Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Your Prayers

Your prayers are working.  Your prayers have protected me from allergic reactions to the chemo.  Your prayers have placed me under the care of amazing nurses and doctors.  Your prayers have led to minimal side effects in both chemo rounds.  Your prayers have clothed me with strength, peace and joy.  Your prayers have encouraged my spirit on difficult days.  Your prayers have equipped Andy to be such a kind and loving husband, making me laugh as he shaved my head.  Your prayers have helped us navigate difficult decisions around my upcoming surgery at the end of the summer.  Your prayers have surrounded our families and friends, filling each one with strength to support and encourage us daily.  Your prayers are working, and this is only what I see with my feeble human eyesight.


Healing is radical, controversial and seemingly unbelievable.  However, the topic of healing and how to pray for it has been on my heart over the past few weeks.  I believe in the all-powerful and miracle-working God of the Bible.  I believe the many accounts of healings during Jesus' ministry on earth.  I believe God has healed people in current times too, both through medicine and by miracle. I truly believe God can heal me completely.

But something about praying boldly for healing scared me.  In all honesty, when I heard people were praying for miraculous healing, part of me cringed inside.  I felt like it was a naive prayer, that praying this prayer would result in shattered hopes and collapsed faith if God chose not to heal.  This was probably not the right perspective, thus reflecting my lack of faith, but it was my reality.  So I went on a quest to learn how to pray for healing by studying the healings in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (four guys who lived alongisde Jesus and then wrote these books in the Bible, each as their own account of Jesus' life and ministry).  Here's what I'm learning; it's a work in progress.

God heals.  Jesus healed "every disease and sickness among the people" Matthew 4:23 including the crippled, blind, sick daughters, mute, feverish, shriveled, ill women, lepers and paralytics.  While the physical healings were important in the beginning of His ministry on earth, Jesus was more concerned with spiritual healings.  At one point, He seemed exasperated saying, "Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe." John 4:48.  Jesus wanted people to believe that He was the Son of God with authority in heaven and on earth to heal physical sickness, yes, but more significantly to heal our hearts from sin.  Before healing a paralytic, Jesus reminded the crowds of this, "...so that you may know that the Son of God has authority on earth to forgive sins." Matthew 9:6.

The ultimate purpose of Jesus' healings was to point people to the truth about God.  When Jesus healed a man who was born blind, He said "...this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:3.  When Jesus healed Lazarus, He said, "...it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it... so that you may believe." John 11:4&15.  God is glorified through healings, because it displays His power and compassion, but He is ultimately glorified through the increased belief and faith that results among all who see.  Each of Jesus' healings seemed to have a similar ending, "Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.  They were filled with awe and said, 'We have seen remarkable things today.'" Luke 5:26.

God does not always choose to heal.  It's not like He's some genie's lamp that if you rub three times, voila the person is healed!  There is no ten step process to healing found in the Bible and also no guarantee of healing in the Bible.  If there was, we wouldn't need faith.  Rather than ask why God doesn't heal in every situation, perhaps we should be marveling when He DOES choose to heal.  "Great is our Lord and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure." Psalm 147:5.  I do not understand God's will/plan and even struggle at times to see the greater purpose of hardships in hindsight.  We are mere humans trying to figure out our little purposes on earth, but God in all of His power sees beyond what we can even think or imagine.  "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out." Romans 11:33.  "Can you fathom the mysteries of God?  Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?  They are higher than the heavens." Job 11:7.  It's clear to me that God has a complex and intricate plan that is far beyond my comprehension and understanding.  It's also clear to me that God is a good God who I can trust.  Throughout the Bible and in my own life, I've seen how it breaks His heart to see His people hurt, how He walks closely with us in trials, having experienced human pain Himself when dying the worst death imaginable on the cross and how He unconditionally loves humanity.  He is a good God.  While I don't always understand His ways and cannot see the big picture, I can trust that His will is "good, pleasing and perfect" Romans 12:2.  I truly believe that His will, whatever it may be, is far greater than my own will.

