Most people who know me well, know that I’ve had issues with kidney stones for quite some time. In fact, my first bout with stones was back in 2001, when I was but a 22-year-old pup. I had them in both kidneys that year, and had them removed by way of lithotripsy. Since then, I have had three hospitalizations, five rounds of lithotripsy, and another surgery where they removed them with a scope.
Back in November of 2017, during a family trip on Thanksgiving, I started having problems with my kidney. Particularly, I had a stone that needed to pass, and it was causing me some pain. Now, kidney stone pain is the worst pain I have ever felt; frankly, it hurts worse than getting burned, and I worked at a restaurant where I was burned frequently by grease, steam, and hot metal objects.
Now, on this trip at Thanksgiving, I was given some supplements to take that were supposed to help me pass those stones, by helping them fall apart in the kidney. I took them while I was in Texas, and after, I took them sparingly, because honestly they taste awful. Would they have worked? There are those who swear by them, and believe that they would have, if I had only used them.
But I didn’t use them. The pain went away before I left Texas and I forgot about it. I took some other supplements that were provided, again sparingly. Then, the day before Easter, my kidney started bothering me immensely. It was worse than before, and I knew from the moment that it started hurting that I would need to go to the hospital. Experience is a good teacher, after all. Want to know what I did while I was at home waiting for my wife to get off work? I started taking the supplements again, and took them about every three hours from the time I woke up, to the time I went to the hospital that evening.
Needless to say, I needed a lot more than the supplements I took that day. I was scanned, prodded, and eventually, a stint was placed in my kidney to keep those stones from getting stuck on their way out. Monday, over a week later, I had to have surgery to remove them. Now, does my one day use of the stone crusher supplement prove that the supplement doesn’t work? Hardly. I hope you can agree with that.
But here’s a funny thing. Most of you would agree with this assessment of my self-medication. “You can’t expect it to work if you don’t make a habit of using it!” I completely agree.
Why is it then that people have such a hard time when it comes to prayer? Many of the same people might tell me that prayer doesn’t work due to some issue they had in their lives. “I was having a really hard time of it a few years ago, and I prayed and prayed about it, but God never answered that prayer.”
My first question here would be, when did you start praying? Did you start when you started having issues? Or do you already have a good relationship with the Father in Heaven who answers prayers?
You see, God does answer prayers. He answers them in His time, and He answers them in ways that His children should comprehend. However, if you only pray when something is going wrong, then how could you possibly recognize how God answers prayers normally? How will you recognize the moving of the Holy Spirit if you don’t become sensitive to Him in the first place? This is why it is so important to have an active prayer life. You need to be sensitive to the working of the Holy Spirit to understand the moving of the Holy Spirit. If you aren’t, then you won’t.
When everything seems to be going fine in your life, do you neglect to pray? Do you feel like God is taking care of things, so why bother? Sure, say a prayer on Sunday at church, pray to bless the meal, but getting alone with God seems like too much hassle. Maybe confessing your sins to Him daily is a bit distasteful; you can’t stomach it?
Yet, as soon as tragedy strikes, or a real bad medical issue comes up, or some member of your family starts acting out, boy, then you’re down on your knees. Then you’re praying like there’s no tomorrow. And when things don’t go our way, we wonder where God is, and why He isn’t listening to us.
Does this sound familiar? James tells us in Chapter 4 verse 3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” I say this, because when you do things like what I just described, you aren’t praying to have a relationship with God, you’re praying so that the bad thing that happened will just work out okay for you. It’s like praying to win the lottery; you want something without having to make the sacrifice of a relationship with God. (Yes, you do have to sacrifice things you want to do to have a relationship with the Father.)
Don’t ask amiss. Ask for a relationship with God. Ask for His will in your life every day, so that if or when tragedy strikes, you can know if God is working in your life to teach you something, or if He has allowed something in your life to bring you closer to Him, or, as is sometimes the case, to test your faith. God will not tempt us, but He does test us. Kidney stones are horrible, but how much worse without a God who understands what I’m going through? A Father who wants me to get better?
Pray, not when the bad things happen, but without ceasing.