"And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid hands on him and healed him. After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed." Acts 28: 8-10
Three of the lasting memories I have of two years in East Africa are my bouts with malaria. The first time I came down with malaria, I was discovered by another missionary, Eucled Moore.
When I had not been heard from for a couple of days, Eucled came by to check on me. When I heard him at the door, I couldn't get up and answer his call. Somehow he broke in, and found me in a pretty pitiful state.
As a seasoned missionary, Eucled knew immediately what I had. His first words were, "Malaria, you feel like you're going to have to die to get better." I had been down for three days with raging fever, and body-shaking, bone-aching waves of chills. The accompanying dysentery was epic. I was dehydrated, hallucinating, and disoriented. All in all, another day in paradise. Thanks for stopping by, Eucled. You saved my life. Seriously, thanks.
When Paul walked into the home of Publius, he probably found his father suffering from malaria. The symptoms sound very similar. In the first century, the world was a long way from finding a cure for this horrible disease, and yet, as "it happened", God had a plan. It began with prayer. His plans always do.
"Paul went in to see him, and after he had prayed, he laid hands on him and healed him." v. 8
Before John Maxwell was a well-known leadership spokesperson, he pastored a church in California. In 1985, I attended a small conference in Arizona, where he spoke a few times to a group of about 30 pastors. He introduced to us his concept of leadership, as coins in our pockets. To summarize, a pastor has a certain amount of coins when he assumes the position at a church, and must spend them wisely. More coins are added, as confidence grows in a pastor's leadership ability. For instance, if a pastor goes to see a person in the hospital, they get a coin. If they pray for the person, they receive another coin. If the person they pray for gets well, they get A LOT of coins. You get the picture. There is a great deal of truth to this. But I digress.
Paul had already proven his leadership ability to the Roman Centurion, by guiding the shipwrecked passengers to the right beach. He had also survived a deadly bite from a viper. This caught the attention of the islanders. When he prayed for the father of Publius, and then he was healed, the people responded with respect and resources. Paul had some coins in his pocket, and was was about to invest them.
Paul went to see a very sick man, but before he laid his hands on him, he prayed. Praying people have a connection with the healing hand of The Spirit of the Risen Christ.
Healing and praying may not walk hand in hand, but they are close enough to be considered as inseparable. In God's plan, praying precedes healing, and healing follows praying. Praying is about connecting with The Source of healing, The Spirit of The Risen Christ.
Note to self: Never detour from consistent companionship with The Spirit of The Risen Christ. This is an arrogance that leads to believing the hand that touches is The Hand who heals. All healing is divine. Don't be confused. By praying, you are an instrument in the hand of God, not the healing hand of God. There is a big difference.
Praying pastors set the bar for praying churches. Believing prayer doesn't always result in a person being physically healed, but it is essential to the spiritual health of every believer. Praying without believing, is like breathing, without inhaling. It is simply not life-giving or death-defying.
Paul began by praying, and believing God is able to heal. He put himself in God's hands to be an instrument of healing, but his believing was not based on his ability to heal. It rested on God's ability. Prayer is the means by which a praying person offers their availability to God, not their ability.
The result of one man being healed, from a crippling disease, released great respect and generous resources from the people of Malta. There is simply nothing like answered prayer, to transform people existing on the beach of the Dead Sea, into rivers of living water.
Praying invites an invasion of Heaven into an impossible crisis, or an intimidating set of circumstances. How? Believing prayer focuses on connecting Heaven and earth.
Believing prayer makes a difference. It won't always make a name for the person doing the praying, but it will always move Heaven to earth. Don't take my word for it. Others have said this before.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." - Jesus (Matthew 6:10)
"Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask. - Billy Graham
Believing prayer is the means by which God intends to turn the impossible into the HIMpossible. It is based upon an abandonment of arrogance or belief in one's own ability. It is strengthened by an expansion of dependence on the availability of God. Invite Heaven to invade the impossible. Come what may...TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!