I have always been a great believer in prayer, but three serious illnesses over the past fifteen years have brought me closer to God on a personal basis. I think I know how it feels to have no other place to go but to the Lord. When you have exhausted all sources of possible recovery, you say, "Lord, I have used up all of my hopes, so now please help me find a doctor who will offer a possible recovery." This desperation has been good for my faith. I have always believed I trusted in God, even when I was well; but somehow an illness with seemingly no hope of getting any better has caused me to take another look at my faith in God. I have realized more and more the extent to which a personal relationship with God can be developed. Yes, God knows that my name is Doyle Banta. He knows the number of hairs on our heads and every sparrow that falls to earth. God knows our every ache, pain and need (Matt. 10:29-31).
After a 31/2 year period of extreme pain, during which I was seeking, asking and praying, I learned of a lady in Huntsville, Alabama who had Scleroderma as I do. She directed me to Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown of the National Hospital in Arlington, Virginia. Eighteen months later after four stays in the hospital and treatments at home, I have improved. The past six months showed no additional spread of Scleroderma in my body. It is still a long way to remission, but I am on the way. With the help of God the lady in Huntsville was in remission after four years of treatment. I believe that I will have the same results. I believe that when good comes our way, God deserves the credit. Satan has never been known to do anything good. James says God is the perfect giver and informs us that the "fervent prayers of the righteous" avail much. I believe this truth unquestionably.
Because of my illnesses and my experience with others in their sicknesses, I have learned that prayer plays a very vital role during one's illness. This is true not only on God's part, but also in our emotions as we face our sicknesses, realizing we have access to God through prayer.
Words are inadequate to express what prayers mean to the Christian, when either sick or well. It is encouraging to realize that God is always there, communing with us even in those times when we are not conscious of prayer spoken by others in our behalf. We are never alone and never lonely. Our friend Jesus, who has infinite ability to protect and bless us, does so without error. Our God made us and plans for us to live with him again. He has not left us void of his presence and care during our sojourn here. Prayer is the most vital link we have with God while we are here on earth.
Even though He is busy running this big universe, our God hears us when we pray. He is keenly aware of every thing we do -- our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions. God is not too busy to know our every need. He is never oblivious to our every ache and pain, and never turns a deaf ear to us when we pray. We are never out of God's sight or out of His mind.
We can agree with the Psalmist who said, "Who is so great a God as our God?" (Psa. 77:13).