Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
When we think about praying for healing some of us may envision a television evangelist shouting and making demands of God to heal people who are crowded in front of a stage with their crutches and wheelchairs. All of this may seem too pressured, too staged and too centered on the faith healer.
It is also true that when we think about asking for healing, we may find ourselves remembering times in the past when we felt shame for what we experienced as a lack of faith because we weren’t quite able to “name and claim” our healing. We may feel that we don’t have enough faith to pray in this way.
Such images and fears create barriers which prevent us from talking to God about our need for physical, emotional and spiritual healing. But we do not need to let ourselves be robbed in this way. We can come to God, as children might go to a loving parent, and ask for our heart’s desire.
I did this. I asked God to heal my cancer.
I did not do this right away. But one day, while sitting quietly in prayer, I asked God to show me how to pray about my cancer.
As I waited I had an image come to mind of the cancer cells melting and being carried out of my body. So I put my hand on the biopsy site and prayed that God would melt the cancer cells and allow them to be carried out of my body. I then “watched” as they disintegrated and were carried away.
The moments of praying in this way were not accompanied by feelings of certainty that my prayer would be answered. Nor did I feel like I needed to generate such feelings. Instead these moments felt like child-like asking. I felt comforted simply by asking God to heal me.
I make no claim to a great miracle, but I was deeply grateful when I was told that the cancer which the surgeon removed was very small in size. It was so small, in fact that I only needed to have a small amount of tissue removed and no need for the normal seven weeks of radiation therapy. I took this news as pure grace. I wondered if God had melted the cancer cells and washed them away, leaving only enough for the surgeon to know that she had found what she was looking for.
The important thing for me in all of this was to ask. Asking God to show me how to pray and then inviting God to touch my body in this way gave me a greater sense of intimacy with God. I invited God, my Healer, God my Surgeon, God my Creator to lovingly touch my body. In doing so, I experienced God gently touching my heart and my soul as well.
I asked God to show me how to pray about my physical health during the months of living with cancer. The way I most often pray for emotional and spiritual healing also comes out of what I sense God has been teaching me. I pray that God will heal and release me (and others) from fear, shame, pride, greed, self-serving and defensiveness. I also pray that God will free me to live in a place of trust and hope and humility. And I pray that God will free me to receive all of God’s good gifts to me each day, especially the gift of awareness of God’s Presence.
The answers to these prayers for emotional and spiritual healing come slowly. But they do come. Over the years I have seen deep and significant changes in my own life and in the lives of others. I think this kind of healing is slow primarily because true and lasting change always takes time. A little at a time we are released from fear, shame, pride, greed, self-reliance and defensiveness. A little at a time we are freed to take in God’s love and to allow that love to fill us and flow out to others.
I have experienced God’s Spirit to be a gentle and persistent healer of our hearts and minds. Our work is to be faithful in seeking this healing, in staying as open as possible to this grace. And, so I pray day after day, year after year for healing for myself, for those I know and for all people everywhere.
Psalm 103 reminds us that God is the One who “satisfies our desires with good things.” I had not always trusted that God was good and kind and intimately loving. For years I privately feared that God was distant and disapproving and uninterested in my needs and feelings. But over time, as I have asked for increased awareness of God’s love, my eyes and heart have opened more and more, allowing me to see and receive more fully the reality of God’s intimate, tender love for me and for us all.
When I pray for healing or help of any kind I do not focus on how much faith I have or how much I believe. I focus instead on God. I pray with the awareness that God is love. That God is always with us. That God’s desire is always to help us, care for us and bless us. That God’s intentions for us are always for good. And that God invites us to bring everything to God in prayer.
Heal and release us
from our fear and shame and guilt,
from our pride and greed and self reliance,
from our guardedness and defensiveness.
Free us to be our truest child-like selves,
trusting, resting, humble, receptive, joyful, loving, loved.
Awaken us to your loving presence,
that may we receive more and more of your good gifts to us—your love and grace and peace and joy and light and life.
And grant us the humility and wisdom to live
in full, joyful surrender to your loving will.
May your kingdom of love and goodness come,
may your will be done in our lives this day and always.
When you don’t know what to do…ask for healing.
Questions for reflection and discussion
1. What emotional, spiritual or physical healing have you experienced during this difficult time?
2. What healing do you want to ask God about at this time?