Prayer is a confession
Prayer often makes a request for help. But prayer is bigger than bringing our "want lists"
before God as if he were a supermarket or the divine warehouse filled with goodies we can choose from. Prayer is a confession that we’re not up to the job of facing the demands of existence, we’re not able to carry alone the burden of the human condition, especially in a fallen world.
Prayer brings to God our crises, anguish and profoundly felt needs and says to him, "These are beyond our power to cure or to get or to fix."
Prayer is not the same as taking our loved one to the doctor or the surgeon. We go to them saying, "Here is a physical condition, please use your medicine and skill to fix it." When we bring cancers, failing kidneys, twisted bodies, sightless eyes and demented parents to God we are taking these things more seriously. We are not denying the place of the medical men and women; we’re not making less of the conditions, we’re making more of them. We’re not taking them less seriously we’re taking them more seriously. When we take them to the medical people we’re connecting the conditions with bones and enzymes, blood supply and bacteria, tissue and neural circuitry. When we take them to God we connect the conditions with a cosmic rebellion, a fallen humanity, a redeeming work of God that comes to focus in the cross of Someone of whom it is said that "he carried our sicknesses and bore our diseases."
We bring our diseased bodies to the doctors asking for what we can’t always have. When we bring them to God sometimes he gives us healing through the doctors and sometimes not; but always, when we bring ourselves or others to God in prayer, we have come at his bidding for it is God that has drawn us into his presence and as soon as we have entered we have given the hurt and loss and fear the seriousness it deserves. Whatever happens after that at least we have seen disease and death for what they ultimately are—something that God alone can work with. That confession is never a mistake.