The day after my mother-in-law received a brand new heart, I was lying in bed, praying out loud (it helps me stay awake), “And please God, be with Mom. Give her peace as she waits. . .”
It was not until that very minute that it hit me: I had not yet acknowledged, to God, the answered prayer. The show-stopping answered prayer.
For the past four years, since the day my young and healthy mother-in-law suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, a type of heart attack, we had been praying. The damage to her heart was irreparable and severe. In fact, she’d need a new one to survive.
And so we prayed, prayed, prayed. Some nights we thanked God she was alive and (mostly) well. Other nights we voiced our frustrations, our fears. Most nights we probably did a little of both.
I guess it’s not surprising, then, that these words came out of my mouth no more than 24 hours after she came out of surgery, brand new heart beating inside her chest. When you pray some version of the same prayer for 1455 days, give or take, it happens.
In the days that followed, I found myself outwardly praising God: I posted updates on Facebook, proclaimed God’s faithfulness in conversations with coworkers and friends, and blinked back tears as we sang songs in church.
And I was praising God. For this reason it came as somewhat of a shock when, after a couple of weeks, I found this answered prayer dropping off in my conversations with God. Certainly I had rarely, if ever, forgotten to ASK God for help. And that was over a span of four years.
Upon closer inspection, I found something else uncomfortable: I’m really good at pointing out to God what needs to be fixed, what is being overlooked, or what I am waiting on. “Please, God. Please, God. Please, God.”
What am I not so good at? Letting God’s mercies, big and small, permeate my own actual heart.
I think, maybe, it will always be this way. And I think God already knows this about me, about us. Remember the Israelites, after all?
But I want to do better. I want to give God's mercies, of which there are many, more staying power.
And so here is my new prayer: Dear God, please help me to grow in my awareness of the good and great things you are doing. And help them to stick. Amen.
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1