Beth had a funny experience a few months back. She went into Annagale’s room one morning to find her whimpering while holding her nose. Evidently she had hurt it somehow. Beth went into mom mode and attempted to kiss it to make it feel better. Annagale backed away and said, “No, don’t kiss it, Mommy – pray for it!” Well, that was certainly unexpected…
Beth and I laughed about it but then I got to thinking about what had actually happened. Annagale chose a spiritual method of relief over a “conventional” one. Now, if Annagale did that at age 20 or 30 or 40, some might say that she wasn’t being practical or that she was “so heavenly minded that she was no earthly good” or some other “gem” produced by our rationalistic mindset. But that idea is quickly fading away. Newsweek had on its front cover a few months back about the fact that “alternative” medicine is now becoming “standard” practice. Conventional means no longer satisfy peoples’ needs.
Yet, Christians still struggle with the possiblity that God might actually want to heal us. I don’t think we have a problem with whether or not he’s powerful enough. It has more to do with whether we think he wants to heal us. Scriptures like the one where the leper asks Jesus if he is willing to heal him fail to convince us. Even though Jesus gave a resounding “I will!” we still often times say that God works through “other means” to bring about his purposes. What’s with that? What’s so hard about actually believing in healing?
I think this mentality also affects our prayers. Why don’t we pray for healing more often? Many of the prayers for healing I hear are more like short essays preparing us for the psychological impact of disease or the inevitability of life’s end. Now that’s uplifting. Outsiders hear those prayers and think, “hmm, maybe the church doesn’t have anything to offer after all.” I also think it affects why we have trouble praying out loud. Once you’ve said it out loud in a group of people, it’s hard to take back. Plus, we are constantly told that no one is sure what God’s plan is anyway – our job is to pray for the courage to bear up under trials. Praying for healing is kind of like a poker game when you go “all in.” You think you have the winning hand…but what if you don’t? Maybe it’s best to fold this round. I think that tendency goes back to the fact that we’re not sure what cards the Dealer holds.
I want faith like my three year old. She obviously considered the effectiveness of prayer more appropriate than a kiss on the nose. Though we spend plenty of time praying and talking about God around our house, we’re not having healing lines or scripture memory drills or anything. Our faith incorporates itself into our lives without any “grand standing.” Having the faith of a child simply means to take God at his Word. It means to honestly follow that inward inclination to trust God in the face of more “conventional” advice. “Conventional” doesn’t always mean correct or wise – it just means common. Christians aren’t called to be common – they’re called to be unique, curious, and full of life.