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Praying For A Sick Child

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pray, childhood disease, faith

Garden of Gethsamene; Jerusalem, Israel

Sometimes things happen that don’t make any sense. What do you do with the pain and anxiety in your heart? How do you pray when your child is seriously ill?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Ephesians 4:6

It was a Wednesday – March 15, 1995 – just before our son’s second birthday,

He was sick . . . again.

There had been many doctor visits throughout his first year-and-a-half of life . . . visits to the ear, nose, and throat doctor for ear tubes; a gastroenterologist for reflux; his pediatrician; and admittance to the hospital for observation.

On Monday my hands had picked up the phone, dialed the number to schedule an appointment, then hung up. Something inside made me wait.

At this point in our lives, we’d been struggling through some really brutal crises. My attitude stunk. I bristled under the weight of the suffering . . . didn’t like how God was handling things.

On Wednesday there was another phone call, the appointment with the “fill-in” doctor because our pediatrician was at a conference, and the shocking news.

My son had a pronounced heart murmur.

And the urging . . . three times . . . to get him to a cardiologist within ten days.

At the cardiologist, there were blood pressure checks (150/85), EKG’s, checking pulses in his arms/legs, and watching shadows of his heart pump blood on a screen.

The diagnosis: Our son’s precious little heart hadn’t developed properly. He had been born with an imperfect heart.

The defect had caused a collateral problem.

Heart surgery was inevitable.

prayer, God, spirituality, faith, sick child

Many times this particular condition lays hidden, then teens playing sports drop dead on basketball courts and football fields. 

Without detection by the “fill-in” doctor who had done her residency in the cardiac unit at Children’s Mercy Hospital, our son probably would have died as a teen. 


The bristling stopped. All the other challenges in our lives looked miniscule. I needed God desperately. So did my son.

My agony

Rubbing my fingers over my son’s soft, unblemished skin, I ached over his destiny with the impending surgical tools.


The circumstance unchangeable and unavoidable.

So little within our power – but I could pray.

Yet, how should I pray? Would my son’s life depend on me praying the right way?

How Do I Pray For My Sick Child?

I had read scriptures about faith the size of a mustard seed moving mountains. Is that what I needed to do . . . claim the outcome we desired with determined belief in a successful end?

But the stories of a Son who adores his Father kept rising to the top.

In love, Jesus willingly bowed himself to God the Father’s desires and purposes.

“My food, Jesus said, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34

I ruminated on Jesus’ prayer in the garden as he faced torture and death . . . sweating blood at the thought.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42

This Jesus loving the Father . . .

Embracing the Father’s way, not his way . . .

Desiring the Father’s glory, not his own . . .

Choosing good for all, not good for self . . .

Demonstrating his love through obedience.

Is this what God desired from me?

My Heart Cry

“God please show me how to pray.”

And the waiting . . .

And waiting . . .

And waiting . . .

Finally . . . the kneeling in our living room floor, rug scraping knees, a gargantuan weight buried in my chest, my whole being crying out to God begging him for an answer.

The next morning the phone rang. On the other end, the voice of a man from California I had never met – a man who owned a business my husband sold products for.

He didn’t know – couldn’t know – the cries of my heart in the secret places.

Apprehensively, he shared he had had an inspiration while praying in his garden the night before.

Then the words . . . the dramatic intersection of God with my life.

“God wants you and Mike to unite your hearts as one and give Tanner over to him 100%. Not 99%. Not 99.9% – but 100%. That’s true faith.”

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2

Praying for a Sick Child – My Sick Child

Prayer for my son wasn’t about me bending God to my will. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication . . .”

Supplication  . . .

From the word suppliant. A term used in the Roman empire.

People defeated in battle were under the control of their conquerors, kneeling before them pleading for mercy – knowing they had no right to ask for it . . . helpless (like I felt) with no control over their future.

Supplication . . . praying with humility and complete submission before our loving God who is in total control.

Giving God the situation, trusting his plan, accepting whatever outcome he wants to bring about, recognizing he knows what’s best.

We shared the desires of our heart with God pleading for mercy. We desperately wanted our son to survive. I learned it’s okay to do that. He wants us to share those desires with him and to believe he’s big enough to give us what we long for.

Yet we gave our son to him 100% (entrusting the outcome of surgery to God’s ultimate plan) with the commitment to love God and be faithful to him regardless of the end result.

Sharing our desires. Ultimately submitting ourselves to his sovereign – and far superior – plan.

prayer, God, spirituality, faith, sick child, myawrminghouse.com

Our son disappeared through the operating room doors clutching the stuffed doll he called “Baby.” Would we see that sweet face smiling up at us ever again?

Then the amazing happened. Peace came. Peace filled. Peace carried us. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 4:6-7

prayer, God, spirituality, faith, sick child

All grown up and healthy

Transformed Hearts 

Truth is, I was born with an imperfect heart . . . a rebellious heart . . . not wanting God’s way but mine. The defect caused collateral damage in my life.

