The privilege of prayer is given as a gift to every believer, but the way that prayer is handled is as different as each individual. There are many promises in the Word related to prayer, including the necessity of praying, the frequency of prayer needed by every believer, the power of prayer and the swiftness of God’s answers when one prays according to His will. I had the privilege of experiencing each one of these four supernatural aspects of prayer one morning in the Wound Care Clinic at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I was working at the time.
I had served many years as a general surgeon in a private practice, but when Cathy and I moved to Fayetteville to be near our daughter Ginny and her family, I made the transition to a wound care practice in which my working hours were during the day, and I no longer was doing any type of operative surgery. This type of practice suited my personality and ministry very well, because I was able to spend more time with each patient, and to learn more of their needs, their fears and their faith. Because of the nature of their problems, I would usually see and treat most patients weekly for many months.
A significant number of our patients were diabetic and ulcerations of the feet and legs were common problems for them. A dreaded complication of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, which causes a loss of sensation in the feet and sometimes the hands. Most people who are not diabetic do not understand that the sensation of pain is a protective mechanism that can prevent continuing injury to a foot or hand. A diabetic with a neuropathic ulcer on the sole of his foot, can continue walking without pain, which causes infection and worsening of the ulcer, and in some cases, amputation of toes, the foot or even the leg. The treatment plan for a diabetic foot ulcer must include off-loading, which means no pressure on the ulcer site. One excellent method for off-loading is wearing a Bledsoe Boot, with which a person can still walk without having to use crutches or a wheelchair. One major drawback for the boot is the expense. They can cost as much as $350, which will be an out of pocket expense, if not covered by insurance.
I had been treating Rev. Robert S. for a diabetic ulcer on the sole of his right foot for several months, with minimal success. He kept assuring me that he was “keeping as much weight as possible” off his right foot, but his responsibilities as pastor of a small church, made that difficult. He was afraid if he didn’t keep going rather than take off work for several months, his church attendance which was already sparse, would decline to zero. He tried crutches, but just couldn’t manage the many stairs in his life, and the option of a wheelchair was not feasible. I had briefly mentioned a Bledsoe Boot early in his treatment, but he had no health insurance, so I didn’t talk about one until his ulcer became severely infected and a major change in his treatment plan became critical.
I had told him early on that a boot was very expensive but had not told him the approximate price. I explained that he could wear the boot and the ulcer could heal while he could continue visiting and preaching, as well as meeting all his other pastoral responsibilities. When I told him the cost, his response was, “Doc, I know I need to have one, and I might not ever heal without one; but right now there is no way I can afford to pay that much.” I said, “Brother Robert, let’s agree right now in prayer that God knows your need and perhaps He will put in on the hearts of some of your church members to help you buy one.” He and I both prayed,but his prayer seemed more impassioned than mine. The nurse bandaged his foot; we shook hands and I told him I would see him in a week.
I walked down the hall toward the nurse’s desk and noticed a well-dressed woman I had never met, talking with one of the nurses. After introducing myself, she said she represented a surgical supply firm in Little Rock, and wanted to know if there was anything from her company we might need. I told her I had a patient that needed a Bledsoe Boot, but he had no way to pay for it. “Do you know how I might get one at a reduced cost?” I asked her. “I sure do,” she said. “For some reason, I put one in my car this morning before I left Little Rock, and you may have it.” I was stunned that God had answered our prayers so quickly! I wanted to hug her, but just thanked her and told her what a wonderful and generous a gift that was.
When I walked back to Brother Robert’s treatment room, I left the boot just outside the door, and asked him, “What was it we just prayed?” “For God to supply a boot,” he hesitantly said. When I got the boot and handed it to him, I said, “God just sent you one!” He shouted the loudest shout that I think was ever heard in that clinic. I didn’t mind that noise distraction to the staff and the other patients, because I knew it was coming from a deeply grateful heart. I would have shouted with him, but thought it might not sound too professional. I was reminded in a very impactful way, that God hears all the prayers of His children; He answers all of them according to His will; and a few He answers immediately. Brother Robert and I were also reminded that when we have a need, God will meet that need, and the supply is on the way (from Little Rock) even before we pray!