Tag Archives: persistence

why we’re afraid to pray for healing

too often we find our prayers infrequent and frail.  when we hear that someone is ill or not well our automatic response is more “that’s too bad” rather than “let’s pray.”  if we actually do pray for healing for another person we keep it general and not too specific.  and we are sure to add on to our prayer “if it is Your (God’s) will” to get God off the hook…or ourselves.

why is that?

it may be that we’re not sure what his will is, especially when it comes to healing.  yes, there are certainly inscrutable things about the Lord’s will in specific cases.  however, there are things about God’s will that are relatively clear.  healing, surprisingly, is one of them.  again, there are instances where he may not provide healing for some reason but in general it is reasonable to think healing is his will.

  1. when Jesus inaugurates his kingdom he proclaims the gospel AND demonstrates the gospel through healing. (matthew 4:23, 9:25)
  2. when Jesus sends his disciples on their short term mission trips he sends them out, commanding them to proclaim the kingdom AND to heal (the 12 in luke 9:6, the 72 in luke 10:9)
  3. we never see an account of Jesus in which he turns people away from healing or says it is not the Father’s will
  4. Jesus instructs us to pray for “His kingdom to come and His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” if heaven is where God’s kingdom and will is fully established and in heaven there is no sickness or pain, then we ought to ask for healing to be unleashed here on earth.
  5. lastly, our actions betray us. when we do not see healing then we conclude it must be God’s will that we not be healed…but then we continue to pursue medical treatment.  aren’t we disobeying God then if we truly believe that?

 

it is not a matter of IF healing is God’s will, it is just a matter of WHEN.  this leads us to the second reason why I think our prayers may be so weak willed.  as americans, we’re terrified of disappointment.  we’ve twisted our theologies of prayer to protect ourselves and limit God.  we’ve found believers in other countries, especially those not cushioned with wealth, to be of tougher faith who don’t give up on God and prayer at the first sign of disappointment.  often they do not have the luxury of health care so they go after God in ways that we can learn from.

in fact, Jesus teaches us, through the story of a widow who keeps going to an unjust judge to get justice (Luke 18:1-8), that perseverance in prayer IS faith (v.8).  when full healing didn’t come to a blind man after Jesus laid hands on him, Jesus just did it again (Mark 8:22-25).  He was fine to acknowledge that healing is a process.  if Jesus had to pray twice for the same healing we could surely pray twice (or more).

just so you know that the kingdom of God isn’t just a matter of talk, i’ve experienced more breakthrough as i’ve kept asking of God in my life.  one night a couple months ago at our discipleship school, right after a teaching on healing prayer, we prayed for anyone who was feeling any physical ailment.  each person we prayed for was not healed instantaneously.  however, when we pressed in to pray a second time, without fail, people felt a significant decrease in their physical symptoms.  i took the teaching challenge to enter into any opportunity to pray for people’s physical healing for the following week.  again, when i didn’t stop with one prayer, i witnessed healing.   one sister with chronic pain in her knees went from barely being able to walk to me to joyfully walking down the stairs.

even if the answer does not come right away he may be shaping us for the better in the asking.

let us persevere with God beyond what we’re comfortable with.

 

*special thanks to chris rattay for many of his insights concerning physical healing

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the student becomes the teacher

why waste time praying?  it doesn’t get things done.  how can that situation or person change?  it’s hopeless.

maybe you’ve heard these lines before.  maybe you’ve believed them.  i certainly have been discouraged by these lies.  my young friend sergio has taught me better.

i met sergio over a year ago when he was 14.  he gave his life to Jesus last winter and I had the privilege to mentor him for a couple months in the spring.  when we first started meeting up, i remember he asked me how he could improve his prayer life.  as a football athlete, sergio is a fairly disciplined person and even then he impressed me with his commitment to pray daily.

the first thing you’ll notice about sergio when you meet him is that he’s a big guy, but what you won’t notice until you get to know him more is that he has an even bigger heart.  his heart is heavy for people.

