Healing Prayer (fourth installment)

The Lord shall fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

In my previous post I wrote about how our openness to receiving God’s healing is an essential component when hands are being laid on us for healing.  The Lord heals on his own terms, not ours.  So we must relinquish our stipulations, demands and expectations and welcome his gift as he freely gives it, trusting God has our best interests at heart and knows best what we need.

In addition, unbelief, even though it may be unconscious, can blunt the full effect of God’s power.  Mark records in his gospel that when Jesus went to minister in his hometown, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (6:5-6)  For people in the medical profession, in particular, receiving God’s healing requires they be receptive to, and not dismissive of, the miraculous. Miracles can pose a problem for doctors, and others, who have been trained to think rationally and to make judgments based upon material facts.

Rembrandt; The Raising of Lazarus, C. 1630

However, God is not bound by natural laws.  He is Lord over creation and he can transcend any “laws” and established medical judgments about what is possible – and what is not.

God can raise the dead, rebuild tissue, organs, muscle and bone as well as cure diseases deemed incurable.  But those who think that the realm of what is possible only covers what has not been deemed “impossible” will have difficulty receiving God’s healing.  In fact, they may even reject it, because they’ve already decided, unconsciously, that their illness cannot be healed because there is no known treatment for it.  In receiving prayer for healing we must surrender our judgments, our stipulations and our doubts.

We must also surrender our fears.  Several days before I underwent a second lung surgery to remove a tiny lesion from my right lung, the prayer team to which I belong came over to my house to pray for me and another member of the team.  Led by the Holy Spirit, each person laid hands on me and prayed.  When they paused to see how I was feeling, one member discerned that I was fearful about something.  However, I was at a loss to come up with a name for that fear.  I thought I had surrendered all my doubts and fears.  However, as prayer for me resumed, the name of the fear suddenly came into my consciousness – I was afraid of cancer.

For as far back as I can remember, the word, “cancer,” had struck fear into my heart.   I was a teenager when President Nixon declared a “war on cancer” and I can remember back to when a diagnosis of cancer usually meant one did not have long to live.  So I learned early in life that cancer was something to be feared.  This fear was only strengthened when, seventeen years ago, my father died of prostate cancer at the age of seventy-two.  I had not realized, until the healing team prayed for me that night, how strong this fear was in me, but once it surfaced, I was able to surrender it to the Lord.

When we fear something, we are actually “worshipping” what we fear.  I say this because I know that anything we let grab our attention away from the Lord becomes an idol in our life.  So, to be fearful of something means we are practicing idolatry.  We make what we fear into an idol because we give it greater weight than we do the Lord; we are declaring, whether we realize it our not, that what we fear is more powerful than God.  Now when I proclaim that Jesus is Lord over everything, I know that includes cancer, too.  I am so thankful the Holy Spirit revealed this pocket of resistance buried deep in my psyche and I rejoice that I am released from it.

Another stumbling block to receiving healing is a misguided assumption that the battle against whatever ails us is ours to wage.  However, Scripture offers us the correct point of view: the battle is the Lords, not ours (see Chronicles 20:15 and 1 Samuel 17:47).  The Lord battles on our behalf.  The victory is his – and in the victory, he receives the glory due his name.  Therefore, our role in the battle is to stand and hold fast the ground God wins for us, as Scripture instructs (Exodus 14:14; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Ephesians 6:13).

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… (2 Chronicles 20:17)

But what does it mean to “stand”?  When I looked up the word in my Greek dictionary I discovered that it means “to persist, to stand fast, as against an enemy – as opposed to running away.”  The last phrase caught my attention: as opposed to running away.  Standing didn’t seem dependent on what I had to do; instead it was about what I shouldn’t do: run away.  This was welcome news because I have a tendency to make things a lot harder than they need to be.  What this definition says to me is that even if I’m scared and have my doubts and my knees are shaking, all I have to do in order to stand is not run away.

Back in the days of King Jehoshaphat, on the night before the men of Judah were to go out and march down and take up their positions against the vast army that had gathered to destroy them, I bet their knees were shaking and that they didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.  Although the Lord had told them the battle was his and all they need do is stand firm, they still had to face the enemy in the morning – and they were woefully outnumbered.  But they didn’t run away.  They woke up and marched out singing hymns of praise and took up their positions.  And the Lord was victorious, as he promised he would be.  Their enemies ended up killing each other, while the men of Judah stood their ground…and watched.

So in the face of cancer, or whatever it is that afflicts us physically, we humbly acknowledge that the battle is the Lord’s, not ours.  We stand by not running away and we hold the ground won for us by praising God and calling to mind his promises of healing found in Scripture.  For our God has told us he is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17) – and his promises are trustworthy.

Next time: What we can learn from how Jesus healed.

About Claudia Dickson Greggs

I am an Anglican priest, author, wife and mother. Writing and teaching about Christian life and faith are passions of mine.
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4 Responses to Healing Prayer (fourth installment)

  1. Ann says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Stand firm. The battle is not mine, but the Lord’s. Yes!

    Simple visualization: The “Big C” is Christ, not cancer.

    I so appreciate your observation that some of our most deep seeded fears were planted in our past. They are so ingrained that we act on them unaware; yet, they become idols. Gratefully God knows what lies within us and reveals deep and hidden things. He is SO good.

    I praise God for His revelation and for His intimate care, provision, and healing.

  2. Sam Epperson says:

    Beautifully said Claudia. It made me think of the phrase “you can run but you cannot hide” All the time we are running we are exposed. When we stand firm, we can be surrounded by the love and prayers of our friends and those who love us. This is the shield of faith that cannot be penetrated! How wonderful it is to experience this!

    Thanks be to God for His love, His patience and His power to heal.

    Sam

  3. Susan Montgomery says:

    Claudia, Many, many thanks for this post. I know from my experience with Steve’s cancer how potent this fear can be. Giving it up to God and trusting Him is so hard, particularly for medical folks as you said, but a daily prayer.

  4. Rick says:

    You posted this when we were on the road, and over the weekend, I didn’t have a chance to respond, but I do now.

    Thank you for this installment. Stand! As opposed to running away! That’s it! It’s not that we don’t ever feel fear, but that when we do, we stand, proclaim God’s promises, and praise Him for them, don’t give in, and don’t run away, don’t go back on our belief in God’s promises – stand! Hope! We are those who DO have hope!

    This week, I had an email from a young woman who had sent Brandy and I an article on ALS, but it was about coping with the deterioration. I know she meant well, but is not a Christian, and as a result, she has no hope. After I read it, I really had to struggle to stand, but I did. God is able and willing to heal Brandy, and we know that. Our friend doesn’t know that. But we have to stand because we DO have hope, and we depend on God alone.

    Thank you for reminding us of this truth!

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