It is not easy for me to pray out loud for people. I grew up in an Orthodox Christian family, where praying was done always on our knees, mostly at night before going to bed, and undoubtedly at church, but solemnly and solitarily with our eyes closed quietly whispering to God our innermost thoughts. However, I absolutely love it when friends reach over tables in coffee shops and hold my hands in out loud prayer, comfortable in outspoken faith, and uninhibited by other people watching. After all God commands us to pray for each other: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”. James 5:16.
It is wonderful when people say “I will keep you in my prayers”, but it‘s even more comforting, in my opinion, when someone says, “Let’s pray right now”. Personally, instant prayer gives me instant relief and assurance, so why wait: “For where two or three gather in my name, I am there among them” Matthew 18:20.
So, a few moths ago, while at work, a friend shared extremely concerning health news with me. Her face was pale with worry, her eyes welled up with tears of despair…I felt the Almighty nudge me to pray out loud for this person. So, unsure of her own personal faith, I held her hands in the middle of a crowded area, and asked Jesus to heal her body, to give her peace and assurance of salvation. She meekly said, “Thanks. I appreciate this”. I must say I felt pretty good afterward. My heart was bouncing with joy that I finally prayed out loud, made a difference and reflected Christ’s character to this person.
A couple of months went by and found out that God answered my prayer and healed her ailment, and to her doctors’ surprise the diagnoses had relegated and caused a lesser and more benign course of treatment. I hugged her and said, “Praise God!” to which she replied, “Yeah, I guess…” I then invited her to church on Sunday and to my complete dismay she informed, “I don’t think so. But thanks anyway”. She waived goodbye and left.
Instead of compassion, my heart filled with bitter disappointment, and even anger, “Oh God, how could you heal her so quickly? You knew she was going to reject you!” I felt frustrated that God had “wasted” his love and healing on the wrong person. Vexed, I lamented to my husband about it, felt confused, and defeated…It took a lot of courage for me to surrender into out loud prayer, so I expected great fruition to come from this. Out of pride, I felt unrewarded, in what I deemed great work on my part, foolishly disregarding that God DID answer my prayer of healing. Stuck in my short-sightedness, I felt that God may want to be a little more “selective” in whom he healed. My friend rejected Him, but still he cured her regardless of the condition of her heart, because that is just the way He loves. Matthew 2:9-13 depicts Jesus healing a random man with a deformed hand, “Then He said to the man, “Hold out your hand”, so the man held out his hand and it was restored just like the other one”. Nowhere in this verse, or anywhere else in the Bible, does Jesus heal based on the condition of someone’s heart towards Him.
Jesus never approached people with preconceived expectations as if to say “If you believe in me then I will heal you, but if you don’t then you can continue in your suffering”. People’s faith or belief in Jesus was not a prerequisite to obtain healing from Him: “…he healed every kind of disease and illness…and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick, and whatever their sickness or disease-He healed them all” Matthew 4:23-24. These verses bring me to tears, overwhelmed by God’s immaculate love for us. People’s faith in Him was not mandatory to acquire healing. He could have cured only the “eligible”, “qualifiable” Christians, as an example to the rest. He could have placed healing restrictions, available only to the “worthy”, as a display of the benefits that are to come if only they accept Jesus as their ultimate savior. But He did not. He chose to heal all, because of his vast, insurmountable love for His people.
I thank God that he decided to cure my friend’s affliction, regardless of her personal faith. In the end we are all undeserving in our sin, I included, feeling pride and resentment, expecting God to be more compulsory in approach to whom he healed.
The fact is that God did answer my plea, as I prayed out loud for the first time, so I am truly grateful and I will continue to pray for my friend. God expects us to be kind, compassionate, loving, sacrificial and constantly reflecting His character to others.
God’s ultimate wish is for us to invite Him in our lives, to love Him, accept His will and I thank Him for not being exclusive in who would be most suitable of His love.
As people gathered behind Jesus and large crowds followed Him along,”He healed ALL the sick among them”. Matthew 12:15
Word Of The Day: AMELIORATE
By Roxana Phillip-Hackett
Roxana is a wife of one, mother of two, who loves to share her faith with sincerity and honesty from her home in Hendersonville Tennessee.