Do You Want to Be Well…In Your Prayers

Do you want to be well? Jesus wants to know. He turns to some sister or brother. He asks, “Do you want to be… well?” He’s still asking us. Two weeks ago he asked, “Do you want to be well in your soul? It all begins there. Christ challenges us, for wellness’ sake, to stop holding onto the stuff that makes us ill in body, mind, soul. Christ leaves no doubt. We can choose/do change by opening ourselves to being born again, and from above. Radical forgiveness can transform us. “Forgive, as you have been forgiven.” (Rabbi Jesus) The cross lets us see what deep forgiveness looks like. (Rabbi Harold Kushner) “It means cleansing your soul of the bitterness of ‘what might have been, should have been, ‘didn’t have to happen.’ Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.’” It is more than exoneration. God in Christ has a better vision and version of us, if only we want to be well. He welcomes us to become “Leaves on the tree for the healing of the nations.” (Rev. 22) Last week, our youth helped us see how to become leaves for healing: making the world well, one household at a time. Wow! Today, Jesus comes to us again. Only this time he asks, “Do you want to be really well in your prayers?”

Prayer changes things/us. Make no mistake. But lots of us will have to become more well in our prayers. We’ll have to change our tune. Granted we’re not so blunt; many have way-better voices, but I wonder if this is not the prayer-song lots of us lift heavenward.

 

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

There’s my kids & spouse & car & house & friends, O Lord,

with them I don’t know just what to do.

So would you show me, would you tell me, would you take them, Lord,

I leave them here and now up to you!

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

When dejected & rejected & depressed, O Lord,

& feel I got my back to the wall,

Could you face me and embrace me with your arms, O Lord,

I ask you, “Just take care of it all.”

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

I ‘been lookin’, hopin’, sulkin’, mopin’ here, O Lord,

without the faith to walk in your way.

So could you sit me up & hurry up & save me, Lord

and do it by the end of the day!

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

It’s me, right here, O Lord, with stuff to do for you in my prayer.

 

© KMH, 9/21/07

 

We’ve all felt like this and let the Lord hear it from us in our own way.

Now, Jesus knows our hearts, his Scriptures, and the Way of God. He hopes and prays our prayers will be healed. “In your prayers, do you desire wellness?!” If so, watch how you walk, listen how you talk, catch hold of the feel of his hands on your wheel.

When you pray, watch how you walk if you wanna be healthy with heaven. Jesus says it so many times. Stories like the one about the self-righteous fellow and the confessing sinner. ‘Like the one about the pestering woman whose voice was so familiar God just had to hear her out and come to her aid. ‘Like the good Samaritan whose prayer was a kindness and the leper whose thanks, like his faith, made his prayers for wellness come true, body and soul. Jesus enacted his passion for prayer: constant words to heaven before working wonders; regular, frequent time apart for prayer. He spoke lovingly and often from the prophets, especially Isaiah. Surely, he knew the story of old King Hezekiah. The enemy, Assyria, was literally at the gate. Things looked grim. And here comes Isaiah to Hezekiah’s chamber with one more thing (you know the feeling), a word from God, “Get ready, Your Royalness, ‘cause you’re gonna die!” What happens next? The King just rolls over in bed. No show. A private moment with God. “’Remember O Lord, how I’ve walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart; I’ve done what is good in your sight.’ Hezekiah wept bitterly.” God heard his prayer, saw his tears, granted another 15 years.

All these lessons teach that prayer is as much a walk as a talk. If you sometimes feel your words aren’t workin’ with God, take a look where your feet are walkin’. Ask yourself if you’ve been keeping company with God. Now Isaiah/Jesus/I can tell ya: you can’t build up “points with God” by doing good, then cash’m in for some desired prayer request. But as with the king, and as with Christ, when you’ve walked near to Heaven, lived for love, the communication quickens. We learn better how and what to ask. And God knows our voice by heart! Ask 17-year-old Katie Fisher’s mom. Or Katie. Or Roger Wilson, the auctioneer. At the Madison County Junior Livestock auction, Katie, battling cancer, hoped to sell her lamb for just a little spending money. She looked forward to a nice return, but hated parting with the lamb. Roger hit on a godly idea. “We sort of let folks know that Katie had a situation.” He hoped that message would push the bidding up. The $2/lb. lamb sold for $11.50. But the buyer gave the lamb back for resale. Repeatedly, families bid up the price then, donated the lamb to be auctioned again, the crowd shouting, “Resell! Resell!” 36 times! The last buyer gave it back for good. Katie ended with $16,000+ for her medical bills, her lamb, and a lesson in what happens when prayers are lifted in the midst of a walk with God.

When you pray, watch how you talk if you wanna be healthy with heaven. Jesus says don’t make a show, not to others, not to God! Go into your room and shut the door, pray in secret. All this means is, let your speaking be entirely between you and God and no one else. So get to some place… literally, and in your mind/soul, where it’s just you and God-in-Christ-Jesus. Nothing and no one else present! And when God answers, you will know he answers you, personally, powerfully, specifically! No special words. No eloquence needed. Just heartfelt, heaven-trusted. That’s enough. Because, “Your Father [already] knows what you need before you ask.” Watch how you talk when you pray. Ask yourself three specific questions. 1) Who is in my prayers? Me, mine. Names I know. People I don’t. Jesus? Those he calls. Those who walk with him, those who don’t. This generation. The next? The wider the window, the deeper the wonders you and your prayers will witness. 2) How often do you hear from your heart, these words laid in God’s lap: please, thank you; yes, Lord, or, find another; for me, for them; help me, help us/them; praise you, Lord, Lord, bring your blessing; not my will, but yours.” 3) Are you listening?  Wellness in prayer reveals a roundness of hope. It’s inclusive over time. Me-itis is prayer’s most common ailment. Pray then like this, says Jesus: Our Father in heaven, hallowed thy name. [You don’t belong to me alone, but I to you alone. I praise you!] Thy Kingdom come, will be done, on earth as in heaven. [Align me/us with your purposes. We’re not an accident, we’re your project.] Give us this day our daily bread. [Please] Forgive us our sins, as we forgive. [This is a radical formula!] Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, [Guide me, guide us, share our walk] for thine is the Kingdom [It’s not all about me, I confess], and the power and the glory… [I trust you] forever [always, always, always]! Watch how you talk, and then listen for how God talks to you. No prayer is well that doesn’t listen. So linger. Amen is not 10-4! Stay tuned.

“In your prayers, do you desire wellness?!” If so, watch how you walk, listen how you talk, catch hold of the feel of his hands on your wheel. God has a direction for us. It can be tapped by prayer. Prayer stands between our wishes and God’s will, shaping our hopes and steering our course to God’s ends. And what will they look like? Jesus pictures a glorious feast. How might we pray to create this heaven on earth? At least one rabbinic/faith tradition tells this Christ-like story. God first makes hell visible to those who want to see. Surprise! A room filled with people at tables covered with wonderful food. Everyone has a knife and fork, but all are sobbing. In hell nobody's elbow bends; nobody can eat. God reveals heaven. People at tables covered with wonderful food. Knives and forks for all, there’s laughing and deep joy. But here too, nobody's elbow bends. God is asked, “What's the difference?” God answers, “Look carefully. In heaven we feed each other.” (Michael Gold on Yom Kippur 07, alt.)

Do you want to be well in your prayers? They change us, they change everything, you know. So, watch how you walk. Watch how you talk. Don’t take your hands off the wheel of your life, but catch the feel of his hands over yours. We’re heading for a banquet. A glorious feast, where we feed each other, as God in Christ is feeding us!

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