Friday, 13 December 2013

How to pray for healing (part one)

Early last year, Nicole Voelkel (below, centre) and I collaborated on a month-long project where we spoke on various university campuses. Sometimes we would address the issue of suffering together. I would grapple with the issue intellectually and existentially. Nicole would then share her stories and experience, and offer to pray for people. It was amazing to be at campus-based apologetic events where people were getting convinced by the message and then were genuinely healed before our eyes. There was not even a hint of hype or showmanship about her manner; the whole thing was very low-key.

Nicole has agreed to share something about healing over the course of two posts on the Chrysolis blog. Today she begins by sharing a true story:

“Hey, how many of you guys would like to see a miracle right now?”

Jerry and I had just walked up to a group of about 10 students sitting in the student lounge at the local college.

We were met with some bemused (and some confused) looks.

“No, I’m serious. Who of you is sick? Right now, I’m going to tell you about God, and you’re going to see a miracle in front of your eyes.  Who here needs a miracle?”

One of the girls pointed to her friend. “She needs a miracle.  She lost her voice and can’t sing, and she’s a voice major.”

The other students nodded.

“Okay, so what you’re saying is -- right now, you can’t sing, at all?  And if you were able to sing, right now, you would KNOW that it was a miracle?”

The girl nodded eagerly, and whispered, “I haven’t been able to sing for four months, I can’t talk.”

We looked around the group.  Do you all know her? Do you know this is true?”

They nodded, “we’re all friends, we all hang out every day.”

“So here’s what’s going to happen.  I’m going to tell you about God, and then I’m going to pray for her and Jesus will heal her.  Deal? So here’s the thing: Some of you may or may not believe about God... the truth is, he’s all around you, every day, and loves you more than you could possibly imagine. He’s not just remote, abstract---but real, right here. He knows about your throat, and wants you to be able to sing. He knows about all our problems, the things we go through--the pain that we carry.  He became a human--Jesus Christ---to walk with us, know us, show us what real love is like. In fact, he died for all of our sins and pain, so that we could experience new life with him, today. He rose from the dead, showing that he is God, and he’s even right now, his spirit is here to show us love, life, and healing.  Now, are you ready to see this?

Their eyes were huge. Looking at each other, looking at us --like we were crazy.  I asked the girl her name, and if it would be okay for me to put my hand on her when I prayed for her. She smiled (it was all just an adventure for them.)  I prayed for her throat, and commanded sickness to leave and her throat to be completely healed so she could sing again, in the name of Jesus.

We said, okay, how do you feel?  Try to sing right now.

She looked at us and whispered....  “But I feel shy.”

I said, “Hey Jerry, you’re a singer--why don’t you sing with her so she’s not on the spot?”

He started singing, and so did she.

“Oh my gosh!!! Oh my gosh!!!!”  I can’t believe it!!!! Tears came to her eyes. Her two girlfriends shrieked and hugged her.

Jerry laughed, “So, you guys just saw a miracle! right here, right now.”

What God just did with her throat, he’s able to do with our whole lives.

Now I want to go around in a circle, and ask each of you --- if you would like to ask that same Jesus that just healed her throat, into your lives right now.

Six of the students going around said they were already Christians, three who weren’t said that they did want this, the other one said he wanted to think about it.

We prayed with them, and made plans to meet up for coffee later that week.

Now, that sounds a little out there, but the truth is, healing is available to Jesus' church.  It’s part of his blessing to us whose faith is in Jesus. 

You don’t have to be an expert -- it’s not for the spiritual elite.  Paul tells us God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”

It doesn’t mean that healing happens all time. It’s a spiritual battle.  Yet even in Nazareth where “only a few” sick were healed, the implication is still that this is not what God would have wished. Our desire is to see the kingdom of heaven here on earth is in line with God’s desire.

Not all of us are called to a full time healing ministry, but healing is “built in” to he great commission. Jesus said:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation...And these signs will accompany those who believe: they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

The gospel is about word, sign, and deed. None of us can heal anybody!  But as we share in Jesus’ name, he is the one that heals.  

“Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it." (Mark 16)

In 2008 I started a personal quest to see if God would use me to heal.  I decided that I would pray for every single person I saw that needed healing, or that told me they were sick.

Sometimes this was awkward, like when my boss complained to me one day about his knee injury.  He was a tall shrewd businessman with a very sarcastic sense of humor, and it took me about 10 minutes standing there to work up the nerve to ask if I could pray for him. 

My goal was to to pray for 100 people, and see if at least one of them was healed. I soon lost track of my goal, because as I prayed for people, they were healed.  By no means do I have a gift of healing, but after a few months I started getting the reputation as a healer and people came to me with many other prayer requests as well.

At first I prayed timidly, and I got timid results. Rather than having my boss test out his knee right there, I only found out about it 4 days later when he decided to try running (because I had prayed for him!) and realized for the first time he had no pain.

Now I always try to ask people to check it right there.  Usually they aren’t healed 100%, but the pain level drops below 50%.  I confidently pray several times until the pain goes down to a zero.  Sometimes they are healed the next day, but asking them to test it out right away seems to be the best method.

Recently I read the book of Acts, highlighting every time healing occurred.  According to the Bible, this was an extremely normal part of Christian life!

Jesus was the perfect model to us of what a life dependent on the Father looks like, yet we never see Jesus asking God to heal someone (We see him question whether it was Gods will for him to die on the cross, but when it came to healing, he seemed to clearly know be healed.”)

We simply pray, “be healed, in the name of Jesus. Sickness, go now.”  Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we pray for the sick to be healed, we are agreeing with heaven.  There is no sickness in heaven, no brokenness, no shame. Wherever Jesus went proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, people were healed. He showed us what it looked like to walk in authority as a human, doing the will of the Father.

The most helpful tip to healing --- is simply to start praying for sick people. If you pray for someone and it seems like nothing happens, try to immediately pray for at least two more people. I’ve found usually “resistance” comes right before the biggest breakthrough.

As you go, your faith will grow. We live in an extremely secular society that doesn’t believe God is able to do miracles right in front of us. This is also true of most of our churches!

A few things that have helped me get rid of unbelief  in the area of healing is meditating on John 14:12Mark 16:17-18, reading biographies of people with strong healing ministries, and watching you-tubes of successful street healers like Todd White.

Jesus trained his disciples to walk in this authority, and he has given this same authority to us.

This is who we are because your life is in Christ.  Don’t get discouraged if you pray for someone and it doesn’t happen--God is not discouraged with you at all!  He is the one that heals, its just us up to step out.

Nicole Voelkel studied Human rights and International Studies at
University of Chicago, and has an MA in Evangelism & Leadership
from Wheaton College. She has traveled and spoken all over the
world, and recently collaborated on a book project and small group
curriculum with Robby Dawkins: Do What Jesus Did, A Real-Life Field Guide

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