The Power of Prayer

September 6, 2019

What is prayer and how do we do it? How does prayer differ from meditation? How can prayer impact healing? These are a few of the questions addressed by three podcast guests. The Jewish perspective of prayer from a rabbi who has faced cancer and chronic pain. The Christian perspective of prayer from a Baptist pastor whose late wife battled autoimmune disease and young son is in remission from cancer. And the perspective of a yoga therapist who has studied Christian mysticism.

To learn more about the Unity World Day of Prayer (September 12), visit their website.

Guests featured in this podcast episode are Molly Lannon Kenny, Rabbi Robin Leonard Nafshi, and Pastor Jay Holland.

An earlier podcast episode is with Dr. Lamar Hardwick – The Autism Pastor.

Transcript

welcome to glass half full with leslie krongold she shares her stories experiences and knowledge of living and coping with a chronic health condition learn about tools and resources and hear inspirational interviews that help you to live a life filled with quality and dignity with two decades of support group leadership leslie’s ready to help you make lemonade out of life’s lemons are you ready you ready welcome to the glass half full podcast if this is your first time listening i hope you’ll check out some of the episodes from the past three and a half years this is our 75th episode if something you hear resonates for you then it’s quite possible that many of the previous episodes have something to offer you as well i’ve wanted to tackle this topic of prayer for a while in fact we certainly have talked about the power of faith and prayer in other episodes a couple of years ago i spoke with the autism pastor dr lamar hardwick in georgia and in one of our caregiver themed episodes we spoke about faith but we’ve never focused specifically on the power of prayer i chose now because thursday september 12th next week is designated as the unity world day of prayer this happens every year but i was able to plan ahead this time so on september 12th for 24 hours there are activities you can engage in either virtually on the internet or perhaps in your local community you’ll have to check out the links i’ve included on the glass apple website to learn more so for this episode i spoke with three people about prayer i’m often curious about the differences between prayer and meditation two of my guests address this the first guest is molly lennon kenny who is a yoga therapist teacher writer you’ll learn more about molly in a later interview i was reading her book to prepare for my interview with her about bedside yoga something she’s been doing for nearly 20 years and i realized during the interview that she’d be the perfect person to reflect on the similarities between prayer and meditation

the second person i interviewed is an old friend from college new york university rabbi ramen letter nafshi i can’t recall what robin was studying in college but she went to law school soon after her undergraduate time and for years robin worked for nolo press writing self-help legal books here in san francisco she was active in a local synagogue and was a big help to me when i made my documentary film on women rabbis but at that time she wasn’t a rabbi and i don’t even know if it was something she was considering the last guest i have is a man i met recently at a podcast conference i attended in orlando florida we were at a speed networking event for podcasters it was insane and very loud in the hotel ballroom but jay holland stood out he didn’t introduce himself at the time as a pastor but he made great eye contact and shared with me how his son had battled cancer so i’d like you to sit back and relax and i promise you a very thoughtful and heartfelt show it’s a little longer than many of the previous podcast episodes but it’s worth it before you meet molly let me tell you that i did meet her in person several years ago i attended the northwest yoga conference in seattle and she taught one of the extended sessions i i can’t tell you the name of the session but i remember really liking her so i bought her book skip ahead for so years and i noticed a post she wrote in an accessible yoga facebook group i’m in this is in the last couple of months i saw this she was promoting a bedside yoga program that she was teaching and that piqued my interest and i got in touch with her so this fall you’ll learn more about her work in her conversation she told me how she had just graduated from the living school for action and contemplation which explores the heritage of faith from the christian mystical tradition and i know this sounds unusual but it will make sense once you hear the interview but molly’s sister had recently passed away before she attended this program living school for action and contemplation

