I received some supportive and much more coherent responses than mine from my friends:
"You just keep on praying expectantly, Katie......people really just don't get it when they say just be grateful. You shouldn't just be grateful that you have a job where you go and be miserable all day, you shouldn't just be grateful you have a husband or wife if they are abusive, you should not have to just be grateful that you have a child (they deserve to be healthy too), you should never just be grateful for anything less than you deserve, because God loves us enough to give us more if we ask, and if it is in line with his plan.......God never wants us to just settle. It is important to realize that we should learn to be content wherever we are, but the health of a child is NEVER too much to pray for. IMHO, of course."
"As I recall, Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask, and you shall receive." I do not remember a qualification on that: "Ask, and you shall receive--as long as you are not asking for too much/as long as it doesn't make other people feel bad for what they don't have/as long as you don't ask too often." Really, the only restriction I can think of is that your request should give glory to God. So, since, as far as I can tell, Mikey's health can be a testament to the power of God, pray away!
And you know, you can be thankful for what [you have] and still pray for more. Of course you appreciate the fact that you have been blessed with two children; does that mean you shouldn't pray for or have more? Of course people are grateful to have a job; does that mean they should never try for a promotion or a raise? It's absurd to think that prayers for improvement and appreciation for your current blessings are mutually exclusive."
I never used to pray for anything specific. I'd pray generically for blessings and protection for my loved ones; I'd pray for simple things, like a good night's sleep or safe travels. I felt uncomfortable asking for specific blessings, like healing, because if that wasn't God's plan, I was asking for what I wanted and not what He wanted, and that's not what you're supposed to do. At some point, I started to pray more specifically if I could rationalize the situation: healing could mean recovering from sickness or death, since we are completely restored at death. With this in mind, praying for healing was a more active prayer than "take care of them" but didn't point God in any specific direction.
I once knew a woman who prayed to God for a husband. She prayed for all the specifics, from height to eyewear, except for kids (she told God He only knew what she could handle). God delivered EXACTLY the man she pictured in her head, a man she'd never met until AFTER she prayed that prayer. I thought she was insane, but her story planted a seed that would wait until the right moment to sprout.
The idea of praying specifically surfaced again and again for years before I started to feel right about it in my heart. It occurred to me that many times throughout the Bible, God told His people to do something specific before He would deliver their request or blessing. One example is Joshua chapter 6, the Battle of Jericho, where the army and priests had to march around the city seven times before it would be delivered into their hands. Additionally, God instructs us to ask:
"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."
I figured that sometimes God acts based on our requests, even though He has a plan. (This is where my head spins off thinking about how God probably makes His plan based on the decisions He knows we're going to make because He is both all knowing and all powerful and knows the end before we even have the chance to exercise our free will that He will then react to...)
So I decided to try making specific petitions to the Lord. I prayed for healing for loved ones. I prayed for answers to tough situations. I prayed for specific events to come to pass. Some of my requests were answered directly, some were not (though I'm sure God answered them in some form). With each small exercise of this new type of faith, that very faith grew stronger, like a muscle.
Some months went by and we found ourselves neck deep in Mikey's health issues. At this point, I'd found peace in my current situation. I'd found hope for many of our problems just by praising God. All our issues has come together to the most difficult intersection yet: Mikey's surgery. Every day I imagined a perfect surgery and recover, and every night I prayed for healing. One night, it occurred to me to imagine that perfect scenario as my prayer. I did, and, as expected, God delivered. I exercised that expectant-faith muscle again over the next few days. I recounted that week of faith in a previous post.
Time and again, God has urged me to put more weight on my expectant-faith muscle, and He's put me in touch with others who pray expectantly, a facebook page called "I Expect God to Act!!" Interestingly, it was in this facebook page that I encountered the two people who inspired this post. Here was my post:
"I'm wondering why God won't make my son breastfeed or at least give me enough milk to pump. I also wonder why my son's had major surgery at 6mo, a feeding tube, physical therapy and now a helmet. I just pray and trust He has His reasons."
God knows I still struggle, but He knows I have great faith and that all I need is a little patience, as He reminded me recently. Having patience and praying for improvement aren't mutually exclusive, to borrow Jen's logic.
Well, I apologize for being all over with this post, but it's a complex idea, being content and still praying for more.