Monthly Archives: September 2013

prayer_hope

Why am I not Healed?

  • Is God hearing my prayers for healing?
  • If God wants good for His people (Romans 8:28), why do my prayers for healing go unanswered?
  • Am I not healed because of something I am doing or have done that God is displeased with?
  • How can anything good come from my medical condition?

People often find themselves frustrated by questions such as those above.  Prayers for physical healing and health are among the most commonly made.  We pray for the health for ourselves, our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He was sought after by multitudes for physical healing, and miraculous healings were performed.  These included raising people from the dead, giving sight to people born blind, curing long-standing diseases otherwise thought to be hopeless, and of course, raising Himself from the dead.  His disciples performed healings in a similar fashion, as described in the book of Acts, and many examples of healing done by God are found in the Old Testament.

Today, there are documented medical cases of healing that could only be explained as miracles. Why would God choose to heal some and not others?  To gain some insight into this question, we can look at some examples in the Bible where healing did not occur.

Example 1:  Strength through Weakness

Consider this passage from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul is speaking:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul complains of a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, tormenting him. Further, he pleaded three times for the Lord to take this away from him. There has been considerable discussion as to what this “thorn” was, whether a physical ailment, a person bothering Paul, or an evil spirit tormenting him. It is also possible that it was a physical ailment caused by an evil spirit, or a “messenger of Satan”. Nevertheless, Paul pleaded three times to be healed of this affliction to no avail. Paul explains to us in the same passage why is has not been healed of this. He points out

– He was given the thorn in his flesh so that he would not become conceited.
– God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His power is made perfect in weakness.
– Subsequently, Paul boasts in and delights in weakness and other persecutions in Christ’s sake, because through these weaknesses Paul is made stronger.

This is a difficult teaching. Very few would delight in suffering, would want suffering to come upon themselves, or would want to not be relieved of suffering, even if through the suffering we are made stronger in the Lord. Nevertheless, the fact remains that God wants us to draw closer to Him, and as we draw closer, His grace, comfort, and power will strengthen us.

Example 2: A Higher Purpose

In another example of unanswered prayer for healing comes from Jesus himself at Gethsemane prior to his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. In Matthew 26:39, Jesus pleads to God, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Later, on the cross, Jesus pleads to God in Matthew 27:46, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”

Jesus prays for deliverance from the “cup” of his impending trial, scourging, and crucifixion, and cries out on the cross as well. However, Jesus knows the purpose for his death, and that only through his sacrificial death can man have any hope of salvation and eternal life in God’s presence (Man’s part is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior). Jesus relinquishes His will as a man, and instead accepts God’s divine will.

Obviously, no one on earth will have such a high calling as Jesus’. But could there be a divine purpose for our struggles, in addition to bringing us closer to God and relying fully on Him. Do we have a higher calling, higher than ourselves, though which many others could benefit? This possibility takes prayer, discernment, and counsel with other Christians.

Example 3: Sin in Our Lives

One final example of unanswered prayer for healing is found in 2 Samuel 12. To paraphrase, David bore a son out of sin with Bathsheba while she was still married to Uriah the Hittite. David plotted ways to conceal the pregnancy, and eventually Uriah was killed in battle. The Lord was greatly displeased, and warned that great calamity would fall onto David and that his son would die. David admitted that he had sinned against the Lord, and when the child did become ill, he fasted, wept, repented, and prayed fervently for the child’s life.

The child died, but David did not become bitter toward God. Instead, he worshiped God. While David had hoped that God might be gracious and spare the child, he accepted God’s will. He then bore a legitimate son with Bathsheba, Solomon, who clearly was a great blessing to David and all of the people.

In this example, the unanswered prayer for healing was based on the magnitude of David’s sin and attempted cover-up. David, however, was repentant, and the Lord eventually forgave David and blessed him. Unconfessed sin in our lives can lead to separation from God and the withholding of His blessings. Having a broken, humble, repentant spirit before the Lord pleases Him. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to bring us to that point.

Is there anything that we can do today to help in the healing of ourselves and others?  Look at the posting, Unanswered Prayer – What Can We Do?, for more understanding about healing, prayer, and drawing closer to God.

 

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Unanswered Prayer – What Can We Do?

 

Some people seem to have their prayers answered frequently, while others pray the same prayer for years with no apparent response.

Why is that? Why has MY prayer not been answered?

Or, maybe my prayer has been answered. Maybe I have not recognized the answer to the prayer, or maybe it was answered in a way that was unexpected or not desired.

Listed below are 10 ideas about how to deal with prayer and unanswered prayer.

Please remember that no matter what you are going through or what you have done, God’s love toward you does not decrease.

