How do you pray for someone with a condition that doctors call “incurable”? I had faced that question as a church member, as a church leader, and as a seminary professor. But when I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer at the age of 39, I faced the question in a new way.
On one hand, when we pray in such a situation, we should not be paralyzed by fear. Like the Psalmist, we can bring our whole range of emotions before the Lord: our anger and grief, frustration and fears, longings and dreams. Whatever we’re feeling, we can trust that God hears our cries, our groanings. Even the most desperate prayers are offered in hope in the Lord and his promises—promises fulfilled in Christ. I have been grateful for all of the prayers offered for my family and me, knowing that they are taken up and perfected in the intercessions of Jesus Christ himself.
On the other hand, when we pray with someone else, it makes an impact upon that person. I sometimes felt buoyed and my faith strengthened by the prayers of others. And while it’s not my job as a cancer patient to act as “prayer police,” at other times the prayers left me feeling alienated and manipulated.
Read the rest of “My Incurable Condition: How to pray for someone with a terminal diagnosis” by J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament, at Leadership Journal.