Sometimes It is Difficult to Know How to Pray

Sam Rainer

February 11, 2011

Sometimes it is difficult to know how to pray.

The apostle Paul struggled with how to pray while sitting in jail waiting on his potential execution. Would God spare him for fruitful ministry? Would God bless him with eternal worship? In Philippians 1 he writes, “I don’t know which one I should choose.”

On Thursday February 3rd my family received difficult news. My brother’s unborn son had a rare disorder which created a dangerous situation for his wife and child. Jess and Rachel were devastated. Would child and mom live? Would God bless either of them with heaven? We did not know how to pray. Uncertainty trumped any emotions. Quite frankly, we were stunned.

William Thomas Rainer was born, lived one hour, and then came to know the joys of God. He will never know the sorrows of this earth. He will only experience the presence of King Jesus. His mom was spared, given the fruitful task of raising Canon, their firstborn son, and—hopefully—more little Rainers.

Baby Will’s shallow breaths were not in vain. His hour on this earth was not grace-less. God was glorified as two parents gave their son back to the Creator. King Jesus called Baby Will home early. It was a painful reminder that we are not citizens of this earth, but rather, as James writes, “heirs of the kingdom.” Will’s death was a heart-aching, nauseating demonstration of the fallen nature of this world. But his death will be a marker in my spiritual growth—a point in my life where God lavished His grace.

How should I pray? Which should I choose? Paul’s words ring as true today as they did in his prison, “To depart and be with Christ is far better.” As David says in 2 Samuel after losing his newborn son, “I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.” One day—come quickly Lord Jesus—I will see Will again. One day—come quickly Lord Jesus—Jess and Rachel will go to him. That day will be glorious.

Baby Will’s lungs did not last him. His heart could not pump fast enough. But he has new lungs now—lungs that are like the giant bellows of a pipe organ, belting forth the praises for a good God. He has a new heart—a pure, glorified, and complete heart that knows only the glory of a God slow to anger and rich in mercy.

See you soon, Will. We love you.

7 comments on “Sometimes It is Difficult to Know How to Pray”

  1. Thom Rainer says:

    Sam –

    Your and Art’s sacrificial time with your younger brother was something to behold. I stand amazed how close you three brothers are. And I was in awe to watch you minister to Jess and Rachel in this tough days. Your blog is powerful. I wrote my own blog about Will. It will be posted on Monday. But your blog speaks with greater power and passion. Your brother hurts deeply. But he is greatly comforted by his two brothers who demonstrate again and again the depth of their love for him. Thank you.


  2. Josh Ellis says:

    I saw a few tweets from you and your dad, but I wondered what had happened. This is a beautiful piece about a tragic event- as I look at my five week-old son, it gives me chills to think about what Jess and Rachel went through. Please consider me a fellow mourner and prayer supporter.

  3. Bo Oswalt says:

    I found your blog after Al Mohler tweeted asking prayer for your family. I just wanted to leave a note to say that your words were beautiful and Christ exalting. I am thankful and blessed to see your testimony!

    My son was born with half a heart in 2004, but the Creator spared his life through three open heart surgeries and eventually a heart transplant in Nashville in April of last year. Indeed, the journey and intense suffering has been great, but the process of sanctification in my own soul has been greater. Glory to God for the suffering that He wills into our lives.

    Again, thanks so much for your witness!

    Bo Oswalt

  4. Sam Rainer says:

    Thank you, Bo and Josh. My family is grieving well. God is good. And we cling to Him.

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