“No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.”
~Guy H. King
“The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember,
or to think he remembers,the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood.
In reaction against that,
he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous,
inward, informal, and unregularized; and what this will actually
mean to a beginner will be an
effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in
which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part.”
Thank you, C.S. Lewis, once again, for your brilliant work in “The Screwtape Letters.” I can’t get away from it. This past week, Mr. Lewis reminded me that Satan actually suffers because of our prayers. Never have I felt the prayers of others like I did this past week. The anticipation and vain imaginations that buffeted my mind prior to Brooke’s brain surgery were fierce. Knowing I have a vivid, creative imagination, Satan worked overtime to paint ugly, distorted thoughts of “this might happen” and “that might happen” and “she could this” and “she could that” in my mind’s eye. All day Monday, the day prior to her actual surgery, the voices ebbed and flowed, whispering all manner of nonsensical lies. For some odd reason, I couldn’t shake it. Compounded by various other private trials in my life, I felt, quite honestly, overwhelmed by them. Trying desperately to quell them with all the meditative exercises I teach to others, nothing worked. Not even 45 minutes of intense elliptical/stair step frenzy. Layers of emotions bubbled to the surface and quite honestly, kicked my butt! There is no other way to say it. But, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, reminding myself of the teachings of one of my past seminars, “The Lights Go Out in Hannah’s Life: Face the Difficult Places of Life with Renewed Strength,” in which I expound on the words of 2 Samuel 22:29-31,
“You are my lamp, O Lord;
the Lord turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”
Even though I knew, in my mind, I was surrounded by the active prayer and constant encouragement of close friends, family, and church family, my heart trembled with the unknowns. But, Tuesday morning, as we made our way to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, the storm within my soul slowly calmed down. Seeking sanctuary for a few moments during Brooke’s surgery, I sat in the chapel of DePaul Hospital. There, surrounded by the prayers of countless other seeking souls in the past, God’s whispers became louder than the whispers of my adversary.
Much like the last scene of the new Walden Media release, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” (which I won’t give away), the overwhelming emotional waves that had buffeted me began to subside. Just when I thought I was going to drown, relief came like a big gasp of fresh air! Oh, the powerful force of relief as one breaks through the surface of suffering and sees the sunlight again.
Dictionary.com offers this poignant definition of relief, “alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression.” Key word for me: deliverance. I could not deliver myself from the angst in my emotions. It was definitely relieved through the active prayers of others.
In The University of Hell, Satan specializes in training his devils. Perhaps a few of his courses might be:
- Tying stomachs in knots.
- Crafting 3-D full-length motion pictures of chaos, confusion, and crisis in overactive, strained, and stressed minds.
- Turning fears into fright overnight.
- Whispering nonsensical lies that make followers want to die.
- Pounding down the power of prayer.
- Extinguishing techniques for fired-up followers.
I don’t know. What do you think? Any ideas of the courses he might teach?
N.T. Wright, in Small Faith-Great God, writes, “Faith, as we shall see it, is like a window. It is not there because we happen to want one wall of the room to be made of glass. It is there for the sake of what we can see through it-and in order to let light into the room. What matters is not so much the faith itself as what it is faith in.” He continues, “Faith means totally relying on God and committing ourselves to God for time and for eternity-not trying to make ourselves good enough for him but trusting in the fact that he accepts us for who we are because of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.”
I find great relief in Wright’s words, especially the truth that it “matters not so much the faith itself as what the faith is in.” What great power lies in that two-letter word: in.
I like to think that I have a strong faith, but what give me even greater comfort is the fact that I have a strong God. My faith, in and of itself, is naught without an Almighty God in which to put my faith.
Today, let us reflect on this one question: What are we putting our faith in? God? Doctors? People? Money? Status? Physical Health? Children? Education? Talent? Gifts? Appearances? _____________?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I put alot of faith—the jump off the edge of a cliff kind—in Brooke’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Koen, and his well-trained team. But, I put ALL of my faith in my Father in Heaven, who loves Brooke way more than I ever could.
He loves you way more than anyone could, as well. Go ahead, put ALL of your faith in God today. I know that I know, He will move on your behalf.