I’ve realized that I opened a can of worms that’s far bigger than just 2 blog posts on the subject of prayer.
But since I’m not looking to write a book on prayer anytime soon, I’m going to try to cover the major holes, knowing full well I’ll leave a lot of room for argument. However, in order to give an umbrella teaching on the power of prayer in regards to my situation losing my daughter Goldie, I’m going to have to concentrate on one aspect of prayer, which is why I'll be talking about prayer concerning healing.
(And if you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I'll try to answer them publicly so everyone can read them!)
The question from Monday's blog still remains:
Christa, if you prayed for your daughter and believed for her to be whole and healed, why do you continue to pray when it didn’t seem to work?
Why do we pray if nothing changes?
If you're aware of ministries in Africa, you've probably heard of Heidi Baker. She's more than just amazing—she’s a freaking legend. In fact, my mom goes to Pemba every year (she’s there right now!), and comes back with the most fantastic stories—stories of Biblical proportions like the dead being raised and the blind seeing, that sadly, you only seem to hear about in places like Africa.
Heidi and Rolland Baker's ministry has expanded to include well-drilling, free health clinics that service the poor and sick, feeding programs, primary and secondary schools, cottage industries and now over 5000 churches in Mozambique and a total of over 10,000 churches in over 20 nations.
Years ago, Heidi had a promise from God that the blind would see when she prayed for them, as evidenced throughout the New Testament. For an entire year, she went out of her way to pray for every blind person she encountered—crossing the street to intercept them, seeking them out, going up to total strangers and asking to pray for their eyes to see. And after an entire year of praying faithfully, not one person was healed. Not once did it appear that heaven invaded earth, resulting in blind eyes opening up like they did in the Bible when Jesus prayed.
With that kind of disappointing track record, most of us would have stopped praying. But not Heidi. She knew the heart of God for healing, for sight, for the kingdom to be released, so she stayed faithful to continue praying even when nothing was happening in the physical realm.
Her prayers weren’t contingent on the outcome. Her prayers were contingent on the promises of God.
There was a village in Africa where missionaries had tried to minister the gospel for decades, and not one convert had come to Christ. People warned her not to even try—that it was a waste of her time to go in and try to minister—but she went anyway.
The chief of this particular tribe just happened to be blind from birth, and as she prayed, his eyes immediately opened and his sight was restored. This chief, who everyone knew to be blind, called the entire village together and in one day, an entire village was saved. In one day, an entire group of people wanted to know this Jesus who loved them enough to open their eyes and give them sight.
Can you imagine if Heidi had given up? Can you imagine if she'd just decided that God didn't want to heal the blind because it didn’t happen the hundreds, maybe thousands of times she’d prayed, or that she wasn't special or powerful enough? Can you imagine if she'd tried to understand what was happening when no one had been healed, and attempted to reason away healing and prayer—lowering her theology to fit her experience with lack?
Now years later, miraculous sight is a normal occurrence for Heidi Baker when she prays in Africa. In fact, it’s weirder for nothing to happen then for sight to be restored.
Just like our friend Jesus in the Bible—the guy we're trying to look like.
THE RESULT OF JESUS' PRAYERS
Let’s think about this guy Jesus for just a second. There's not one place evidenced in scripture where He prayed for someone and it didn't manifest immediately in some capacity. Not one place is documented where he prayed, scratched his head and looked stumped, responding sympathetically to the person, “I’m sorry, my child. I guess it wasn’t the will of God for you to be healed.” In fact, Jesus never preached about this new kingdom without a demonstration of the power of this kingdom. Scripture says over and over that Jesus healed all who came to Him:
And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. (NRSV)
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (NIV)
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (NIV)
Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. (NIV)
So if this guy Jesus is our example, and when he prayed mountains moved and the kingdom showed up physically, then why doesn’t it happen for us as co-heirs? What opposes our prayers from manifesting in the natural, especially if they're prayed in agreement with the promises of God? From the second a prayer is released in our heart and from our lips, and then it rises to the heavens and heard and treasured in the heart of God—what is the blockage of those prayers being released supernaturally on the earth, especially if they're in agreement with scripture?
THE RESISTANCE TO PRAYER
Ephesians 6:10-18 talks about the war that we're in, and gives us a glimpse at our true enemy:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
(REAL TALK. Though you can’t see your enemy, he is very, very, very real. And your enemy isn’t just one guy named the devil. He’s got an army made up of principalities, powers, world rulers of darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, and demons.)
“Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”
When I was in college, I would get up every day and verbally put on the whole armor of God because someone told me I was supposed to. I memorized the words and imagined myself putting on physical armor, but I had no idea what I was really saying. I didn’t understand that Ephesians 6 wasn’t about physical armor—it was preparing me for battle by teaching me how to pray.