if we’re coming from the yoga side we understand this is completely different and i would also say a lot of where my work is moving into especially after having finished this two-year program with father richard rohr is i think a lot of times in the yoga world we are like we’ve sort of run away from and kind of eschewed anything that smacks of abrahamic religiosity or like the judeo-christian religions that most of us grew up in so we’re kind of we kind of steer clear of those so i think from that side when we when we think about meditation we think of meditation and prayer as being something totally different and in many ways prayer is something that we wouldn’t do or we wouldn’t facilitate from the yoga side i actually don’t think that’s true or correct um and i think that also in different traditions so for example in christian mysticism what they might call prayer in many ways like centering prayer for example is uh one of the primary practices of christian mysticism centering prayer is essentially meditation open meditation right but they just use different they use a different term for it so i think it really i think it’s a lot about defining what those terms mean i think also a lot of us who grew up with prayer we still tend to think of petitionary prayer like you know please god like make my mom get better or let this tumor go away or you know whatever it might be those kinds of prayer whereas mystic prayer is more um i would say it ends up being more on the listening side of really sort of listening to the still small listening for the still small voice of god um or when i was just when i was just at my i just graduated my program last week and so i was up in albuquerque with my cohort and one of the people in my group was saying i hate when you know when i want people to pray for me i hate asking them because i feel like why should you be praying for me you know there’s so many other people who need to be prayed for and all of this kind of thing and and i shared with him that i had had an episode on my way to albuquerque um where i’ve been reading texts from my sister that were still on my phone and they actually it wasn’t a positive idea to do at the time and it sort of sent me into a panic attack i guess would be the closest that i could come to and i just um was changing flights and i was kind of losing it in the airport in the dallas airport to the extent that actually it’s a little embarrassing a little vulnerable to say but some of the people from the personnel from personnel from the airport came out and they were like are you okay you know do you need anything in that moment i texted two of my siblings my husband and my best childhood friend and i said you can’t do anything for me but can you just let me know that you’re there and my friends who were in at the living school with me had been talking about how he didn’t like when you know to ask people to pray for him they said well that’s that’s really what prayer is that like you’ve just defined prayer prayer is really the act of reaching out whether to a uh quote unquote real person a material person or to a divine presence and saying can you bear witness to my suffering so that i don’t hold it alone and i think that that is an extremely powerful and useful tool for for all of us to whether you know whatever way we want to define it or whatever religious orientation we might connect with or or push away um the idea of being able to just open ourselves up and ask that we are witnessed in our suffering is is a prayer modality that is extremely healing and useful i’ve already told you that i met robin years ago when we were in college she now lives in concord new hampshire and is in her 10th year as the rabbi for temple beth jacob a congregation of 200 families

so what is prayer in judaism how how do jews pray when what is the importance and and what are the variety of ways that prayer is part of one’s life

