Friday, August 24, 2012

Learning about prayer


Many of us learned the Lord’s Prayer by heart as children. In it, Christ teaches us HOW to pray, which is good because how else would we have felt comfortable approaching GOD on our own, when, before Christ, we had priests to do it for us. And even with this example prayer, how often do I still pray and feel like my words hit the ceiling and fall?

“Dear Jesus….um, thank you for this day…please help me to control myself today…dear God please let Rebecca figure out this potty training thing…amen.” 

Or often it’s “GOD! Heal Matt. Heal Matt. Heal Matt. Heal Matt. Heal Matt. Heal Matt. Heal Matt. amen.”

Now, aside from the Lord’s Prayer sounding eloquent (at least to us today) there are some good clues in there about how to pray, that I think I previously had missed, and therefore want to share them…
This is the Lord’s Prayer as Corrie remembers it off hand:
Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name (I’ve got some King James going on here!),
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever amen.

Matt and I are constantly seeking the Lord for miraculous healing, even in the midst of apparent healing at doctor’s hands. And I would not argue against you if you said the two were intrinsically related. But praying for the Lord to reach down and just heal has brought up questions for me about what I believe about the Holy Spirit, and about the Kingdom of Heaven. But something new in the Lord’s Prayer jumped out at me recently.

Jesus instructed us to pray: Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Now, the way I had memorized this as a child, I naturally stopped to take a breath in between “Thy will be done” and “on earth as it is in heaven”, thus separating the statement. But it clearly says that we are allowed to ask, even instructed to ask, that the Lord do on earth exactly what would be done in heaven. And what does scripture say the Lord wants in Heaven?

Revelation 21:4 is a hopeful preview:
“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And Jesus defined the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 10
“7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”

So when Christ tells us to pray that the Lord’s will be done on earth, just as it is in Heaven, and then gives us examples of what that looks like, I find some clarity in what I can pray for. When we pray “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”, we are really praying “Bring it on God!”

I had previously struggled with “Your Will be done” because it sounded too Laissez Faire, too se la vie, too “que sera, sera, whatever will be will be”. I had even prayed “Lord, please heal so-and-so, BUT Your will be done”…and I walked away confused, and feeling rather helpless.

I do not see that scripture says anywhere that it’s the Lord’s will that people stay sick, and I don’t know why there are people who stay sick despite asking and believing. I DO NOT think it is as simple as “you must not have enough faith,” but even so, Christ did not EVER deny someone healing who asked and believed. He NEVER said "it is God’s will that you stay sick even though I am standing right here." Nor did He send out his disciples saying "Try your best to heal people, but…"

Indeed not. Rather, Matthew 10:1 says: Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

So whether we got tired of asking, or He has other things in our life He is working on, or there is bitterness over unanswered prayer, or our hearts are right and we believe but there is still a battle going on with the prince of this world, I still believe that there is more healing than we are currently experiencing. And I believe we can hold on for it, and continue asking, asking, asking.

 The Apostle Paul and his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) are often pointed to as an example of someone staying sick despite asking. But even there, it is a stretch to conclude that the infliction is only physical, as it is called a weakness in most translations*, and Paul himself categorizes the “thorn” as something sent as a messenger of Satan. Thus clarifying that it is Satan who sends the thorn, and God who turns it into His glory.

Now the Lord is in charge of what He does in all situations, and He is the one who can choose to heal or not, and is allowed to have other things going on that we can’t see. But He has also shown us in these verses (and others)  that He desires no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering.

Is it possible, that in wanting to ensure that we submit to the Lord’s will, we have at times, lost the urgency that is allowed in prayer? We shrug and say "perhaps that was the Lord’s will…"

What does that say to a hurting world? Does that represent a close and loving God?

When did we become satisfied with sickness? Our world, our nation, is VERY sick! The National Institutes of Health estimate “up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising.” (http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune_statistics.php)

MATH LESSON!!!
There are 314,227,023 people in the United States! (http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html)
Approximately 23,500,000 have autoimmune diseases…..
We divide autoimmune by population as a whole to get percentage…..thank you God for calculators….

= 7.5% of our nation is sick with diseases for which standard Western Medicine declares there is no cure, only treatment of symptoms. That is a lot of hurting people...and that's only autoimmune disease, not cancer, not Lyme's disease, not heart failure, or asthma, or any psychological pain.

Sickness came into the world as a result of the fall, therefore I believe God HATES sickness. Let’s not forget that God is highly emotional. Not in an irrational, moody way, but real, holy emotion. In frustration and grief He shook the world when Christ died and ripped a foot THICK piece of velvet. It hurt Him. And it pains Him when we still suffer the effects of a fallen world.

He longs to heal us inside and out. But just as we must ask for salvation…and freely He gives it…so I believe that we can ask for healing.

I know that people have taken this conclusion too far before, and that many have been hurt and confused by declarations of “you are now well”, or “if you had faith, you would be healed”. That is not what I am suggesting. I AM suggesting continued prayer that stands on the promises of God. Prayer that DOES declare: “this is what you said, Lord!” And I am suggesting that we ask for eyes to see what else the Lord is doing, how else He is paving the way for His glory. And of course we pray for patience, because the Lord’s ways are not our ways, and He is not constrained by time.

~ And as a side note, if you are reading this, and wanting prayer, I WANT to pray for you and with you. So call us, or message us on Facebook, or post a message here. We really want to stand with you.~

I re-wrote the Lord’s prayer in my vernacular, just to see if it sounds different. Sorry your Highness King James, but I like my version better  : )

Father God You are so good! Your name is Holy and high above all other names! Father let your Kingdom come and be on earth as You promised. That same Kingdom where there is no pain, no suffering, no tears, no loneliness, no sickness, no death! Just as it is in Heaven! As you said: Behold the Kingdom of the Lord is at Hand…let us see that! Give me just what I need. No more. I’ll trust you for the rest. Forgive me again and again for how I screw up every day. And please give me Your love so that I can forgive those who screw up around me, and even hurt me. Don’t even let me walk into something that will tempt me! And stand strong around us and through us as the Enemy attacks. All this is YOURS, all power is YOURS, all glory is YOURS forever!

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*Paul’s thorn in the flesh is called an “infirmity” in King James Version. I did a little Greek word search on “infirmity” as used in Scripture, and even then it was used to describe “want of strength, weakness, infirmity of the body (native weakness and frailty, or feebleness of health) and infirmity of the soul (want of strength to understand, to do great things, to restrain corrupt desires, and to bear struggles).”  (www.blueletterbible.org) That is still not conclusive proof of illness to me.

2 comments:

  1. Well said Corrie. Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts and struggles with such honesty. I am challenged by this and blessed by it all at once.

    Love you.

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