Just like everything in any kingdom, there's an order—from the King down to those who follow him. And within God's kingdom order, He gives us a formula for standing and withstanding the enemy through prayer.
The loins are the place where intimacy and oneness brings two people together, and life is the result. To actually know how to pray, I needed to have an intimate relationship with the God I was praying with. The more I spent time with Him, the more I heard His voice, the more I knew His heart, and what to pray. The first thing Paul teaches us to do is to guard our loins—our intimacy—with truth. If you believe God doesn't love you, or that you can do something to lose His affection, I promise you, your prayers will be hurled from a position of lack instead of the truth—that you're loved with an everlasting love and have access to everything God has made available to you through His son Jesus. Intimacy is our life-line, and if it’s cut off, it sure is hard to produce life. But when you cover your intimacy with truth, creation is the result!
When we cover and protect our heart with the reality of righteousness, we will always believe we have right standing with God—no matter what we’ve done or what has come against us. We’re not worthy of being with God because of what we do or don’t do—we can stand in His presence with boldness and confidence because of what Christ has done. When we guard our heart with the reality that our intimacy and relationship with Father is secure, our heart is anchored and protected to stay in the presence.
The feet are how you get from place to place. If you can remain in peace while roaming through this world—through the storms, trials, and hard knocks—you can’t be beaten. But feet are also what you use to charge into battle. When the enemy can’t break through your peace—even while you're fighting from a place of rest—he literally doesn’t know what to do with you.
A shield is a defensive weapon that can be moved to protect any area of the body, which means, you only need it if someone is attacking you. And just like Heidi Baker stayed faithful to believe the promises of God even when healing didn't come, faith guards you when circumstances don't line up with the promises. Some days your faith will need to guard your heart. Some days your faith will need to guard your head. Some days, your body. Every day, you will have circumstances that oppose the promises of God in this fallen world. But it’s faith that shields you from getting wounded, offended, or doubtful when things don’t happen the way you thought they would.
Your head has to be protected and filled with thoughts of salvation. The Greek word for salvation is ‘sozo’ meaning saved, delivered, and healed. Believe me, right now your head is either filled with all that Christ has done right, or all that you have done wrong. And if you’re concentrating on your past, your failures, your lack, then you’re going to live that way, completely tormented in the spirit of your mind from the lies of the enemy. Meditating, thinking about, memorizing and chewing on the truth within your thoughts protects your head from coming into agreement with the whispers of the enemy.
A sword is used both defensively and offensively. It’s used to deflect blows, and also to strike blows. When my daughter died in my arms, I used the truth that God is a creator of life to keep that trauma from slashing at my heart, head, and body, causing permanent damage. And once I’d deflected that lie, you better believe I started fighting back. When the lies would come that I wasn't going to get pregnant again, I fought back with scriptures of my God healing the barren woman. When the lies would come that my next baby would also have anencephaly, I fought back with God's promises of blessing, healing, and wholeness.
Friend, after Paul tells us to saturate ourselves with the truth—mind, heart, body, and feet—he THEN tells us to pray in the Spirit. Not just sometimes. Not just when things get bad. But to “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance”
There's an order to prayer, and it starts with arming yourself—spirit, soul, and body—with the truth. And once you're covered in truth, you know how to pray.
How do we pray the will of God? We listen. We remain close. We become friends. Our intimacy is guarded. Our hearts are secure. We're in faith. We're thinking about the truth. Our hearts are pumping for relationship. And we're walking in peace. That, beautiful one, is how you start fighting the enemy with your prayers—from a position of fullness, and not from lack.
THE ENEMY'S MISSION
There is a force at work that we cannot see with our physical eyes—a force that's not flesh and not blood, but more real than the chair you’re sitting on. This force lives and breathes to make sure that the power of heaven available to you in Christ never reaches earth through your prayers. This force lives to make sure you stay offended at God when hell is released in your life. There is one whose entire existence is consumed with stealing from you, killing you, and destroying you. (John 10:10).
And he's ruthless.
When you give an inch to fear, he takes a mile.
When you let your heart stay bitter, he ravages your soul.
When you stew in self-hatred, he torments your mind.
Any door of access that you give him through unbelief, fear, sin, negativity, or agreement, he’ll gladly walk in and take over, chaining your life to death in the process.
I don't like to focus on this enemy—I like to focus on God, because God fights way better than I do. But just like it would be foolish for America to ignore their enemies because they can't physically see them on foreign soil, it would be equally foolish for me to ignore this enemy simply because I can't see him in the flesh.
Which is why we'll take a break here, and resume on Wednesday—talking about how you overcome this enemy through prayer…..in the courts of heaven.