so in in traditional judaism a jew prays three times a day morning afternoon and evening and prayers are essentially made up of three kinds there are prayers that praise god or bless god there are prayers that thank god and then there are prayers that make requests of god and for most of our prayers outside the sabbath all three kinds are a part of the prayer service on the sabbath however prayers of request are generally removed from the prayer service the idea that the sabbath is a day of rest and if uh god rested on the seventh day when humans rest on the seventh day we continue to allow god to rest and so we don’t ask for prayers we don’t ask for things we don’t make requests of god the only exceptions and these are interesting are prayers for peace and prayers for healing we can ask those questions and ask for those things even on the sabbath so three types of prayers three times a day that we pray but that’s the formula and the formality of prayer i think prayer for jews is as individual as each jew is prayer can be a way to speak directly to the divine prayer can be a way to speak directly to oneself and particularly if one thinks that god is within prayer can even be an expression of aspiration what what i’m hoping for right when we pray for peace or may the one who makes peace in the high heavens brings peace to us we don’t know that there’s peace in high heaven we’re we’re hoping there is but it is what we aspire to on earth and for our own lives and for our family and community so we have lots of prayers for peace and again it’s not that we do it because we think each time we say it it’s gonna um it it’s either we’re frustrated because it feels empty because it’s not being there’s no response because there’s so much war and hatred in the world but again it’s something to which we aspire or it may be something to which we seek ourselves we also note that the word for peace shalom shares its root with the word for healing and wholeness which is schleimut and so really healing means to be at peace i i will often somebody tells me that their loved one is perhaps you know in hospice or dying and i’ll ask them if they want to be on our healing prayer list to which the person will say to me they’re not going to get better and you don’t need to put them on the list and i said a healing prayer is not is not about curing healing and curing are two different things one can be healed by dying at peace with the illness one’s had or the cancer or being able to leave one’s loved ones behind or whatever it is that is that is a peaceful you know a way of healing and bringing about peace but that’s not curing those are two very different things and we don’t pray for curing when when when someone is sick we pray for a refuga is like a complete and whole healing so it’s complete you know completeness and wholeness and health and all wrapped up in that sense of peace so the idea of praying for peace with you know where the person is at not necessarily some sort of miraculous cure there’s like that rational mind knowing that that perhaps can’t happen we’re not looking for magic exactly exactly we’re looking for acceptance we’re looking for you know it’s it’s sort of what i think i don’t remember who wrote about it but somebody wrote about the good death right where you know where you have this sense of i’m not in a place of regret i’m not i don’t have um unfinished business i’m not leaving relationships ugly you know all of those kinds of things where you you come to where you’re completely at peace with with the diagnosis and your ex you have an acceptance of it and you know you you’re able to move forward in a place where there’s really a sense of peace and wholeness to you um but but you know that isn’t to say that when somebody has a kind of you know a chronic condition um which isn’t necessarily a death sentence that is the you know those kinds of prayers for peace are for remission their prayers for a particular course of treatment to work successfully even if we know that the person will come in and out of uh flare-ups to their illness um we still pray for you know you know sort of the receding of the of the uh of the condition you know so yes we can we can ask for things that seem not miraculous but i think most people pray quite frankly for themselves whether or not they’re seeking a connection to the divine prayer helps a person feel centered prayer can help a person feel of that sense of peace many people and i think this is really interesting with the yoga practitioner is that you know peace and prayer and meditation often for some are one of the same and they wake up in the morning and they have a practice that involves prayer and it involves breathing and it involves maybe yoga positions so you know it’s all along a continuum and particularly for those who are not traditional jews orthodox jews who who will wake up and say a set of recite a set of prayers that have been predetermined and and many of them you know that is a deep spiritual connection and they feel that connection to god by doing this and they feel that sense of wholeness and completion for others it feels like an empty recitation and they’re you know they do it because that’s what they’re supposed to do but they don’t always find meaning