Kristin’s recent “Drive-By Faith Healing” has lead to me thinking quite a lot about prayer, faith and healing. As a committed Christian I am convinced that God is real, and that prayer is effective as a means of communication with God. I have also experienced God’s answer to prayer, and am convinced that God can and will answer prayer. That said, I think we need to be careful in our attitude to prayer, and what our expectations are. We cannot just treat God as a genie and expect that he will do what we want just because we ask.
It is important to remember who God is and who I am. In particular considering how mighty and powerful God is, and how small in comparison I am. God is the originator of the complexity of our universe. He is the creator of all the sciences and mathematics that people can devote years to trying to understand. A PhD student will expect to end up being the expert in their specialisation – only knowing a sliver of the information that God created. God’s knowledge is so much more complete, and it is to this mighty, knowledgeable, and powerful God that I pray. Compared to God, my knowledge is negligible and my understanding is frighteningly limited. It is then to this mighty and powerful God that the Christian comes with prayers and petitions. A big reason that we pray to God is because of this power and wisdom. It only makes sense to ask for things from someone who is able to provide. If God isn’t strong enough or powerful enough to answer prayer, then what is the point?
With this as a background, it is amazingly presumptuous for us to demand things of such a powerful entity. God the creator of the Universe is present and in control. He is powerful and wise and knowing, and so can make much better decisions and work things out in ways that are beyond our understanding. Just as I cannot presume to understand everything that a PhD student has spent years learning, I cannot presume to understand everything that the powerful God does. I certainly need to be careful in demanding things from such a God.
The nuance in praying to the Christian God is that God also loves us, and wants what is best for us. We are told that God is a God of love, and that we are to bring before God our prayers and petitions. God will then answer them in the way that is best for us. Not necessarily how we want, but in the way that is best.
This brings us back to the topic of faith healing. God is certainly capable of healing people. There are clear cases where God has healed people in the past, but, God is God. We can’t expect God to do things just because that is what we want, or because they happened that way in the past. We have the privilege of asking God for things and communicating with God, but need to treat God with the deserved respect and honour. As we pray for healing we just need to remember that the answer that God gives is not always the answer that we want.
If God is the Christian God of far superior knowledge and boundless love, then when we pray for healing we can take great comfort in knowing that his answer, be it yes no or wait, really is the best answer.
Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’