Realize that our time is not God’s time.
I was just reminded of a couple in my church who prayed for almost 10 years for children of their own. In God’s time, their prayer was answered, and they now have two healthy children who have subsequently professed faith in Jesus Christ. We are impatient, but God has the ability to heal regardless of the severity and timing. Don’t stop praying, and draw closer to God for comfort and peace.  See Psalm 13, where David cries out, “How long, O Lord?”  At the end of the passage he reaffirms his trust and thankfulness to the Lord.


Realize that our will may not be God’s will.
God has a plan for our lives, and His plan may not be what we have envisioned for our own lives. God works outside of time, and our fleeting time on earth pales in comparison with our future time in eternity in God’s presence. We live in a fallen world because of sin (Adam). Pain, suffering, and death came into the world because of that sin. This was not’s God’s desire, but he blessed man with free will and the ability to make his own decisions. Nevertheless, God can turn any bad situation into good, for His purposes. See Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”


Pray to understand God’s will, and what he wants His will to be in your life.
Praying for God’s will to be done can be a scary thing. It requires us to fully trust God and to accept His decision about our lives. Just before his arrest and capture, Jesus prayed to God in the Garden in Mark 14:36, “And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”.  In this case, the “cup” was His crucifixion and death, but Jesus submitted himself to God’s will and died on the cross.So, for example, one person’s prayer might be that he lands a job in is hometown close to his relatives and friends. Another person’s prayer might be for God to open doors to the job that He would want the person to have, regardless of the location. The first prayer is selfish, while the second one is in God’s will.


Pray for understanding and wisdom about your problem, and how it can be used by God. Listen for an answer!
Praying for wisdom and understanding can help us to gain insight into the problem and the ability to look in from the outside to see other angles and solutions.  Praying for a solution that glorifies God takes the focus off of us and onto God, and in many cases, the “problem” takes care of itself.  For example, a person in a difficult embattled relationship might pray for the other person to drop dead. Instead, prayer for forgiveness and mercy can lead to a spirit of peace, compromise and reconciliation, all to God’s glory.


Trust fully in God, and surrender self to let God be in control.
Is there a room in your house where you would not want Jesus to enter? Is there a part of your life where you want to be in control and God to back off? Is there any place in your life that you are keeping God out of?Let Him in!  These are the dark areas where Satan can influence us: through deceit, lies, temptations, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy and depression, and thoughts of failure and hopelessness. Satan and Jesus cannot exist in the same room!  Trust in God in all parts of your life, and your prayer life will be blessed.


Come closer to God through continued prayer, Bible reading, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, and though Christian music.
Take time to pray and to be quiet to listen for His response. Stay in God’s word through daily devotionals, Bible reading and study, and through structured Bible study at church. Listening to Christian music can put us in a constant state of worship, bringing us closer to God. The benefits of fellowship and support of other Christians cannot be overemphasized, as is the benefit of membership in a local church and participating in opportunities of service. All of these things work to develop our relationship with Jesus Christ.


Take care of any unconfessed sin that you have not repented of, and turn from that sin.
James 5:16 states, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Does this mean that a person living in sin will be punished by God with curses and unanswered prayers? There may be some controversy to that question, but I prefer to take a positive approach:John 3:17“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”


Replace bitterness, self-pity, and jealousy with joy and service to others.
Inward sin is self destructive and distances us from God. Thoughts of unforgiveness, jealousy and bitterness, malice and getting even, and holding grudges are not Christian attributes.  Ephesians 4:31-31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”Replace thoughts of malice with love and service toward others. This will put us in the right frame of mind when approaching God in worship and in prayer.


Don’t turn down a life-line sent by God!
Who are we to say how God should heal us? Maybe God will use a surgeon to successfully remove a cancer; should we refuse the surgery while instead waiting for a more miraculous cure where no surgery is required? Decisions such as whether or not to undergo surgery require further prayer for insight and wisdom.This reminds me of a passage in Numbers 20:7-12, where Moses and the entire Israelite community had escaped from Egypt and had arrived at Kadesh at the Desert of Zin. There was no water for the people or livestock.Starting in verse 7:
The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”While Moses had struck a rock to bring forth water in Exodus 17 at a different time and place, he disobeyed God in Numbers 20 by striking rather than speaking, and also taking credit for the miracle rather than attributing it to God. He took matters into his own hands with dire consequences – never being able to enter the promised land.Let God take care of how we are healed and how our prayers are answered.


Enlist the prayer support of others.
The Holy Spirit cries out in prayer on our behalf when we are unable to pray (Romans 8:26), and Jesus Christ Himself intercedes for us in prayer (Romans 8:34). Ask others to pray for ourselves and for our prayer concerns.

