“I Don’t Have The Right To Pray”

Praying hands

Prayer is the most powerful privilege given to man and unfortunately the least understood Biblical mandate given to both believers and non-believers by our sovereign God. It is through the prayer of faith God redeems a lost sinner by His grace. It is through prayer and obedience a believer matures and becomes conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through believing prayer the windows of heaven are opened according to His will. As children of God, we are commanded by God to “call upon me and I will answer and show you great and mighty things which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Despite the unbelievable and eternal riches available to everyone there are those who still refuse the offer. Such was the case of a surgical patient of mine whom I will call Robert, who was approximately sixty-eight years old.

Robert was referred by another physician who had done a colonoscopy with polyp biopsy and had encountered sudden and uncontrolled bleeding of some magnitude. I immediately left my clinic filled with patients and met Robert in the emergency room. His vital signs were stable, but he was quite anxious because his treating physician had correctly told him he needed an immediate operation. Within the hour all preliminary testing was completed including typing and cross-matching for two units of blood, and he was taken to the operating room. The operation involved the surgical opening of the distal colon (large intestine), location of the bleeding polyp, removal of the polyp and suturing the actively bleeding area. The blood loss although large did not require transfusion, and his post-operative recovery was free from complications.

During his initial post-operative office visit we had a conversation on how quickly his physician recognized the extent of his problem and immediately sent him to the emergency room for surgical care. I said he should be prayerfully thanking God for his doctor and for his rapid recovery when he said the following; “I don’t ever pray.” “Do you mind me asking why?” I replied. “I don’t believe I have the right to pray because of what I did during World War II. I took things away from men which I was not able to return. I ruthlessly and deliberately killed many men.” This was forty-five years earlier, and the shame he still carried as he told his story broke my heart.

He had been selected along with at least one hundred men to be part of a special combat unit which today might be the equivalent of a Special Forces unit. They were trained separately under cover from the rest of the combat units, and during this intense training time were informed of some of their assignments. They were not to wear uniforms indicating their ranks, and each man would be given specific orders for their assignments going forward. Robert said they would be given photographs and information concerning men in various cities who were enemies of the Allied Forces. They were supposed to locate those men and use whatever methods necessary to kill them. According to Robert most of their targets were civilians rather than military.

I’m not certain how long Robert remained on active duty in the unit, but when the war was declared over the men remaining alive were placed on a ship in the North Sea and remained on board for the next several months. Also on the ship were doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers whose responsibilities were to de-program the men and rehabilitate them back into civilian life. The emotional wounds from their war experiences were very deep. In effect these brave men had been trained as military assassins.

When Robert relived some of those experiences which he had buried long ago he was visibly moved to tears. He reiterated his belief he was unworthy to pray and could not pray. My response to him was, “Robert, I want to tell you some wonderful news about our loving God.” I emphasized we are all sinners and because of our sins none of us are worthy to pray. God sent His only Son to take our sins on Himself and die on a cross two thousand years ago. He fully paid our sin debt, and with His resurrection made it possible for us to pray, because we had been pardoned from the penalty of our sins. “Robert, the Lord Jesus not only set you free, but He wants you to pray and invite Him into your heart for Him to live there forever. Don’t you want to accept His invitation?”

I wish I could report Robert repented and received the free gift of salvation from God, but he did not. I told him I respected his decision but would be praying he would consider what I had said. I gave him a copy of the Gospel of John after showing him several passages where the Bible affirms the things I had told him. He said he would read the tract and “think about it.”

There are millions of people living in darkness with their eyes blinded to the wonderful promises of God regarding eternal life. Many of them are like Robert believing they have no right to pray, or if they happened to pray nothing of consequence would happen. I have no idea what became of Robert, but I believe someone later watered the field of his life where a seed had been planted, and before he departed this life he became a follower of The Way (I Cor. 3:6).

Dr. John


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