and i’ve had many a conversation with orthodox jewish friends who say sometimes like they admire the liberal denominations where you can focus on a particular prayer or a particular chant or something that brings you meaning in that moment without feeling like you have to go through a whole whitney of things just to get through them because somebody said you were supposed to do that what about community prayer as a community versus prayer alone or someone coming to you and you praying with them how are you what are the differences there so i think for for most people they are overwhelmed in a positive way when they think about the fact that a community is praying for them so people will very specifically say to me can you include my name on the healing list the prayer list i have three people on there in fact one had a stroke around the time she turned in her early 70s she just had her 80th birthday wow she’s probably yeah she’s probably about as far along as she’s going to get in her rehab she has to live in a nursing home probably for the rest of her life but truly knowing that people were praying for her every time we came together as a community and that we still do gives her so much uh joy and hope and possibility um that you know she’s taken up piano she’s taken up a little bit of painting you know she really has found reasons to live and and it helps her so much knowing that her community is praying for her every week every week every time we join together in a prayer service so it’s fascinating and and fabulous to me and i and i have some other congregants similar i have one who has chronic liver disease and she is on registries and lists waiting for a liver transplant she goes for um treatment three or four times a week um and she is you know she too loves coming to synagogue when she’s able to which she’s usually not she’s usually able to she’s usually so exhausted but it gives her strength feeling and knowing that her community is praying for her and even people in a communal setting where they may say a loved one’s name silently so it’s not even said out loud or they say their own name silently there’s this sense for many people that all of these voices together rise up to some place you know the source the divine call it god whatever and from there goes out into the universe and brings healing to all those in the universe who are in need of healing so many many many people nowadays come to synagogue to say a healing prayer whereas a generation or two ago they would come on the anniversary of the death of a loved one now it’s more to say a healing prayer for their loved one i was reading something yesterday uh because i’m trying to do a little research you know like actual scientific studies um about the power of prayer and i was introduced to the term and i don’t have it in front of me so i may be mispronouncing it intercessory prayer yeah yes you’ve got it intercessory prayer it’s that is where you’re praying for people when they don’t know you’re praying for them and the the the attempt is to figure out if it makes a difference in a person’s life are they going to be cured or healed or whatever measurement the uh whoever is doing the study uses when people who you don’t know we’re praying for you pray for you it’s very controversial as to whether or not uh there is a success rate to it you know someone will point out oh well this showed you know more people with cancer were healed or went into remission than in another study the overwhelming majority of studies show no difference at all and i think that’s partly because for people to get a sense of healing or feel an improvement and therefore then report an improvement they need to know they’re being prayed for so as soon as you add that element to it then most definitely the rate of reported healing or feeling better or even possible cure or remission tends to go up because i think people do really benefit from knowing people are praying for them it’s when you do it without their knowledge is a very controversial part of it of whether or not it’s really has any efficacy i’m glad you’re familiar with that you see you’re very i when i was in rabbinical school i did an independent study with a theology professor on and it was entitled you know why pray for healing and so it was all about it was partially about intercessory prayer but it was also about communal prayer and individual prayer and why we pray you know why go into a hospital room and stand by the side of a bed and ask a person if you can pray for them or you can join them in prayer and pray together why do that why do it in a communal setting all of that and i was trying to i was exploring in that paper of whether i could come up with a theological reason for it and i ultimately decided that no i could not because it was so incredibly individual whereas you know someone was seeking god and someone was seeking community and someone was seeking not to be alone i mean they just wanted to know that somebody cared about them and loved them and held them in their hearts and were willing to pray for them and it was just a way to counter loneliness which i think anybody who has had any kind of a chronic condition a debilitating condition knows exactly what the loneliness of illness is

