Some miracles take time and, more importantly, persistence in prayer.
By Patrick Wood
I couldn’t understand. Only a few days before, it seemed that God had a bright future in mind for Paulo. So what was he now doing in a coma with a potentially fatal head injury and labeled the most critical patient in the ICU? Death, the doctor lamented, appeared to be inevitable and fast approaching. Paulo’s brain pressure wouldn’t stabilize. Only a miracle could save him.
I sat by Paulo’s bedside with his mother Nilda. “This reminds me of Paulo’s birth,” she told me. “Shortly after he was born, the doctor told me that he had an infection and wasn’t going to survive. So I prayed, and kept praying, reminding God of all He had planned for Paulo’s life.” Twenty-one days later, they baby had recovered.
The number reminded me of the prophet Daniel, who also sought heaven’s intervention for a full three weeks. He persevered in prayer, seeking special understanding about a vision he had regarding Israel’s future (Dan. 10). At the end of the three weeks, an angel arrived with the answers and explained his delay: “From the first day that you set your heart on understanding . . . your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael [the archangel] came to help me” (Dan. 10:12-13).
Reflecting on this curious passage, Nilda and I agreed: The spiritual realm is a mysterious thing. Sometimes God withholds certain outcomes because the timing isn’t right. And other times, our hearts and circumstances require adjustments before He can say yes in consistency with His goodness.
But there’s also the reality of spiritual warfare. Daniel's story shows us there are evidently times the Devil fears what you’re praying for and wages war against it. Meanwhile, God is setting the stage for the answer—dispatching heaven’s forces to fight on your behalf.
So right there at Paulo’s bedside, Nilda and I decided we’d prayerfully fight for her son’s recovery and, like Daniel, persist even if it seemed heaven was silent. And, we would refuse to be offended at God or assume that He was the one holding out on us.
Thus began our first round of intercession. That first day, we read scriptures over Paulo’s sedated body, particularly those optimistic Psalms about restored fortunes and fulfilled destiny.
Then something uncanny happened.
His brain pressure started to drop. From a deadly level of 27 millimeters of mercury, it sank to an astounding 10, and remained at that normal level during the entire hour of prayer. Even the nurses were surprised. Yet strangely, after we left, it climbed back to 27 and remained there until the next day, when friends and family begin praying at Paulo’s bedside once again.
Just when things were starting to look up, the well-meaning doctor advised us not to set our hopes too high. But while we appreciated the medical objectivity, something within us still hoped for a better ending. Paulo's moments of improved brain pressure seemed to be God’s way of saying, Keep it up. I’m with you.
So we did.
Things got worse over the next week. The correlation between our prayers and those moments of improved brain pressure became less consistent. But we had already agreed such moments wouldn’t deter us. So we kept praying and fought to assume the best of God’s intentions.
Then, halfway into the third week, we witnessed a drastic change. Paulo’s brain pressure came down again—and this time, stabilized. And to everyone’s astonishment, he woke up from the coma on the twenty-first day after the car wreck.
Expectant prayers have since become a greater part of our church's ethos. Not all of them get answered exactly as we want—we’re still learning to pray according to the Father’s will. But a shocking number of our petitions are answered, because we’ve learned to contend for them.
Paolo’s recovery was a striking lesson: The best things in life come from God, and yet He doesn’t necessarily eliminate our role in the battle by which they’re won. He wants His children to conquer and, more often than not, will orchestrate a victory that is surprising—as long as we don’t walk away too early.