Monday, February 13, 2006

Prayer and Healing by Kristine A. Haig

I would like to share an article that I came across recently that came from Presbyterians Today, September 2001 by Kristine A. Haig, coordinator for spiritual foundation in the PCUSA Congregational Ministries Division entitled Healing and Prayer.

"The next time you find a group of Presbyterians gathered around the coffee pot after worship, ask them to brainstorm Biblical references that deal with healing. Probably they will mention the many people Jesus heals in the four Gospels: the paralytic lowered through the roof of the house, the woman “with the flow of blood,” the blind men. Someone may bring up Naaman the leper, from the Old Testament.

It is less likely, however, that anyone will refer to the short but powerful message found in the New Testament at the end of the Letter of James, a text that almost reads like a manual of operations for the early church:

“Are any among you suffering? They should pray…Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick,…and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (5:13-16).

In this text healing is not confined to the realm of miracles—the signs and wonders that persuaded people that Jesus was Messiah. Rather, healing is an ordinary part of what the church does. It is a ministry of all the elders, not just extraordinary miracle workers.

More than that, healing is inseparably linked to confession. The health of the body depends on the health of the spirit, and the health of the spirit depends on the ability to be honest about our sins and shortcomings, our fears and our resentments, and to have the courage to speak this truth to another human being.

How often have you dared to be this open about the troubling aspects of your life? Does your congregation encourage this kind of honest sharing, or does it perhaps unconsciously encourage people to always “put on a good face” and hide their darker, messier realities? If we take seriously the Letter of James, it is precisely in the experience of revealing our troubling secrets and asking for prayer that we open a space into which Christ can enter and healing can occur—healing of spirit and of emotions, of old wounds, of unhealthy and unholy behavior, and of our very bodies.

Which, come to think of it, sounds like no small miracle."

1 comment:

Steve Thorson said...

That, Jerry, is a key message that we need in so many situations - to take off the false faces.