Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Time We Have Left

There is one prayer meeting, and I have been to few, that really sticks out in my mind. I suppose that if I could describe it in one word it would have to be “right”. There was no hype about anything, no whipping up emotions. It could have been a departmental meeting I was at. It was about conducting business…business in the heavenlies!

What happened was that there was a list, an agenda, if you will. They would take an item from the agenda, and then pray about it. They would get passionate in their prayers, but then, during a natural lull, someone would ask, “What do you think God is saying about this?”

They would be quiet for a while, and then someone would give insight into what they thought God was saying, and then they would all begin to pray again, taking a slightly different direction or focus. At the next lull, it would happen all over again, someone asking what God was saying, the silence, the insight, they continued prayer in the slightly different direction.

It was like correcting the cannon direction in a war. Moving it slightly to the left, or the right, or upwards, or downwards.

Eventually they reach a point where there was nothing left that needed to be said and move on to the next item. It was not your run of the mill, predictable prayer meeting, and you really felt that you were conducting holy business. No words were wasted. There were no long stretches of silence, but nothing said was irrelevant or waffle.

I suppose that to do that you would have to trust the sensitivity of the people involved in the praying. I am not sure that I would trust myself that much!

They came to one item which involved a young boy diagnosed with cancer.

They began praying fervently for God’s intervention and his healing touch. I am sure you can supply the words! They were looking for the cancer to be stopped in its tracks, for tests to come back clear.

The lull came, along with the question, “What do you think God is saying about this?” The answer supplied was that the boy was not going to recover. There wasn’t a day of recovery written in his book.

My jaw dropped! I thought that it was a given that God healed. You prayed for healing, sometimes you got it, sometimes you didn’t.

The nature of the prayers changed dramatically. The prayers were about comfort, and strength, and inner healing for the boy and his family through the time ahead. This was not a demonstration of a lack of faith, but a response to a word of knowledge.

I learned something about praying that night. It is not just what you say that counts, but what you hear from God. Too often I am more concerned about what I say on the matter rather than what God has to say on the matter.

There have been times when I have shared with friends that my brother is dying of cancer. There have been some that have not known what to say. There have been others who have been quick to testify of other people they have known who have been diagnosed with cancer, given months to live, been prayed for and then in a subsequent test, there is no sign of the tumours.

I prayed a lot for the recovery of my sister when she was unwell. I rebuked the illness. I found words in my daily readings that built up my faith. The times when I felt faithless I felt that I was letting her down, or letting God down, or just plain jinxing her recovery. So much energy expended and she passed away. I wouldn’t say that I stopped believing in God, but I was wary.

I should have spent more time asking the question, “What do you think God is saying about this?” rather than just presuming the given that God healed, that you prayed for healing, sometimes you got it, sometimes you didn’t.

I spoke to a work colleague yesterday about my brother’s diagnosis. It is cancer, in its later stages, inoperable, terminal, with a six month use-by date. My colleague’s response was to ask what my brother intended to do with the time left to him.

I had been so focussed on praying for healing, or praying for salvation, so that if the healing doesn’t happen at least he gets to go to heaven.

Inside of the question of what my brother is going to do with the time left to him, comes another question.

What am I going to do with the time that I have left with him?

I want to enjoy his company, share a tinnie or two, to laugh with him, to cry with him, to tell him funny jokes, to sit on the terrace and watch the sun go down of an evening!

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