By Tara Beth Leach, LeadHer Teaching Team Member.
I walked into the small South African wooden hut with dirt floors to notice a thin woman lying on a bed. “She was cursed by a witch,” one of the locals told me. “She just lays in bed all day long; her bones feel like broken glass, and she is in so much pain. Will you pray for her?”
My palms were sweaty; my heart was beating into my throat. My mind raced with questions, “Lord, what if my prayers don’t work? What if I embarrass you?” But something within me that day told me it was possible. It was a divine empowering; I just knew God was going to do something.
I placed my hand on the bony shoulder of the practically lifeless woman. Both fearful and faith-filled, I opened my mouth and began to pray. I felt something that is difficult for me to explain, even today.
It wasn’t an emotion, although I felt emotional. It wasn’t physical; but I felt something through my body. It was an infusing, an empowering, an impelling and a propelling. It was Holy.
As I was praying, the feeble woman opened her eyes, looked directly at me and sat up and then stood up. Just like that. The local villagers began to talk, “She hasn’t sat up or even stood up in weeks.” I stood there in belief and disbelief all at the same time. Was it a fluke? Emotions swirled, questions and confusion all at the same time. I walked out of the hut that day wondering, did God heal her?
Why am I sharing this story?
You see, when we read through the pages of the New Testament we see a wild, untamed Triune God that heals, transforms, forgives sins, and does the unfathomable. We wonder – does God still work like this?
God does. God is. God will.
Richard Foster writes, “My Lord and my God, I have a thousand arguments against healing prayer. You are the one argument for it…You win. Help me to be a conduit through which your healing love can flow to others. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
You see, the days of Kingdom Power, Manifested Divine Presence, and the astonishment of many is not over; in fact, it is quite alive.
But let’s be real, sometimes our prayers aren’t answered in ways we expect or want them to be answered. There is no easy answer and I don’t always know “why.” There were times that even the disciples of Jesus failed at healing prayers (Mark 9:14-29). I do know this:
The Triune God is a complex, wild, untamed mystery.
Praying in faith, and believing in this wild, untamed, mysterious Triune God is daring and bold. But even as I write this blog post, dear sisters, doubts grip my heart and mind, intertwined with fear. You see, stories like this are “hush-hush” in the church. We’re afraid to talk about it for fear of being pegged as a radical. But then again, what’s a bold and daring prayer without being pegged as radical?
It was Abraham who prayed for God to spare Sodom.
It was Moses who prayed that God would forgive all of Israel.
It was Joshua who prayed for the sun to stand still.
It was Jephthah who prayed for victory against all odds.
It was Manoah who prayed for an angel to appear to give him direction.
It was Samson who prayed for victory against all odds.
It was Hannah who prayed for a son.
It was Elijah who prayed for the rising from the dead of a boy.
It was Elijah who prayed for fire from heaven.
It was Elisha who prayed for his servant’s eyes to be open.
It was Hezekiah who prayed for a longer life.
It was Hezekiah and Isaiah who prayed for healing, cleansing, and deliverance.
It was Habakkuk who prayed for revival for an entire nation.
It was Jesus who healed countless men, women, and children in the gospels.
It was the disciples who prayed for boldness and power in Acts.
It was Peter who prayed for the healing of a lame man.
It was Stephen who prayed for his enemies in the face of his own death.
We could go on and on, dear sisters. Bold prayers are audacious; they are scary; they are intimidating, and they are all too often pegged as “weird”, so we avoid them. But there is one thing all of these bold prayers have in common:
Over and over again bold prayers are linked to the missional imagination of our Triune God.
Our God and King is on mission in this world! When we – daughters of our King – link into the missional imagination of our Triune God, bold prayers are an outflow of that relationship.
So the question for us today, then, is will you lean into the missional imagination of our Triune God?