Monday, October 15, 2007

"Prayer Donors"

On Sunday, September 9th, the Dallas Cowboys opened their 2007 football season by honoring two former players who shared more than a locker room. Former fullback, Ron Springs, was ailing from diabetes-related renal failure and desperately needed a kidney transplant to live. Former teammate, Everson Walls, did what many would regard as unthinkable – he donated one of his own kidneys to save his teammate and friend’s life. Ron Springs, in speaking of his teammate’s gift of life, said: “A lot of people said to me, ‘I’m thinking about you, Ron;’ or ‘I’m praying for you, Ron.’ Everson gave me his kidney.” There are friends, and then there are organ donors.

It occurs to me that the same can be said of intercessory prayer. When some say, “I prayed for you,” what they really mean is “I asked God to do something about your situation, but personally it cost me nothing.” But what if prayer were more like donating a kidney than “sending up a wing and a prayer” to God in the hope that He will somehow intervene so that I don’t have to? Larry Dossey MD in his best selling book Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine describes prayer in just such a fashion. He says that we all possess a certain, but limited, measure of spiritual energy that we can “spend” however we choose. That spiritual energy can be marshaled in our own behalf, or it can be “spent” on another in terms of intercessory prayer, what he calls “healing words.” If we choose the latter, we not only make some of our own spiritual energy available to another for that one’s healing and wholeness, but we also thereby reduce the amount of spiritual energy available for ourselves. In a sense we become “spiritual organ donors,” prayer donors.

The late John Claypool used to tell a story about a man who prayed for his friend to be healed. Suddenly, on his knees he felt a presence confronting him, asking him: “Do you love your friend enough to give up ten years of your own life so that his life might be extended ten more years?” The man got up in a cold sweat and for a solid hour considered the option that had been laid before him – to shorten his own life by ten years so that his friend might have those years. Then, he got back on his knees and prayed: “Yes, I do. I do love my friend enough to relinquish ten years of my own life in his behalf.” Amazingly, sometime later his friend recovered. Was it because of his intercessory prayer? I don’t know, but I know this: There are prayers, and then there are “prayer donors.”

The Driver’s License Bureau puts a little heart on the driver’s license of every person who is an organ donor. Perhaps we should place a little cross next to the picture in the church directory of every person who is a “prayer donor.” Silly idea, isn’t it? But when the chips are down, those are the people I want praying for me!


Anonymous said...

Dang. Makes me think long and hard about Joseph Scriven and Charles Converse's song, where they pen the words, "What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief to bear, what a priveledge to carry everything to God in prayer." I don't know how much a priveledge it is if true prayer consists of me having to give up something. Luckily, I believe the more I am willing to give up, the more others are willing to give up. Hopefully these will balance out! :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful enlightening messages - in short a short format!!
I would love to see a collection of these and others like them in book form.

Looking forward to more of the same.

'Enlightened' in N.C.