Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Pray for Families With Autism

I was speaking with one of our deacons this morning about the importance of prayer. We were saying that even if a person is not able to volunteer for a ministry, they can always pray. Prayer is one of the most important things that we do as a church.

So how does prayer fit with ministry to families with autism?

There are no lack of things to pray for when it comes to autism. Here are just a few:

  • Safety for the child with autism.
  • Strong marriage for the parents.
  • Emotional and spiritual strength.
  • Access to therapy and treatments.
  • An easier time of transitions.
  • Protection from bullies and increased respect and acceptance.
  • Financial aid for all the things that go along with autism.
  • New breakthroughs in development.

I think any family would be happy with these prayers. But I didn't list healing of autism in this list. Why is that?

For one thing, such prayers have been used as a weapon (even unintentionally) against families with autism. We have had people question our faith as to why our children still have autism. After all, we just need to ask in Jesus' name and it is done.

I do believe that God does heal but I do not believe that God guarantees healing for every Christian. The lack of healing does not reflect a lack of faith. It is hard enough to deal with autism, being accused of being faithless only makes things worse. I would suggest that it takes more faith to raise a child with autism than it takes to be healed.

But do we want autism to be healed anyway?

Autism is not a disease. It is not something like cancer that is only bad. As someone who is on the autism spectrum, I would not want to be healed. Even if there was a pill I could take that would remove all autistic characteristics from me, I wouldn't take it. I like who I am.

But what about my children who are on the severe end of the spectrum? Again, it is not the autism that is the problem. It is the things that go along with it that are challenging. So I would be very happy if they were miraculously able to communicate effectively with others. I would love it if our son had greater safety skills. I would love it if our daughter improved in her ability to learn. But none of that requires the complete absence of autism.

So how are you going to pray?

I encourage you to pray for families with autism. Ask them how they would like you to pray. But don't make things worse with your prayers and for the love of God (and I mean that literally) do not accuse families with autism of lacking faith!

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