so it just happens that i have a history with you but you’re certainly the right person to talk to about all this oh great

yeah this has been a great interest of mine for a very long time before i moved up to new hampshire i was both a part-time rabbi in a synagogue and i was also a rabbi chaplain for a jewish healing center across three counties in new jersey so i’ve done a lot of this i i’ve worked as a hospice chaplain i’ve i’ve done a lot of it i’ve thought a lot about it i’ve researched it it’s so i mean prayer in general is so individual and i think praying for healing does even more so and i think it’s more so because each one of us reacts to illness so differently so many of us are private people we don’t i remember a member of my congregation a number of years ago had breast cancer she did not want anyone in the congregation to know she did not want to be on the healing list right so i actually keep on the healing list like initials at the bottom where you wouldn’t where nobody would know who they are they you know like say rc maybe there’s probably you know a bunch of people in the community now with the initials rc and it doesn’t even have to be from the congregation that can be somebody i know of and you know in in my family or in you know somebody else who’s just said you know please pray for my uncle richard who doesn’t want to be announced publicly anywhere but so i’ll have those initials down there and i and i will do that with people because even though they don’t want the community to know and they’re very private people they still benefited from knowing that someone was praying for them that someone held them in their heart and you know asked literally asked god for healing each you know so it’s very very very powerful but so individual and it’s so hard to generalize therefore you know you and and we want to allow people to have their prayer life reflect who they are um and especially in a time of illness when everything else in your life is generally not in your control if you’re sitting in a hospital bed everybody else controls you know who comes in when when they poke you when they take your temperature when they do everything when they feed you what you eat everything so if there’s something about it that you can control uh it’s very powerful so being being prayed for by whom when in what capacity is often just the smallest thing to give a person control over well for how how about this um i don’t know what the best term would be i want to say disbeliever that that sounds so negative but someone who is identifies as atheist or agnostic and they’re certainly you know cultural jews or jews who no longer identify as jews but are so jewish have have you had any experience where you know they’re in a time of grieving whether for themselves or some other suffering and they can’t pray but perhaps they are more open to you know meditation or other forms of energy that are less oh oh definitely definitely and that’s where i also as i know somebody i try to either characterize prayer or where the prayer is directed in a way that might resonate with them so as one person once said to me who had a absolutely no belief in god and this was just a general conversation about prayer he said to me you know when i come to synagogue and i say the words of the prayers it’s not because i believe them to be literal he said i just think it adds to the source of energy in the universe that then goes out and touches each one of us she said i don’t think there’s any kind of divine who’s directing it or taking it all in and sending it back out but i do believe in sort of universal energy that our prayers can be added to that energy and so you know when i say the words of a prayer i don’t take the any of the god language literally another person said to me in our house we just add an extra oh and instead of god we think in terms of goodness and so when we pray we’re praying for the good and the well-being of each person we’re praying for goodness in our world and he said and that’s how we practice our judaism you know very active member of the synagogue um it’s it’s not that it keeps anybody from being connected but they’ve made peace with where they have where they are theologically when they have no no belief in god or no sense of god but it doesn’t mean they’re not gonna not gonna participate in prayer because they they recognize and i try to teach that that prayer that prayer is metaphor and i’m not going to tell you what the metaphor is i want you to find it right because because again for each person the metaphor is going to be different that’s why i try to say that people recognize that prayer is often aspirational it’s not a reflection of the way we see the world to be in actuality i know you had your own health scare uh i’m not sure how many years ago but how did that impact you as a spiritual being how did it you know change your relationship to others who go through you know a health scare so um in 2011 i was diagnosed with endometrial cancer so that was one thing but i actually do have two chronic conditions as well so i live with health conditions and scares or you know going in and out of things all the time it has been a challenge to me at times it really has i mean i have to take my own advice sometimes and and think of the metaphor not think literally i remember one time a colleague of mine who was working on his doctorate in in in philosophy and theological philosophy and he asked the question of uh to a whole bunch of people ask the question of what are you most afraid of and the end you know people had you know the climate you know collapsing from climate change and nuclear war and you know all these sort of large catastrophes that could happen and i said to him you know i’m a rabbi and i have something called sjogren’s syndrome that weakens my joints it’s in the family with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus i said you know my biggest fear is my biggest fear is that one day i will open the ark and not be able to pick up the torah scroll that my health will be at some place where i can no longer do what i love to do or what helps me with my sense of identity in the world this is core to who i am and what i do and so prayer for me it’s not the miraculous stuff it’s really that schlemut that that i will have the wisdom to know what tasks to follow that my doctors will have it um that i will keep myself as strong and as possible that i can continue to do these kinds of things i mean i’ve already accepted the fact that the role of what we call hogba which is the person that lists the taurus role at the end of a torah reading i can’t do that i can’t lift it that high above so that the congregation can see it and turn around with it i’ve already given that up but just to pick it up out of the ark that’s what i want to continue to be able to do because my illness mostly affects my hands um that’s where i feel most of my joint pain i also have fibromyalgia so i suffer from muscular pain a lot as well i mean i just sort of have systemic pain throughout my body and so it is for me it is uh um you know a relationship with god who i do believe in who is a source of strength for me uh but really not so much that i expect god to quote unquote do the work but that i do that my loved ones are there for me that my medical providers continue to be wise and caring and things like that that i was going to say that’s the same thing i was seeking in prayer when i had cancer as well you’re open with your community i assume because you’re talking about it on a podcast yes i’m very i’m i’m very open with my community what sjogren’s is how it really differs from the other connective tissue autoimmune conditions is that it is dryness coupled with the muscle pain and the other joint pain and so i have severe dry mouth and dry eye and so every yom kippur i stand before the congregation and before the service begins i actually take a sip of water and i explain that i have an autoimmune condition in which i have severe dry mouth i have to drink or else i will not be able to function and then i talk about the obligation to fast but it is incumbent upon a person if for medical reasons that they must eat or drink that it will be a greater sin for them to fast than to eat or drink and then i recite a meditation prayer written by rabbi simko weintraub that is called a medication for one who cannot do a traditional fast and i offer it to anyone in the congregation who has to eat or drink over yom kippur

