The most powerful tool that God has given us, is the power of prayer. When a person prays ardently and sincerely, the Word of God shines out, deepening its meaning, transcending the present moment, linking all in the hope beyond time that emanates from the truth of the Heart of Love. Prayer is far more than a tool, it is a place of connection through oneness with the Trinity. There is no greater love than this. There is no greater power for healing, hope and blessings.
We can pray individually to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit or to the Holy Trinity, who we call the awesome Heart of Love. There are many prayers available to the one who longs to connect in this way with God, either individually or as a part of shared group worship, formal and informal, spoken and silent. Some people rely on the prayers and practices that others have forged before them, others rely on their own direct connection and simply speak from their heart. For some, no words are necessary, the connection is pure spirit to Spirit. No matter how you approach prayer, be confident and reassured: God hears them all.
What is so moving is the felt presence of God when people pray in absolute trust and faith. Each word then glistens with the power of the Holy Spirit, new depth of insight, new visions of hope can be inspired. New pathways ahead can emerge.
The most wonderful, awesome presence of God links and unites everything and everyone. Transformed in the silence, one single person praying in sincerity, touches the whole world. And nothing can be the same again.
We are reminded that all things are possible, nothing is set, there can be change. Goodness can, will and does flow. When people pray together, linked by the Heart of Love, we can trust with all certainty that this day is blessed and a path of love has opened to the whole world.
Let us remember though, when we pray, that prayer is a God given grace. Yes, we chose to enter into relationship with God, yet it is He who has called us to pray, it is He who understands and knows us intimately, it is He who hears and responds. It is His Power not ours. Most of all, let us remember that the grace to heal is God’s alone, not ours, though through prayer we can be empowered with Him and in Him to pray in His name and enabled to see with greater spiritual clarity, to participate in the wonder of healing. Healing may not, however, happen in the way that we hope and desire. Ultimately it is God who holds the mystery of life and death, of Healing and miracles in his arms, not us. It is well to remember this and to approach each need with humility when we pray, asking for the Spirit to guide us in our prayer, using the gift of discernment to pray wisely and powerfully requesting His Will not ours.
It may not always be right to ask for and expect total recovery. Sometimes the immediate concern is more about coping, surviving, tenderness, compassion and getting through the moments. No matter how much a miracle and cure are wanted they may not happen, at least in the expected way. It may not feel right to ask for everyone to be be cured. This is where Discernment is so much needed, when you enter prayerfully into the life of a person, especially one in frail health.
As a profoundly disabled person myself, living continuously in extreme unrelieved pain for decades, many people have prayed for me down the years. I am grateful for each kind thought, word, gift, concern and prayer offered. I know people who have continually prayed for me through many and all of the years I have suffered. I am extremely grateful for their love and commitment, their faith and hope, especially as I have deteriorated massively and indescribably over the last decade. However it has also been a learning experience for me personally. Praying is not for the faint-hearted. There are several traps that even the most ardent prayer can fall into, without genuine humility and self-awareness and I have been on the receiving end of all of them.
It can be hard to see the ill or broken person as an equal sometimes, to see beyond their suffering to their wholeness of being. Look with Spiritual eyes to see the gifts the person has been given. Be wary of unintentionally patronising or pitying the person. It will cloud your judgement. Empathy and recognition is so important.
There is a danger that in your genuine concern to pray and make the person well that you might so easily think that you somehow have the extra power required, at your command, to save them, because somehow you alone totally believe that they can be made well or whole by your faith and belief. This however does not allow for God working gently and tenderly in other ways in the person’s life. Also, it can deny or renegade to second place the person's own direct knowledge and experience of the Love of God. For those, I believe, who truly suffer, know God more intimately than those who do not rely so utterly completely upon Him to survive, moment by moment, for ultimately He is their only anchor and guide in a sea of chaos and unremitting torment. The person who needs prayer is never less than you. Their own ability to pray, their own knowledge and faith should never be underestimated or forgotten. Even if communication is difficult, always see the whole person and respond genuinely with unconditional love and respect. You can never know better than them what they need or are experiencing. Gentleness and humility are key.
