Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prayer For the Sick

I am all in favor of praying for the sick and at the same time, there are times we need to not pray. Most of the times that I say we should not pray is that we are not prepared to pray, either by the one doing the praying, or the one receiving. Even though I was educated from a Word of Faith perspective, I will try to give a practical and balanced view of healing prayer.

The Word of Faith movement, also known as "name it and claim it" by those who like to poke fun at "faith" people, believes that God wants and wills to heal all people. I love that concept, and there are plenty of scriptures that back that up. It seems to define the God that I know: One who does not make people sick to teach them lessons or keep them humble. There are a few issues about those that heavily push this doctrine though: the extreme of this perspective is that if someone is not healed after this kind of faith prayer, that is is all our fault. Either there is not enough faith, or "sin" lingering in the lives of the believers doing the praying, but it typically puts the guilt on the sick person. I have seen a lot of people give up on their faith because of this. Some leave their religion entirely while others can go into a sort of denial. Many feel ashamed that there is some kind of sin and doubt that they can't seem to figure out what it is.

On the other hand, these "faith" preachers can also get a lot of results if they sincerely practice this perspective. Sometimes even if the person receiving prayer doesn't even believe, the strong faith and anointing (the Holy Spirit resting on the believer, and through the believer to be a sort of "channel" to God's power) and spiritual gifts can be enough to allow God to do wonderful things.

Another misconception is the difference between a healing and a miracle. This idea will probably not get in the way of someone's prayer, but it's interesting to study. To put it simply: a healing is to fix something that is ill and a miracle is to create something that is not there. One way this concept can come in handy is that if someone knows they have healing faith but not miracle faith, they may want to consider working on what they believe.

Healings and miracles can demonstrate God's love, draw those who do not believe, and help us to live better lives. At the same time, we can get distracted by the sensational and miss the simple fellowship with God.

What do we do when we don't receive our healing? This is a very tough subject, and I would love to go over more of this some time. All I can say now is that we need to find peace in our life which ever road we take. If we find peace accepting this sickness as part of our life and we can still love and believe God; I can't argue with that way of life, especially if trying to fight the illness would cause strife. If we find peace in holding on to the hope that we have our healing whether we feel it, see it or have received its manifestation; fighting the "good fight of faith" can be a challenging but rewarding way of life. The important thing is to find out where you are at in your heart and what you believe, and not let sickness get in the way between you and God.

Then there is the principal that these patterns can sometimes surprise me when things seem to work in contrary to everything I have learned about faith and answered prayer. We need to always understand that we don't have all the answers. I have heard stories of ministers who are very gifted in the areas of healing and miracles and yet they suffer themselves. There is the principle of child-like faith which folks can get healings and miracles without being at all educated in these matters. People get answered prayer all the time without knowing what they are doing, even people that don't read my blog (LOL!). There are people that don't even believe, or folks that have things in their life that hurt themselves and others; and they get all kinds of prayer answered. No fair... But I love this about God. We really can't put God in a box. My philosophy has been that we need to get in God's box.

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just Might Get It

It has been said that prayer does not change God, it changes you. That is a very true statement and at the same time, when it comes to the prayer of Abraham in Genesis 18:16-33, it looks as if God changed His mind. (I must add because this blog is LGBT friendly, God did not want to destroy Sodom because they were gay. That's another discussion…)

Yes, God does not change, and God is not a man. At the same time, God has a lot of human traits, male and female. Contrary to most LBGT theologies, I don't refer to God as "He" AND "She". I view God as having a bit more male attributes than female, and when I have to chose one, I prefer to use "He". I do know a lot of sincere folks in LGBT circles that it helps their faith to view God as a she/he and I am not entirely opposed to that idea. That's also another discussion...

(rainbow pray-er design by Jason T. Ingram)

Anyway, sometimes God gives us what we want, even if it's not the best for us, just to show us what it's like. There are very few instances of this, and the one I think of is about how the early Israelites wanted a king when the Lord wanted to be King while there was a mediator (a judge) to stand in between God and people. The message was basically that a king will do bad things, but if you would rather want a man to rule over you then God, go ahead and see what happens.

Then there was the time when king Hezekiah was destined to die but pleaded to live longer. He got his request (in 2 Kings 20) when the prophet Isaiah heard God seem to change His mind. As a result, Hezekiah lived another fifteen years, and had a kid that caused a lot of messes.

Be careful what you ask for - you just might get it! One time when I was really into the prosperity movement, I thought God wanted to bless me with a big black SUV. Within weeks, I knew a guy that was getting rid of one and I thought it was a miracle blessing. It turned out to be a curse! It took me a long time to get the title, the giver wanted it back and was harassing me, it sat while I was at "straight camp" and I had to pay insurance on it for over a year without being able to drive it and I borrowed money against it that I could not afford to pay off. It was also hard to get rid of and had to put a lot of money into it to get it to sell while I was living out of state.

There is a New Testament principal that if we "ask amiss" like in James 4:3, we will not get our prayers answered. I am glad that a lot of the stuff I asked for I did not get! Sometimes I ask for something that is not God's will or that I ask with wrong motives. Another way at looking at John 14:14 where it says that if we ask anything in Jesus' name, we can see His name as being His will.

Ask the Father in Jesus name, and if it's not God's will, don't go banging on the gates of heaven, pleading for it because you just might get it and it will not make you happy. In fact it could really make a mess out of your life.