“Dear God, please be with So-and-so during their surgery tomorrow.”
Have you ever prayed those words? I have. Plenty of times.
We care about someone and the hardship they are walking through. In our heart’s concern we naturally pray. We should. God invites us to do so. We know their greatest need is that God would be right there, present with the person in their difficult moment. So, we ask God to be with the person which naturally includes all else we would want him to do (guide the doctors as they perform the procedure, protect from infection, heal the body, etc.). “God be with…” serves as an overarching umbrella and, in effect, says, “God, do your thing.”
However, I would like to suggest that such words fall short of accuracy. There is a better alternative to consider. Please allow me to explain.
The presence of God is one of the unifying promises in Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation God affirms his commitment to be present with his people in the midst of every life circumstance. There is never a lapse of his being with anyone, whether they are in surgery or having the best day of their life. He is never distracted by his phone, consumed in a different conversation, or caught up in some other matter.
He is with us always and assures us of his constant presence (emphases added):
- He told Isaac: “sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you” (Genesis 26:3).
- To Joshua he said: “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23).
- A treasured Psalm reminds us: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4).
- To his people of the old covenant: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” (Isaiah 43:2).
- To us in the new covenant he says: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
This is just a start. I could go on and on. God is grabbing our attention on this one. He knows we need to hear it…many times. He wants us to rest in his presence in the good times and in the bad. We know the importance of this, too. I find it interesting that it tends to be our default prayer when someone is in a hard place. We know that every person’s greatest need is that God be present in their lives. It is our deepest longing and our deepest need.
Why am I saying this? Am I picking on you? Am I asking you to pick on me since I have prayed in the same way? No. Keep on praying this way. God delights in our prayers of all variety. But I do bring it up because it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves every single time we pray to hold on to this precious and foundational promise.
I believe our faith will grow, our rest will increase, and our blood pressure will go down every time we remind ourselves of this paramount assurance. It would benefit us to declare in prayer, “God, thank you for being with S-and-so right now. Thank you for never leaving her or abandoning her. I ask that you calm her with that truth, that you guide the doctor’s hands and that you heal her body through this procedure.”
It’s not that to pray otherwise goes unheard. Rather, it’s to benefit the soul as we repeat to ourselves something that God himself insists on reiterating over and over again. It’s an opportunity.
I hope this encourages you. I hope you will take the opportunity to encourage yourself and others with these words of assurance. God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is with you in the good times and in the bad. Rest in that. Pray in light of that.