Praying for people isn't always a smooth road. My daughter and I run into problems from time to time. She's glad I developed a lifestyle of praying for people. She really likes it when I pray for her and some pain is healed. But she's a little creeped out when I want to pray for her friends. Many of her friends in high school aren't into God or religion and have never been approached by someone who wanted to pray for them. She pretty much asked me not to pray for anyone at her swim meets this season. I love my daughter. I see God doing a lot of things in her life. I give her a lot of grace; being a teenager isn't easy.
This week I had an opportunity to show her how prayer works and challenge her fears about it. My daughter has a friend on the swim team who needs healing. Her problem is a stress fracture in her foot. She's been hobbling around on crutches for a month or so. Swimming is OK, but walking is difficult. My daughter and I talked about it and she wasn't comfortable having me ask her friend about prayer. I respected her wishes...for a while. Her friend doesn't have much of an awareness of God, so the question of divine healing causes concern. What if you ask and she says no? What if you pray and she doesn't get healed? Won't it give her more reason not to believe? Teenagers are concerned about how others perceive them. We covered all the concerns she had. I tried to be sensitive to them and for several weeks I put it out of my mind. This was in spite of the fact that I believed I had a word of knowledge about her healing. When my daughter first mentioned the injury about a month ago, I could swear I heard God say, "I'll heal her."
This week God opened the door. As I went to pick up my daughter from swim practice, the girl with the injured foot and a few friends were waiting in the parking lot. I got out of my car and approached them with a big smile. I asked how practice went and talked about the upcoming district meet to build a bridge of relationship with them. I asked my 'patient' about her foot. She filled me in on the latest scoop from her doctor. I asked if she liked hobbling around on crutches. She said no. I suggested maybe she didn't have to. She asked what the alternative was. I told her about a few miracles I'd seen and suggested hers might be the next one. I told her I'd like to pray and ask God to heal her. She said, "go ahead". I didn't really ask for healing. God told me a while back not to beg, but to command healing, so I commanded the foot to be healed. The whole process took about 10 seconds. I told her I wanted to hear about it at the next meet. My daughter and I left; she was all smiles on the way home.
A few days ago was the last dual swim meet of the year. It had been re-scheduled twice. It finally arrived on a day I was off duty, so I went. Halfway through the meet I was surprised to see someone I knew. She's a member of the opposing team. I first saw her last year at one of the home meets. Here's what happened that day. I saw two girls pass in front of me as they walked to the locker room. They were holding hands, one was being led by the other. I immediately noticed something was wrong with the second girl's eyes. It was obvious she couldn't see very well. Immediately as I began to wonder about her eyes and if God might do something, I saw the words "I will heal" flash before my eyes. Later, I asked the team-mate about her friend's eye problem. She told me she's nearly blind and though she's been treated numerous times, there's no procedure to fix it. Her limited vision means she'll never be able to drive or do a lot of things most of us take for granted.
That night I had a vision. Around midnight, I woke up. God showed me an image of the girl with the eye problem. It was something like watching a short video. In the vision I saw bandages being placed on her eyes and the the words "three days." I asked God if this indicated her healing and He said, "yes". I wrote a note explaining what God had told me about her condition and the fact that He wanted to heal her. I hoped to give it to her at the district meet last year, but she wasn't there. I gave to her coach, who gave it to the girl. I haven't seen her since that day.
(Fast forward about a year) Now she's standing in front of me. I introduced myself and asked if she remembered the note from last year. She did. I recalled the day I saw her and what God told me about healing her. She was a little excited, but confessed, "I'm not religious". I smiled and said it didn't matter, God still wanted to heal her. I asked if I could pray with her. She said, "right now?" I said, "yeah, now." I took her hand and spoke what God put on my heart. I asked Him to bless her in every possible way and restore her vision. It was short and quiet. I didn't want to make a scene.
On the drive home my daughter said, "I saw you praying with the girl who has the eye problems." It never occurred to me she may have been watching. I was busted. But she didn't give me a hard time about it. Everyone in my home has heard me talk about this girl and her healing for a year. She knows I have a tremendous burden to see her vision restored. She may have sensed it was by divine appointment that the last meet of the year was postponed twice so I could be there and finally pray with this girl. My daughter was glad I prayed for her. I think her fears are being resolved. That's good, because I think she may be following in my footsteps one day.
The last story is about one of those everyday things that became an encounter with God. I'm fortunate to go to a church where the pastors are real people. They have cell phones. They answer them when people call. I can even send a text message and they reply to me. I like that. I even harass them on Facebook and they give it right back to me. I haven't attended this church very long, but for some strange reason I feel like these guys actually care about what's going on in my life. It's the first church I've ever attended where I have direct access to leadership. They don't have secretaries or a layer of people insulating them from the flock. I'm still a bit shocked by this.
We get together about once a month or so for coffee to get caught up on things. Today I was with Dennis Teague, Bill Coultas and Matt Evans. Dennis is the primary pastor, but does a lot of missionary work overseas. Bill functions in various leadership roles in the church . Matt is a friend who has fun going out in public and watching God do miracles. He writes the blog about awesome and bizarre God stories listed on this page under "My Blog List". These guys love to pray for people.
As I ordered coffee and a sandwich I noticed the young woman taking my order was wearing a sling on her arm. Inquiring minds want to know...."So why are you wearing the sling?" My usual line of questions revealed a rare condition; she has no connective tissue in her shoulder. The ligaments, tendons and cartilage are missing. Bone on bone. That must hurt. She said she was scheduled for another surgery in a few weeks. (Not if I have anything to do with it) I watched as she made my coffee and rang up the bill with her one good arm. And my heart began to hurt for this sweet person. We had to do something.
I got back to the table with the guys; a group of men who collectively have probably witnessed over a thousand miracles of healing. Dennis and his son prayed for a guy years ago who was raised from the dead. I told them about the gal who took my order. I asked them to join me in praying for her. It was like asking a golden retriever to go after a floundering duck. After eating lunch and engaging in some heavy duty vision-casting we asked our waitress to have the injured woman come to our table. When she arrived I introduced our panel of experts and shared with the guys a few things I'd learned from her while she took my order. I asked if she was looking forward to the surgery. She said she'd do anything to avoid it. I asked if we could pray for her to be healed. Her eyes lit up with excitement. "Yes, I'd love it!"
We had her step a close as she could to the table, all of touched her hand or part of her arm. We prayed in our own way. She was deeply touched that a group of strangers would bother to see her need and intercede for her. With tears in her eyes she thanked us and promised to tell us the results when we came back.
It isn't hard to pray for people. OK, it's a little slow getting started. And at times you won't feel like doing it. There will always be doubts and excuses. I'd encourage you to push past all this stuff and look for people who have a need for healing. Take 2 minutes and build a quick bridge of trust. Take 20 seconds and pray for them. Leave the healing and the relationship issues in God's hands. You'll probably never regret praying for anyone. You'll always regret it when you don't.