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The Right Prayer Partner

This is an extremely important, but controversial issue. Sometimes people aren't healed because the right faith-filled person did not prayer for the answer to the need in question. Here is the first of many instructive examples that illustrate the need for reflection on precisely what is the ideal state of consciousness "to get the job done."

(1) Anglican mystic, Agnes Sanford, has written several books on prayer and spirituality. In her classic, "The Healing Light," she tells the story of her dying baby grandson. Doctors had doomed the baby to imminent death. She was caring for the boy and organized prayer vigils to pray for healing--to no effect. She prayed constantly for healing without success. Then one day, a young first-year Bible school student dropped by, saying, "I heard you have a dying baby here and I've come to pray for his healing." Agnes said she felt indignant at his presumption. Didn't he realize that she was an expert on prayer and that the room was prayer-saturated? The arrogance of this inexperienced young man! But she couldn't bring herself to deny his request; so she grudgingly complied. She watched as he picked up the baby with joy radiating from his face as he lovingly prayed for the boy's recovery. She saw the baby gloriously healed before her very eyes, and was properly humbled by the realization that this young man was the right person at that time to serve as God's instrument of healing.

Agnes, was too ego-invested and too agitated to be God's instrument of healing in this case, and the Bible school student's calm divinely instilled confidence was exactly what God needed to channel full healing. Such anecdotes could be multiplied. Agnes's humbling experience raises that question of the criteria God uses to determine "the right intercessor."

(2) Dave is in our small prayer group, He suffered from a massive blood clot that extended from his ankle to his groin. Doctors expressed the hope that this clot would eventually calcify, removing the risk to his heart. But Dave was advised to limit his movements due to the danger of a piece of clot breaking off and going to his heart or brain. Despite the fact the he was in great pain, he generally ignored this medical advice. Dave and his wife Patty's prayers did nothing to change his condition.

Then one day they ate at Mavericks, a restaurant I can see from my residence. An unknown young couple approached their table, asking, "I hope you don't mind my asking, but do you have a serious physical condition that needs prayer?" Dave was initially taken aback at this intrusion, especially with other customers overhearing the question. Though a tad embarrassed, he told them about the massive clot. They nodded relief, and felt that the "word of knowledge" they had clairvoyantly received was confirmed. Then the couple asked if Dave wanted prayer for his condition. He consented, but was again taken aback, when they prayed loudly for his healing. It turns out the couple were young missionaries about to leave for some African country.

Subsequent X-rays confirmed that Dave was completely healed. Dave realizes he would never have been healed unless God brought the right prayer partners. Nor would he have been healed if his pride prompted him to decline their request to pray for him. So this healing provides a great parallel to Agnes's dilemma at the presumptuous Bible school student's request. Had her pride promoted her to decline the eager young man's offer of prayer, her grandson would in my view never have been healed.

The Bible teaches that there are right and wrong ways to pray, i. e. prayer principles that facilitate a favorable divine intervention and attitudes that inhibit the power of prayer. So here is the giant pink elephant in the church, the question that would be insensitive and inappropriate to ask a seriously ill person: Are some people dead who would be alive if they had either prayed in faith or received prayer from "the right" prayer partners?

Other faith lessons from such testimonies? (1) As in Agnes's case, true humility is a great asset to effective faith. (2) Real faith takes risks, risks I would typically lack the confidence to take. I would have been more polite and prayed quietly--and my prayer would have had no effect. I would have been hedging my bets to prevent myself from looking really bad! I later learned that gifted faith healers do not pray softly in situations like that, because they want the healings to serve as a witness to God's power. (3) The younger generation is jumping out of the windows of mainline churches, because these churches are "holding to the outward form of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid them (2 Timothy 3:5)!" Thus, Paul says of his rivals: "I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people, but their power. For the kingdom of God depends not on talk, but on power. (1 Corinthians 4:19-20)."

