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A jump-started prayer life: Girl’s illness rekindles a fire that should never go out


Not long ago, I asked you to pray for Bella Langford, the 3-year-old daughter of a family who served in Uganda for several years. The Langfords now live in Oklahoma City, where the father, Ben, is director of Center for Global Missions at Oklahoma Christian University and the mother, Kym, is pursuing a degree in nursing.
Near the end of July, Kym Langford posted on Caringbridge, “Bella is cancer free.” Bella went through difficult chemotherapy to kill the cancer. When she lost her hair, her father and brothers shaved their heads to show their support.
I am grateful for all you who prayed for Bella, and we want to keep praying that Bella will have no lasting effects of the cancer and that she will grow and develop to bless her family and all that she will touch.
Bella’s cancer was a wake-up call for me. I confess that my prayer life ebbs and flows like the tide. At times, every waking minute is punctuated with prayers of thanksgiving, praise and petitions. At other times, the tide is out, and I only go through the motions of giving thanks for a new day, giving thanks for my meals and remembering my family before I go to sleep.
Those times when the tide is out are rough. I am not constantly aware of God and his enduring love and work. My relationship with my family and friends begins to be a chore.
I was in one of those periods when I heard about Bella, and just as man has always done, I needed the assurance of God’s healing power. I prayed for her every hour I was awake. I asked every believer I saw in the course of the day to pray for Bella.
Bella’s illness jump-started my return to praying seriously, and her recovery assures me again that prayer has power, especially when the whole church community is involved in a common concern. My experience has taught me that the greatest impact of prayer is not on the things or people I pray for (and those people and things are important).
I am the greatest beneficiary of my faithfulness to prayer. My prayers are a demonstration of my faith in God and of my conviction that God is still working in this world. Prayer raises me up.
Through my years of seeking to know fully and serve God completely, I have learned that when the tide goes out and my prayers are ho-hum, I must take steps to revive my passion for praying, thus communicating with God.
A prayer journal is one of the ways that helps me restore my connection with God. I don’t have a formula for a journal entry, but I usually start cataloging the blessings of the day — good health, the success of family member, the good worship experiences, deliverance from temptation, and the list can be endless. When I count my blessings, I know more fully how much God has cared for and blessed my life. Knowing that is essential to renewing my communication with God.
Another way that I use my prayer journal is to describe the marvelous qualities of God. Psalm 136 shows us the pattern of recalling the history of creation, the blessings of Israel as the nation leaves slavery, crosses the Red Sea, watches Egypt’s army drown, receives the land, and enjoys daily blessings. Many other Psalms help to describe the greatness of God and the work he has done. I often turn to hymns we sing to consider the ways others have praised the nature of God.
At times, I turn to devotional books to think or the ideas of others to help me rediscover the joy of an active prayer life. Last year, a dear friend gave me Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling,” and it has been a great source of ideas.
Several years ago, a friend gave me “The Book of Common Prayer.” At first I was skeptical, but through the years I have come to value the great expressions that I have found there. Reading those prayers has increased my sensitivity to language for specific situations.
I am grateful to all who have prayed for Bella, and we can all rejoice that she is cancer free and enjoying her young life.
Now we should be praying for our world which is sick with sin and corruption. God is needed to heal our gravely ill society.

CONTACT [email protected].

Filed under: Insight Opinion

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