I’ve been spending a lot of time the last few weeks reading through the blogs of other women who struggle with infertility. They are their personal stories of grief, pain, struggle, becoming warriors, and for many, eventually becoming mothers. Many of them never stop fighting and never stop believing in their miracle, until, eventually, they get it!
I love reading the faith-based blogs where these women spill their hearts out to God and profess their faith in His goodness. I also love reading about how some of them research fertility diets, eliminate toxins, and do prayer and mind-body work.
Occasionally, however, I’ll come across one that says something like, “We’ve decided not to worry about a special diet or acupuncture or anything- if it is God’s will, then we’ll get pregnant.”
Whenever I hear this I always think about the metaphor of the man who prayed to win the lottery.
The poor man goes to church every day and prays, “Please, God, please, please, please . . . let me win the lottery!” This prayer goes on for months. Every day it is the same, “Please, please, God, let me win the lottery!” Finally, God can’t take it anymore, and his voice booms across the church in frustration, “My son, please, please, please . . . BUY A LOTTERY TICKET!”
Do I believe that ultimately our miracles come from God? Yes, without a doubt. But do I believe we should lie back and count on Him to do all the work? Um, no. We have to SHOW UP. We have to SHOW UP every single blessed day to do the good work to manifest our miracle.
I think that God expects us to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of our own blessings. I think that God blessed us with brains, spirit, and mountains of challenge, precisely so we could learn how to climb!
What does this mean?
- It means that once we know that there are fertility-harming chemicals and toxins out there, we are obligated to work relentlessly to eliminate them from our household and our lives. We do this for our fertility and health, and the health of our families. No excuses.
- It means that once we realize that there is an optimal fertility diet for us, we commit to it passionately, dedicating ourselves to becoming the healthiest, most nourished vessel for a baby that we possibly can by. God will give us the strength to do it, but we must have the motivation.
- It means that once we have been educated and know that mind-body techniques like mindfulness, gratitude, meditation, yoga, and acupuncture can help us become more fertile, we commit to these practices. God has provided us with these blessings- it is up to us to benefit from them.
- It means that once we learn about ways to maximize our chances of conception, and other fertility-friendly habits, we do them relentlessly.
- It means that we constantly empower ourselves by taking charge of our baby journey and constantly researching and finding out more information on how to heal ourselves.
- And, above all, it means we pray. We continue to seek a direct and meaningful relationship with God (whatever form He or She might take for you). We know EXACTLY what we want and we ask for it directly.
Elizabeth Gilbert says in one of my favorite books, Eat Pray Love,
Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.”
When I started my fertility journey my prayers would be mushy. I would say something like, “Please, God, let me be a mother.”
“Please, God, let my husband and I become parents.”
Not very specific, huh? God could have been like, cool, you’ll adopt in 15 years, no problem. It was actually the Fertile Heart program that helped me realize EXACTLY what I wanted. I wanted to naturally conceive and carry to term a healthy child (not via IVF or donor eggs). I also wanted them to have a healthy, happy, and long life. So that is what I prayed for.
“Please, God, heal my ovaries, my womb, and my eggs. Please, God, let me naturally conceive from my husband’s sperms a healthy baby. Let me carry that baby to term and let them lead a happy and healthy life.”
See the difference?
I still knew that I was willing to try other routes to become a mom- no one could stop me from becoming a mother except for me. But, I also asked for exactly what I wanted.
And you know what? It worked. In about two months- after two years of miscarriages, struggle, and grief, I got pregnant naturally. My baby is now almost two years old. Read my miracle story here.
Now, your goal might be different. You might just want to have a baby, and you don’t really care if it is by IVF or not. You might not care if you use donor eggs or not. Ultimately, you might just want to be a mom, and adoption is fine with you. Or, maybe you only want a baby if you can conceive them naturally.
Whatever you want is legit. It’s your story. It’s your “personal legend” as Paulo Coelho talks about it in his inspirational book The Alchemist. Determine what it is. Ask for it. Work for it. SHOW UP.
Lest I fail to address this important point- just because we ask for exactly what we want doesn’t always mean that we get it. But, it’s important that we ask. I had been afraid to ask God for exactly what I wanted because I feared great suffering if I didn’t receive it. Somehow I thought it would be worse to have asked for a naturally conceived child if I wound up adopting.
But you know what? The fear of the suffering is usually worse than the suffering itself. In the end, no one could stop me from becoming a mother. Yes, my preference was for a naturally conceived child, and I asked for it. Had God gently said, “Sorry, I have other plans for you,” I would have listened. We would have tried other options, adopted. We might still try other options or adoption.
But this isn’t my story- it’s yours.
Do you know what you want?
Write it below in the comments. Tell the universe exactly what it is you want!!
Excerpt taken from Dancing Upon Barren Land by Lesli A. Westfall ©2013 used with permission
What is Prayer?
Barren land is a sparse, dark landscape of rocks, boulders, and at times massive cracks. The rocks and boulders, which cause us to stumble, are the repeated negative pregnancy tests and the gritty sand is one of the many emotions such as jealousy, anger, or shame. Each month we hope and pray this will be the month only to experience disappointment again, our hopes like shifting sand beneath our feet. Then after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss, we face a massive crack of grief. We are unable to escape the darkness.
How does prayer fit into the vast and varied landscape of infertility?
As we call out to God in prayer, we are strengthened enough to kick the rocks of negativity out of the way and to pass through with ease and confidence. When we sink in the sand of disappointment, our petitions make our feet stable as we ask Him to come alongside and be our support. When our hearts are broken from the loss of life in our wombs and when we have sunk into the crevice of grief, when all we can muster is a faint cry, He still sees and hears.