jay holland the man i met at a podcast conference is the senior pastor at covenant fellowship baptist church in stuart florida he has a podcast called let’s parent on purpose i spoke with jay shortly before the hurricane dorian approached the bahamas

so let’s say you meet someone in one of these you know events that has nothing to do with your church or your community and they find out you’re a pastor and they and they’ve never been affiliated with any sort of religious group and they ask you what is prayer how would you explain that i would say uh on just the most basic level prayer is talking to god it’s the way that that we interact with god um which is a pretty incredible privilege if you think about it i mean i it would take me a few weeks to get an appointment with the mayor of my little town here in stuart it would take me some real connections to meet the governor of florida and and i don’t even know how i could meet the president of the united states but the creator of the universe allows us to come before him anytime we want that’s a a humbling and awesome thing so prayer is prayer is talking to god and are there different ways to pray you know such as alone as a community silently reading scripture how about those different pathways sure yeah absolutely i think um you know when you ask other different ways to pray you think about your relationship with with anybody else are there different conversations that you’ll have with them you know i’ve been married for 12 years and and i love having really engaging conversations with my wife but sometimes i just like being by your side you know we sometimes our time off is just happily being next to one another enjoying the presence of each other even if we don’t have a lot to say so um you know i think prayer a really healthy way sometimes is you know if you don’t know what to pray uh realizing that the book of psalms in the bible it’s it’s a song book it was ancient israel’s song book to god and and most of them are prayers to god and what’s really interesting as you start to get into them is there was a lot of complaining and and i and i actually appreciate that that god found it worthwhile in in his scriptures to show us so many examples of prayer where people’s lives were very messed up where they could not see the other side um where they weren’t just giving god a bunch of false platitudes but they were saying god how long is this going to last i feel surrounded you know there’s one of them that psalm 88 that even ends with you know and darkness is my only friend so there’s some real depths of despair sometimes in prayer but i think i think some of those are the the greatest acts of faith that you can have because to to go to god and say i don’t know what’s going on i don’t trust you know i don’t even know how to trust right now but i trust enough to still come to you is is a pretty extreme act of faith so can you speak to the power of prayer as

