Prayer Study Week 3 – What is Healing?

What is “Healing”?

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.” Psalm 30:2-3

“The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt.” (From THE PROBLEM OF PAIN by CS Lewis © copyright CS Lewis Pte Ltd 1940, 40.)

Why do we come to God for healing? What are we desiring or expecting from Him?

Sometimes, we come to the Father seeking healing from a physical illness. At other times, we might come to Him desiring wholeness in an area of emotional or spiritual pain. In different seasons of our lives, we may come to God seeking His restoration in a broken relationship, or His healing from a sin or addiction, or His deliverance in place of darkness in our lives from which we can’t break free.

Whatever our reason for approaching the Father in search of healing, very often we come to Him only once we have reached a place of desperation. As long as we are able to cope with or manage our pain through other mechanisms or comforts, too often we settle for just “getting by” in our daily lives. In these cases, over time hopelessness about real healing sets in, and we resign ourselves instead to simply maintaining an outward appearance of wholeness.

Beneath our polished exterior, however, our innermost selves continue to be plagued with doubt, isolation, shame, and brokenness. Ultimately, we become most fearful of exposure – afraid that the depth of the darkness inside of us will be revealed to the people around us. In the end, we are most often left feeling defensive, isolated, and exhausted.

It is only when the effects of the brokenness and darkness in our lives become unbearable for us to handle in our own strength, or when these things begin to seep out on the surface, disrupting our regular routines, relationships, and reputations, that we become desperate enough to seek out our Father. And when we come, we find Him waiting for us. He receives us there, at that place of desperation from the pain and isolation resulting from the darkness in our lives.

The Teachings of Jesus Christ on Healing

When we begin to look at the teachings of Jesus Christ on healing and wholeness, we see quickly that our own approach and perspectives on this topic are often quite different from His. We begin with one of His earliest known teachings, from Matthew 5:3-10:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When we come to the Lord seeking healing, at first glance these words are not the types of things most of us expect to hear Him say. In fact, the images we have in these opening lines of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount seem contradictory to the idea many of us hold about what it means to have new life and healing in Him.

For example, when we come to the Father, we often expect Him to broaden our self-confidence – to deepen our assurance in our own strength, our own beauty, and our own wisdom. But Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are “poor in spirit”, to those who have abandoned all confidence in themselves, to those who boast only in their own weakness.

We come to our Father expecting resolutions to the difficulties in our lives, to be brought out of our times of grief and trial. But Jesus teaches us that the blessed are those who mourn, and that the earth will be inherited by the meek.

We come to the Father for protection and safety from the pain of the battle raging in our lives. But Jesus Christ tells us that the blessed are those who are persecuted for their righteousness before the Lord.

If we are being perfectly honest, a sincere consideration of this passage from Jesus Christ will cause many of us wonder if His promises of blessing and healing are actually things we want in our lives at all. “Poor in spirit”, “meek”, “merciful”, “mourning”, “persecuted” – these words and phrases do not depict our commonly held model of a person who is strong and victorious. Instead, they invoke images of someone who is vulnerable and dependent.

We don’t feel comfortable with the words of Jesus Christ in these verses, because the person He is describing sounds almost precisely like the person within us, which we are all working so desperately to keep hidden.

And this is exactly where our Father desires to be most. God’s purpose is ultimately to get to the innermost part of who we are, at the core of that place from which we are drawn to Him, and drawn to know true salvation and wholeness in Him. As the psalmist describes, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (Psalm 42:7)

Recognizing the Depth of our Brokenness

In Romans 3:9-11, Paul writes, “We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.'”

1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

What is the reason for our Father’s desire that we allow Him into the very deepest places of our spirit? What is at the heart of His purpose to bring healing and wholeness not only on the surface areas in our life, but even to the very core of who we are?

At the innermost part of ourselves, in that place which we desire most desperately to keep hidden, resides a gnawing, unrelenting awareness of the truth. And the truth is, we deserve the pain and rejection we experience everyday in our lives. We deserve the disappointment and alienation of the people around us. We deserve to be completely separated from God our Father, and to live in condemnation of eternal darkness and death for the deep pain we have brought through our sin against ourselves and against the people who love us.

We do not deserve to know love. We certainly do not deserve to know the perfect love of our Father God.

In our healing, the Holy Spirit desires for us to reveal entirely to Him the truth we hold in our core on the depth of the darkness of our darkest thoughts, the grip of the fear that paralyzes us, and the hopelessness of the isolation and accusations that condemn us. It is precisely at that place of utter hopelessness that He desires to pour in the salvation and restoration that can only come through revelation of Jesus Christ, on the cross.