So how do we navigate through the barren land with prayer?
There are four essential elements to each prayer.
- Praying the Word of God, the Bible
- Asking in Jesus’ name
Praise and thanksgiving in prayer express our heart’s adoration and love for Him.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name (Psalms 100:4).
The Bible explains itself in Hebrews 4:12:
God’s Word is alive, active, and powerful (NLT).
When we pray His Word, we are praying His perfect, divine will. What He did for infertile or barren women in the Bible so long ago; Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, Manoah’s wife and Elizabeth–He can do for us!
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34).
The Lord Jesus Christ invites us to ask. Asking is for our benefit. We are told to ask, seek, and knock.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be open. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:7-11).
When we ask in Jesus’ name, we glorify Him and He fills us with joy.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we have asked for (1 John 5:14-15).
The Bible and prayer are like nourishment for the soul and spirit. Prayer and Bible reading are like living water, which gives continual strength to continue the journey and increases faith to believe God for the desire of your heart: children.
Why Pray These Prayers?
So, why should we pray these prayers?
Infertility throws hard punches. We can be wounded emotionally. Not only do the wounds interfere with our relationships, at times the medicines we are on for fertility treatments can either mask what we feel or heighten our emotions to a whole new level.
There are several reasons to pray:
- Balance in relationships
- Deeper relationship with God
The first reason to pray is for peace of mind for us and in our relationships with others. In order to obtain peace that transcends all comprehension, the Bible encourages us to pray.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Praying to God is to posture ourselves in an act of surrender. You surrender to God by surrendering your heart. You can release your thoughts by telling Him of your worries, you can place your heightened emotions before Him by relating your painful experiences, and you can petition your desires to Him. However, the key to surrender is not giving up on life or the desire to become a parent but instead giving up anguish to the One who is able, Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “It’s not cowardly to pray when we are at our wit’s end. It is the only way to get in touch with reality.”
Jesus instructed us to ask. He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
We should ask specifically and keep on asking. We find the perfect example in Hannah, once an infertile woman who became mother to Samuel, a prophet. Her story is found in the 1 Samuel 1 in the Old Testament. For years she desired a child. Each year the family went to the temple to worship. When Hannah prayed, she asked God to take note of her affliction. She was “in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:10 NLT).
As she was praying, Eli, the priest, noticed her lips were moving yet she wasn’t making a sound. He thought she was drunk and confronted her. She replied to him, “Oh no, sir! I’m not drunk! But I am very sad, and I was pouring my heart out to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15 NLT).
As Hannah poured out her heart before the Lord, she petitioned Him for the desire of her heart. God heard Hannah’s prayer.
Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:19-20 NASB).
After the birth of a child, it was customary to return to the temple and dedicate your child to the Lord. At the time of Samuel’s dedication, Hannah stood before Eli the priest and said, “As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:24-27).
Author Beth Forbus suggests we look at this scene as if we were watching and replaying a video.
I’d ask you to back the video up to 1 Samuel 1:27 when Hannah held her precious baby boy in her arms and looked at the priest Eli and said, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him …” And then I’d ask you to replay and watch it again. And again. “For this child I prayed …” Back it up and play, “For this child I prayed …” Turn the volume up! “For this child I prayed …” I can’t help but believe if we could hear Hannah’s voice when she said these words, we might just hear her passionate emphasis on the word “this. ” “For THIS child I prayed …”
In prayer, it’s okay to keep asking for the desires of our hearts, even as we ask for peace in the pain of infertility. Our interactive communication with God fosters intimacy and trust in Him. Prayer lightens our heavy heart and helps to keep peace on this crazy journey.
Lesli Westfall is no stranger to infertility. She experienced the painful emotions and asked God endless questions, but God turned her disappointments into appointments with Him and healed her from the grief of infertility. While leading a Christian infertility support group, Lesli formed a deep compassion for others dealing with the pain of childlessness. She created a Christian online ministry, Dancing Upon Barren Land – Spiritual Nourishment for the Infertility Road.
Publication date: April 12, 2013
This post is written for Muslim women seeking duas for infertility.
‘The Pregnancy Guide for Muslim Women’ by Ummu Muawiya was sent to me by someone who meant well but she sent it at the worst time for me (just after she had a child). However sweet her intention, it still felt like salt in a wound. For this reason for a long time I couldn’t face opening this book. However, after a year I opened it and discovered that there are two prayers for Muslim women trying to conceive. If this can help one of you out there, then it is worth it sharing.
The first prayer is using saffron and a taweez – I don’t know if using a taweez is halal, so I’ve decided to exclude it. The next prayer is..
“The Shaper & The Inventor”
The book recommends fasting for seven days and reciting the above names of Allah 21 times when you break your fast. (pg 164)
The author also recommends writing Ul-Musowiru on a piece of paper and keeping it with you (personally.. sounds similar to the taweez approach and again I’m not sure how halal that is).
Conceiving a child
O my Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors.”
Rabbi-laa-tehzhirni far-dow weh-anteh khairul-waaritheen
This is my favourite and the one most recommended across the net (from what I can see when Googling). Read after making salah. It’s from the Quran (Surah 21 (Al Ambiya) : Verses:89-90)
Read the explanation of the dua on islamqa.info.
I want to share this brilliant post on Islam and Inferility on Facebook by Imam Omar Suleiman. Maryam Lane also wrote a brilliant post but unfortunately it looks like the she has locked her blog but you could always request access from her. This post by her really put things into perspective for me: The definition of a Mother: dealing with Infertility, the Islamic perspective
I pray that InshaAllah this helps you.