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.


The Lord’s Supper, Brokeness for Brokeness

People around the world today participated in The Lord’s Supper. A bit of bread of some sort was eaten and a small portion of wine or grape juice was drunk as together followers of Jesus Christ remembered Him.

This morning I shared the bread and cup with perhaps 750 or more saints. I was reminded as the others were served that one commonality we share locally and around the world is brokenness. Then at the invitation the announcement of a girl who had been baptized, a man joining our fellowship who works with our prison ministry, a couple placing membership who are transparent about their marriage difficulties and solicit our prayers, a well-loved lady with concerns about a health issue was prayed for, and finally a ministry leader tearfully confessed his failure to be what he knows God wants him to be.

Each of us comes to the Lord’s table bringing our brokenness. Unique we are yet each of us brings broken lives. We share a history of sinful passions, hard to restrain egos, and psyches embedded with the popular culture that is against God. We everyone either are or have been broken, badly off kilter compared to God’s ideal.

Thus we come and hear the Lord’s voice saying “This is my body” and “This is the New Covenant in my blood” and we know his broken body and shed blood was for us. Because He was broken we are invited to come as we are with our brokenness surely to be helped and healed. Because of “His stripes” our broken lives are made new.

In view of what God has accomplished for us in the perfect living and dying and living again of Jesus we bow to His majesty and choose to be broken again. Now we gladly choose brokenness so that Christ might be all in all in us and for us and through us for others.

God’s mighty power is best displayed in the life of the meek, the poor in spirit, the broken. It seems that God does His best work when He has nothing to work with. Read your Bible. Don’t you know that men who accomplished great things for God were all alike marked with brokenness?

Brokenness for brokenness? Yes, I bring mine and His makes mine OK.