My last post addressed some of the obstacles to healing ministry in the church. Today I will look at the first.
I think that there are a multitude of dimensions connected to doubt. Doubt can be expressed in various way:
1. "I do not believe healing is possible."
2. "I do not believe healing is possible for me."
3. "I do not believe we are supposed to ask for healing."
I have heard enough and read enough about healing happening to say, it happens regularly. I have also experienced it in my own life with family, friends and parishioners. Most healing is very subtle and rather mundane. The most important type of healing is not usually physical. But people are healed every day. Any doctor will tell you there are all sorts of unexplained healings. God may not be seen as the cause, but everyone admits there are things going on which are mysteries. Remember, amazing miracles are, by definition, amazing. They are rare. So denying that a healing miracle(a rare event) can occur because it does not happen very often seems to be illogical.
The second issue, failed prayers, may be based on a mistaken understanding of how prayer works. But first, let's look at medicine. How often have you been sick, taken medicine, and it did not seem to work? How often do people go to the doctor and the doctor seems unable to find out what is wrong or to how make it better? I know many people who have spent years seeking relief from any number of medical practioners to no avail. Does this mean we stop going to doctors? NO! Medicine is real and it is helpful. But medicine does not always cure quickly, completely or without other complications. So why would we expect a brief prayer to immediately and completely deal with something? Is it because we see prayer as magic? Do we hold prayer to a higher standard than we do medicine?
Last night we came home and our son was very sick. He was throwing up. Apparently the stomache bug is wreaking havoc in his class. (It was all over Facebook.) I prayed over him while he lay in bed feeling awful. He also took a pil. This morning he feels much better. Did prayer help? I believe so, that is why I did it, but I cannot prove it. In the end, I prayed for him because I wanted to invite the Spirit of God into His illness and into His recovery. I believe it is God's desire to make us whole. I also believe that Jesus spent much time healing those who were sick and suffering. Perhaps I am more aware of the importance of prayer now than I had been. Maybe too many of us wait for prayer as a last resort when all else has failed. So my answer to those who say, "God does not want us to ask for healing," is this. In my experience He not only wants us to, He expects us to.
I think the failure of the church to engage in healing ministry has a component of disobedience. Jesus sends us into the world to teacht, preach, heal and exorcise.
So perhaps we need to be more aware of the opportunities for prayer, small prayer, which surround us each day. And keep in mind healing of spirit, soul, emotions, and relationships also matter.