I suspect over the years I’ve prayed for thousands of sick people. I’m happy to say most of them recovered … but not everyone. Some of the most agonizing prayers I’ve uttered seemed to have no effect on the outcome.
Such unspectacular and sometimes disappointing outcomes shaped my faith. I knew God could heal, I just didn’t expect him to. Over the years l’ve learned to ask God to heal someone in a way consistent with medical science and his purpose for their life. Of course, I would never say that in a prayer–imagine a friend praying those words. But that thinking shaped my faith. My prayers always gave God a back door in case the person wasn’t healed. Not only was I looking out for God, but also for the sick person. Because I didn’t want to raise false hopes I never led them to believe God would actually heal them.
But things are changing as I get to know Jesus better. I just finished my fourth monthly reading of the Gospels and Jesus is having an effect on me. While reading his story, whenever Jesus says or does something that shows the love and power of God, I’ve been saying, “Since he could do this, by his power, so can I.” That statement may sound grandiose. And it would be except it’s based on the words of Jesus. On the night before his death Jesus said, “He who believes in me the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).
I’ve been putting this into practice by seeking to stay alert to moments when God wants to work through me. Two weeks ago, after a church service I was talking with a young woman who had severe throat pain because of acid reflux. The reflux was treated but the pain in her throat persisted. I asked if I could pray for her. With her permission I placed my hands gently on her throat and prayed for her healing. When I finished praying I asked how her throat felt. She swallowed once and blinked her eyes, confused. She swallowed a second time, tilted her head and said, “It doesn’t hurt! It doesn’t hurt! I mean it. It really doesn’t hurt anymore.” She looked like a child who had just opened a present she desperately wanted but didn’t expect to receive.
And I too was surprised. Never had my eyes seen a person healed after I prayed for them. Both of us marveled at the goodness of God to visit us in such an inspiring way.
If you’re like me, and unfamiliar with such things, you may be wondering how I know she was healed. That’s the kind of thing I would ask if you had told me the same story. I’m skeptical because I had never personally seen someone healed. You may ask if I urged her to seek a medical evaluation to prove the healing was legitimate. I didn’t. In fact, the thought never entered my mind. Instead, I based my conclusion on her statement. And so in her case, I don’t know if her throat is still healed. But I’ve heard from two of the people healed the next night, and they say, two weeks later, that they’re still healed.
All of this makes me wonder what God could do through us? As I ponder this question, I recall the words of Jesus, “He who believes in me the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). Think about this for a minute–if you want to know what God could do through you, look at what he did through Jesus.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. I hope you’ll take the survey below and respond here or on Facebook. Thanks.