I was deeply moved by the sermon this week. I can recall several occasions where I felt the conviction to pray boldly for someone, specifically in the area of physical healing, and responded with hesitancy. While I am usually obedient to pray, there tends to be a sense of doubt in my heart. I don’t doubt that God is capable, but that he is willing. It’s really not a matter of doubting his goodness, but questions like, “How will this represent God’s image if the healing doesn’t come?” fill my mind. Just like we heard in the sermon, I tend to try and “protect” the almighty God. What silliness!
The most recent example happened a couple months ago at work. I was walking down the hall at my school, and a co-worker was limping. I had noticed the limp over the past few days, and I knew I needed to pray with her. She is a new teacher at our school this year, so we did not have an established friendship or anything, but by God’s grace, I decided to step out in faith and pray with her.
I had no idea where she stood spiritually, so I was pretty shaky about it. As we walked down the hall during out lunch break, I asked her what was going on, and she shared that she had a herniated disc. I followed her into her classroom and asked her if I could pray over her. She said yes, and I prayed out loud, for immediate healing. Honestly, the doubt over God’s willingness was there, but in my mind I was praying, “I believe, help my unbelief” the whole time. After I prayed, the conversation very naturally transitioned into some very personal struggles she was dealing with and, in a moment, we formed a connection.
The next day she was still limping, but when I asked her how her pain was, she said it was much better. While I really don’t know the full extent of what God did in that moment, the obedience was worth it. God gave me the exact words I needed to show her love and encouragement and, as of now, her limp is gone. Hallelujah!
As I type this, the word empathy comes to mind. I believe that when Christians exercise empathy, welcome the interruptions and inconveniences, and respond in obedience to the Spirit, we will truly light up the world. Also, in my experience, I have found that when I simply bring God into the conversation, and I mean by actually talking to him and not just about him, walls fall down. Many people will argue about how we are supposed to live, what we should and should not do, but not many will refuse prayer.
Writing this, I am reminded of two key phrases from the following passage (shown in bold):
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
— 2 Corinthians 5:14–16
When the love of Christ controls us, audacious prayers will not come across insensitively. When we regard someone according to his or her spirit and not the flesh, we will not be afraid to pray.
God, may we remember that you have given us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” May we honor your creation in every living soul by appealing to the eternal cry of their hearts, trusting that your presence changes everything. Amen!