an action of practice for people who are going through

some sort of chronic uh challenge be it emotional physical

spiritual yeah absolutely as a matter of fact i can and give you uh just three examples and and and you feel free to use what’s helpful to you uh the first is i i this i’m actually in my second marriage my first marriage i married my high school sweetheart um after five years of dating right after we graduated from college and had a good happy marriage and you know had its bumps just like every young marriage does um that we really loved each other and were doing really well and then she came down with an autoimmune disease called ulcerative colitis and this girl who was full of faith and full of love you know spent days after days of misery and complete agony and every time we would try a treatment she would have an allergic reaction to it or something would go wrong and i mean that the number of different weeks we spent in the hospital and and between that just the number of weeks that she spent at home unable to go out unable to travel um you know there’s some real depression that hit in there and i remember one of the things that that christie would do is she would write out prayers and she would tape them all around the house so you know i would go to the bathroom and there would be prayers and bible verses taped up in there i would walk down the hallway like anywhere anywhere that you’d been it was like a breadcrumb of prayers of just calling out and hope and a lot of it was like lord i don’t understand what’s happening um i don’t know what you’re doing through this but but i still need you and um there’s some incredible comfort in that of of just realizing you know you don’t have all of the answers but you can go to the person who does now she ended up actually dying of the complications of that sickness and so that would be my my second one is um you know leading up to her death as a husband as a caregiver watching the the person i love so much just have everything go wrong there’s a there’s a lot of crying out to god in prayer but also just finding my strength and soulless in that time and i can tell you that just the regular disciplines of of going to god of making that a regular habit and not just going when things are bad but going on a normal basis uh those were things that that prepared me for when she died to be able to walk through that time it was almost like it was almost like in my life god had used her sickness to prepare me for the bombshell of being 27 years old and a widower and so you know i remember during that time just simple prayers of you know and i had a little three-year-old girl with her um and so it was like i i’m in a time where i remember one of my prayers during that time being god i just have a lot of decisions that i have to make but i am just so emotionally and spiritually drained i know i could make some very bad decisions that would affect me and my daughter right now and so god i’m just gonna i’m gonna walk in faith i don’t have enough strength to just sit and discern the right path in every way so i’m going to move and walk and lord i’m just going to ask that you close any door that might be harmful in my life and and i looking back see that god answered that and he did it over and over again not that i made every right decision but it was just amazing with hindsight how many doors he closed that would have been really foolish or harmful and so just as a caregiver of in that depths of loneliness uh a lot of complaining prayers but also gratitude and and thankfulness and how knowing that other people were praying for me and their actual prayers not just the knowledge of it but the fact that people were praying for me lifted my soul and helped me to move on and just gave me great healing able to just celebrate the life that we did have together and the fact that that you know christie is is dead on this earth but that she’s not dead that that she’s alive and with jesus and uh you know knowing that that’s not the last time we’ll see each other was was an incredible help it you know it didn’t make the day-to-day missing her easier but it it made it to where grief was not the monster that could completely consume my life and then the the third example that i would give you is uh just over five years ago in april of 2014 my little five-year-old boy elijah spiked a fever one weekend and on monday when we got him into the emergency room we found out that he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and so you know from from that morning to mid afternoon that day just the complete floor fell out from underneath us but i even remember being in the back of the ambulance because we were in a little you know small town hospital emergency room and they said the ambulance is coming to take you to the children’s hospital in west palm beach and and i had just let two or three people know you know i’d let my pastor know and my parents and you know my wife was with me but just driving in that ambulance in the back and and starting to get texts from this friend saying hey tell elijah we’re praying for him hey tell elijah we’re praying for him and i feel like that just did not stop for three and a half years of um i i i don’t know that i don’t know that we win a day i know that we never went a day without somebody praying for us but i don’t know that we went a day without somebody reminding us that they were praying for us and um and god used that and i think one of the things that god does is it’s it’s hard to pray for somebody and then not get emotionally and spiritually invested in how they’re actually doing and so you know people would ask what can we do for you it’s like i don’t know you can’t cure my son from cancer so you know just pray and in praying they came up with things to do to help our family um i mean we it was like we went through an extreme makeover homeowner addition when we were down in the hospital we had we had people swarm into our house rip up all of the carpets lay down hardwood floors bought a new heating air conditioning system that had one of those uv lights in it to kill bacteria um i mean that like they they probably put 20 000 in remodeling in our house in the first two weeks that we were in the hospital and and i think all of that was really launched from prayer from just people lifting up to god you know lord help him and sustain this family and what can we do and then god puts things on their hearts and they and they walk so you know that’s the i think that’s one of the beauties of prayer is it’s not a one-way street i have never had god audibly speak back to me but i i mean my my life is just littered with the trail of god stepping in and speaking and you know i’ll sometimes lament about something in prayer and somebody will come along that day and give the answer that i was looking for and and even if i can’t like even if even if my prayers of that day you know like if god doesn’t answer it um sometimes i’m just able to let go because of being able to to just give it to god you know jesus has cast your burdens upon me and cast all your cares upon me and so being able to do that is uh it’s freeing like i don’t have to control the world and i don’t even have to control everything in my life i realize that that there’s somebody who loves me even more deeply than i love myself who i get to interact with and and to lay things at his feet and you know jesus told a parable about god the father saying you know which of you who’s a father if his son asked him for a fish would give him a snake and uh and saying if you being evil know how to do good things for your kids how much more of my heavenly father will do good for those who love him and so i just you know trusting that if i don’t see the answer that i’m looking for right now it’s because because in the grand scheme of things god has something bigger and greater and you know and i’ll be honest like i’ve been really really not happy with that answer in the moment but but over the course of my life you know given a little bit of depth and perspective i just i see the hand of god and what a joy to get to go to him not just when things are bad but also when things are good and when things are just normal you know like one thing about thinking you’re going to lose your son to cancer is is every day is a gift you know the most normal mundane day when nothing remarkable happens is an absolute treasure and remembering to go back and thank god for those treasures um is just something that that i think we fail to do quite often like you know when’s the last time you thanked god for your opposable thumbs well you know wait till you hurt one of them and then all of a sudden it’s a big deal but um we’re just so littered with gifts in our lives and and i think prayer lifts our soul

