Sunday, March 22, 2015

Distress Signal

I’ve prayed better prayers.
Not that anybody should brag about something like that. It’s just that I’ve spent enough time in Sunday School and Wednesday Night Prayer Meetings to hold my own in a room full of Baptists. I’ve memorized the Lord’s Prayer, both versions, Protestant and Catholic, so I’m pretty much ambidextrous where that one’s concerned. And it’s been rumored that I have, on occasion, when no one was listening, prayed in tongues. But that’s probably just a rumor.
None of that was helpful last Sunday morning when I found myself sitting alone in the corner of a large, empty emergency room in Queen Creek, Arizona.

I’d have to say, too, at that particular moment, I couldn’t even remember the words to “Now I lay me down to sleep.” I just sat by myself in that cold, impersonal corner with no idea where the Kleenex were, crying and wondering if God realized how alone I felt.
And how afraid.
That's why I prayed the only words that came to mind in those terrifying few minutes when my husband was wheeled away for another CT scan after another series of stroke symptoms.
“S.O.S.” I said to the empty room.
It was all I could think to say. It seemed pretty appropriate since my soul was in some serious distress and the nausea sweeping over me was kind of like I imagined seasickness must feel. I just kept whispering the words from Mr. Morse’s code in the emergency room to the One Who I was sure would understand my distress signal.
And then I texted my best friend. Who texted our other friends. And then I texted my daughter. Who stopped what she was doing and asked her friends to pray for us. And then I texted my son in Kentucky. Who pulled over on the side of the road and prayed for us with his pastor friends. And then I texted my friends in Idaho. Who prayed with their friends at church and their family. And then I texted my sister in Texas. Who put it on Facebook and fifteen people responded by praying.
And then I stopped crying.

My husband came back from the scan smiling and returned to normal. And any day now I’ll stop asking him every twenty minutes if he still feels okay.
A few days ago I had a date with my four-year-old granddaughter and we got to talking about her grandpa, “Chief”, my husband.
“I hope he stops getting sick, YaYa,” she said to me from the backseat of my truck.
“Juliet,” I said, “will you do me a favor? When you pray tonight at bedtime, will you ask God to make Chief well?”
There was a brief pause, because Juliet is thoughtful and chooses her words carefully.
“I’ll keep it in mind,” she said.
Which is all any of us really need—someone to keep us and our needs in mind. Someone to hold you up in prayer when you’re falling and can barely sit up in a chair in the corner of an emergency room stall. Someone to pick up the text with your distress signal and relay it over the airwaves until prayer reaches a crescendo and the God of Angel Armies fights for you and the ones you love.
You don’t have to know how to pray. You just need to know how to spell.
It might be the best prayer you’ve ever prayed.