Sunday, January 19, 2014

Prayer and Healing (PrayerLife)

First Congregational Church, Detroit
I was Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Joliet, Illinois, from 1974-1981. We had many wonderful friends there. One was a beautiful, Jesus-filled elderly lady named Elsie Maxwell. She was so kind to us. I can see her smile now.

Elsie was physically frail. One day she got sick with a severe case of the flu. We were worried about her. I went to her home and prayed with her. She was in bad shape. I asked God, as I always did in situations like this, to heal Elsie. When I left that day the thought came to me that I would soon be attending her funeral.

That evening Elsie called. "I am feeling so much better. Thank you John for coming and praying for me. God has healed me!" To my surprise, Elsie was alive and would be for several more years. 

As significant that experience was for Elsie, I wonder if it was not even more important for me. I gained a confidence in praying for people I loved. I had a greater expectation that where prayer focuses, God's power falls. I also found that God's healing love was not corrupted by my mini-sized faith.

Surely this is biblical, right? If you believe Genesis 1:1, then you can believe that God is able to heal people.

James 5:14-15 states: 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. 

Pray for the sick. They won't refuse your prayers, and neither will God. 

Tonight I'm beginning a 7-week Sunday night series on Prayer and Healing at Redeemer.

We'll worship, then I'll teach on prayer and healing, and then we'll pray for God to heal people.

I'm asking people to read John Wimber's Power Healing (still one of the best and most balanced books on healing I have found).

The one-of-a-kind scholarly study on prayer and healing is Dr. Candy Gunther Brown's Testing Prayer: Science and Healing (Harvard University Press).

See also Candy's edited volume Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing

Craig Keener's Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts is brilliant and the best thing ever written on this subject.