Webster defines “primer” as “a short informative piece of writing.” That’s what this is. A chat about prayer. However it could be titled, “Things I learned about prayer from an 8 year old.”
Over the past few weeks (since the news of my cancer has hit the big screen), I have had literally hundreds of people contact me pledging their prayer support. I am thankful and blessed by each person, and overwhelmed that I am surrounded by such a great community of faith.
When I started this journey I promised to write about things I notice along the way. This week I learned something about prayer that I want to chat about. And I learned it from an 8 year old.
I think a lot of times we church folks have used the term, “I’m praying for you,” as a substitute phrase for “Bless your heart,” or “You are special to me.” I know I have been guilty of this. We say the words with every good intent, but then it never seems to happen. The intent replaces the action. The needs around us are so great, and to take every one of them to the throne of the Father is overwhelming. I hope that doesn’t sound cynical, and I don’t want you all to start sending me messages of , “I REALLY AM praying for you!” That’s not the point of this. This has nothing to do with your pledge to pray for me. It’s about what I learned about ME this week.
I have several young families in my life right now. This week two of these fun families were at my house swimming and eating pizza. We had 4 adults and 8 kids laughing and playing and swimming. We were nearing the end of the day when I found myself on the lanai with one of the little girls and her dad. Lucy is the 3rd of 6 kids, so their house is always full of life. This was a quiet moment among an otherwise activity filled day!
Lucy’s dad was asking about my plans and the surgery. Lucy was just sitting and listening. Her dad is a pastor, and he always asks how I am doing. My heart. You know, the scary stuff. The “how-you-doing-since-you-have-cancer-and-your-husband-died-from-cancer” stuff. Those are my words, not his. But it is always just below the surface for me.
At some point in the conversation I used the words, “breast cancer.” At that moment, Lucy gasped and said, “You have breast cancer?” I panicked a little because I wasn’t sure what her history with cancer was. Her dad reminded her that her grandmother had been through the same thing and is doing well.
Here’s where it gets good.
She looked at me and said, “I will pray for you.” I smiled and thanked her. Then she frowned a little and said, “But what’s a ‘breast?’”
Her dad explained.
“Okay,” she said. “I will pray for you.”
“Thank you, Lucy,” I replied. “And I will pray for you.”
“Why?” she said, “I don’t have anything wrong right now.”
It was at that point I knew we had moved from the casual phrase of “I’m prayin’ for ya” to a genuine conversation about things we were going to talk with the Father about. I told her that I wanted to pray for her as she was growing up and as she chose her friends. I told her that I wanted to pray for the friends that she would have in high school, as those friends would be some of the most influential in her life.
“Oh,” she said “okay.”
“Lucy,” I said, “Here’s something I want you to pray about. Pray for my lymph nodes that they will be clear when they do the surgery.”
“Lymph nodes,” she repeated. “I will.”
At that point the rest of the crew joined on the lanai and the moment of quiet was filled with laughing and energy.
I was talking with her father the next day about how sweet that exchange was and what a special young lady she is. “Yeah,” he said, “She’s pretty wonderful. So heartfelt and sincere. She came out of her bed last night to ask me about the word lymph node because she wanted to pray for the right thing.”
It brought me to tears. This sweet little girl wanted to get the right words to talk with the Creator of the Universe about me.
And I am sure the He listened.
I have learned so much from this simple little encounter with my young friend. She really takes the privilege of prayer seriously. When she promises prayer, she means it. And she wants to ask for the right thing. Sure, she could have just said, “that thing Lee Ann said,” and I’m sure God would have understood, but she was attentive to the detail of my needs. So precious.
I want to pray like Lucy does. When I promise prayer for a friend, I want to do what I’ve promised. I want to hit my knees and take their specific needs to the Father.
I am so thankful that so many of you out there reading this are that kind of prayer warrior. I know you are praying for me and that means more to me than anything.
Surgery is 2 weeks from Monday. Right now it is scheduled for 10:45 am on July 11. Please join Lucy in praying about those lymph nodes!!
Blessings, my friends!