and your son elijah five years right five years uh this august actually i think maybe the day we met leslie was was five years from the first cancer-free diagnosis that he had so we keep having celebrations and with his it’s actually five years post treatment before they consider the very uh he’s very high risk for relapse but you know every day we go on as a is another victory day and lowers the chances of relapse so we’ve got another two years of um that cloud kind of being over us but but it’s you know what i’ve got four kids and i’m not guaranteed tomorrow with any of them so elijah’s just the one that gives us perspective on all of that there’s one more thing that i think especially coming from a uniquely christian perspective that is so empowering in prayer in the book of hebrews uh it talks about how jesus is our great high priest and the role of the priest was to come before god you know in the old testament the role of the priest was to come before god on behalf of the people but now we get to go directly to god but we do so alongside jesus and and in hebrews it says we have a great high priest who understands us because he has suffered in every way like we have yet without sin and when i really realized what that meant it meant that you know because like i know jesus was god and i know he was fully man and fully god but i sometimes think that he didn’t live the kind of drudgery life that we do sometimes but he was born into an impoverished family he grew up you know as a day laborer basically as a carpenter he you know in his ministry he was homeless he knew hunger he knew pain he knew betrayal by best friends he knew people in his family not understanding him and laughing at him and thinking he was crazy and so you know one of the confidences that i have in in going to god in prayer is that i you know as i go in jesus name you know and jesus represents me he understands my suffering and and to me that’s having a god that understands our suffering is is pretty profound and i think is is one of those calls like why would you not pray if that’s the case well thank you jay yes ma’am i wish you and your family peace during the storm and i’ll be watching the news and and sending my prayers to i appreciate it yeah i appreciate it and leslie how could i pray for you i just i don’t know that’s a that’s a good question but just recognizing me and who i am and when i do is is uh solace to me

well good what can i pray for you right now sure all right lord i just thank you for this time with leslie i thank you for putting us in front of one another at the podcast movement and having listened to her podcast some and hearing what she’s doing i just thank you for her i thank you hal she has not fallen into letting this this condition that she has letting letting those challenges be her story and and she’s not fallen into living the rest of her life as a victim and god i pray that as she puts together these podcasts that she uh mentors people god i pray that you would help her to see the goodness of god in her life i pray that that jesus would be very real and evident and i pray that you would help bring the the very people to this show that can be most help we know that there’s so many people out there just on their last ropes so many people in despair and i pray that they could find the show that they could find great comfort in it and that you could help leslie know that she’s doing a really worthwhile work and i pray that you would make it very fruitful in jesus name amen amen thank you jay thank you for listening to glass half full leslie invites you to leave a rating and review on itunes this helps spread the word to others dealing with chronic health issues for show notes updates and more visit the website glass half full dot online glass half full dot online

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