There comes a point, in the illness of a loved one, when one's best chance, perhaps one's only chance, is to pray for a miracle.
As a Christian, I don't question for a minute God's ability to miraculously cure any given person at any given time. God tells us to pound on the gates of heaven, like the old woman in the parable pounding on the man's house after it has been shut up for the night. And yet, God knows and understands our wishes even before we speak them.
Surely God, unchanging and eternal, does not "change his mind" because of our entreaties?
I do pray to God, begging for the outcome that I wish. But mostly I find myself praying for the strength to deal with whatever God's will is. I don't know if it's more lack of faith, fatalism, or realism, but my instinct is basically: God knows what I want, and will grant it if He wishes. I should pray for the strength to accept it.
Yet does that approach shortchange those we care for? By not pounding hard enough on heaven's gate, are we leaving miracles undone? Experiencing losses that we need not have -- at least not yet?
I can't quite imagine God withholding a cure because we asked one too few times. Or ten too few. It seems clear that should it be God's will to grant out wishes, He will. And if there is something in all this that is left to doubt, it is our own strength to accept what must be. So perhaps it is right to pray for strength and acceptance more than for a miracle.
And yet I know not...
So next time you have a chance, say a prayer for my father (Jonathon Hodge) suffering from non-hodgekins lymphoma. It certainly can't hurt.
And if you know any blesseds or venerables out there eager to move their canonization forward, tell them to get with it.