Dr. James Montgomery Boice was the longtime pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadephia (1968–2000). He was well known for his expository preaching through books of the Bible—Romans in five years, for example. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2000 and died a few weeks later. Upon hearing the news of his disease, Dr. Boice immediately gave a report to his church in which he addressed the question of praying for him and specifically what to pray for:
A number of you have asked what you can do, and it strikes me that what you can do, you are doing. This is a good congregation, and you do the right things. You are praying certainly, and I’ve been assured of that by many people. And I know of many meetings that have been going on.
A relevant question, I guess, when you pray is, pray for what? Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles—and he certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they’re rare by definition. A miracle has to be an unusual thing.
I think it’s far more profitable to pray for wisdom for the doctors. Doctors have a great deal of experience, of course, in their expertise, but they’re not omniscient—they do make mistakes—and then also for the effectiveness of the treatment. Sometimes it does very well and sometimes not so well, and that’s certainly a legitimate thing to pray for.
You can read the entire testimony here.
HT: David Black