Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prayers, Faith, and Healing

I wrote this post about prayer and healing six years ago shortly after Erik died.

Sep 17, 2006
There is a question that I think many of us have wrestled with since Erik's death.  There were so many people praying for Erik to be healed.  People all over the world were praying for healing, and yet God still took Him. Were our prayers in vain?  Why pray if God will ultimately do what He wills anyway?  I have wrestled with these questions and still do, but there have been a couple of things that have helped me to have perspective and most of all, to trust God.

I read a great chapter in an Elisabeth Elliott book entitled, "On Asking God Why."  This particular chapter was written by her brother, Thomas Howard. I believe he wrote it shortly after Elisabeth's second husband died of cancer.  He addressed the "what about all the prayers" question.  What about all the prayer vigils, the fasting, elders laying hands and anointing oil, etc.?  Yet, God remained silent and deliverance did not come.

Thomas writes of why is it that Jesus seemed to heal a complete stranger, yet even those in His closest circle were not healed.  For instance, John the Baptist was beheaded and James was killed in prison. What about Paul, who had a healing ministry and the handkerchiefs that were sent out from him that brought healing to others, yet he could not heal himself.  After much pleading, God still did not take away the thorn in his flesh. God is mysterious and His ways are unsearchable.

Thomas writes, "We prayed, with much faith or with little; we searched ourselves; we fasted; we anointed and laid on hands; we kept vigil. And nothing happened. Did it not? What angle of vision are we speaking from? Is it not true that again and again in the biblical picture of things, the story has to be allowed to finish?"  

Were the prayers lost?  Did they have any effect?  Thomas then says, "Hadn't they? How do you know what is piling up in the great treasury kept by the Divine Love to be opened in that Day.  How do you know that this death and your prayers and tears and fasts will not together be suddenly and breathtakingly displayed, before all the faithful, and before angels and archangels, and before kings and widows and prophets, as gems in that display? Oh no, don't speak of things being lost.  Say rather that they are hidden-received and accepted and taken up into the secrets of the divine mysteries, to be transformed and multiplied, like everything else we offer to him--loaves and fishes, or mites, or bread and wine-and given back to you and to the one for whom you kept vigil, in the presence of the whole host of men and angels, in a hilarity of glory as unimaginable to you in your vigil as golden wings are to the worm in the chrysalis."

Then just this weekend, one of my pastors, Nate, helped me to have a little perspective on the prayer issue.  We were talking and he said, "I guess it all depends on what the purpose of prayer is."

He added, "Is it to get our requests (which certainly God grants) or is it to know God?"

God wants us to ask Him for things, but ultimately He wants us to know Him.  I think many of us can attest to the fact that we have grown closer to the Lord through this and through our prayers for Erik's healing. Does that make it easier? No way, but that still doesn't change the truth that God is deepening our relationship with Him.

God is mysterious and His ways are unsearchable, but our prayers are not in vain.

I am clinging to Him and seeking to give Him the desires of my heart including praying for healing for friends who have health issues including cancer.  Is it easy? No.  Does God want me to trust Him? Yes!  I still wrestle and will continue to, but oh how I want to trust Him!


  1. Beautiful, Kelly. Thank you. Praying for you guys, the Steffens, and all of us who miss Erik. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

  2. Thanks Kelly. This is a topic of frequent meditation for me. Larry Crabb's book "Shattered Dreams" really gets to the heart of things and have opened my eyes to many things in my journey that I have struggled with. We have not kept in touch, but please know that the Lord brings you and your boys to mind on a fairly regular basis. I pray grace upon grace for you three!
    Joe Fritchley