My computer and Blogger have not been friends lately, hence the lack of posting. I could pull up a new post page but couldn't type in any of the body fields. So now that you've missed my random writings, here's a fifty-two page manuscript of everything that's been on my mind the past few weeks!
I'm going to keep today's pretty short and simple. I also am literally just going to dump out some thoughts and am not going to go back and edit for clarification. Sometimes I like to let the world see what my thought process looks like... it ain't always pretty! I am not even going to do a spell-check because my computer and Blogger haven't found a way to keep the spell check feature where I can see it...
Sometimes the Holy Spirit puts a thought/question in your mind that you just can't really ignore for very long. Lately my question has been this - when we ask for prayer requests, why do we always get requests for God to heal/treat/comfort the sick? Is that all there is to pray for? I don't really have a full answer and, like I tell anyone I teach, I didn't go to seminary so don't take my word for it... but... I think there is way more we can pray for than just Next-Door-Neighbor's broken arm.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am all about praying for the sick. Hello, Jesus' ministry involved plenty of sick people being healed. But when that becomes all we are praying for, are we doing it wrong? Like, in a small group you ask for prayer requests and basically all that is mentioned is other people's illnesses? Again, I don't have the answers. These are just questions I have that I'm willing to share with you. Also, when Jesus was with sick people and he prayed for them, it wasn't really an elaborate prayer. Like, "Holy Father, you are the true healer and great physician. If it is your will, will you please heal Johnny of his tonsilitis so that he may be a living miracle and testament of your power and glory?" Nope. Jesus' response? He just healed people. Done and done.
Which brings about the question whether or not we have the power to heal... well, I believe we do because we have the power of the Holy Spirit residing in us. But it has to be Spirit-led. There have been many times when someone has asked me to pray for some ailment when I have prayed, tried to listen to the Spirit, hear nothing, and tell them I can't. Not because I don't want to or because God doesn't want them healed. But those kind of prayers must be Spirit-filled. Maybe I'm not doing it right or it's not in God's timing or maybe - gasp - they are not meant to be healed (sorry, it is true). For those people, I just pray for God to heal them in His timing but that's about all I can do. Then there have been other times where I have been overwhelmed with the Holy Spirit and have been directed to pray for something specific in a person and have heard the person say they either felt better, felt comforted, or just also felt the power of the Holy Spirit and became well over time. Those moments are awesome, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. It's just our friend the Holy Spirit doing His work.
And sometimes it's not physical healing someone actually needs. I think we often get consumed with being healthy and whole and forget there's a whole supernatural thing going on around us. Like, one time I was sitting at a worship/prayer event behind some tornado relief volunteers. I'd spent some time around them and was just praying silently for them. Then they asked us to pray for their families and for their work. At the end of that prayer, one of my fingers started to hurt really badly and I just had this overwhelming feeling that I had to ask if one of them had a hurt finger. Well, one of them did, so I prayed for his finger. Weird, huh? Well, after the prayer, his finger wasn't healed. But you could tell God had done something in this man's heart/mind/soul. It was a moment of confirmation for this man that God meant what He says about being alive and active. So... are you catching my drift at all? Sometimes, relief of physical ailments isn't the only thing we need. It's all a matter of listening to the Holy Spirit and obeying what it is He is asking you to pray. Praying in the Spirit means... well... listening. And then praying what you've been directed to pray.
My mom (hey mom!) is notorious for calling me to tell me about someone's (most likely someone I do not know) ailments and tells me to "put them on my prayer list." Look, I don't do it. I might pray for that person in the moment but I don't have like a running list of sick people that I pray for every day - unless they are close to me or I just feel so moved to pray for them continually. The Bible doesn't tell me to keep a list of sick people by my Bible and to remind God daily of their needs. I know, I know, you're thinking about P.U.S.H. - Pray Until Something Happens. I had the bracelet, okay? But, again, it's about listening to the Spirit. If God is urging me to pray for someone/something, I will continue to pray. But if I pray for every single person my mom has asked me to pray for, when do I have time to just listen?
Which brings me to my final thoughts (not final for me, but final for you... I think 5 lengthy paragraphs is enough) - Are we really praying the way God wants us to? I mean, really the only direct example we have is the Lord's Prayer. But we just usually focus on the actual prayer and not the context. Jesus is talking about not being self-righteous, he also instructs us to "not heap empty phrases as the Gentiles do", to pray in secret, and forgiving others so we may be forgiven (Matthew 6). Then we have a bazillion (again, I didn't go to seminary so don't quote me on that number) other examples of him retreating to the wilderness and praying, listening to God rather than speaking, and then prayers of all the other people in the Bible - Abraham/David/Apostles/basically everybody. So really we have to extract those examples from the Bible and realize they prayed for sooooooo much more than just the sick. This is something I myself have to continue to work on - especially within a body of believers. The Bible tells us to share our lives with one another (Acts 2), which means going way deeper than "please pray for my great-great-granddaddy".
I'll leave you with some ideas of other things to ask for when your next prayer request opportunity comes up:
- sinful desires/behaviors (James 5:16)
- the lost
- specific people/people groups
- pastors/church leaders
- government leaders
- gratitude and thankfulness to God
- opportunities to share Christ
- personal or communal revival
- opportunities to serve God and His kingdom
- prayers for wisdom/faith/patience/understanding/etc.
Those are just a few... I'm hoping to get some feedback/responses. These are just some thoughts and I'm interested to hear what the world has to say!