This is the story of a Father reworking his daughter’s heart.

As the doctors performed surgery on my son’s heart, God performed surgery on mine.

Both “surgeries” brought fullness of life.

Mine brought a dramatic shift in my relationship with God that has blessed me in every way. I’ve abandoned every part of myself and my life to God completely, and it has made all the difference.

What part of your life have you been holding back from God? Would you consider abandoning yourself completely to God today?

Endnote: If you don’t believe God is real . . . if you want proof, evidence, and hard facts, look around you. There is undeniable evidence in nature, in the Bible, in historical artifacts, and in hearts and lives changed by God’s power and grace. My story provides further evidence. It is factual, and cannot be denied or explained away.

How else could this man have called from the other side of the nation to provide an answer to the prayer of a stranger?

Click this link for a scriptural prayer to pray over your sick child:

A Scriptural Prayer for a Sick Child

Related posts:

What Does It Mean to Pray According to God’s Will?

Do you have an experience praying for a sick child? What did God teach you through it?





  1. Liana says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony which gives God all the glory. I am sure it will bless many, particularly in similar situations. Surrender is such an easy word to say … but oh! how we need the Lord’s touch upon our hearts and minds to bring it to pass.

  2. Lisa Button says:

    Thank you Liana. Surrender leads to such a sweet place in life. I’m happy you understand this too. And I do hope this testimony will help many in similar situations.Thanks for your comment and for making time to stop here. 🙂

  3. Nancy Steele says:

    This page and prayer link have been so helpful. Simon, my precious 16 day old grandson, is currently on ECMO after a complete heart repair with cardiac arrest, rupture and total volume loss occurring about 6 hours later. He is a miracle. We are asking God for a complete and total recovery, but as you so wisely state, we are believing that God’s will for Simon and all of us will be perfect. He will receive ALL glory regardless of what his plan reveals. Thank you for posting this, for the research you put into developing that scripture based prayer, and for sharing your faith and experience so honestly. I believe. Nothing is impossible. Our God is awesome, powerful and kind. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

  4. Mila York says:

    Dear Lisa,

    Like Nancy’s son, my daughter Emma is currently on ECMO (alcapa repair). Well it was actually turned off this morning. Yesterday I found your prayer and read it aloud at my daughter’s bed side. Shortly after the doctor told me that her heart was in pretty bad shape. I couldn’t help but to cry. Yet soon afterward my newly strengthened faith challenged me not to get discouraged but to trust in God. This morning walking into her room the nurse told me that the machine is off and the doctors are excited that if all goes well.. we can move on to the next stage in her recovery. Just like that… the dynamic shifted. Thank you so much for sharing your story and creating a prayer just for us. One day at a time… one prayer at a time. God bless you and your family. 🙂

    • Lisa Button says:

      Mila – thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience! It’s heart-wrenching to endure these types of struggles. I am praising God for how he has worked in you and your daughter’s lives. I am celebrating your newly strengthened faith. Through the difficulties with our son, God grew our faith dramatically. My life has never been the same. There is a sweetness now to each day that would not have been possible without those challenges. I look forward to hearing more. Feel free to share updates with me at thewarminghouse@gmail.com.

  5. Betsy says:

    Thank You for your blog. I found it tonight because my grandaughter had open heart surgery today. While full term she is still tiny. 1.9 kilos. We prayed today for everything to turn out for her an in the end she was put on ECMO. I was needing to know what to pray in the next steps and came across your blog. It is very comforting. I do not know what to pray. I can turn my empty, tired mind and heart into Gods hands as I have to surrender Charlotte, her daddy, my son, and her mommy. She is only 20 days old and has lived in to nicu and cicu. Never been touched by the sun or wind. She has so many family and friends praying for her. Thank you again for sharing your stories and prayers. Betsy

  6. Nancy says:

    I wish ai had seen this when you were going through those hard, hard days. I know the Up and Down roller coaster of a newborn grandchild postop and on ECMO. That was our story a little more than a year ago. I Don’t know how your journey progressed. If you want to get in touch, I would be happy to share your prayer needs with a small group of Grandma’s I join with on Facebook who have lots of experience with this. I do know God was walking with you in February and is with you and Charlotte, your children and your family. Even if you don’t feel it. I will admit to asking Him where He went for quite awhile. We lost our Simon, but God never did. He always knew what would happen. I now know I can trust that He will make it right, as hard as that continues to be for my daughter to face. I know more about Him now because I needed to really see His face after that happened. He is faithful to show up for me in His word, in people, even now, as we still miss our little buddy every day. God bless you, loving Grandma. I will be praying for you. I hope Charlotte is with you still. Nancyjsteele@hotmail.com

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