These reflections led me to my original question, how do we pray for healing?  I've come to this understanding in light of my cancer.  We are to boldly pray 100% for complete healing while also praying 100% for God's glorious will to be accomplished.  I've wrestled with these two prayers as they seem like they could contradict one another, however I believe this prayer is right where God wants me. If I pray only for God's will, I miss the opportunity to stretch my faith by begging God for His healing power to be displayed in my life.  If I pray only for healing as the end result, I miss the opportunity to see God at work now and throughout this whole situation.  Before healing a mute man, Jesus asks him, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" Matthew 9:28.  We need to believe He is able to heal.  Before healing two blind men, Jesus asks them, "What do you want me to do for you?" Matthew 20:32.  We need to ask boldly and pray specifically for healing.  Praying 100% for healing and 100% for God's will is summed up well in this leper's desperate plea to Jesus, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Mark 1:40.  That is it, the essence of what I've been learning about praying for healing!  Jesus too, modeled this prayer the night before His crucifixion.  Jesus, being fully human and fully God, cried out in prayer, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42.

I am praying boldly for healing, begging the Lord to hear my plea and miraculously eradicate the cancer throughout my abdomen in a way that stuns the medical world.  Like the woman who reached out in faith and touched the edge of Jesus' cloak as He walked by, I am reaching out for God's healing touch. Jesus' beautiful response to her was this, "Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you." Matthew 9:22.  I am also praying not only for God's will to unfold daily in my life, but that He would give me eyes to see it. "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things." Psalm 119:18.

Would you join me in praying this prayer on my behalf?  In my study of Jesus' healings, it was encouraging to see how many people were involved.  He healed when friends brought the sick to Him, He healed when fathers or mothers asked, He healed in front of large crowds, He healed when the sick person themselves came to the feet of Jesus and begged for healing.  Please join me in praying for healing, praying for eyes to see God's will and ultimately praying for God's glory to be revealed to all of us so that our faith would increase.  After healing Lazarus, Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"  What a comfort to read Ephesians 3:20-21 which is engraved in my parents' wedding bands, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

8 comments:

  1. Will continue to pray for you Julia. Thank you for your insight and wisdom in your very personal journey.

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  2. Wow, very insightful! You have studied well and written strong words! We will continue to pray boldly for healing. May God give you strength through your treatment and upcoming surgery. Thinking of you always....
    sharon and pierre

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  3. I just love you.. I was trying to think of something insightful to say based on this blog post but all I can think of is just how much i LOVE you!! Thank you for this challenge and invitation to pray these prayers with you, I'm in!

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  4. We will continue to pray Julia!! You are in our hearts and we thank you so much for sharing all God is teaching you! You are a blessing.
    Love, Jeff and Jenny Hayhoe

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  5. Ralph and Susan HunterAugust 3, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    Amen Julia! What a remarkable testimony! Your well-researched understanding that you've now shared in such a meaningful way is already bringing glory to the One who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. We're praying for you often, both for the specifics of your treatment and surgery and that through your delightful witness, His power and HIs glory will be obvious to all you invite to pray.

    All our love,

    Ralph and Susan Hunter

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  6. Praying for healing is something that I've struggled with as well. How can we know if it is God's will to heal? And what does it mean if I pray for healing and it doesn't happen? Thank you for your insights. Thank you for your faithfulness during this most difficult time of your life, and for sharing what you're going through and what God is teaching you. Praying right along with you. You are beautiful and loved. (I wish I could see your shaved head. I'm sure it's beautiful too!)
    Amanda Kleinhuis

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  7. Praying for healing is something that I've struggled with as well. How can we know if it is God's will to heal? And what does it mean if I pray for healing and it doesn't happen? Thank you for your insights. Thank you for your faithfulness during this most difficult time of your life, and for sharing what you're going through and what God is teaching you. Praying right along with you. You are beautiful and loved. (I wish I could see your shaved head. I'm sure it's beautiful too!)
    Amanda Kleinhuis

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  8. Loved this entry, Julia, as it's a struggle I've had myself over the past year. From the progression of my disease, it would seem that God's plan is not to heal me on this earth, but I am immeasurably blessed by the knowledge that He is a loving compassionate God, with a plan for my life that is far beyond what I am able to understand. There is peace in trusting His sovereignty, in knowing He provides what I need to get through each crisis, that He is with me on this journey, and that His will IS being done. All glory to Him!
    Eunice Fowler

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