Because of the cross, we are no longer condemned to suffer the penalty of eternal separation from the love of our Heavenly Father. In Romans 3:25, Paul explains that in our place, God presented His Son, Jesus Christ, as the sacrifice of atonement for our sin. The justice of hell, of complete separation from the love of God, which we deserve, God poured out instead onto His Son.

Everything that was poured onto Jesus Christ as He hung on the cross – the rejection and isolation from His Father, the complete separation from His Father’s love – all of this He did not deserve.

But we do. And at the darkest place in the core of who we are, we know it.

This is where God wants to do His deep work, at the core of our brokenness. At this place in our spirit where there is no doubt that we are nothing without a Savior, nothing without Jesus Christ. Where the severity of the price that Jesus Christ paid for us on the cross can no longer be ignored or trivialized. Where we can begin to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of our Father in Heaven, through which He sent His only Son to bear our punishment, to pay the cost we owe, but which we could never pay ourselves.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Kingdom of God

Another image to help us better comprehend the healing work that God does in our lives can be found in the words of Jesus Christ, when He was teaching the disciples to pray in Matthew 6. In verses 9-10, Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

“Your kingdom come…” The very first petition we see in the example of our Lord’s prayer is for the coming of the Kingdom of God. It is from this perspective that we begin to fully understand the healing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Jesus Christ spoke often of the Kingdom of God, frequently describing it to the disciples using metaphors and parables. In Mark 9:1, He declared that the Kingdom of God has come with power. In Luke 17:20-21, He explained that the coming of the Kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, but rather God’s Kingdom is among us, within us. In Matthew 6:33, He taught His followers to seek God’s Kingdom before all else.

In our broken world, it may be impossible to fully grasp the reality of the Kingdom of God. However, simply put, we can generally understand it to be wherever God reigns. God’s Kingdom can be found in the blooming flowers of the forest, in the first cries of a newborn baby, in the comforting embrace of a grieving widow and her daughter, even in the darkest alley where two hungry strangers share a sandwich. The Kingdom of God is among us, and can be found anywhere as we submit to the reign of our Father. We just have to be looking for it.

In Matthew 10:7-8, when Jesus was sending out the disciples to minister to the Israelites, He said, “As you go, preach this message, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received. Freely give.”

Throughout His instruction and example on ministry, Jesus Christ never drew distinctions between “prayer ministry” and “evangelism ministry”. Rather, He taught all aspects of ministry – including prayer, teaching, preaching, and service – as integral parts of the fulfillment of the greater calling of His disciples – the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

God our Father lovingly receives us when we come to Him seeking miracles of healing or deliverance in our lives. But as our prayer life is deepened, and we experience greater intimacy with Him, we begin to see that these miraculous works of healing are not the ultimate end themselves, but are simply the evidence and natural consequence of the establishment of the Kingdom of God in our life.

As our submission to the Father’s will grows through prayer, naturally the old authorities of darkness and deception in our lives are uprooted and broken. As we begin to submit our lives to the authority of Jesus Christ, and to allow the Holy Spirit to come in and write the unfailing Word of God on our hearts, then His kingdom is established in our lives, and healing and wholeness naturally come.

Week 3 Meditation

This week, along with your regular quiet times, find one morning or afternoon on which you can set aside 2-3 hours to spend with the Lord in prayer. Try to find a place where you can get away in these hours from your regular work and distractions, a place where you can have some privacy and solitude.

As you are preparing to get away, consider packing a bible, a journal, and some water. As you are packing, ask the Father to show you what else He’d like you to bring during your time away with Him.

As you enter into this time with the Lord, it may be good to begin by just sitting or walking, breathing, and asking the Father to help you clear your thoughts of all of the worries and distractions of your day.

The focus this week will be healing. The scripture for meditation will be Psalm 25. After some time of silence and prayer, begin reading slowly through this Psalm, stopping at the places that speak to you and point to where you are right now. Do not feel pressure to read all of the way through at one time, but take your time with each verse. You may want to write down the verses and thoughts that pop out at you while you read.

Some questions to ask the Father during this time:

– Are there places in my life in which I want healing, but am hesitating to come to You? Why am I hesitating? Doubt? Anger? Fear?

– What are some of the places in my life where You want to come in, which I have closed off in my own walls of protection?

(In this extended time of prayer, do not feel pressure to be actually “speaking” to God the entire time, or to be “hearing” anything specific from Him. The primary goal of this time is to simply be aware of His presence with you there, and to begin to perceive how He feels about your taking this time to get away with Him.)

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