Thursday, June 16, 2005

Therapeutic prayer

This is what I find myself doing, and I don't think it's good. I tend to analyze what is wrong, and speak a positive word against it. My prayer becomes a positive affirmation rather than a God-directed word. I don't know exactly how the human intellect and God's revelation mingle and complement each other in the act of prayer. But I find myself suspicious of a prayer that sounds like it could come out of secular therapist.

I'm in a class at my church where we are supposed to be learning to pray for healing and such the way Jesus did. After all, He did say that we would do even greater things than He did. But I sure haven't seen that happening. And that's what this class is all about. Why is the church not seeing these things? (Well, in the northern hemisphere anyway.) There is the crowd that claims that it's because we don't have enough faith. That if we just believed enough every single person who needed healing would be healed. My question for them is this: Does that mean God intends for us to never die? Because if He always wanted everyone to be healed, there would be no excuse for not raising every Christian from the dead every time they died. Clearly, God does not want us to live forever on this earth. He's making a new one for a reason.

The basic answer that the class and book we are reading points to is this: Jesus did what He did because He only did what the Father told Him to. In other word; Revelation. We Charismatics believe this means the Holy Spirit revealing God's will to us is the key to the miraculous. As long as we are acting by revelation, the healing will absolutely happen. So then the obvious trick is to learn to recognize and differentiate His voice from yours. I've talked about that already here.

Part of the class is hand's on training, where we practice hearing (or seeing) what God wants done. A couple weeks ago we prayed for a woman who had a lot of pain and it went away and she was able to move in ways she hadn't been able to in years. I've heard that one of the reasons so many miracles are taking place in less developed countries is because they are more open to the supernatural. I'm open on a theoretical level, but skeptical about all the miracles I've seen. In this case, I didn't know anything about her condition beforehand, and don't know how she's doing now. I'm sure she's not lying, but I do know that the power of suggestion -especially in a group setting- can be very powerful. I'm not saying that is what happened. I'm just saying I haven't seen any evidence that shows otherwise. Something like before-and-after x-rays, visible marks that disappear, limbs growing back, etc. Like in all the stories I've heard from various 3rd world countries. Last night we prayed for a woman with aching teeth and one with pain in her feet. They said the pain went away. Sorry if I'm under-whelmed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being snide or disrespectful. I know that God can heal. I've heard stories from people I don't doubt at all. (Like my parents) But even without the stories, I know God can do it because I believe His word. But what is happening in this class does not feel like progress to me. Although, as a fallible human stuck in time, I'm very aware of how limited my perception of progress can be. And I know this is a class where we are all learning a new thing, so like any class of beginners, there shouldn't be super high expectations. But the things I've heard described as evidence just isn't evidence to me. We were all in prayer for this woman's feet, and were asked to say anything we felt like God was leading us to say regarding a healing. We were practicing the receiving of revelation, with the assumption that as beginners we won't necessarily nail it right away. Several people said they visualized a variety of paths, there were trap metaphors and such. The idea of a stepping stone path led to the idea that she was on a journey by herself, as she was going to soon be entering the empty nest time of her life. Then most of the words were about her mothering, how she had done a good job, etc. My pastor let me know he was going to ask me to say something soon, so I doubled my efforts to hear something, anything, that could be from the Lord. But I was preparing to say that I just didn't have anything. If I'm going to pursue this, I want to do it honestly. But when I was asked, I ended up saying something else. Since I tend to think visually, I thought, maybe, but probably not, I maybe, might have seen a heart. Thinking of how this related to foot pain caused me to visualize the arteries going from the heart to the feet. I figured, (or was guided) to the idea that the goodness God had put in her heart must extend to her feet as well. I said as much and was done. I didn't feel like I had learned anything.

One of the key components to this process is supposed to be asking for confirmation from the person you are praying for that what you said makes sense and applies to them. The problem was that nothing anyone said could possibly have not applied to her. No one said something like, "You cheated on your taxes in 1997 and that is the cause of your pain." (Not that I think she would ever do that!) Now THAT would have shown something deeper at work than feel-good positive affirmations.

This entry is kind of making me sound like a skeptical, cold hearted bastard, I know. But I want to just be honest about my search for everything God has for me. I am very confidant that He will reward that search with answers. I have total faith in that. I also believe that what we are doing in this class is right and good. Just because it's not jumping up to my expectations does not mean it's wrong. I believe this process works. It is very scriptural and balanced. But the process of learning to hear from God is a long one. It takes years of studying His word and meditation and prayer. Also practice. But the practice without the prerequisite maturity and closeness with God is frustrating. But it is also inspiring me to attain that maturity. I want to be at a point where I am tuned into the Spirit to the point where I will hear and see things that ONLY He could give me. I want to know that He is using me to minister to others, not that I'm using my own reasoning to make someone feel good. I see that I am called to it, and I will obey.

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