Secondhand Prayer by Kathy Carmichael

I’ve been following the story of a lovely young couple who have a terminally ill child. This couple, while sweet and appealing, is agnostic or atheist. They have appealed to believers to pray for their child because they don’t believe or simply cannot pray.


Basically, to me, this is sending God the message that His grace and bounty is accepted, but they aren’t willing to pay the price (of their own faith) for the miracle they are requesting.

Their child is a darling and beautiful little one. This couple is willing to do everything within their power — everything — to help him — except they can’t believe in God or have faith that He can or will heal their child.

And remember, it doesn’t take much faith, for Jesus said, “faith as small as a mustard seed,” to move a mountain.

And mustard seeds are very, very little.

As a Christian, of course I’m going to pray for that baby, and I have.

To be honest, this is not the first time I’ve seen non-believers ask for prayers, nor is it likely to be the last.

People want to hedge their bets.

People want the best outcome with the least effort.

At least most people seem to.

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

Yet, I’m not sure how favorably God looks on that couple for not at least doing a tiny amount of their own praying. I’m not judging them. It’s certainly possibly they have tried praying and it didn’t achieve the success they so need and desire. I am unable to walk in their shoes.

Can God heal a child with a terminal illness? Absolutely. But it’s usually achieved through faith and God’s grace. Is it possible the couple tried and failed? Yes. It’s also possible saving this baby is not in His plan. We mortals don’t always understand or comprehend God’s plans, and that’s okay too. But we can pray for Him to take a deeper or second look, and if it’s His will that the child survives, the child will be healed.

I vividly recall telling another non-believer that I had enough faith for both of us when she was seriously ill and simply could not wrap her mind around a just and bountiful God. I realize now I probably said and did the wrong thing — and the truth is I believe my faith is strong, and when I prayed for her I felt certain my prayer would be answered. Sometimes you just know.

If I had been wiser, perhaps it could have been a teaching moment. Instead, she was healed and now doesn’t have any recollection of my prayers and faith that I believe at the least helped deliver her from imminent danger.

How do you handle situations like this, when someone who doesn’t believe asks for your prayers?

I fully admit to a lack of wisdom on issues such as these, but I imagine our Heavenly Father would prefer it if the person on whose behalf I pray would at minimum learn the benefits of prayer, rather than merely hearing about the prayer secondhand.

I’ve been thinking about this for some time. When a non-believer recently asked me for prayer, I immediately took that person’s hand and said, “Let’s pray together.” I think that is what God would most like: showing them how to reach the water so they can return on their own in the future.

However, in the case of the couple with the dying child, I don’t personally know them, so I can’t take their hand to pray. But I can pray that, in addition to my prayers for the child, someone in their life does know them well enough to make the offer, and can take their hand and lead them in prayer.

Hands praying together

I’m open to suggestions on how you handle situations such as this. Do you have a better or different approach? What do you think God would like us to do?

This entry was posted in Kathy Carmichael, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Secondhand Prayer by Kathy Carmichael

  1. Kendra says:

    Thank you for sharing this, perfect timing for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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