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The Pope on Social Media: Reactions from the Public

pope_social media

 

 

 

On 8/29/13, Pope Francis posed with a group of young people at the Vatican and the photo was subsequently posted onto twitter. The story was picked up and re-posted by innumerable online news services, and much feedback from the general public was offered in the form of comments.

The full story is summarized here:

The informal picture was taken on a smartphone belonging to one of the teenagers, with the camera held at arm’s length. It was then posted on social media. Around 500 teenagers had travelled from the Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio, 50 miles south of Milan, and shared a private audience with the pontiff.

The Pope told the young crowd he wanted to meet with them “for selfish reasons … because you have in your heart a promise of hope. You are bearers of hope. You, in fact, live in the present, but are looking at the future. You are the protagonists of the future, artisans of the future. Make the future with beauty, with goodness and truth. Have courage. Go forward. Make noise,” he told the students.

Before the photograph was taken, the teens presented the pope with the gift of a wooden-framed illustration of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns. Since the Pope was selected in March, he has made clear his intention to connect with young people, and to move the Papacy into a more modern, informal age. He has pledged to return the Catholic Church to its humble roots, and has shunned the lavish trappings of the papacy in favor of a simple existence.

When I reviewed comments to this story, I was amazed by the overwhelmingly positive response. While there was some dispute as to whether or not the photo was truly a “selfie” (it was not taken by the pope himself, and was not posted to his twitter account), most comments were thoughtful and authentic. I have verified that the comments shown below were made by real people, not comments falsely planted by an organization. No alterations have been made to these postings:

I am not Catholic, but I am impressed by this pope. He appears to be an authentic man who leads with his heart. He represents the shift in spiritual consciousness many have been waiting to see…a simple, authentic demonstration of faith that is not at war with the culture. – 9/1/13

I’m not Catholic, I’m not Christian, I’m not any religion. I’m an atheist and I really like this guy. He’s real. He connects with people. – 8/31/13

Incredible that an aged man has foud the wisom of Jesus… look at the world through the eyes of child…We now have a POPE..Thank you Lord. – 8/31/13

Satans worst fears have come to pass, he is a(popepletic) (sic), grinding his teeth because Francis is bringing the multitudes back to God with his common touch and gentle smile, but the evil doesn’t want this, hence the negative comments and hatred here, and elsewhere, trying to stop the turnaround to the good, to God. And the good news is, that the good shall prevail, brothers and sisters. God bless Pope Francis in his work, the work of God. – 8/31/13

I only have one word to describe the pope awsome. The church has needed this type of leadership for decades. – 8/31/13

This is real news. The leader of one of the largest churches in the world bring people back to the flock through love and respect. Through the real teachings of Christ, not through the fear of damnation. Catholics around the world are overjoyed by this and should be. Pope Francis appears to be a real mensch. – 9/1/13

I really like this man.. I am not even Christian but he is cool and shows how a true Christian should be.. yeah there is problems in the catholic church.. but I think what this pope is showing is a new face to the church and to Christian in general. I would like to meet this man, just to tell him that I think he is cool .. – 8/31/13

Wow a pope who actually seems to practice what he preaches. I am not at all religious but I think Christ would be happy with this one.  Always wondered why the church for a guy who’s entire possessions were a robe and sandals needed all the gold and fancy adornment. As a force for the poor this pope might actually accomplish something great. Nice to see. – 8/31/13

This is the greatest Pope ever. I am NOT a catholic and of course think that many of their priests have been guilty of horrible crimes that were covered up by other Popes. But Pope Francis seems, finally, to be going back to Christ’s original teachings about love, caring, compassion and no judgment. Let’s give him a big round of applause! – 8/31/13

Discussion: Is This Appropriate Behavior for the Pope?

So, is it appropriate for the Pope to pose for candid photographs to be posted on social media? Is this disrespectful to the church? Would Jesus pose for a “selfie”?

Actually, I believe that not only was this appropriate, but that is was divinely orchestrated and planned – NotAccidental. I do not believe that this photo op was staged or contrived by church officials, but that it was spontaneous and authentic. Yes, the Pope has stated that he wants to move the church into a more modern age and to connect with young people. I think that this photograph indicates the authenticity of his desire to reach out to young people.

Would Jesus have posed for a “selfie”? Remember the passage from Matthew, Mark, and Luke when people brought little children to Jesus:

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.””Matthew 19:13-14

The disciples rebuked the people from bringing children to Jesus, but Jesus quickly corrected them – the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these! Jesus reached out to all people: men, women, children, slaves, free, and of all races. As stated in some of the comments posted above, the church has often become centered on itself, glorifying itself rather than God. Instead, the church should humble itself and serve:

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Matthew 20:28

Indeed, it appears that Pope Francis wants to serve, to connect with and reach all people, and to become a model for the church to follow. The church here is defined as all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, not just Catholics or Protestants.

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