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Acquiring Humility in Prayer

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13 NASB

I desire to practice prayer in a way that respects all that God has said to us on prayer. I’ve been on this quest since high school. I’d like to share two early experiences of prayer with you here.

In 1976, Ron Hasegawa was my husband’s roommate. Ron and Kent shared a two-bedroom apartment on College Avenue while Kent was in grad school. Ron had a history of kidney disease, beginning in childhood, so he had spent at least two decades living with 3-day per week dialysis, a process which took about 8-hours out of treatment days. Ron had been on the list for a kidney transplant for many years. Twice, in the five years we lived near him, he had a shot at a transplant.

The first shot occurred while Kent was still a student. Kent and I were leaders of what was called the Tuesday Night Bible Study (no matter what night we met on) for graduate students. Ron was not a student, but part of a larger group of us that attended Peninsula Bible Church. With the Bible study group plus other friends, we could gather a group of 15-20 young adults.

And so we did, when Ron went in for a kidney transplant. We opened our Bibles and read,

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. Matthew 18:19-20 NASB

We were earnest in seeking to heed these words of our Lord Jesus, to fervently love our brother Ron, and do what pleased God. We prayed together, oh, for perhaps an hour. It was a sweet time of connecting to God and each other, and we left the meeting with uplifted spirits and confidence that the transplant would succeed.

However, the kidney didn’t take. Nor did the next attempt, a year later. (I remember the timing of the second very well. My mother called at 8:00am the first morning of our honeymoon in Carmel, California to tell us that Ron was in surgery.)

In the winter of 1982, our daughter was six-months old, and subject to constant ear infections. One led to pneumonia. I remember carrying her in my arms in a fierce wind and driving snow to the pediatrician in Federal Way, where we then lived.

The doctor prescribed tubes for her plugged ears, a surgery to be done under general anesthetic.

At the time, we had a Bible study in our home. One of the women, Katherine, was active in Aglow and gathered some Aglow prayer warriors in my home to pray for my daughter. The ladies were very sure that God had healed my daughter’s ears and the surgery was now unnecessary. I was less sure, but I made an appointment to see the doctor, explaining the situation. “Yes, her ears are still plugged and she needs the tubes,” he said, after examining her.

When I explained this to Katherine, she made a comment about the importance of “the faith of the mother”.

I cried when they wheeled my baby away on a gurney. As I waited out the surgery, another woman waiting shared her worries with me. She asked me about my faith in Jesus. There is no greater joy than telling the goodness of God to a willing listener. It was a beautiful grace in a dark moment.

The doctor removed gobs of thick, green sludge from my baby’s ears through the holes he made in her eardrums.

Humility is sometimes hard-earned. These kind of prayer experiences are helpful in that regard. I don’t doubt God’s goodness. I don’t really doubt my own faith. (Mustard seed, anyone?) I just have so much to learn. It’s the most amazing grace that Jesus would say and truly mean, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7 NASB. It may take a lifetime. It may even spill over into eternity, before I can really live this truth. Well, so be it.

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