Many years ago, when I was working as an ophthalmic assistant, one of my co-workers called me at home. She knew I was also a volunteer prison chaplain, and she wanted me to pray for her daughter. Her daughter and husband had been in a bad auto accident, and she was in the ICU at the hospital in a coma. She asked if I’d go pray for her there.
I went, but I was terrified. I’d never done anything like this before. I had worked at the hospital for some years before coming to the ophthalmology office, and my wife was the director of infection control, so it was easier for me to get into ICU than it would be for most folks. I stood at the foot of the teenager’s bed and prayed. I don’t remember holding my hand out, or touching her, or saying anything coherent. I was pretty desperate. I think I stayed for about twenty minutes, then I went home.
The next day, my co-worker’s daughter woke up. I was elated, but I didn’t know what to think. Did it have anything to do with the prayer? I couldn’t tell. If it had happened right away, I might have been more willing to attribute the one to the other, but I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure to this day.
This is what I learned. Being sure isn’t what matters. Being willing to show up and try is what matters.
Fifteen or twenty years later I was the rector of an Episcopal church on Long Island. One of my parishioners delivered her child prematurely, and the baby was in the NICU for a couple of months. She didn’t ask, I just went to pray for the baby once a week. Again, I didn’t know what I was doing or what to say. I would just go and lay a hand on the incubator and pray strength and healing. I don’t think I used words much. None that I can remember. I just willed the baby to grow stronger. I had no idea that it was really doing anything, but it was all I had to do.
Then one day, as I was leaving the NICU, one of the nurses stopped me. “You really should come more often, it’s good for the baby,” she said. I think I must have said something stupid like, “Huh?” She laughed and said, “Haven’t you noticed? When you’re here, the baby’s O2 saturation goes up by several points.” “Really?” I think I said. “Yep. So come more often.” I did. I didn’t watch the numbers on the machines, I just showed up more often.
What I learned there? It isn’t important that you know what you’re doing. It’s important that you show up.
I’m nobody special. I do not have the special gifts for healing that some have. But God used me in those situations to accomplish what He wanted done. Healing isn’t only for “healers.” It’s for the rest of us, too. It is shrouded in too much mystery and theater sometimes to see just how simple it is, so a lot of us, myself included, can be put off by it, or frightened by it. But I believe that it is God’s will that no one suffer, and that the ability to eradicate suffering is something God has entrusted to us. Each of us is empowered to manifest that healing will of God if we’re willing to take up the mantle, and heaven knows the world needs a lot of healing.
Since those early days I’ve received a lot of training in healing. I’ve been trained by the good folks of Bridge for Peace, Global Awakening, and most recently the Order of Saint Luke. I’ve learned a lot from each of them, but I think I can boil it down to some basics. I want to try to impart those basics and in so doing, encourage you to dare to step out of the boat into the storm and walk in your own authority to heal.
My friends, your walk with Jesus, if you choose to take this up, is about to become an adventure.