I wanted to update everyone involved in the work of prayer for Bethany and Hannah in a way that may bring you focus.
Frank Laubach in his “game of prayer” he played with God often used his imagination to lift others before God. On his days off, he would simply ride a city bus or tram around town. He would often sit in the back of the bus so he could see all the persons ahead of him. And he would engage in the work of prayer. He would focus on each person, sometimes choosing to pour as much love as he knew how into that person through prayer. Other times, Frank would imagine Jesus walking down the aisle of the bus, stopping by the person Frank was praying for to place a hand on their shoulder to encourage them and bless them. Many times, Frank saw no discernable change in the persons he prayed for. But many other times, Frank would see the persons jump as if touched, or look around to explain the feeling they had. Some would turn around and engage him in conversation about spiritual matters seemingly off the cuff. Others would smile or relax tensed shoulders.
The long and short of this is that Frank practiced this habit of continuous day-long prayer enough that he saw substantial confirmation of the worthiness of his effort. God blessed his commitment to bless others.
Bethany and I had one such blessing today. I share this because of how encouraging it was for us, in order that others may be encouraged to use their imagination to pray along with us as we pray for Hannah’s life.
I was away from Bethany for a couple hours today with my mother and father getting some shopping done. After we finished up at Whole Foods, I chose to walk across a larger parking lot to Yagoot to get some frozen yogurt to bring back for Bethany. You know, encouraging digestive health and all. As I walked across the parking lot, I remembered Frank Laubach and his practice of prayer, and chose to follow his lead. I imagined our hospital room and the chair beside Bethany’s bed. I then imagined Jesus sitting in that chair and placing a hand on Bethany’s shoulder; a strong, healing hand. I held that image in my head for awhile as I entered Yagoot, then re-focused on it after exiting and continuing to walk across the parking lot toward my parents. I have struggled with guilt when being away from Bethany even for short periods of time, and this gave me something proactive I could do when away. I found peace in praying for Bethany in this way.
I returned to the hospital room with partially melted frozen yogurt in my hand for my bride. She was in bed with red eyes and had clearly been crying. She has appreciated times she could be alone to listen, to take a deep breath, and to pray. Bethany told me that while I was gone, she was trying to pray, struggling through her emotions. In the midst of her struggle, she felt a strong impression to get off the bed and on her knees. She felt she needed to obey this impulse, and did. While there, she simply prayed over and over, “Please, please” with many tears. And while on her knees, she felt a strong sense that God was deeply present in the room, centrally in the very chair I was imagining Jesus to be as I prayed several miles away. She felt assurance from God that she was not left alone, and rose from her knees to come back into bed.
This was confirmation for us of God’s provision for us, and presence with us in the midst of our crisis. I share that with you to encourage you as it has encouraged us. I also share that with you because I took a picture of that very bedside chair in our room and I would like to invite you to join us in using your imagination to pray for Bethany and Hannah. If you could, imagine Jesus entering the room, and settling down to sit in that chair beside Bethany, with a comforting, strong, healing hand on her back. Hold that image and settle your focus there and imagine God’s love and healing flowing into Bethany. Anchor yourself in that place and join Jesus in loving Bethany and Hannah for as long as you can hold your focus. Return to this imaginative prayer when you feel like you don’t have words to pray, or if it becomes the most natural way for you to pray for Bethany and Hannah.
This practice is not a magic lesson or escape from reality. Frank Laubach did not see God as a genie (in a bottle). No, that God is too small. Frank Laubach saw God as far bigger than he could imagine yet deeply intimate in his caring. Frank saw using his imagination in prayer as a way to join God in loving others with all of his heart. And Frank saw results. The picture is pasted below.
I invite you to join us in this holy, worthy use of imagination in prayer.
Jesus, thank you for your deep love for Bethany and Hannah. Would you come by their bedside and speak words of healing, of hope, and of assurance? Would you fight for Hannah’s life with your strong hand? Would you ward off brokenness and unhealth by focusing your healing on Bethany’s womb? Heal the amniotic sac and fill it, Lord, so that your daughter Hannah may grow strong.