There were many individuals and congregations that prayed for Jesse when he was sick. We even had the elders of our church anoint him with oil and pray over him when he was in critical care.
A friend suggested we invite a speaker who was in the area to pray over Jesse. Apparently, this godly man was known for having his prayers of healing answered quite often. We invited him and he did come.
Although, God did not answer our prayer for healing the way we would have wished, I will always remember the way that man of God prayed. He asked God to heal Jesse. Period. Now, those were not his exact words, but they capture the essence of his prayer. That prayer meant so much to Anna and me.
I don’t know how all those people prayed for Jesse privately, but this man’s prayer stood out from the crowd of public prayer, that we heard, for two reasons. One, it was a simple prayer of faith. Two, it was exactly what we and Jesse had asked for.
Many times we pray a prayer of faith (I include myself here as well) that God would do such and such a thing. Then, we annul the prayer of faith by adding something like “if it be your will.” Sometimes, we even begin our prayer with a similar phrase. I wonder, do we think that we are leaving God a way out to save His reputation in case He doesn’t answer our prayer the way we hoped. Or, do we do it because we truly think God either can’t or won’t answer our prayer. Do we do it to mask our own unbelief?
God is perfectly capable of taking care of His own reputation. He doesn’t need our help with that. We might ask for healing and then our loved one dies. This happened with Jesse. If something is not God’s will, He can say no. It does not tarnish His reputation. It establishes His sovereignty. It does not mean He does not love us. It means He knows better than us. To this day, I do not understand why God did not answer our prayers to take Jesse home with us, but I trust, by faith, that one day it will be made clear to me.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers to the questions I am raising, but I do have a suggestion in regards to praying for others in times of sickness. Ask them how you can pray for them or their loved one, and then do it that way. If they ask for healing, pray for healing. If they ask for grace to sustain them, pray for grace to sustain them. If they ask for the grace to die, then do that. You get the idea. Leave the results to God.
Peter Wiebe 2013