The unthinkable prayer {guest post}

Wendy Van Eyck is a generous-hearted soul who has seen her husband through eighteen rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. She blogs thoughtful devotionals which come from a heart made soft by suffering. She has just written her first e-book, which you can download for free here. It’s a pleasure to have her story here:
prayer at night

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
We were newlyweds with dreams and hopes and the taste of unreality on our lips. Xylon and I were fresh off the plane from a 7-week trip around South East Asia when we sat in a doctor’s office and were told that my husband had cancer?
All of sudden fears started taking the form of questions:

  • Will he live?
  • Will I be a widow in my first year of marriage?
  • What will chemotherapy be like?
  • Will our marriage make it through this?
  • Will we be able to have children?
  • Will our marriage make it through that?
  • Will he live?


No amount of grounding can make you brave in the face of news like that. Which is why I went home and cried.
We’ve spent the last 18 months between hospitals and doctors and scans. We’ve experienced the joy of completing chemo and the despair of being told the cancer is back.
I’ve brushed handfuls of my husband’s hair off our bedding, held him in the middle of the night when he’s shaking from a fever and left the room when he’s received a bone marrow biopsy. Xylon has spent 20 nights in isolation in hospital while his bone marrow was killed and then reborn in a stem cell transplant.
And I’ve found myself praying unthinkable prayers like, “God, please help my husband to have chemo tomorrow!”
I never thought I’d be praying that my husband would have chemo.
Oh, the prayers I’ve prayed that I never thought I’d have to.
Un. Thinkable. Prayers.
Almost, unsayable prayers.
I would wonder what God thought of, if the Lord understands the pain and hope intertwined as I stuttered them out. Sometimes as I prayed them I felt like I was betraying my husband but I didn’t know how else to pray.
I wondered as I prayed if God threw them away and wondered how I dared to pray them in first place.
Then one day I stumbled over an unthinkable prayer in the bible.
It’s a prayer of a broken woman, the petition of a woman who has nowhere else to lay her hope but in God and it was said by Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10-11, “Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, if you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.”
Hannah prayed a bargaining prayer, a last hope prayer, a prayer that laid all her pain out before God and said, “Lord, do something!”
And God did.
God heard her. And God gave her a son. A son, Hannah gave back to God.
I’m not saying that bargaining prayers are the way to communicate with God, or that sacrificing our hopes or promising to give everything to God, is the way to get what we want in prayer. In fact, I think this type of prayer is often how I try to manipulate God into coming round to my way of thinking.
What I am saying is that God hears our unthinkable prayers.
God hears the prayers that we thought we’d never pray, the words that we hope no one ever knows we asked of God and the appeals that we literally sob through heaven’s gates.
God hears every word.
God opens his ears to the breaking of your heart and the sighing of your soul.
I believe God answers every unthinkable prayer.
Does God always answer our prayers the way we want? No, that would be unthinkable.
In fact when it comes to my unthinkable prayers I think I’ve seen very few of them answered the way I wanted them to be.
When that happens I’m tempted to pray like Hannah, “God, if you’d just stop neglecting me, and go into action for me. Then everything will be okay.”
Funny thing is, over the last two years, I may not have always seen the answers to prayers but I have known God’s presence. I can’t really explain it, but God’s been there.
As I’ve whispered my unthinkable prayers God’s answered by opening my eyes to beauty growing out of hard places, hope flowering in terrible circumstances and love winning in hospital wards and on honeymoons.
Wendy can Eyck Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story at and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, Life and More Life”. She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and twitter.

Over to you:

  • When have you found yourself praying an ‘unthinkable prayer’?


Liked this post? Do stay in touch – subscribe by email or like my Facebook page.


, , , ,

16 Responses to The unthinkable prayer {guest post}

  1. Jenn LeBow 18th September, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Wendy, your unthinkable prayers and unthinkable answers go right to the heart of our questions about God & suffering. But instead of staying stuck in “Why? How could You let this happen? Why won’t You fix it?”, you nudge us toward speaking honestly and staying open to receive God’s presence. Thank you for this post.