throughout the course of our conversations he asked me to pray with him for a number of people.   in tears, once he asked me to pray for his family that was going through rough times and specifically his brother-in-law who was being a destructive element in his family.  on another occasion we prayed for his friend wilbur who he wanted to see experience the love of God and the church family.  he also asked me to pray for a friend named eduardo, who is “a beast” when it comes to physical training for football.  yet, another time he asked me to pray for his friend david who had quit the football team due to some disagreements.

we prayed.  i’m sure sergio prayed more.  we didn’t see change right away.

summer came and sergio became busy with other things in life.  he asked to stop meeting up, which was a little disheartening for me, and I didn’t see him for a while.  i prayed for sergio as often as I could remember.   i saw him periodically throughout the fall through my work of directing tutoring for the sports teams at lincoln high school.  another youth leader working as a coach opened up time for other football players and friends to meet up and discuss life.  sergio began going to these informal meetings along with a number of other young men.  a little over a month ago sergio started coming out again to youth group with about five other youth.

this past month Sergio rededicated his life to Jesus.  he approached me soon afterward and told me about how much more joy he had in his life now that he’d come back to Jesus.  the topic this past month for youth group has been prayer.  i’m so encouraged by how sergio sets an example for his friends of entrusting one’s heart to God in prayer.

as we looked back, i realized every person i remember we had specifically prayed together for was positively impacted. 

his brother-in-law has a daughter with sergio’s sister and he is now contributing more to the family.

his friend wilbur, that he wanted to invite to youth group, is attending regularly and sergio has asked me to join him in regularly praying for wilbur to experience God’s goodness.

his friend eduardo also comes out to youth group now and is growing in prayer.

–  his friend david even comes out to youth group too and is part of a loving community.

God works through prayer.  if you don’t believe me, ask sergio.

sergio and friends adj
sergio (far left) and his friends making a mad rush to grub on some seconds at youth group

When nothing seems to change…

Going deeper with people, even ourselves, means facing our brokenness. I am experiencing this, even now, as I go deeper into working with youth in our community. There are wonderful discoveries in caring for people, but there are also wearying disappointments…when you see the same issues continue to rear their ugly head…when change seems impossible.

If I’ve learned one thing over the years of working with people, it’s that you can’t change people’s hearts. This is something only God can do. So what then?

JUST ASK: For the past year or so God has been repeating the theme of talking to Him. A couple years ago someone prayed for me and reminded me that God just wanted me to ask Him for the help that I needed. I prayed here and there but it was still so hard for me to remember such a simple thing. I’d find myself in over my head in the classroom and realize I didn’t once ask him for help that day. This year, through studying the book of Luke, the theme of prayer is unavoidable as people awaited the Messiah and Jesus himself is seen habitually talking with God in the midst of all sorts of craziness. Then about a month ago at a church retreat, I was praying with the junior high boys, and one of them felt God was saying to me “talk to me.” As an earthly father listening to my baby son attempt to talk, I am learning that our Heavenly Father delights in listening and responding to us. Walking with Jesus means, at the very least, talking to Him throughout the day…even about the stuff that breaks my heart.

But what if things don’t change? What then? Often it’s easier not to care again because it hurts too much to be let down.

PERSEVERE: At least twice in this past season a little parable of Jesus has come up in my life, once in the Luke study I’m a part of and again a couple weeks ago at church. In this parable Jesus tells the story of a persistent widow who get her request by wearing down an unrighteous judge as an illustration that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Sometimes the answer is already on the way the moment we ask but there is spiritual warfare to get through as an angel had once explained to the prophet Daniel. Just as my son continues to cry of hunger even when the milk will be on the way AFTER his diaper changing, sometimes we need to trust in the right timing of our Heavenly Father. And sometimes it’s not enough to ask just once. It’s not that God is unrighteous (he’s the opposite actually) and it’s not that He has to be worn down, but I think it’s that we need to see for ourselves what we actually depend on, especially when the going gets tough.

But what if things still don’t seem to change? What then?

TRANSFORMATION: Maybe it’s not the situation or the other person’s heart that needs to change so much as it is our hearts that need changing. When we persevere in prayer it sets a pattern of our life toward God whether we get the answer we expected or not. Prayer refines our hearts into God’s.

Let us pray then.

Please pray that I persevere in prayer, not only for myself, but for the youth of this next generation.