Val Turner explores how we trust God when praying for healing
This article was published in the January to April 2019 issue of Rapport magazine.
Most Christians walk with Jesus through ups and downs, trusting against the odds, experiencing the resurrection power of God who is able to find a way, where a way no longer exists. But we probably have to hold on tightly at times because life is so hard.
Our knowledge and belief may be firm at all times, but I wonder if, like me, you sometimes feel daunted and hold back. Things around us seem to be going from bad to worse and it doesn’t look possible that the things I pray for are going to happen. Jesus was clear that we’re to share the good news of God’s redeeming love for everyone and to ‘place hands on the sick and they will be healed’. He said we’re to minister in the way He did with even greater results because He is with us. Is this me?
I’ve been on this faith journey 60 years and remember the excitement when churches realised that the healing ministry of Jesus hadn’t ceased. They were heady times – people like David Watson, John Wimber, Arthur Dodds, Francis McNutt, showing us how to work with Jesus. We saw signs and wonders and the Alpha Course reinforced this with clear biblical teaching. ‘Does God Heal Today?’ The answer was a resounding yes! As we opened up to the healing touch of the Holy Spirit we also experienced charismatic gifts – and then the Toronto Blessing. Not only was Jesus our friend, God our all-knowing and all-loving Father – but the Holy Spirit was breathing into our lives in a new and exciting way. It was as if we’d been asleep and had been awakened. This is recent church history. But how are we doing today?
We’re waiting for Jesus and full redemption, but when we pray for healing it seems that God is often silent. Why? Are we getting something wrong? Enthusiastic prayer, followed by a phone call the next day to check out the healing that hasn’t happened is embarrassing and disappointing, casting doubt on the sovereign healing power of God – but is it God who’s failing, or us? Our response can be to pretend that everything is ok. We say, ‘we can carry this cross – we don’t need healing prayer’. We might question if we have enough faith or if God might even be punishing us and we don’t want people to think the unthinkable – that God might not heal. So we wear the ‘I’m strong’ mask and keep busy – but deny ourselves deep healing – and compromise our ability to pray for healing for others.
Yet God frequently surprises us when we come with humble, hopeful, childlike embryo-faith – it doesn’t have to be fully formed and certain of an outcome – but trusting Father God with both timing and outcome – truthfully just a mustard seed of faith. The question is not where is God? But where are we? The answers might take our breath away, renewing a firmer foundation for faith. If we explore our doubts, what might we say to God? What would be God’s answer?
Transformation and healing: a conversation with God
Me: So God, where am I going wrong? I’m losing confidence. You say you are the healer …
God: I am. I will bring you complete healing – for eternity. I’ll bring you blessing in every situation you face – I love you and I long to help you – let me wash your feet. Dip your toes in the water of life.
Me: I’ve tried but nothing happens – are you doing anything for me right now?
God: I am. But you’re complicated. Healing you is a bit like untangling a ball of wool. There are bits of rubbish, places where it’s broken – it’s in a proper tangle. It’s going to take all my skill to get you right – I’m going to love restoring you!
Me: So you’re saying I’ve been looking for a quick fix, but this is going to take some time and I need to stick with the process?
God: I am. I remember the joy and excitement of knitting you together, and I know how the damage was done. I can restore you. When I look on you I see such exciting times ahead. I see us working together on project ‘you’. It may take time, but it’s going to be the best.
Me: But look – my body is old and cracking up! Are you really saying you can heal me?
God: I am. My passionate preoccupation is to transform you. The physical is possible and I will heal you for eternity with a new body where there’ll be no more pain or tears. Hold onto this hope with absolute certainty, but there is important work to be done now healing the damage to your spirit and your soul.
Me: I believe that you can … but am I missing something here? Why aren’t you doing it when I ask?
God: I am. But you’re missing rather a lot – all your history. But your history is not your destiny. I want to help you face up to the damage. You’ll need my help to see it because you’ve lived with it for so long … you’ve misunderstood … you have blind spots. Remember the story of Jacob (Genesis 32) – he didn’t know he was a deceiver until he realised he must face his brother. That night of the long fight he eventually got low, allowed me to touch the real damage and let me transform him.
Me: Are you saying that there is stuff in my life I’m not even aware of that is just as important as physical healing?
God: I am. You have begun a process – repentance, forgiveness, fresh start. Hold on, don’t let go until it blesses you. You’ve taken the first step, you trust that I love you and want to Transform you into the beauty and grace I know is yours. The humility to embark on this process of transformation is all you need to begin. The next step is harder. I need you to Observe the reality of your life. I know you want people to see that walking with me through life means living fully – but you don’t need to pretend. I’ll help you face up to the truth. When you know who you are, you’ll need to take time to Engage with it – talking it through, asking me all the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ – it’s not as difficult as you think, because I’ll show you if you let me. All that’s left to do is Surrender to the truth and to my healing resurrection power within you. I will not let you down in this because my heart is wholly to help bring out the very best in your life.
Me: So I don’t need to imagine the outcome? … or muster faith that this will happen as I ask? … perhaps that’s what you mean by a ‘mustard seed’ … you know the best outcome and the perfect timing for my complete healing. It does feel like dipping my toes in the water of life – humility and surrender. TOES! Transform me, help me Observe the reality, Engage with me as I wrestle with this strange angel – so I can Surrender to your healing power. If I dip my TOES into your healing love in faith – are you really going to do this for me? And then help me to help others?
God: I am.
Rev. Val Turner