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 her daughter 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 the 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 God 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, me 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.

One other note.

As you read through this book, you’ll find that I’ve avoided using pronouns for God. When it comes to my own personal piety, I use masculine pronouns, because that is how I really came to experience God as Savior.  But when I write for others, I try to take into account that not everyone meets God in the same way.

At the same time, I do like to use pronouns because I think it’s important not to lose sight of the “Personhood” of God. God is more than I can imagine a person being but is still “personal” as well as transcendent. So in the first draft of this small book, I tried using “They,” and “Their.” I was writing in the wake of the murders of two transgender teens, both of whom had chosen those pronouns for themselves, and I wanted to hold dear God’s love for them. I also thought that plural pronouns kind of “fit” a triune God.

But the readers of that first draft, while acknowledging the rightness of my intent, found it difficult to read. Not off-putting, just startling. It kept interrupting the flow for them. So I’ve relented and gone back to omitting pronouns. I’m sure the day will come when we can read “They” without having to think about it, but I’d like this text to have as much usefulness as I can give it, so it’ll be God and God’s rather than They and Their.

I have also referred to God as “Father” in some places where I am echoing Jesus’ speech about the way that the Son does what He sees the Father doing. I don’t know how to make that more inclusive without losing the scriptural resonance.

Go to the next chapter, “What Happened to Healing?

Or other chapters
Chapter One – What Happened to Healing
Chapter Two – Why Do We Do Healing?
Chapter Three – Some Introductory Questions
Chapter Four – Things That Help and Things That Hinder
Chapter Five – The Five Step Method
Chapter Six – What Do We Do With Failure?
Chapter Seven – Staying On the Rails.

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