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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

How to Pray: Only by Prayer and Fasting

by Marilynn Chadwick

Even after the birth of a beautiful daughter and a strong son, I still felt like our family wasn't finished. We had agonized through years of infertility before having our two children. People wondered why we would put ourselves through more anguish and expense when we already had a daughter and a son. I could only describe my feelings by explaining that it was as if someone was “trying to come to us.” And sure enough, just a couple of months shy of my fortieth birthday, our little Michael made his entrance into this world.

Our lives, which had become fairly predictable with a nine-year-old and almost six year old, took a sudden detour back to the world of diapers and midnight feedings. Things were made easier by the fact that Michael was a happy child. But he was also active, curious and always into something. In fact, Michael's curiosity as a toddler was the reason I had to call poison control three times in one week. He swallowed a penny, drank a bottle of ear drops, and ate half a tube of toothpaste all in the same week. This is still a family record.

Michael began developing sinus infections the winter before his second birthday. The repeated infections were resistant to antibiotics and grew more serious by the day. This forty-something mother of a toddler was exhausted. Doctors were baffled. Our next step would be a series of x-rays to determine the cause of the infections.

Six weeks into this saga, I decided in desperation to fast for our son. I had little experience with fasting, but I was at the end of my rope. I wasn't sure how one even did such a thing. So I resolved not to eat. Throughout the day, I went to God over and over with the same simple prayer: “Help, Lord…we’ve tried everything. Surely you know what is causing these infections. Please show me!”

After naptime, I let Michael venture outside to play for a little while. It was unusually warm for February, and he had been cooped up for weeks. A few minutes later, he ran inside pointing to his nose. For a split second, I simply thought he wanted me to wipe it. Looking closer I caught my breath. A partially lodged brass pin-back (the kind used to fasten a sports insignia) was sticking out of Michael's left nostril!

As I gently removed the badly tarnished (and very gross) pin-back, it suddenly dawned on me this was the culprit of our forty-day ordeal! When I asked Michael how the thing got into his nose, he explained, in toddler language. Weeks earlier, he had climbed out of his crib one night and crawled up on his big brother's bunk bed. He unfastened one of the sports pins on his brother’s baseball cap and stuck the pin-back in his nose. Seriously??

We stood there, incredulous, Michael and I, half-laughing, and half-crying. I could hardly believe what had just happened. And right at that moment, a calm, yet somewhat amused inner voice seemed to whisper the same words Jesus once spoke to his disciples (Mark 9:29). Words I have never forgotten: “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.”

If you feel stuck and need a breakthrough, try fasting. You never know what might come out of it!

Adapted from: Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017). To receive a copy please visit our website here.

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