The answer would be how to pray spiritually , why you pray and which God do you send your pray
(3) Jack Deere was a NT professor at Dallas Seminary and an elder in his church. A well educated female church member was severely depressed and went to Jack and the elders for prayer. They dutifully prayed, but to my effect. Meanwhile, a psychiatrist, Dr. John White, was about to come as a guest speaker to Jack's church. When the church learned that he had recently become charismatic, they debated whether they should disinvite him! But they let him come and speak. After Dr. White's sermon, the severely depressed woman approached him to request prayer for her severe depression. Dr. White quickly discerned that her depression was caused by an oppressive evil spirit. He quietly rebuked the spirit and set her free! When Jack Deere saw how much more effective Dr. White's prayer was than the prayers of his board of elders, he was devastated. The end result was a conversion to Pentecostal/ charismatic spirituality and an experience of Spirit baptism, complete with the gift of tongues. In this case, Dr. White was the right prayer partner because he was Spirit-filled and thus able to exercise the gift of discernment on the woman's true spiritual condition.

(4) When I was a pastor in NY state, Austin was a quiet teenager who avoided my many discussions on paranormal incidents with his parents. What we didn't know was that Austin had become addicted to certain prescription drugs and had later fathered a child out of wedlock. Then one day, he accepted his friends' dare to go see the movie "Paranormal." Austin was not the horror movie type and it frightened him badly. Soon thereafter, he began to see lights in his closet in his blackened room. He tried to ignore this, but soon psychokinetic experiences began to terrorize him. E.g. His blankets would suddenly be ripped off his bed by an unseen hand. Finally, in desperation he confessed all to his parents.

They invited 2 charismatic Christians who supposedly specialized in deliverance ministry to bless their house and exorcise any demonic presence. This had no effect and the paranormal manifestations continued relentlessly. Then in desperation, the parents called the Catholic church. This step was hard for them because they were not pro-Catholic by any means. The bishop sent a gentle Nigerian priest who, with no histrionics, quietly took command of the nasty spirit presence and successfully exorcised the house. There were no more paranormal manifestations. This Nigerian apparently had had prior experience with African witch doctors (shamans).

I learned about this and met Austin's baby son, when I was asked to return to New York state to perform the wedding ceremony for Austin's brother. I like to share this story with anti-Catholic charismatics who seem to think they have a monopoly on deliverance ministry. Again, the right prayer partner proved decisive.

I am known around here as a debunker of alleged possession cases, because I have had to deal with the harm done by wannabe exorcists who treat ordinary psychopathology and mental illness as cases of possession. Real possession cases are rare and every step must first be taken to find alternative explanations of the aberrant behavior and phenomena. Still, my family has encountered and dealt with a couple of dramatic possession cases in a convincing way, but only a couple in my lifetime. Again, the right prayer partner was essential.

5) I met a remarkable 90-year-old widow during the year I spent at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. Howard Durfee, the former captain of the Harvard wrestling team, invited me to join a dozen other seminarians to listen to another of her talks in her home. I was curious as to why these athletic young guys would want to spent their time with an elderly lady. I soon found out why.

To be in Mrs. Good's presence was to be drenched in the presence of God! She would regale us like this: "You young guys think nothing of staying up until 2 AM with your pretty girlfriends, but would you give God an hour of your time on your knees? Oh no!" The guys shot wicked grins at each other! What made her the way she was?

As a younger widow, she visited a Methodist church to hear an unknown young preacher. She left the service unimpressed, but as she was driving home, she recounts this Spirit-inspired inner dialogue: "What did you think of that preacher?" Mrs. Good: "Nothing special!" The Lord: "You may not think much of him, but I'm going to use him more powerfully than any American I've ever used; and I want you to dedicate your life to being his prayer partner." Mrs. Good dutifully obeyed this inner prompting, spending hours in intercessory prayer for him; and within just a few months, Billy Graham progressed from a small time preacher to an evangelist who attracted 100,000+ to his meetings. Billy got wind of her prayer ministry and honored her by having her on the platform in one of his campaign meetings.


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