Dealing with pain, sickness and death is an integral part of life and living. For many Christians these issues are somewhat complicated by their theology of health and healing. Often believers are frustrated and discouraged because of long seasons of sickness and pain that sometimes result in more pain and sometimes death. Because they believe so much in healing they stay in denial of the reality of their situation. Their expectations of life just seem to get in the way.
Something that my wife once said has helped me. She said that "healing is a gift". As I reflected on that I began to better understand the dynamics of prayer and healing. If we believe that health and healing are gifts then our attitude (as we pray) should not be one of entitlement but one of humility. We present our need to the Lord and trust Him to give us the appropriate gift ... sometimes endurance, sometimes strength in weakness and sometimes miraculaous healing. Maybe trust is only trust when we let go of the answer to our prayer.
Does this challenge you to pray differently? It does me. So often I focus my prayers on answers and really don't put myself in a place of vulnerability and humility. I come to the Lord knowing what I want. I have a specific answer to my prayer in my mind and really don't want God to answer in any other way. I think that I put myself in a place where I am sitting on God's lap in Macy's department store telling Him what I want.
With a new year coming I want to find a new way to pray ... maybe a new year has nothing to do with prayer ... I want to find that place of trust where I really believe that God will give me the best gift when I come to Him in prayer. Maybe the secret of this kind of prayer is to just talk to God in a non-religious fashion where I am brutally honest with Him and, as a result, myself. Possibly the real idea behind prayer is to connect with Him as you do with a good friend. Maybe by letting go of the answers to our prayers we will really start to believe that our loving God is sovereign in our affairs. Maybe with the Apostle Paul we will be able to say:
"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size--abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, The Message)