As I write this, I’ve been battling the Worst Cold Ever for over a week. I won’t go into the gory details, but this truly is the worst head cold I’ve ever had—and it just won’t go away. The doctors assure me it isn’t strep, so there’s really nothing much I can do except buy Kleenex in bulk, slurp chicken soup, juggle the decongestants with the antihistamines with the expectorants with the cough suppressants, and pray that I get better sooner, while my husband still likes me. (Am I whining? Oops, sorry.) Praying for healing is always a good idea.
Back when we attended a much smaller church, part of the service included someone mentioning and praying for needs that had been received during the week, while the congregation agreed silently. I found it rather interesting that 99% of these needs were for healing. I’m sure people had other prayer requests—for a job, perhaps, or to overcome a stronghold in their life, but the only ones that we ever heard about were health-related. We would pray for Granny’s rheumatism, Aunt Mary’s gout, or more serious conditions such as cancer. It was always “wisdom for the doctors and peace for the family.” (Oddly, we never heard back if they were healed or not.)
Maybe people didn’t want to “bother” the church with what they considered less important issues. As my husband explained to me, “I always thought that God could easily answer most of our prayers, but healing, well, that was the big one! (He envisioned God taking a “huge ball of healing” and zapping us with it.) Healing must take a lot of faith!
We have a number of friends who have dealt with (or are still dealing with) life-threatening illnesses. They tell me of well-meaning Christians who come and berate them for their lack of faith—as if it’s their own fault that God hasn’t healed them already. Gee, there’s nothing like prescribing a dose of guilt for a sick person! (Can you tell this really aggravates me?)
How much faith do we need for God to answer our prayers? How much faith is enough?
This morning I was reading Luke 8 when I came across the account of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter. (The story is also told in Mark 5.) If you remember, Jairus comes and begs Jesus to come save his dying child. On the way, Jesus is touched by a woman with an issue of blood, and she is healed. Jesus tells her, “Daughter your faith has healed you.”
Then they continue to Jairus’ house. Servants come to tell them it’s hopeless, that the girl is dead. Jesus tells them to “just believe, and she will be healed.” Then He goes to the house and raises her from the dead. The parents are astonished.
When reading this account, the main thing that jumped out at me was faith. What does Jesus tell the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years? That her faith had healed her. What does He tell the Jairus? To have faith and his daughter would be healed. Jairus must have had faith to begin with, since he went to the trouble to find Jesus and beg Him to come. But, hearing that his daughter is dead, how much faith did he have left?
Not much. In verse 56, Luke tells us that the parents were astonished. Astonished. If they had really believed that Jesus could do it, they might have been joyful, grateful, or relieved. But “astonished” implies that they didn’t expect a miracle.
Yet God answered their prayers for healing.
How much faith do we need for God to answer our prayers? Just a mustard seed’s worth.