Thursday, May 25, 2006

Prayer Works Again

I just want to give God thanks for the following two recent miracles.

My father-in-law had pneumonia, whooping cough, and valley fever (a Phoenix area sickness that can lead to death in extreme cases) all at the same time. He went to the doctor for a scan of his lungs and they found the tell-tale spots of the fever. Because these spots can be cancerous, they scheduled him for a biopsy. When he went in for the biopsy, they wanted to get a second scan to pinpoint the exact locations and to see if things had changed.

Well, a few friends and our family laid our hands on dad and prayed that God would remove the spots and heal him completely. We also prayed that God would give dad peace. He was very worried about having surgery.

The scan was complete. The doctor examined it and found NO spots! He said he couldn't explain it - they were completely gone. Dad told the doctor it was because of prayer and the doctor just smiled.

A student in my youth group was with his school on a paintball outing. He was playing capture the flag. When he grabbed the flag he rolled his ankle. At the hospital, an x-ray revealed that he had broken it. The doctor put a cast on his leg from his ankle all the way up his thigh.

He was told that he would be in a wheelchair for the next six weeks and absolutely could not put any pressure on his ankle or leg. He was warned that if he did this, the bones would not set right and they would have to re-break it in order to try again.

A bunch of people prayed for his healing, including myself.

A couple of days after the break, he went into the hospital for a follow-up x-ray to determine if they had set it correctly. When the doctor looked at the picture, he said he could not believe it. He could not tell there had even been a break!

At the doctor's recommend, he is still in the wheelchair and cast, but the student says he feels great. Praise God!

"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results." - James 5:16, NLT

So what do you think is responsible for healing? Is it the faith of the person praying? Or does that matter at all? Does God just decide to heal outside of prayer's influence?

16 comments:

BruceD said...

That's wonderful... but are you also willing to share with us how many times it hasn't worked?

JimmyBob said...

Sure. My brother is physically and mentally handicapped. He wasn't born that way, but was dropped when he was an infant and became partially paralyzed on the right side of his body. Water in the brain affected his speech and learning. He is not severely retarded, but partially, the same way he was affected physically (to put a simple explanation on it).

I will never forget when I was a teenager and my brother was feeling particularly full of faith. He was praying at the altar on a Sunday night and something welled up within him and he just began to believe God was going to heal him. My faith started to swell. I got excited. My mother looked concerned. She immediately began to think of how to comfort him if God didn't heal. You could see that she wanted to believe, but there have been so many times that prayer has not given the desired result, she prepared herself for the let down.

After a half hour of worship and prayer, my brother was not healed. He looked a little dissappointed, but not crushed. I'm not sure how he sorted it out in his mind, but I can tell you that his faith is even stronger today.

I don't know anyone else who inspires me quite like him. He gets up for work everyday on time. He exercises faithfully. He is fully devoted to the Lord. Because he cannot read, he listens to the Bible on tape (sometimes falling asleep to it!) He never misses a church service or fellowship gathering. He gladly pays for the pizza every Sunday night after service. He's never afraid to meet a challenge (he played on team USA soccer in the World Special Olympics a few years ago).

If I could sort things out in my head, I'd say that there's no reason to heal him. He is perfect the way he is.

BruceD said...

That's an interesting take on things.

I think healing is one of the most frustrating aspects about God and his influence in our lives. I have seen healings. Real ones. But, the numbers of (seemingly deserving) people who aren't healed is staggering. Sometimes I sit alone and cry out to God for my wife's healing. But she continues to struggle with problems that adversely effect her quality of life. Sometimes, I get really mad. Not so much at God, but at my lack of understanding.

To hear evangelicals, you would think that healing is mostly up to us, and our state of mind (heart). If we aren't healed, then it's because we're doing something wrong, or there's some secret disobedience in our lives, or (it's goes on and on). It's like there is some specific formula we can follow that MAKES God heal us. Sounds a little magical to me.

Like they say, some day we'll know all the answers, but this is one that can be a huge stumbling block to people of faith. It can even turn people away from God. I get the feeling that it's not really a central point of "the kingdom", but just something that happens once in a while to keep us interested. Like God throwing us a bone.

