NOTE: Daniel and Kelly speak to this question on Episode #8 of The Abel Speaks Podcast. You can listen on Apple, Spotify, or your app of choice.

Kelly: I want to begin by acknowledging that in that season for us, prayer was incredibly challenging and difficult. It’s such a vulnerable thing to come to the Lord and share your wants and desires, especially around our children, and so there were times where it just felt impossible to do that. But I also think in a lot of ways the Lord used Abel‘s life to really teach us what the purpose of prayer is — which changed our foundational views on how to pray.

Ultimately, for me, I thought that there was something wrong with the pregnancy prior to getting Abel‘s diagnosis. Even when we were sharing with people at 4-5 weeks pregnant, I would always say, “We’re sharing right now because we want people to celebrate this life with us, but we also want people to be in the boat with us if it doesn’t go the way that we hoped.” There was no reason for me to say that, but it just always came out that way and I think I had an intuition that it might not go the way that we were hoping for.

To answer the question, though, I personally didn’t feel compelled to pray for healing because of all of the things I just shared, but I also felt total freedom to pray for healing. Abel’s life taught us that there’s this in-between of having freedom to ask the Lord for anything that we want, but also feeling peace around our son’s story and what that journey might look like. Others certainly did pray for Abel’s healing and for him and us. Knowing that others were in the boat with us and going to the Creator of the world on our behalf absolutely contributed to the peace we felt.

Daniel: This season was revealing when it came to my faith, in many ways. One of the things that was revealed to me was the way that I had unknowingly viewed prayer up to that point in my walk with the Lord. I’d essentially say, “God is good, His ways are higher than mine, so I’m trusting in his sovereignty.” Therefore I wasn’t big on saying, “I’m really praying hard for this… God will you please do this?” In my mind, I wanted to echo Jesus in the garden where he asked God if there was a way around the suffering that lay ahead of him… “Yet not my will, but Thy will be done.” And I think that’s what I was going for.

I also had the blessing of other people around me and other men in my life that picked up on that. They didn’t critique or criticize that feeling and wanted to make sure I felt the freedom to pray for anything. There are also scriptures that say ask, seek, and knock. We have a loving Father who doesn’t give bad gifts, He only gives good gifts. He may not give you exactly what you’re asking for in the way you’re asking for it, but I think it’s a good thing in a relationship with God to feel the freedom to share our hearts. It was conversations like those that led me to a place where I did feel more freedom to pray and enlist others to pray for Abel’s healing while also resting in the fact that He might not answer with a “Yes,” and I have to be prepared for that.

Kelly: That season made me realize how vulnerable prayer is when we really engage the Lord in a conversation and truly share our fears, hopes and desires. I learned, in a much deeper way, that it’s more about intimacy and a relationship with God and sharing all of those things even when it’s painful.

There was also the tension of thinking, “What if it doesn’t go the way I hope or ask for?” If other people are seeing and hearing that through our journey, could it then negatively impact their faith? Ultimately, it led to more trust in God and a better understanding of his nature and character and a deeper relationship with him.

Daniel: There’s an incredible value of community and having people around you that are bearing your burdens and walking with you. As we invited others in to pray for Abel, to pray for us, we had people set an alarm for a specific time to pray for Abel. Then when our alarm went off, we knew people were praying at that moment. At the time, for us, we didn’t need a reminder to pray — it was on our mind all the time. But when that alarm went off, we were reminded how many other people were rallying around us and that we weren’t in it alone. God ultimately was with us. We still have people to this day that talk about how impactful that season was in their prayer life and affected their faith in a lasting way.

I think that sometimes we approach healing and view prayer like a crowdfunding site — thinking, “If I just pray hard enough, or have enough faith, or enough people pray enough times, we’re going to hit some level where God then dispenses blessing and says ‘Yes’ in the exact way that we are asking Him to say yes.” And I would caution you against that view of prayer because I don’t think that’s what the Scriptures lay out. I think enough people have had plenty of experiences to say that it doesn’t seem to be the way it always works. We had one of the most prayed-for babies of all time, and Abel’s Trisomy 18 diagnosis held true.

On the other hand, when viewing the purpose of prayer as intimacy with God, I believe that is what the Scriptures lift up. It’s a healthy life-giving view. That’s how in every season, in all circumstances, prayer can bring about that peace that surpasses understanding. And it starts with reminding ourselves of the Father’s heart, of his character and nature and faithfulness, even (and especially) when He’s really hard to understand. One of my favorite quotes that we came to experience is, “It’s possible that even as we understand God less in so many ways, we can come to know Him more deeply.” And that is our prayer for you as you’re reading this — that through your own prayers, and your community praying for you, you experience that peace and come to know Him more.