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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Praying for healing baffles me, if nothing else, because it seems so inconsistent. Jesus invites us to pray for healing and to expect he’ll respond. Even science has seen the evidence fo prayer. Jesus himself administered healing repeatedly while he was here on earth. And he delegated that work to his followers and through them all of us who claim his name as our identity. Healing is part of Jesus’ enduring legacy. What I don’t get is how and why the evidence of healing is so inconsistent.

I’ve witnessed unqualified miracles in response to prayer. I don’t doubt God heals and that prayer instigates his action. I’ve prayed myself people declared terminal by doctors. They’ve recovered. I’ve prayed for someone with a curved spine and watched as it straightened. I’ve prayed for accelerated recovery from a flu virus and the next day the person was normal. But on other occasions I’ve prayed for each of these kinds of conditions with no evident result. A good friend of mine named Dave died a couple years ago of cancer after battling cancer. Many of us prayed for him. We prayed hard. We prayed right. Dave died. I don’t always get this. It hurt. I was disappointed and, I admit, angry. Then again last month I prayed again for someone, and the experienced almost immediate healing. Inconsistent…

The only way I can reconcile inconsistency is to remember that I don’t understand even 1% of all the contingencies in the world. I trust that God heals, that his promises to heal when I pray are real. But there are if/then conditions attached to these promises and some of those conditions fall behind the veil of mystery. I don’t know everything. I only know I should act and pray and believe, and ultimately be thankful. The results sometimes will and sometimes won’t become evident to me. That doesn’t always satisfy me. It is what is and I’ll deal with it by choosing anyway to pray… and be thankful for whatever comes!

There’s a great song in the Old Testament that relays the message of Thanks. It’s Psalm 103. It begins: “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” And one of the benefits is… “Heals all our diseases. Okay, I’ll take that. I’ll be thankful. I’ll take this promise back to God and, when I’m confronted with a sickness in myself or someone else, remind him of this benefit. Whether or not I see an immediate outcome, I’ll do my step of thanksgiving, taking as a given what he says is a given. Whatever follows I’ll look for God’s presence and goodness somewhere at hand. I’ve learned from experience that whether or not the answer comes as I hope or expect, God does answer every prayer…

If you or someone you know need healing, here’s a prayer.

“God, you do not create our bodies to be broken. When we are sick we are out of synch with your intended purpose. You promise that one of the benefits of relationship with you is being free to claim your healing power. Healing is a benefit. We thank you know for this power of healing, and in this specific need we thank you for applying your healing to the point of need. We will look for tangible impact and however you choose to respond we will continue to believe in your goodness and your power. In Jesus we pray.”

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