I think each and every one of us who consider ourselves a Christian has said prayers at one time or another requesting some form of healing. Whether it was from a sickness or a disease, a broken heart or suffering relationship, or even a negative state of mind, whispers for healing have been part of our conversations with Jesus.
When I think about my personal prayer life, an addiction to alcohol and a once broken marriage have been the areas of my life that have needed the touch of The Great Physician the most. There have been more mornings than I can count when I have started the day begging God to help me get through the next 24 hours without a drink, just to find myself blitzed later on in the evening.
I can also recall several nights begging God to work out different situations between my wife and I before I would go to sleep, only to encounter an argument that left the situation more intense than it originally started the following morning.
Before I go any further, I want to make myself perfectly clear on the matter. Answered prayers are not something we earn. They are not a prize to be won with an outstanding effort or something God owes us for tithing a certain amount every week. Most importantly, hopes of an answered prayer should never be the reasoning of a changed behavior or lifestyle. That’s not trusting God, it’s using Him.
Now that we’re clear on that, let me explain what I am trying to say the best way I know how. For almost a decade now, alcoholism has been a major issue and a determining factor in my life. I would have to look through some old journals to find the exact date, but I’m willing to bet all the money in my wallet that I first asked God to heal me from my addiction towards the end of 2006.
I wanted to stay sober, but He was going to have to make it easy. At that point in my life, permanent sobriety was nothing I was willing to work towards or wait on, it needed to just happen.
It was normally on my way to the liquor store that I would decide there wasn’t going to be any kind of a miracle. I’m fully aware that it’s Friday and some of you have plans of enjoying a case of beer this weekend, so let me use the other example that I have personal experience with.
I have been married now for over two years and twice my wife and I have come dangerously close to getting a divorce. There would be intense arguments that would result in me leaving the house to take a walk through our subdivision and once I would start calming down, I would begin talking to God. There were some serious issues and I knew that if He didn’t do something to heal our marriage, it was going to be over quickly.
An average of 52 minutes would be needed for me to complete the 3.2-mile trip, plenty of time for any rational person to calm down and be able to reflect on exactly what had transpired and measures that could be taken to correct the situation and make amends. So, as soon as I would make it back home, I would head straight to the bedroom to let my wife know exactly where she had messed up during the conversation and how she needed to react differently next time to prevent the situation from happening again. I would usually be taking another walk within half an hour.
Some of you will read this and think deliverance from alcohol addiction and healing a broken family are two very significant instances that surely needed God to intervene in order to be healed. Others will read this and would give anything for my struggles compared to cancer that is taking their life or the automobile accident that has left their child clinging on to a machine in a hospital room in order to breathe. Regardless of the healing, you are in need of, I read something this morning in Scripture that I have probably read 100 times and failed to catch on with what actually happened.
Luke 17:11 – 14 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
Yes, Jesus can, and does, heal a situation or an issue on a moment’s notice. But as in this story, that’s not always going to be the case. These ten lepers cried out to Jesus for healing and Jesus took the time to acknowledge and listen to them, but it wasn’t until they were well on their way to the priests that they were healed.
While I wasn’t able to find out exactly how far of a trip this would have been, I did catch on that at the end of the story, one of the lepers had to “return” to Jesus in order to glorify God. That tells me that the person wasn’t close enough to simply turn around and yell thank you back to Jesus, a return trip had to be made, meaning some time had passed before the healing actually took place.
Too many of us will make a request for healing, but we are unwilling to wait the time needed for what God wants to accomplish through the process. I am sober now and that is something I am extremely thankful for and have been able to experience the effort involved in, demonstrating God’s strength at work in and through me.
My wife and I are happier than we have ever been and through the personal struggles we have both encountered during separation, we have each been able to develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus that is demonstrated through our love, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness of one another. If either one of these prayers for healing would have been answered instantly, I don’t know if I could honestly say they would have as much value to me as they do today.
I also noticed that in order to experience being healed, this group of lepers had to demonstrate a form of obedience towards the command Jesus gave them. They actually had to make the trip to go see the priests. Now as I mentioned before, having our prayers answered is not something we earn or something we work towards, they are answered because of our faith. That being said, trust, love, and obedience in Jesus are all vital parts of true faith.
In order to be healed from my addiction, an action was required. I attend 12-step meetings and I am open to the fact that God speaks to me through others in the room. I take advice and adhere to the principles that have kept so many other people sober who are more than willing to share their experience with me.
I have learned to pray at the first sign of things becoming heated between my wife and I. I have also learned to appreciate the fact that I am her husband and I am to love her the way that Christ loved the church. That means that regardless if I feel something is my fault or not, I am responsible for everything that happens inside of our home.
Any way you choose to look at it, faith is an action word and without action behind our prayers, very rarely can we expect God to give us the healing that we desperately seek.