The mixed emotions of praying for the sick

Yesterday I joined some great men to pray about the impending surgery of one of our long time leaders as he faces the 3rd surgery in several weeks. I am confident he will be fine. We also prayed for another leader facing surgery tomorrow a.m., his 3rd in a year. He will be fine too I believe.

And, I and a friend stood by the bedside of an elderly sister who was hardly clinging to life, her body ravaged by cancer, and we prayed for comfort, for peace, that she would soon see her Lord. Not many weeks ago one of our dear brothers asked to be anointed with oil and prayed for. Our elders honored his request. He is now near death. It is increasingly obvious to me that God’s intention is not to heal everyone who asks or has someone asking on their behalf. How do we know what to pray for the sick?

Because I don’t know any better option I follow these guidelines.

I ask for healing. God invites is to ask for anything we desire. He gives specific instructions regarding prayer for the sick. So I obey and simply ask.

I trust God the very best I can. I often find myself in harmony with the Bible character who asked “Lord I believe, help my unbelief..”. That is my place often. With my limited faith I cling to God’s promises and expect Him to act.

I depend heavily on God’s promises. He has promised that He is making every event in our lives work for our good, even the bad stuff. I must believe that and cling to it tight-fisted in order to grapple with seeing a friend, a good God trusting man, die.

I pray for God’s will to be done. Some call this a crutch for unbelief. Well, I’ve already confessed to my unbelief, but since Jesus taught the disciples to pray “Thy will be done…” why should I do less? Jesus himself prayed “Never-the-less thy will be done” as he agonized in prayer before his crucifixion. It’s always right to want God’s will done. I want ALL my friends healed. But God’s will always trumps my will.

When we come to God with humility, simply asking for what we desire as a child asks his father, and trusting our Father to do what’s best, what will please him, I believe we are on safe ground. I know God heals in answer to prayer. My father was instantly healed of lung cancer. Once when I was a young man a preachers wife asked me to pray that God would heal her arthritic hands and He did. And in many, many cases when I joined others to pray for someone’s healing God’s sweet answer was “Yes”.

I prayed for many, many years for my dear mother’s blindness to be healed and that same trustworthy, promise keeping, loving heavenly Father, said “No”. I believe I was right to ask and I think it was OK to question God many times with “Why?”. Finally I discovered that in that particular case God’s “No” was absolutely best. Mom touched many, many lives and there will be lots of folks in heaven because of her sweet disposition and witness to Christ and his goodness to save.

Just today I received a report that yet another brother has the bad news that he has cancer. So, I will pray that God will heal him. And I’ll trust God the best I can and then I’ll see what God will do. Whatever the outcome, God is good, and loving, and just, and does what is best for His own. That I know for sure.