    • Wendy van Eyck 19th September, 2013 at 6:29 am #

      I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Diana Trautwein 17th September, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    This is just magnificent writing here – and I am grateful for it. I truly believe there are NO unthinkable prayers. Not one. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve found myself praying all kinds of things I could never have imagined. And I join my voice with the lamenters in scripture, with those who search for answers, always beginning and ending with God alone. Where else can we go? Thank you so much for this piece, Wendy – and thank you again, Tanya, for this series.

    • Wendy van Eyck 19th September, 2013 at 6:32 am #

      Thanks Diana for the comment. I love what you said about joining your voice with the lamenters in scripture and I love that those voices are in the bible giving us permission to just lay our hearts out before God.

  3. Mia 17th September, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    Dear Wendy
    My youngest son was desperately ill many years ago for a few weeks and the doctors couldn’t find the cause of his illness. I remember the night I rushed him to hospital with incredible pain and fever. As I was lying next to him on the hospital bed the following evening, I prayed to God and told Him that I give my son back to Him. If He wants to take Him home, it is fine with me. But if He lives, I hand Him over to God in any vase to do with him whatever He wants to do. The next morning my son was healed. Ever since then I told mu child that he belongs to God and today as an adult, he loves God and follows Jesus. So I think I understand a little bit what you mean. How is your husband doing now, dear one?
    Blessings XX

    • Wendy van Eyck 19th September, 2013 at 6:30 am #

      He had a bone marrow transplant in July. We haven’t done a follow up scan yet but are hopeful that it will show no cancer.

  4. Mark Allman 17th September, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    This makes me think of the song Better than a Hallelujuh by Amy Grant.

    These words from the song make me think of yours:

    We pour out out miseries
    God just hears a melody
    Beautiful, the mess we are
    The honest cries of breaking hearts
    Are better than a Hallelujah

    The prayers of desperation; of broken hearts; of people on the edge I think are ones God wants to hear and wants to work with.

    • Wendy van Eyck 19th September, 2013 at 6:32 am #

      That is a beautiful song. Thanks for sharing.

  5. tanya@truthinweakness 17th September, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    so many sacred gifts you’ve offered here, wendy. thank you for sharing your pain and your journey. and thank you for acknowledging those prayers that are unthinkable. oftentimes even unspeakable, b/c the pain can go too deep for words. i’ve prayed those prayers, so this lands on tender soil in my soul. thank you.

    • Wendy van Eyck 17th September, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      Thanks Tanya. I think we’ve all prayed prayers we hate to admit. I’m glad my story resonated with you.

  6. Margaret @ Felice Mi Fa 17th September, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    Beautifully put. I too have been trying to unleash the prayers that I think are unsuitable, and to believe that God will hear and cherish them, and answer them somehow.

    • Wendy van Eyck 17th September, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      It’s such a comfort to know that God hears our unsuitable prayers.

  7. Joy Lenton 17th September, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Wendy, thank you for opening your heart and sharing so movingly here. Praying unthinkable prayers may be off radar for many, but I am glad they are available to us. Your tenderness and compassion for others shine bright through the pain of your own suffering and struggle. This is a beautifully written post, full of inspiration and insight. Thank you for drawing deep at the well to refresh other weary souls. This stands bold for me too, “God opens His ears to the breaking of your heart and the sighing of your soul”. Oh yes! Bless you for encouraging others with your words, example and testimony. Xx

  8. Gigi 17th September, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Beautiful. I’m grateful for these words. Any reminder to let go of my paltry plans and embrace a different albeit difficult Plan is welcome. God bless!

    • Wendy van Eyck 17th September, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Thanks Gigi. It hasn’t been an easy road but comments like that help me to feel like that their purpose in it.

Leave a Reply

Please send me my free ebook and updates