JimmyBob said...

I'm with you Bruce, all the way. Now, I gave a personal example of my brother who is not suffering like your wife. "Why don't you heal her God?" is the only thing I would be able to ask.

Some Evangelicals are preaching craziness! It seems like there are only two camps: the one's that believe physical healing is possible for everyone and the one's that don't believe in praying for healing at all.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I believe that payer for healing is good, but many times (at least in America) it does not happen. I can only conclude that sometimes God has something else in mind.

On a personal note - my wife and I will pray for your wife tonight.

JimmyBob said...

"I believe that payer for healing is good"

Uhh. That should say, "I believe that prayer for healing is good."

I definitely don't believe in paying for healing...well, I guess I do pay the doctor. But, healing from God is free.

Maybe that's the key. As with all free things, you can't demand it. You just have to wait until it becomes available.

DCMetalJr said...

I think that there are certain circumstances that require healing and others that actually require no healing. I know, I sound like a democrat running for office, but I'll explain.

There are times when things just get worse. Then they get even more worse. Then they really get awful. Then they get intolerable. Etc...

God sees these things in our future. He knows that we need to be prepared. In the USA we have very few external issues that truly challenge our faith. If we didn't have sickness or other issues we'd never get tested. As Steven Curtis Chapman said in "Bring It On" - "Let me be made weak so I'll know the strength of the one who's strong - Bring it ON!

I think something that supports what I am saying is that for all of the things we as christians witness here in the USA we rarely see healings. We do, however, hear about them in other countries all the time.

I think we are being made strong for something either in our individual futures or in the future of the Church here in the USA.

The times when healing occurs I think are times when God knows we can't actually handle it or when it is to prepare us for something that would require us to be whole.

Any thoughts?

Steve said...

I once heard someone (who suffered from a sadly terminal disease) that if you truly want to be intimate with your Creator - and what you crave is that intimacy - then start praying for a terminal illness.

How's that for "Bring It On"? Do you think that's what Steven Curtis Chapman prays for.... that he should be made weak, that his children should be made weak... it would seem that would be consistent with this line of thinking. Do you pray for physical illness so that you will be tested and made strong JB or DC??

So many Christians talk a good game about wanting to be made "strong" in the Lord. We don't REALLY mean it - do we? Or is that some of you are more enlightened than others and do not need physical afflictions, or illnesses or the death of loved ones to get your attention. Do we really think that everything happens so that we can be made strong? Are we really that myopic?

JimmyBob said...

I have honestly never prayed to get sick and I have never prayed for someone else to be sick either.

I think as humans we sometimes rise above our weaknessess and illnesses (even non-Christians do that) and find an "inner strength." I think of Michael J. Fox or Christopher Reeve.

I would rather get "stronger" other ways, through ministry to my family, friends, and world.

But, that's my preference.

JimmyBob said...

DC, do you think the American church is getting stronger? I was just thinking about that in regards to what you said.

It seems to me that the Church in El Salvador is getting stronger AND seeing miraculous healings (according to reports).

I'm not sure exactly why God doesn't heal in America like he does elseshere. Or does He? Maybe God is doing more than we recognize. You'd be amazed at how much God IS doing, with healing and all, if you start asking people and praising Him for it. That's why I posted these two healings.

Some more thoughts on this...

Maybe because our country is the 3rd largest population in the world, the news of God's work is drowned out by so much distraction.

Perhaps we think God is doing more in other countries because we hear more from missionaries. They give us an account of their work.

I don't know.

"Do we really think that everything happens so that we can be made strong?"

Steve, I've been thinking about that question. Maybe not, because maybe the Lord shines through our weaknesses more than our strengths. I know the Lord shines through my brother (in all his weaknesses). Maybe he wouldn't if my brother were "stronger."

I don't think we'll ever figure Him out. All I can pray is that He gets glory through me, whether I'm weak or strong.

DCMetalJr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

So what was it you were saying Jimmy Bob about people being attacked on your blog... interesting??

