What Can Prayer Do for Infertility?
Barren land is a sparse, dark landscape of rocks, boulders, and at times massive cracks. The rocks and boulders, which cause us to stumble, are the repeated negative pregnancy tests and the gritty sand is one of the many emotions such as jealousy, anger, or shame. Each month we hope and pray this will be the month only to experience disappointment again, our hopes like shifting sand beneath our feet. Then after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss, we face a massive crack of grief. We are unable to escape the darkness.
How does prayer fit into the vast and varied landscape of infertility? As we call out to God in prayer, we are strengthened enough to kick the rocks of negativity out of the way and to pass through with ease and confidence. When we sink in the sand of disappointment, our petitions make our feet stable as we ask Him to come alongside and be our support. When our hearts are broken from the loss of life in our wombs and when we have sunk into the crevice of grief, when all we can muster is a faint cry, He still sees and hears.
So how do we navigate through the barren land with prayer?
There are four essential elements to each prayer.
- Praying the Word of God, the Bible
- Asking in Jesus’ name
Praise and thanksgiving in prayer express our heart’s adoration and love for Him. "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name" (Psalms 100:4).
The Bible explains itself in Hebrews 4:12: "God’s Word is alive, active, and powerful" (NLT).
When we pray His Word, we are praying His perfect, divine will. What He did for infertile or barren women in the Bible so long ago; Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, Manoah’s wife and Elizabeth--He can do for us!
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34).
The Lord Jesus Christ invites us to ask. Asking is for our benefit. We are told to ask, seek, and knock. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be open. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him." (Matthew 7:7-11).
When we ask in Jesus’ name, we glorify Him and He fills us with joy. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we have asked for." (1 John 5:14-15).
The Bible and prayer are like nourishment for the soul and spirit. Prayer and Bible reading are like living water, which gives continual strength to continue the journey and increases faith to believe God for the desire of your heart: children.
Why Pray These Prayers Over Infertility?
So, why should we pray these prayers? Infertility throws hard punches. We can be wounded emotionally. Not only do the wounds interfere with our relationships, at times the medicines we are on for fertility treatments can either mask what we feel or heighten our emotions to a whole new level.
There are several reasons to pray:
- Balance in relationships
- Deeper relationship with God
The first reason to pray is for peace of mind for us and in our relationships with others. In order to obtain peace that transcends all comprehension, the Bible encourages us to pray. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7).
Praying to God is to posture ourselves in an act of surrender. You surrender to God by surrendering your heart. You can release your thoughts by telling Him of your worries, you can place your heightened emotions before Him by relating your painful experiences, and you can petition your desires to Him. However, the key to surrender is not giving up on life or the desire to become a parent but instead giving up anguish to the One who is able, Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “It’s not cowardly to pray when we are at our wit’s end. It is the only way to get in touch with reality.” Jesus instructed us to ask. He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
We should ask specifically and keep on asking. We find the perfect example in Hannah, once an infertile woman who became mother to Samuel, a prophet. Her story is found in the 1 Samuel 1 in the Old Testament. For years she desired a child. Each year the family went to the temple to worship. When Hannah prayed, she asked God to take note of her affliction. She was “in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:10 NLT). "As she was praying, Eli, the priest, noticed her lips were moving yet she wasn’t making a sound. He thought she was drunk and confronted her. She replied to him, “Oh no, sir! I’m not drunk! But I am very sad, and I was pouring my heart out to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15 NLT).
As Hannah poured out her heart before the Lord, she petitioned Him for the desire of her heart. God heard Hannah’s prayer: "Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:19-20 NASB)....After the birth of a child, it was customary to return to the temple and dedicate your child to the Lord. At the time of Samuel’s dedication, Hannah stood before Eli the priest and said, “As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:24-27).
Author Beth Forbus suggests we look at this scene as if we were watching and replaying a video. "I’d ask you to back the video up to 1 Samuel 1:27 when Hannah held her precious baby boy in her arms and looked at the priest Eli and said, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him …” And then I’d ask you to replay and watch it again. And again. “For this child I prayed …” Back it up and play, “For this child I prayed …” Turn the volume up! “For this child I prayed …” I can’t help but believe if we could hear Hannah’s voice when she said these words, we might just hear her passionate emphasis on the word “this. ” “For THIS child I prayed …”
In prayer, it’s okay to keep asking for the desires of our hearts, even as we ask for peace in the pain of infertility. Our interactive communication with God fosters intimacy and trust in Him. Prayer lightens our heavy heart and helps to keep peace on this crazy journey.
A Prayer for the Struggle with Infertlity
Lord, we come to you today, as humbly as we know how. Our hearts, wombs, and arms open to receive, The gift of life that so often seems to elude us. You cannot lie, so we wait. Expectantly, cautiously, because our fear is as great as our hope.
We ache from within and the pain of infertility runs deep into our souls. We know you understand. We believe, Lord, help our unbelief. Father, You will answer us, Your word will not return void.
Set our feet on the path. Let us find in You the joy we seek, and may our longing be satisfied. Not just until we obtain, but always. The struggle is real God, but so are You.
Establish us. Settle us. Make us ready. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(from a Peaceful Prayer for the Struggle with Infertility by Quanny Ard)
Excerpt taken from Dancing Upon Barren Land by Lesli A. Westfall ©2013 used with permission
Lesli Westfall is no stranger to infertility. She experienced the painful emotions and asked God endless questions, but God turned her disappointments into appointments with Him and healed her from the grief of infertility. While leading a Christian infertility support group, Lesli formed a deep compassion for others dealing with the pain of childlessness. She created a Christian online ministry, Dancing Upon Barren Land - Spiritual Nourishment for the Infertility Road.