Thank you for joining the Partners in Health and Wholeness Book Club. You can officially sign-up here. Through it, we hope to engage people of faith in discussions over why our health matters. Our current choice of reading is “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson. Just look for the picture of the apple on the books and you will find past Book Club entries.
We will officially start this reading March 6, 2014. You have a chance to get the book and grab a friend or two to join along with you.
This blog post will introduce why I chose this book. Next’s week blog post will be dedicated to sharing praying testimonies.
Beyond the many physical benefits of prayer, e.g. general well being, psychological ease, correlation to lower cancer rates, why does prayer matter? The NIV version of the Bible reads in 2 Corinthians 10:4 “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds.” Paul uses very vivid language that could make anyone squirm in their seat because of the implication of violence. But what Paul is bringing attention to is the seriousness of living out the teachings of Immauel (Jesus), but also of the spiritual disciplines, such as prayer. It is through these disciplines that we are able to cast down strongholds. In particular, I want to talk about prayer.
I have had several conversations with many of you about prayer, the flesh, and what it means to pray to the Holy One of Israel for hopes and desires to be answered. Some of us pray for access to healthy food or for the ending of human trafficking or for a loved one’s life to be saved. Regardless of what we pray for, an answered prayer can come as a miracle or in conjunction with using medicine and within a regime outlined by a health professional. Next week, we will explore some prayer testimonies that include both aspects. I don’t mean to suggest that prayer alone can resolve any situation without any other measures taken. In short, I believe that the Lord makes the decisions about how a prayer is answered, whether as a miracle or through a doctor’s orders. Take home message: pray and take action.
On the other hand, I do not mean to suggest that by praying we will get what we ask for. To give a very recent example, I prayed for healing for my uncle who recently passed away. Not just one time, but praying for years. I mean, my family and I prayed earnestly, since his diagnosis, and convened to pray during the last week of his life. We would take time out during the day to pray. We prayed over his body, in the morning, in the evening, and I think I came very close to understanding what it means to pray without ceasing.
So what’s the point? I expected a miracle and it didn’t come through prayer. It didn’t come. Or did it? My cousin very firmly looked at me and said, “Joy, his healing did come. I feel that his soul is healed. It came.” So what now? Psalms 130:5 says, “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” I would be lying to you if I told you that I wasn’t disappointed or that I wasn’t angry that my uncle has left this earth, albeit to a better and more loving place. I love my uncle. But I cannot deny, as this cousin aptly said, that the Lord sustained him for seven years as he fought this battle — a huge blessing we cannot discount.
So what was gained through prayer? Prayer brought about a healing within the family. Prayer brought about a unity within family members. I can’t be entirely sure of all the goodness. I can say that although there was good, for me personally, my uncle not being healed in his earthly body introduced a major hurdle in my relationship with the Lord. I’m still working my feelings out, but my faith and my love for the Lord have never been more firm as I talk with the Lord about this situation. This specific trial has changed me emotionally and spiritually. My foundation in my hope for the Lord got stronger. I am sure the Holy One of Israel heard my prayers. I will share with you next week why I think so. But I will say for now, I know that we all have stories praying and not getting exactly what we prayed for–and I’m sure this is a huge unforeseen blessing. Sometimes, this can leave people not wanting to pray again, or at least not believing in their prayers. But from this heart-wrenching experience of seeing a loved one pass away, although he was surrounded and bathed in prayer, I know for a fact that prayer is a key ingredient to how we live under the authority of The Holy One of Israel.
Jesus talked about how to pray and often would leave the disciples to go off and pray. It is his example that we follow. I am assured that prayer is more than just important, it is critical. And for that reason, I want to take a journey together in reading how to use prayer as an effective method of bringing heaven to earth — as Jesus prayed.
Do you have a viewpoint on prayer? If so, I look forward to reading your comments below.