Did I really and truly deserve this diatribe from DC?? Can anyone say "ad hominem"..... Hmmmm.....

DC: This post was about healing and answered prayers. I was trying to contribute and you apparently misunderstood me and have pre-judged me from previous posts where you feel I have attacked your pastor (which I didn't). Disagreeing is not an attack, challenging is not an attack, being critical is not an attack....

I have been around this blogworld for a year and if you knew me and my history you would know that I have rarely been offensive or rude to people - even when it seems I might have had the right to be. You came out with gloves swinging my friend.... let me just encourage you to take a deep breath and enter a dialogue.

You are the one that brought up the Steven Curtis Chapman song and the concept of "bring it on". To that end, I suggested that possibly the way to deep intimacy with God is thru pain. I can certainly identify with this...it is in my most painful life experiences that I have felt an intimacy with God that is incomparable to the happiest times of my life. I have also been in pain and experienced the immeasurable silence of God....I have cried out to Him and he has been silent... at times longer than you can imagine.

DC, you are the one that wrote, If we didn't have sickness or other issues we'd never get tested. I was following your logic, and thus pulling out the concept that if you were sincere about wanting to be close to God or proven faithful in the midst of struggles (i.e. "Bring it On).... then why don't we pray for God to bring us that testing? Why do we pray for healing at all if it is true that the trials and tribulations we face bring us closer to God?

So to answer your questions:

Why do bad things happen? They just do. God isn't in control. Bad things happen because this is a fallen world. Bad things happen to good people, bad people and all people.... life is a grand coincidence.

Why are some people healed and some not? Well, I was being sensitive to this post... cuz I believe that JB really believes these people were healed... but I believe miraculous healings are much more rare than JB. I think there is a perfect scientific and medical explanation for the two healings in this post. Do I believe God can heal? Yes. Do I believe he does? No. Not NORMALLY. I don't believe God NORMALLY or regularly intervenes in human affairs. I don't believe prayer exists to give us what we ask for... I believe prayer exists to change us and our attitudes and to align us with God's view of our circumstances.... not to change our circumstances.

And as for your last paragraph DC... maybe you can respond to me without your own hack and slash attack of me as a person rather than my own ideas... even if they are different than yours.

JimmyBob said...

Steve said, "I think there is a perfect scientific and medical explanation for the two healings in this post."

Steve, the doctors in both cases I posted about didn't have explanations. In fact, my father-in-law's doctor went out of his way to say that he had never seen valley fever spots dissappear and he could not explain that. It is known that most people in Phoenix who live here for some time have small spots that never go away.

Now, I am interested in hearing your theories. Do you have specific explanations or were you just saying that you believe there must be a perfect scientific and medical explanation?

I certainly do not want to over exaggerate perfectly explainable experiences. That wouldn't serve the Truth. I am confident I could still serve God if He NEVER healed anyone, ever. I'm always telling my teenagers that there is one thing you can be sure of...that everyone dies of something.

My wife's favorite grave stone says, "I told you I was sick!" She likes that because we are tired of the looney ladies who tell her she shouldn't "speak sickness" into ourselves or our children. According to them, a person does that by simply stating the fact they are sick. "God says you are healed" they say, "now stop talking of your sickness and talk of your healing!" "If you speak about sickness, you will be sick." What nonsense!

Steve said...

JB - Certainly I don't have specific explanations for these supposed healings... how could I? But I will offer some generic theories. There is always a risk in doing this because I will be perceived as a heretic, claiming to try and refute these healings and attack your faith or discourage you....but as you said...I certainly do not want to over exaggerate perfectly explainable experiences. That wouldn't serve the Truth.

Let me just suggest a couple of things, just based on what you wrote and knowing nothing further....

In your father-in-laws case the simple explanation could be a misdiagnosis. What they thought the spots were turned out to be either an anomaly or related to the other lung diseases he was having. So when they did a second scan, they were gone. It is possible and I have first-hand expereince on two occasions with misdiagnosis that are pretty radical but explainable.

In the case of the "healed bone"...

