Last week, we put on our ‘Spiritual Armour’ and engaged with forces in the heavenly realms to pray for protection from the attacks of Satan. This week, our prayer journey takes us to the physical realm as we examine how to pray for healing.
Praying for Healing
The book of James asks: “Is anyone among you sick? Then you must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over you anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise that one up, and if sins have been committed they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person can accomplish much.” (James 5:14-16)
I have to confess that I sometimes lack faith when praying for healing. I just figure that if God is going to heal, then He will, and if he isn’t going to, for some reason that I can’t understand, then He won’t. Simple as that. However, when I look at the Scriptures, it is clear to me that our prayer plays a part in the process. Why does God want to use an imperfect person, riddled with their own faults, to take requests for healing to a perfect God? There is no logic in this that I can understand. And yet, there lies the mystery of Christianity; that God loves us so much that he chooses us to be a part of His plan.
Somehow, the other part of praying for healing, is that the prayers should be “offered in faith”, and that the person praying has “confessed their sins”. What this means to me is that my relationship with God needs to be just that; a relationship. Not a one-sided conversation where I throw up my prayers to God, but that I take time to listen as well.
Today…don’t just think about your relationship with God. Do something about it, by connecting with Him in prayer. I’ll do the same too.
Do you ever struggle with the feeling that you might be nagging God? Do you wonder how God feels when you pray over and over for a situation that never seems to change? On one hand, if we continually bring an issue before God is this a lack of faith? On the other hand, if we continually pray about an issue does it reveal our true desire for God to intervene?
Jesus told a parable that helps us understand the significance of persistence in prayer.
“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town that kept coming to him with the plea, ‘grant me justice against my adversary’. For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’. And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18: 1-8)
Reflecting on this parable, Grenz states, “a widow who is the victim of some injustice, repeatedly pleaded her case to a judge. Although the judge was not a righteous person, eventually her persistence was rewarded, for he pronounced justice on her behalf. The point of the parable is clear. If sustained pleading can move an unrighteous judge to grant justice, how much more will God, who is the righteous Judge, hear the unfailing pleas of the oppressed…”.
The gospel of Luke tell us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:5-10) Jesus encourages persistence, and this persistence gets results. Grenz states, “Knowledge of God’s love and of God’s willingness to give good gifts challenges the disciples to a bold confident prayer. But this places an important limitation on prayer. The believer can rightly persist only in requesting good things from God. Because God is good, and not evil, God can be expected only to give those gifts that are in accordance with God’s holy character”.
Today…Ask God boldly for something that you have been praying about. Wait and trust that He is working.
According to the dictionary, “to Petition” means to beg, pray, request, solicit, plead, or ask for something from someone in authority. There are times when we find ourselves praying, or petitioning, for others: our family, friends, co-workers or those in our faith community. The issues before us are many and varied, from health concerns, to financial issues, to children in trouble, or a crisis of faith. One of the first prayers such as this recoded in the scriptures was that of the patriarch Abraham when he pleaded on behalf of his nephew Lot and his family living in the city of Sodom, a city God was going to destroy due to wickedness.
Grenz describes petition as “laying hold of and releasing God’s willingness and ability to act in accordance with God’s will and purpose on behalf of creation that God loves”. Throughout the New Testament we see that faith brings results. When Jesus went to his hometown and began to teach and preach in the synagogue the people were amazed. However, they dismissed him as the ‘carpenter’s son’ and refused to see that the wisdom revealed through his teaching and the miracles he performed were evidence of his deity. As a result “he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith”. (Matt 13:58) Petition involves prayer and faith.
There a numerous examples in the Bible of this type of prayer. Moses pleaded with God to show mercy after the children of Israel worshipped the golden calf, and the bible records that “the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened” (Exodus 32:14). The early church prayed for Peter while he was in prison and they were quite surprised when his release occurred (Acts 12). Would Peter’s freedom from prison have occurred without the prayers of this faith community? We don’t know for sure, but Luke apparently saw a connection between these two events since he included the record of the petitionary prayers in his account of this miracle.
Today…Plead for God to intervene in a situation you or someone you know is facing. The apostle Paul wrote: “The Lord is near; have no anxiety, but in everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, which is beyond our utmost understanding, will keep guard over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
Last week, we examined our own hearts and looked at how we could become more spiritually aware of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This week, our prayer journey takes us to spiritual battle.
Praying for Protection
One of the great prayers of protection in the Old Testament is offered by Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob, when Jacob and his family returned home where he would be confronted by his brother Esau. As they departed, Laban prayed, “May the Lord watch between me and you while we are absent one from the other”. (Genesis 31:49) This prayer is referred to as the ‘Mizpah’.
Psalm 91 is another example of a prayer for protection. This Psalm could be recited before sleeping at night. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
Another type of protection is protection from the ‘Evil One’. Jesus in his ‘High Priestly’ prayer, prayed that the Father would “protect us from the evil one” (John 17:15). Peter tells us the devil “walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour”. (1 Peter 5:8) Every day we face challenges that can upset us and cause us to be anxious and even afraid. In the midst of it all, the Lord promises to be with us and protect us. Therefore prayers of protection enable us to give our concerns to God and to live with the confidence that He is watching over us.
1) Memorize the ‘Mizpah’
2) Be aware that every day the people of God are in a spiritual struggle. Read Ephesians 6:10-18. As you begin you day, mentally put on the various pieces of spiritual armour.
3) Throughout the day, reflect on the presence of God and his care over you.
4) Read Psalm 91 before going to bed. Let these words be the last thing you think about as you drift into sleep