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What to pray for

What should we pray for?  Some who proclaim Jesus Christ will “name and claim” what they want without regard to what God may want; so their proclamation may actually be “anti” Christ.  Sometimes God does want us to go through bad things, not because God is bad, but because our suffering ultimately produces things which work for good to all those who believe in His name.  It was God’s will for His Son, Jesus, to suffer, even the cruelest of deaths, marred beyond human recognition, and cursed to hang on a tree, a cross; to become sin; to bear the forsaking of His own Father; to die wrongfully condemned; to come to His own and not be known; and to remain silent instead of defending Himself. 

Prior to the cross, when Jesus explained to His disciples that the Son of Man would be beaten, spit upon, and die, Peter’s response was “Never, Lord!”  Peter would do everything he could to prevent the death of Jesus, and Peter’s word, his proclamation, his “naming and claiming” was “Never, Lord!”  Did Peter’s resistance alter the will of God, or alter the obedience of Jesus Christ to drink the cup of God’s wrath?  

Peter’s resistance should be understandable and forgivable, but should God the Father and Jesus the Son have changed the plan for salvation of mankind because Peter was appalled or offended that Jesus would lay down his life?  No.  Jesus actually lashed out at Peter for speaking words that represented the “things of man” rather than the “things of God.”  

Did Peter pray with faith that Jesus should not die?  Did Peter understand God’s will?  Evidently not.  God had a much better plan to save mankind than for His Son to live a long and prosperous life in this world.  Doesn’t the Word say that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts?  We must understand God’s ways to understand how we must pray.

My mother has suffered the battle of breast cancer for many years, and I have prayed many times for Jesus to heal my Mom.  But Mom has never been adamant about praying for herself.  She doesn’t want to mind the things of man, but to mind the things of God.  She wants to suffer whatever God would have her suffer; to praise Him regardless of temporal circumstances.  Didn’t Job do the same?  “God gives, should He not also take away?”  And yet my Mom does want to live, and to serve the cause of Jesus Christ with every breath, and with every word she daily pens for His glory, and for the help of His people. 

Does this mean it is wrong to pray for healing?  Does this mean that God places sickness and disability upon His children; that He takes some joy in the suffering of His children?  I find only the opposite in God’s character; revealed by His word, and by His Spirit in my own heart.  God hates sickness.  He is Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer.  But can our sickness bring glory to God?  I believe Job’s sickness, pain, and suffering brought much glory to God.  Although Job did not understand that Satan was the accuser and afflicter, Job still did not curse or blame God for all that he lost: his health, the support of his wife, and even the lives of his ten children.  “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 

Job’s friends did all they could to convince Job that his loss and suffering must somehow be due to sin in Job’s life; find the sin, root it out, and restore relationship to God.  But in the beginning of the book, God’s first words to Satan were “Have you considered my servant, Job; a righteous man who hates evil.”  Job did not suffer because of his sin.  Job suffered because it gave God glory; because Job was strong enough to go through it and still maintain the integrity of his relationship with God. 

There was a day when Jesus and His disciples passed a man born blind (and I don’t remember, but he may have been deaf and mute as well).  His disciples asked whose sin was responsible for the birth defect?  His own, or his parents?  Jesus told them it was due to no one’s sin, but that it happened to give God glory.  Jesus healed the man, and God was glorified.  We have no way of knowing how God might have been glorified by the faith that may have guided the blind man’s life and character before the day He met Jesus; and we have no way of knowing how the faith and love of this blind man’s parents might have glorified God.  But I do know the faith and testimony of many people in my own day who maintain their integrity before God in the midst of their own suffering, and in the suffering of their children.  Their love, faith, and patience gives glory to God.  

I had a friend named Mike Casper.  We served together in the 101st Airborne Division just prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Mike was an Army Major, an Army Aviator, and a Kiowa Warrior pilot to boot.  Scout pilots are the best of the best.  But Mike was grounded.  Mike had brain cancer.  Mike had a lovely wife and three very young and lovely children.  Mike worked on the 101st Division Battle Staff as long as he could, but Mike finally went into the VA Hospital in Nashville.  In the final weeks of Mike’s life he glorified God.  He ministered love and kindness to all the friends and family who came to visit him, and pray for him, and do our best in faith to “take authority” over the cancer in the matchless name of Jesus, the Son of God.  Mike told us all that his sickness was not about him.  He would say “this is not about me; this is about God.”  Mike said he would take nothing in exchange for the blessings God had poured out to him, and on others through him, throughout the trial of his sickness.  Mike had faith, hope, and love; and those in great measure.  Mike died glorifying God.   

It cannot be wrong to pray for the healing of our sicknesses, injuries, and disabilities.  Jesus healed everyone who came to Him.  He healed the sick, lame, blind, deaf, mute, leprous, and paralytic.  Jesus healed our bodies.  Jesus healed those in mental and spiritual torment; the crazed and demon possessed.  Jesus healed our minds.  Jesus healed those who had no trust or faith in God.  He healed Zaccheus from his own greed, and opened his eyes to serve and give to both God and man.  He healed our hearts. 

It cannot be wrong to pray for what we need Jesus to do for us; to pray for deliverance from that which torments us, but in the midst of our suffering we must know that God is with us.  Jesus is with us.  He said He would never leave or forsake us; so we are not alone in our suffering.  It is okay to pray for deliverance.  The Psalms are full of David’s cry for God’s deliverance from fearful, sad, and threatening life circumstances.  Praying for deliverance and healing is good; praying to understand the will of God is better.  

God heard and was moved by the cry of Israel in the furnace of slavery in Egypt, and God sent Moses as His witness, and God delivered Israel from Egypt with a strong right arm.  The cry of pain from the people moved God to mercy, but the cry of complaining, anger, and distrust from the same people a few days later, when they didn’t trust God to sustain them; when they felt that God saved them from Egypt just so God could kill them in the desert; this was not “naming and claiming” according to God’s will; the grumbling of Israel in desert, when there was no water, was not the painful cry of faith, but an indignant accusation empty of faith. 

It is not wrong to pray for healing, but it would seem to be wrong to pray without faith.  The Book of James indicates that when we pray and do not receive, it is because we “ask amiss.”  We pray for what we want without understanding, or perhaps caring, about what God may want. 

In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God.  Do this first.  If we seek the kingdom of God first, then all the things we need; all the things the Father knows we need; will be provided for us.  Does this mean we will not suffer?  I don’t think so.  The Bible is full of too many saints who suffered.  The testimony of Elie Wiesel is too full of faithful mothers and fathers, and innocent children and widows, who suffered.  But I do think it means that God’s grace will be sufficient for us, even in the midst of the worst suffering. 

Paul prayed for God to remove the thorn from his flesh.  Paul called it a messenger of Satan.  Since Satan is antichrist; a liar and the father of lies; a murderer, a thief, and a destroyer; the thorn in Paul’s flesh must have been terrible.  If Paul’s thorn was of Satan, it could not have been of God.  So why didn’t God remove it?  Paul prayed two or three times about it, and Paul could probably pray “fervently and effectively.”  But God did not remove the thorn.  But God did give Paul grace; “My grace is sufficient for you.” 

God’s grace is also sufficient for you and me, and no thorn can change that.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. michelle
    April 18, 2010 at 4:52 am

    an important word to remember! thanks!

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