The bone is set and put in a cast. He is told to stay off of it. Two days later he goes back. A couple of days after the break, he went into the hospital for a follow-up x-ray to determine if they had set it correctly. When the doctor looked at the picture, he said he could not believe it. He could not tell there had even been a break!

In other words... the doctor did a great job of setting the bone and the student was following doctors orders. If the doctor was convinced it was "healed" and that the bone wasn't broken... wouldn't he take the cast off and let the kid run out of the office. No... the bone wasn't healed, but was healing well and appeared to not be broken. There is a difference.

Now I am assuming you weren't there in either case to talk to the doctors or interview them for possible explanations. Neither was I, but I think it might be interesting to further investigate these "healings" and find out if indeed they are miracles.

But in cases like this, I think we hear what we want to hear. I know I do... I hear there are spots on my lungs I think the worse... it must be cancer. I hear the spots are gone, and I think it must be a miracle since I prayed for it.

All I am saying JB is isn't it "possible" that these "healings" are explainable if given further investigation? Can you concede that there COULD BE a medical explanation in both instances?

Again, and please hear me, I do want to believe in medical healings... if God can heal a bone or a lung disease why don't we see him healing people with Down's syndrome or severe cases of Muscular Dystrophy or Cerebral Palsy... we just don't see that. What we usually see is things like this... internal instances we like to claim as miracles, but usually can be verified by misdiagnosis or the body's miraculous own healing abilities.

Now the body's ability to heal itself is a miracle in my opinion. When I get a cut and it heals itself... I do see that as a miracle. But when that cut gets infected and needs some antibiotic cream to help it heal, I certainly use it. And to my amazement, in either case I thank God for the outcome... but both of these situations is explainable even though I don't understand them.

DCMetalJr said...

Simply stated, the purpose of my post was to reflect Romans 8:18-30
“18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. 21 All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children,* including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently.
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together* for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory.”

We also see in 1 Peter 5:6-11
"6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.
8 Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 9 Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters* all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
10 In his kindness God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power is his forever and ever. Amen."

I was not saying to ask God for trials and tribulations. I certainly wasn't saying that we are to ask for suffering. My point was that we shouldn't shrink from it, either. We should count it a blessing when we come through such physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental issues. If we don't come through it and die, then to live is Christ to die is gain.

Isn't it "possible" that what I am saying is true?

(BTW Romans 9 discusses God's will to do as he pleases and our actions have nothing to do with His descretion.)

Steve said...

We should count it a blessing when we come through such physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental issues.

I couldn't agree more... if you think that's possible!

:-)

JimmyBob said...

"All I am saying JB is isn't it "possible" that these "healings" are explainable if given further investigation? Can you concede that there COULD BE a medical explanation in both instances?"

I guess anything's possible.

Now, in the case of the student, I am more likely to concede that it may not be as "miraculous" as I praise God for. But, my father-in-law's case is different.

I would think that the doctor would give misdiagnosis as a possibility if that were an answer. He had the X-rays of before and after. Neither of the other illnesses cause those kinds of spots or nodules.

I didn't really tell the whole story about dad either. After the first exam, he was talking with a neighbor who had those same spots. The neighbor had half a lung removed because of it. Dad was nervous about the whole thing and the possibility of surgery.

Inside his mind he kept hearing his father's voice telling him how no good he was and that he deserved this, (His father was an alcholic and hated him, even when he was sober. He died at a young age of lung cancer from working in the coal mines of PA and smoking).

The night before he went for his final exam, he laid down on his bed and placed Scripture portions across his chest and prayed. God spoke to his heart and said everything was going to be OK.

You know the rest of the story.

"...if God can heal a bone or a lung disease why don't we see him healing people with Down's syndrome or severe cases of Muscular Dystrophy or Cerebral Palsy... we just don't see that. What we usually see is things like this... internal instances we like to claim as miracles, but usually can be verified by misdiagnosis or the body's miraculous own healing abilities."

You have a point here. I have pointed this out myself at times.

I guess my conclusion still remains to give God glory, even if "healings" are "explainable."