When We Don’t Know How to Pray
When we need to know how to pray prayers that avail much, the Holy Spirit is faithful to help us apply God’s Word to all of our situations. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). When we look to Him, the Holy Spirit will direct our prayers.
My dad, Buck Griffin, was diagnosed with dementia in 1996. Several years before we noticed that he was changing his rigorous, regimented daily routine. Slowly, but surely he discontinued the habits of a lifetime.
The day came when mother had to assume my dad’s responsibilities, and we wondered what was happening when he didn’t seem to remember simple things. We prayed believing and confessing: Daddy has a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. God has not given him a spirit of fear. Indignantly, he agreed with us. In spite of what we prayed, dad put aside his normal routine.
After my Mom passed away in 1996, the man who had been my spiritual mentor was now dependent on me. Our roles were reversed and I had to practice tough love, and make some tough decisions. Reluctantly, we moved him to an assisted living facility.
One morning feeling discouraged, I talked with one of daddy’s caregivers. “I don’t understand why God has not answered our prayers for my father. He served God all his life. We prayed and believed that he would always have a sound mind. He has so much wisdom, which he can’t communicate to us.”
Lucy who has since returned to Kenya said, “Don’t ever think that your Dad doesn’t have his sound mind. It’s still there inside where your natural eyes can’t see – the real Mr. Buck lives in a tent that has slashes in it. But he knows God – he prays and he looks for the return of Jesus every day. No, he doesn’t read his Bible anymore, but the Bible is in him. We get to experience his pastor’s heart. He cares about the other residents, and he appreciates everything we do.” Her final words were, “Mr. Buck lives his testimony. Everyone here knows that he is different.”
I continued to try figuring out how to pray for my dad on my own. Before I realized it, I opened the door to hurt, disappointment and anger. I told God why my dad deserved to be healed. After all he had served God since he was a teenager, and I reminded God again and again about my dad’s years of faithful service, about the miraculous healings that others had received when he laid hands on them, etc. etc. etc. A day came when I acknowledged my disappointment and anger, repented and was ready to hear from my Father.
The Holy Spirit led me to read Romans 8:26-27 in my Women of Destiny Bible. Noticing that Paula Sandford had written a letter referring to this verse, I read how this passage of scripture had comforted her after her dad developed Alzheimer’s disease. “We serve a Lord who understands us completely and compassionately…who intercedes for us according to the perfect will of God.” When we do not know how we ought to pray, the Spirit himself intercedes for us…(Romans 8:26).
My prayers for my dad changed. “Father, I lean not unto my own understanding, but in my role as caregiver I acknowledge you and trust you. Holy Spirit, I ask you to direct my prayers for my dad, Buck Griffin. Give his caregivers wisdom to care for him, and show me how to communicate with him. You love him more than I do. Have mercy on him; either heal him completely, or send a Heavenly Host to escort him to his Haven of Rest. His times are in your hands.” My brother and sister were in agreement.
In those last few days before God released his spirit from that torn tent–deteriorating mind and body — he recognized family members again. He never lost his dry sense of humor, and he never ceased to be appreciative and kind to others. His life was his testimony and his ministry continues in the lives of ministers who are actively serving as pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets and evangelists today. Dementia could not silence the word that lived big in A. H. “Buck” Griffin.
In situations where you don’t know how to pray, acknowledge God and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He searches the hearts of everyone concerned, and he knows the mind of the spirit. After you have prayed, rest assured and know that (with God being a partner in your labor) all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good, because you love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. (Read Romans 8:26-28.)
The Women of Destiny Bible is available in our bookstore bookstore.
Copyright © Germaine Copeland 2003
Germaine Copeland is the author of the best selling book series, Prayers That Avail Much. She has written scriptural prayers for the family. Read your Bible, pray and attend church where you can soak up the love and faith of God. You will receive emotional healing, experience spiritual growth and become more intimately acquainted with your Heavenly Father, and your relationships will grow stronger.