Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prayer, Healing and Our Miracle-Working God

Before Christmas I developed a voice problem. I noticed my voice growing weaker over the course of several Sundays, a trend that grew so bad that I finally sought out a specialist. He took a look at my vocal cords and immediately saw my trouble. I had a nodule—a callous—on one of my cords, caused from overuse. He got my attention when he said that surgery might be necessary but maybe a period of vocal rest followed by voice therapy might help. Try that first, he said. 

My condition wasn’t life-threatening by any means. It was, though, scary. A preacher without a voice can’t do much, and as the doctor talked my mind started racing through all the scenarios of what life would be like if I couldn’t preach any more.

I followed his advice to the letter. But I added something else, something that in the end determined the outcome of my medical situation more than anything else. I asked many people to pray for me.

Skeptics would say that medical science is what restores our health when we get sick. Prayer on the other hand is something that, at best, calms our minds while doctors heal our bodies. I don’t buy that. I can’t imagine going through a health problem without seeking God’s intervention through prayer. That’s not because I’m a preacher. It’s because I’m a follower of Jesus.

I went through several weeks of voice therapy, specialized throat lozenges and the rest of the prescribed course of treatment. It all seemed to help. But my vocal cord was actually restored by means other than medical. It was healed by God responding to prayer.

This is how it happened. While many people were praying for me, one friend in particular stood out. He prayed with me over the telephone one afternoon toward the end of my therapy. A powerful, effective prayer by an anointed man that called out in full confidence for God to intervene. As he prayed, I knew what he prayed for had happened. I can’t scientifically prove that, of course. But I know what I know. In the course of my friend’s prayer, I could feel a shift in my spirit and the assurance came over me that my vocal health was restored. Two weeks later, when I returned to the doctor for a check-up, he examined me again. There was no sign of the nodule. The vocal cords were clear.

I called my friend with the news. He wasn’t surprised. His ministry has included many healings more dramatic than mine, and his response was as true as it was inspiring. That’s the kind of God we serve, he said.

That’s the kind of God we serve. I love that! We do serve a God who delights in responding to the needs of his children, a God who’s able to do things that we can’t understand but can only gratefully receive through faith. A church without that kind of supernatural conviction becomes dry and formalistic. Impressive and interesting, maybe even filled up with people, but lacking the essential spiritual power necessary for real Kingdom effectiveness.  

On the other hand, when church has a belief in God’s miracle-working power and not only is open to God’s miracles but actively seeks them out, that church takes on a new status altogether. It becomes a focus for the divine action that really does transform human lives.

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