“Can I pray for you?” It’s a question I am often asked. Just once I’d like to say “no”.
I preach and teach at a lot of different churches and there is always someone moved by the sight of my Parkinsons driven tremors to seek me out to pray with me. Some are very confident, others are very nervous. They have often just completed a course on healing prayer and their approach is an act of stepping out in faith. They always have the best intentions. We find a quiet place and they pray. Man, do they pray. Always for healing. Always with great conviction.
It’s quite touching and a lovely expression of faith. So I always try to receive it with the goodwill with which it is intended.
But I do wonder if people consider that it may be quite discouraging to have a continual stream of people praying fervently for your healing and to remain unhealed. I am pretty comfortable with the knowledge that God may heal me and that he may not, and that if probabilities are anything to go by it’s likely “not”. I am content with the knowledge that whether healed or not my condition will be an opportunity for growth I would otherwise have missed out on. So I am not distressed by those who claim the authority to cast out my disease in the name of Jesus, but what about those who are?
So here’s my request. Pray for me. By all means pray for me. Approach me and ask if you can pray with me. I mean that. It’s a wonderful expression of care. But pray carefully. Please don’t command the disease to leave my body (it’s a cellular dysfunction – it can’t hear you or obey you). Please don’t claim God’s healing power over me (be honest about the fact that God rarely heals major diseases, although he does seem to be good with sore backs and necks). Rather pray for God’s grace to be manifest in my life, to make me more like Jesus. Acknowledge that you don’t know whether God will heal me this side of eternity, that it’d be great if he did, but that whether healed now or in the kingdom that I might know his goodness and strength to live the life he has called me to. And be aware that one day when you ask if you can pray with me I just might say no. It won’t be anything personal. Indeed I hope you will pray for me when you get home. It will just be that I may grow weary of being prayed for all the time. Not very spiritual I know, but I am only human.