My own life has been one of tremendous, indescribable suffering. Although I have felt great love and uplifment from people who have prayed for me down so many years, I have been strengthened, comforted, empowered through prayer, I have not been made well, despite people’s best prayer intent and strength of faith. I have also, unfortunately felt patronised by some genuinely kind, enthusiastic people who have failed to recognise my equality and my own prayer ministry and deep faith, my own gifts of prayer and compassion and knowledge of God.
I have been constantly immersed in the loving tender prayers of my husband for almost three decades. Does the person who comes to me and offers to pray for me think that God has ignored all his heartfelt requests to restore and heal me? Or that his loving prayers are not powerful enough to storm heaven? That he is simply not doing it right? How many nights have his prayers held me and his hands eased the pain I suffer? Therefore remember to approach the wounded and those who love them, with great care, wisdom and respect. Their knowledge and experience of God may far surpass your own. God will have been at work in many ways not necessarily visible. There may be a far greater picture here than you can see or imagine unfolding.
Once you treat the person as less than equal, even subtly, you lose genuine relationship with them. They become an object to be made better, especially if you think that somehow only you hold the key to that success. There is a disconnection and a dehumanising of the person unintentionally. They may feel objectified, not seen or recognised as equal, but in need of rescuing. This leads to an unhealthy imbalance. Be careful that your prayers and your image as a would-be-healer are not some form of self-important affirmation. Be genuine and unconditional. There is no place for ego or self-aggrandizement, no matter how subtle, in prayer.
You can also have such faith that the person will get better or be healed or restored, despite profound disability, serious or terminal illness, that any failure to comply with your demand in prayer is seen as some sort of personal failure or lack of faith or action on the part of the person bring prayed for. This is utterly unacceptable arrogance. How can we know the working of God’s mind? How can we know exactly the context of His actions?
The meaning of suffering is not taken away on the Cross. It is transfigured and transformed despite the ongoing agony, so painful to observe or experience. Never forget that Christ’s Passion on the Cross is also a moment of power, even though those watching saw and felt it not. It had to be revealed. To stay with the person whose pain cannot be alleviated and hold them in love, is profoundly moving and healing in itself. This is incredible prayer, love in action on the deepest level.
Be certain when you pray for another that your own expectation or demand does not eclipse the true path that the person is on. Yes, ask for miracles but do not be set in your expectations of how they will manifest. Look with fresh eyes at each person. Listen to them. Hear what they want. Ask for what they hope for, yet also accept God’s Will and God’s Way. Be open to see healing in new ways. Bring hope, not necessarily of cure, but of God’s loving tenderness and helpful presence. See them as someone close to God already. See them for who they truly are, with all their gifts and talents. Accept prayers from them too, if offered, but do not make demands upon them that they cannot meet.
Once you pray for a person, you enter into a Divine spiritual connection with them. Honour it fully. Recognise their compassion and hard won knowledge of how they have survived spiritually in what could be described as a nightmare of unrelenting symptoms or a seemingly hopeless situation. Let their truth be illuminated to you. When their need is great, let your prayerful response be total and tenderly offered.
For the person who has been prayed for for many years, yet not restored, you might feel that you personally have the answer to their need, that you have a special relationship with God that will outdo any previous or long term prayer of others. You can fall into a spiritual hubris unless you maintain total humility in the face of such intransigent suffering. Be careful how you pray with that person. Do not offer more than you are able to sustain. Enter cautiously and carefully. Do not abandon or betray their trust in you. Walk gently into their lives with God, not with self-importance or unsustainable promises. Remember that you cannot truly be acting as God’s servant if you do not keep your eyes totally on God and give glory and thanks to Him alone for any answered prayer. And always ask for protection when praying, especially from hubris and self-importance.
Furthermore, it can be incredibly exhausting and demanding to be continually asked, out of faith and enthusiastic belief in the power of healing prayer, to report back on any progress made. The ill person may feel that they have to fabricate responses to encourage or affirm the person praying, even if the person praying is not consciously aware of this demand or the burden that they are placing on the other or left feeling despondent that it has not worked.
When you pray, ask in sincerity. Ask in love. Ask in hope, yet always ask for God’s Will to be done, that your will and God’s Will are aligned in prayer. For God’s Will is always Love and Mercy and though we may not know what specifically to ask for, God sees and knows all our needs. Amen