Sunday, Dec 16, 2007 -
PRAYER REMAINS A PART OF WIREGRASS CULTURE
By Lance Griffin
Tonight, hundreds — maybe more than a thousand — will gather around a Dothan home to pray for Becky Clark, who has been battling an ongoing illness for many years.
Some will light candles, some will hold hands. They will ask God for healing, comfort and peace.
Tuesday night, a group of people will gather at Southside Baptist Church to pray for Alex Owens, who suffers from a rare disease characterized by intense pain, much of which can’t be treated.
They will ask God for a cure, for relief from the pain, and for strength for the family.
For churches and families throughout the Wiregrass, prayer is an essential part of daily life. Whether it’s a brief word of thanks before a meal, or an organized city-wide prayer vigil for a sick loved one, prayer is woven into the fabric of everyday living.
But what happens when prayers go unanswered? For some, it can be a faith-shaking event to pray for the healing of a sick loved one, only to see their health decline even more.
Others, however, believe no prayer goes unanswered, that our human minds are unable to comprehend the decisions of God.
That’s what Tina Davis believes. The Southside Baptist Church member said prayer is not as much about getting what we want as it is relating to God. Davis helped organize the prayer meeting for Owens. Anywhere from six to 20 members have been meeting every Tuesday night since October. Davis said they stay until they get a sense of peace from God that their prayer time is over.
“Whereas our reason for meeting is to ask God to move in (Alex’s) circumstances, the purpose behind the meeting is to acknowledge who God is,” Davis said. “It's about God’s will, his purpose in Alex's life, his love for Alex. It's about appealing to Him as our father.”
Scores of scientific studies have been conducted on intercessory prayer. While not all of the studies have shown measurable positive results, many have. A 2000 study that appeared in the Southern Medical Journal focused on 40 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Nineteen of the 40 received in-person intercessory prayer for 6 months. The patients were studied one year later, and doctors found more improvement from those who had been prayed for directly. Another Southern Medical Journal study on 393 coronary care patients in 1988 showed that those prayed for showed more significant signs of improvement.
Davis, who has been a Christian for many years, said the answers to prayer are really secondary to the act of praying.
“But I think the secret to prayer is not to achieve our will, but to submit to his will and not box him in,” Davis said. “God is in charge. Ultimately, you can not box God in. If you do, you make him smaller than he is capable of being. And we want something God-sized to happen in Alex's life. And if we want that, then we have to pray an open-ended prayer.”
Davis said she doesn’t understand it all. Rev. Johnny Fain, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dothan, said he doesn’t fully understand it either.
“I accept who God is and that he has a plan so much higher than mine,” said Fain, who helped organize tonight’s prayer vigil/walk for Clark. “God sees so much farther and how everything relates to something else. All we see is the physical and the here-and-now.”
Fain and Becky Clark’s husband, Ken Clark, have met each Wednesday morning for the past four years for prayer. He said the two have developed a tight bond, due in part to their time spent in prayer together.
Fain said the power of prayer has already been revealed during Clark’s illness.
“This is something that has been going for 15 years,” Fain said. “God’s grace and power has been so real. Really, this is kind of what Christmas is about, cheering people and blessing people.”
THE DOTHAN EAGLE....12/16/07
I was up quite a bit last night with Alex and did not get much sleep. So, being awake, anyway, I went outside to get the morning paper. I never do that. Don likes to get the paper and read it before I mess it all up. He likes it still in its
tidy shape. But, this morning, something made me go ahead and get it before he even got up. I let the dog out and sat down in the sunroom to peruse the front page and check out the sales flyers. The headline of this article caught my eye and I started reading. Imagine my surprise when Alex's name jumped off the page. The lady they talked about in the article is a friend of mine from another church, and she is suffering greatly. Please pray for her. We went to school together, and I have taught all her children. They are grown and married and have all come home to be with her.
Tina Davis, who is quoted in this article, is a dear, dear friend. She is one of those people who can make you better by just being around her. She is a source of much wisdom and sensibility in my life. She loves the Lord, and she loves my family. She is especially close to Alex and he loves her, too. Tina is the kind of friend that I can say anything to...I can cry or fuss or yell or say nothing. She doesn't judge...she just listens. If something needs to be said, she'll say it. If not, she's just there. And sometimes all we need is for someone to just be there.
I know God put her into my life...and I thank Him for blessing me with her.