By Norris Burkes Jan 16, 2014

As a hospital chaplain, I often ask patients, “What are you praying for?” Surprisingly, they don’t always ask for healing and homecoming.

Over the years, I sometimes paraphrased their answers into written prayers and invited the patient to post it for all to read.

Today I want to share two prayers written by terminally ill patients.

“God, There may be those who think I should be mad at you; I need you to know it’s nothing like that. I know things like this happen in a world you created. There is no purpose in being mad at you.

In fact — and this is the crazy thing — I actually think you’ve given me a gift. It’s the gift of seeing. I now see what was always there. Now I see the wonderful network of friends and family you have put here to help me.

I feel your hands through their caring hands. I know your love through their protective love. There’s a road ahead of me that I cannot see, and that’s OK because you can see it and because my life has always belonged to you.

You created me and you sustain me. You take care of me the way I love my children. Speaking of children, that’s my only worry. I know they cope with things differently because you blessed them with their own individual personalities.

But I also need to know that you will take care of them. Hold them in your hands and help them to cope. Help them see the blessing of family that you have given us. Help them see that this blessing is the only thing that sustains us through this difficult time.

Thank you for your love for me. May I be a light that shines with your love. Amen.

The second prayer begins with, “God, I’d like to take a moment for a little chit-chat today. First I’d like to thank you for my sisters and brothers who are helping me through this.

Thank you especially for my sister who is taking care of eight kids — hers and mine. Thank you for the helpmate you’ve given me and for the way in which he’s working so hard to stay with me through this illness.

Hey God, as long as we’re chatting, can we talk about something that’s kind of bothering me. I know you do things in your own time, but I’m wondering if there’s something I should do to hurry this all along.

I know I’m supposed to have patience, but the waiting is the worst part for me. No, maybe the worst part is finding the purpose.

Please help me see a purpose. I thought your purpose was being a Special Ed teacher, but this “teacher” is having a hard time learning — especially when it comes to your purpose. So teach me, God. I’m willing. I’m listening.

Help me to run this race with confidence, so that I can say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Your student, Donna

Did you notice how these prayers lack superficiality? Neither prayer reads like a wish list for Santa.

Both prayers ask God for a purpose and deeper relationships.

Today I ask you, “What are you praying for?”

What is your heart’s desire? If you know, compose your prayer on paper. Then, if you are ready for change, I challenge you to publicly post it and pray it daily. F

inally, I invite you to e-mail it to me and I promise to pray with you.