I've been on a bit of a journey, off and on over the past few years, periodically fasting and praying for the healing of a good friend. I am still confident that God has said "yes" - I actually have a sticky note on my refrigerator detailing the day it happened - but we haven't seen it yet. For awhile I felt like it was time to cease praying and simply wait for God's yes to come - but lately I've been feeling a little more urgency to start praying again. And I've found myself in unexpected conversations with people about healing, and I feel that once familiar stirring to pray for "greater things" again... but I'm still not quite sure what to do with all of it, intellectually, anyway.
You may want to backtrack a bit and read the first post in this series so you can follow my train of thought as I continue to process all of this. Here's the link:
prayer and fasting and faith on the earth - part one (you'll want to read the comments too)
Okay, so fast-forward to this weekend. I have some friends who recently have been experiencing a degree of success in praying for people to be healed. On Saturday, they were hanging out with some other friends of theirs who had a prophetic word that there was someone with a left shoulder that was bothering them, and God wanted to heal it. They asked people they met all day, but they never found anyone.
Sunday morning, I woke up early in a ton of pain. Somehow in the night, something had happened to my left shoulder, and I could hardly move it. The muscle behind my shoulder blade just ached, and reaching for things was intensely painful. This did not bode well, as I was leading worship yesterday. So I emailed some of the prayer warriors in our church and asked them to pray for me. All morning long, people prayed - and when it came down to it, there were two kinds of prayers being prayed.
The first type made sense to me - "God, we know You can heal, and we want that - but if you choose not to, then please just give her the strength to carry on and lead well this morning." Yep. Believing that I would be able to lead was no problem - but believing that I'd do it pain-free came harder. So this was a prayer with which I could easily agree. I wanted to be healed - don't get me wrong - and I believe with all my heart that my God who once made the sun stand still, and once even made time go backwards is certainly able to heal my shoulder - but there was an intellectual assent that He might not. Was that faithless? Or practical? I'm not sure.
Then there was another type of prayer prayed over me. The sort of prayer that went more along the lines of "Shoulder, we command you to be healed in the Name of Jesus, to be restored to the way God created you to be." Now theologically I don't have a problem with that prayer at all. As I explained in part one of this series, I believe that it is entirely biblical to tell someone to be healed. But it didn't happen.
It hasn't caused a crisis of faith - I still believe (possibly irrationally, but I don't care) that God can heal, that He wants to heal, and that it's entirely likely that I may one day finally screw up the courage to practice healing, embracing success and failure alike as my friends are doing, and learning from the process. I'm not in the least upset that I woke up this morning with my shoulder still aching. But I do sort of wonder why He said "no."
It's possible that it's simply to grow my faith. Leading worship from that place yesterday was difficult, but it was also one of the sweetest runs I've had in a long time. I don't often feel God's presence when I lead - it's a much more intellectual and practical experience that most would expect - but yesterday He gave me the grace to actually feel engaged in worship, and it was a joyous morning. I wasn't pain-free, but it was bearable while I was on-stage, and that was an answer to prayer. But I wonder. I'm encouraged that He told people I don't even know, so that my friends would be on the lookout for an opportunity to pray for healing, and so that I'd feel incredibly loved by a God who was thinking of me before I even knew what the day would hold. But with all of that - why wasn't I healed yesterday?
Praying on the way home, I felt like He said it would be a while. I'm okay with that - tho I'll be honest and say that I'm kind of hoping (er, wishing...) for a short while as opposed to, you know, months. It's a muscle ache - it will eventually sort itself out. I'm not worried about it, just uncomfortable. But I wonder what it is that I'm to learn from all this, and if it is a matter of needing more faith - not very strongly wishing God would heal me, but being 100% positive (hoping, believing, confidently trusting) that He will.
And how does all of this affect (or should it affect?) the way I pray for other people in need of healing?
I'm not sure. More reflections to come in a day or two. But in the meantime - thoughts?