It was my first week back home from the hospital. Surrounded by dozens of people at a prayer service hosted by my church, my eyes began to well up at the thought of so many people coming alongside me and pressing in for healing. With so many sets of eyes focused on me, I tried to contain the emotion.
An “amen” came over the crowd and I looked up as the pastor encouraged me to try moving something I could not move before. I tried to push into my feet and squeeze my fists. Nothing happened. I tried a few more times before informing everyone I could not move or feel anything different in my body. I wondered if this result was going to be the norm.
I’ve had my fair share of people surround me in prayer, from friends and family to complete strangers. Initially, while I considered it to be a thoughtful sentiment, it seemed somewhat impractical. Over time as I began to realize that I could not, in fact, work myself out of a spinal cord injury, I decided maybe prayer was the way to go after all. I began to look to Jesus as a genie and prayer as the lamp to rub in order to get what I wanted from Him- in this case, physical healing. However, after getting prayer hundreds of times, a callus began to form. Rather than an excitement for what may happen, I had become numb to the active prayer. I would put on a smile, agree with an “amen,” and say thank you, but I simply just did not have much faith in anything happening anymore.
I have a friend who is skeptical of prayer who continues to challenge my thinking on it. This friend often asserts that prayer doesn’t work, rationalizing that if it did, I would be out of my chair by now. I understand how this seems logical, and I once entertained this notion myself. In addition, I would get skeptical when random strangers would come up to me and an awkward situation like the following would ensue:
Seriously, don’t be that guy.
Over time, my thinking began to shift. I’ve written before about my journey of beginning to seek the Healer, rather than just the healing. While I initially came to Jesus seeking physical healing, He graciously met me right where I was. As my understanding of Him developed, I subsequently began to learn more about prayer itself. I now recognize that rather than a free pass to get whatever I want, prayer is a powerful instrument that is first and foremost key to a deep relationship with Jesus.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t ask for things anymore. In fact, 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Likewise, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7) While my requests don’t always get answered in the manner or the timing I’d like, I now realize that my expectation needs to line up with the Bible.
Going forward, I want to take God at His word and trust in the power of prayer by praying continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17), expectantly (Psalm 5:3), and persistently (Luke 18:1-8), no matter how impossible a situation may seem. I still believe that at any moment these prayers will result in me getting up out of my chair.
I can’t write off what I’ve already experienced. God has shown His faithfulness in the past through many different instances of specific answer to prayer. The community that has surrounded me. The supernatural peace that simply does not make sense during the lowest times. Physical breakthrough that cannot be explained medically. The doors that have been opened to opportunities and relationships that I couldn’t have fathomed. While I await His timing for provision on the rest, I do not want to miss what he has for me in the meantime.
Contact info: Ryan.S.Atkins@Gmail.com
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