- Isaiah 38:1-22
- Psalms 21:4
- Psalms 91:16
- Proverbs 10:27
Sometimes I get invited to speak or play music at camps and conferences. Whenever I have opportunities like this I try to bring my family with me. That’s just how we roll… as a family on mission together. It’s more challenging, but it is also more fun too! We are in this thing together and often the witness of Michelle and the kids is much more powerful than anything I could say from the stage. One of the things I love about the witness of our kids is that they will pray for people without fear or hesitation… and they expect God to respond. Marin, our three-year-old with a heart of gold starts every prayer with, “Jesus loves daddy…(or mommy or whoever she is praying for.)” Zachary, our five-year-old, loves to pray that God would heal people. His prayers for others have played a huge part in my growing faith in God’s power and desire to heal because several times now we have seen people healed when Zachary prays for them. Like I said, we are a family on mission together so when I speak I always share our family story. Last summer at a camp in Iowa I shared as I normally do. Later that day we were playing down by the lake. Marin was splashing and Zachary was digging in the sand. We were talking with some friends when one of them asked if Zachary could pray for their son who had hurt his arm during football season. He was several months removed from the injury but still struggled with pain and motion. Of course we agreed to pray and I asked Zachary to take the lead. He kept digging in the sand, said a simple prayer and that was it. We went about the rest of our day. The next morning I asked the boy how his arm was feeling and he said, “Actually it doesn’t hurt any more.” A few months ago I got a message from his dad saying the pain had never returned. Amazing. God hears our prayers and answers.
Our reading from 2 Kings this morning is one of the most powerful healing stories in the Old Testament but I love how this little detail at the beginning:
2At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. 3One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:2-3 NLT)
Before Naaman gathered his gifts and took them to the King, before Naaman visited Elisha, before the story got complex, a young girl simply proclaimed in faith that Naaman would be healed. There is something powerful in the faith of young people. It’s like they have not yet been scarred by experience and life so they pray boldly, expecting God to hear them and respond. Maybe there is something to this. Over time life has a way of challenging our fundamental identity as children of God. We eventually tend to bow to the idea that our identity is found in what we do for a living or by how much money we have or how much stuff we can accumulate. The further we drift from identity as children of God our childlike faith tends to drift away as well. Faith is replaced by resistance. What if it doesn’t have to be that way?
When we look to the witness of the gospels we see story after story where Jesus heals people. What you won’t find in the gospels is any example where Jesus met his match. Every time someone comes to Jesus for healing he heals them. Individuals, groups of people, young people, old people, people who had just fallen ill and those who had been sick for their entire life… It didn’t matter. Jesus healed them. There was no resistance in Jesus. He was confident in his identity and that was unshakeable. He knew as the Son of God that all the authority and power of God was his. That includes authority and power over even sickness and death. Jesus, fully confident in his identity (and the authority that accompanies that identity), called upon the power of God with absolute faith that god would come through. There was no resistance in him so God’s power flowed freely and people were healed.
Here’s the thing. Before he ascended in to heaven Jesus gathered his followers together and said this,
18Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
He reminded them of his authority. He commanded them to go. He promised to remain with them always. Hear this: All powerful, almighty Jesus remains with us always and now wants to express his authority and power through us! Will we continue to build up walls of resistance or can we learn to pray in simple faith like Zachary did that day on the lake shore? What might happen if we let our identity as sons and daughters of God direct our prayers in faith?
Teach me to pray like a child, Jesus. Teach me to pray as your child. Break down the wall of resistance in me and teach me to live in faith. I am yours.