In the ICU nursery where our three-day-old daughter lay, Dr. Jantz was about to give us Joylin’s test results.
We had come within minutes of losing her. Born with the umbilical cord around her neck, her lungs hadn’t wanted to open. Dr. Jantz had almost frantically pumped the air bag, forcing air into her lungs, then inserted a breathing tube. After more than an hour he announced that she was stable, but warned that her lungs, heart, liver, or brain could be damaged from lack of oxygen.
The test results, though, couldn’t have been better. Though it was too soon to know about her brain, her lungs, heart, and liver were healthy. “She’s ready to go home,” he said, then added, “You must have prayed a lot.”
That felt good. But as I replayed the past three days, I couldn’t recall praying even once. I felt a tinge of guilt letting this doctor think I had prayed, but I didn’t say anything.
Back home, I kept puzzling. Why had we come home with a healthy baby girl when the doctor clearly expected to find serious damage–and when I hadn’t even prayed?
Joylin’s baby dedication was on the day she turned three weeks old. To my surprise, Dr. Jantz was visiting our church that Sunday. His church was on retreat and since he was on call, he couldn’t leave town, and our church was handy, near the hospital.
That morning in worship our children’s story was about the paralytic whose friends brought him to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12). From the back of the chapel four boys carried their friend up the aisle on a blanket. As I watched them pass my pew, I glimpsed Dr. Jantz across the room and his words echoed: “You must have prayed a lot.”
And that’s when I understood. I was the man on the blanket. I‘d lived through those intensive‑care days numb, paralyzed by trauma, too weak even to pray.
Yet I’d been carried by others. Wanda, our pastor’s wife, had prayed passionately for God’s protection for the birth. Her concern had seemed exaggerated. When Elsie prayed for the birth during small group, her prayer too seemed unusually intense. The Jantzens had come to our house the day before Joylin was born just because they “felt concerned.” Had God been prompting our church family to surround Joylin’s birth with prayer, even though we saw no warning signs of trouble?
I’d usually seen myself as one of the strong ones, helping others. But that morning as I watched four boys carry their friend to Jesus I realized, I don’t have to always be strong. God has made provision for those times when I’m weak.
So…no, Dr. Jantz, Joylin wasn’t healed because I prayed. We were surrounded by the family of God who carried us with their prayers when I was too weak to pray. And that’s what made the difference.
Can you be okay with letting others have faith for you when you’re too weak?