth. I've also pray they both will have total peace.

this One's for the girls said...

I just read their Caring Bridge update and headed over here to get the full story. I will join the ranks of everyone who is praying unlimited, unedited, unafraid prayers for healing.

Stacey said...

Thank you for sharing that POWERFUL story. He IS mighty to save! Joining you!

WhitneyB said...

We love the Sweeneys and we, too, are praying BIG. Our son, Forester(8) is fighting brain cancer,and we know that God is way bigger than cancer or anything else!! Also, we as long distance friends of Sweeney & Cabell so appreciate your family loving them and being the hands and feet of Jesus to them. So many of us wish we could be there - but God knew who they needed. So, thank you! - Whitney Bradburn

Arlene @Nanaland said...

This post was such a blessing to me this afternoon! One of my recent devotional readings was the story of Jonathan and his servant boy in 1 Samuel 14. Jonathan reminds his servant that nothing can hinder the Lord!(v.6) That has really caused me to look at how I pray! I want to be praying with a big faith! I really admire those young men who are praying for Sweeney with a Big Faith!

KM said...

What a reminder! Thank you for answering the call and being open to share things with us on here. It ministers to me frequently in a situation I happen to be dealing with in my life...right as it seems to be happening to you! Praying for Sweeney too...and the precious young man mentioned above that is battling cancer. May God grant us His perfect peace!

Emmy said...

I am still in awe! : )

MLS said...

Jeremiah 32:27 "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is there anything too difficult for me?"

God IS able. Because He never changes, neither does His power. He is as powerful to heal Sweeney as He was when He rose from that cross! How amazing is our God!

Thank you for a great and encouraging post!


Amy-neighbor said...

Again, I leave so encouraged reading this. Thanks for being so transparent. So reminded to keep it BIG for God!

Anonymous said...

Ended up here only by God's hand. Someone read a blog and ended up linked to this story. She has passed this on to her friends on FB. Of course none of us know you or Sweeney. I can only say that the words written shout "FAITH" "HOPE" "TRUST"!!!

My faith was stirred from your writing. I realized all the doubt and fear this world heaps on us, but was hit smack between the eyes with the fact that OUR GOD HEARS us when we pray!

The prayers of a righteous man avail much!

I will stay linked to this story and be lifting this precious couple up knowing my God hears!

Susie said...

Thank you, for this post ~ I give thanks for God's goodness and faithfulness! I don't know your family or the Sweeneys but I stand praying and believing with all of you for complete healing!