In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26).
In his teaching on prayer, Richard Foster encourages using our imagination when we pray. He wrote about a sick child with a dangerously high fever that would not break. Richard, a Pastor at the time, went to visit. In the child’s room, he encouraged the parents and the child’s siblings to close their eyes and imagine Jesus entering the room, looking upon the child with immense compassion, placing his hand on the child, and making him well. Later that night, the child’s fever finally broke. My last night at the hospital, around 3 am, I summoned my imagination as I prayed. I thought of a man in Scripture, an invalid in need of healing. He had been lying beside a pool known for its healing water for 38 years. A great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, and paralyzed came daily, but he had been unable to get in. “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:6-9, NIV) Lying on my hospital bed, I envisioned myself like the invalid, albeit in my bed for only a week. I imagined Jesus opening the door to my hospital room, coming in, and asking me, “Do you want to get well? “Of course,” I respond. “I’ve been trying to get well for the last two years. My doctors have tried everything, but I still can’t eat or drink." Jesus looked at me tenderly and placed his hand on my chest. I felt his power and believed he had healed me. He looked at me and said, “Get up and dressed. Call your family and go have a feast together.” Next, I remembered a paralytic in the gospels. He could hear the excitement. He may or may not have known Jesus had come to town. He lay helpless on his bed, as a huge crowd gathered in and around a nearby home to hear Jesus preach and be healed. Four of the man’s friends remembered their paralyzed friend. They went to his home, picked up his bed and brought him to Jesus. They could not get to him because of the crowd. Somehow, the friends got the man up on the roof, dug a hole through it, and lowered him to Jesus’ feet. When Jesus saw the friends’ faith, he forgave the paralytic and healed him. “So Jesus said to the man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!’" (Mark 2:10-12 NIV). I imagined myself as this man, not paralyzed but stuck on my bed and tethered to multiple IV lines. I’ve been in the hospital for a week and am not aware Jesus is a few blocks away at a nearby church preaching and healing. Suddenly my friends, overflowing with excitement, storm into my room. “Jesus is in Durham not far from here. He can heal you. We’re going to take you to him.” They disconnect the iv and feeding tube and help me into a wheelchair they commandeered on the way. We race down the hall, as the nurses watch in disbelief. Into the elevator, past security, out the front door of the hospital, and down the sidewalk a few blocks to the church. Crowds are pressing in, making it impossible to get in. Somehow my four friends find a way in through a rear entrance. Moments later I’m sitting beside Jesus. He sees my friends short of breath and full of faith. So impressed, Jesus heals me with just a word. He tells me to get up and go have something to eat with my friends. Lastly, I recalled a woman in the gospels who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. She was in a large, swelling crowd of people following Jesus and seeking healing. “She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “’If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’” Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” Mark 5:24-29 NIV She moved away, trying to be unnoticed, but Jesus had noticed her. He looks for her. Knowing in her heart that he’s pursuing her, she returns and falls to his feet. Trembling with fear, she tells Jesus everything. He responds with the utmost compassion. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:32-34). In my prayer, Jesus has made a surprise visit to the hospital. My nurse tells me he’s in the lobby. I’m desperate and searching for healing of my esophagus, so I can eat again. I’m hungry and dehydrated. I’m clinging to hope but fear I can’t go on much longer. It’s been two years and even the best physicians have yet to heal me. I believe Jesus can. I pull myself out of bed and unplug my IV lines. The elevators are packed, so I take the stairs. Weak from being in bed for many days, I slowly descend nine floors to the ground floor. I enter at the rear of the lobby. Crowds of people are spilling in and filling the space. I see Jesus' back and head towards him. I slide through the crowd, coming close enough to stretch out my arm and touch his robe. I feel his healing in my body.
The crowd pour past me pushing me away from Jesus. I take the stairs back to my room. Hours later, I’m lying in bed and believing Jesus healed me. There’s a knock at the door. “Come in,” I respond. To my surprise, Jesus enters the room. “David, I’ve been looking for you. Your faith has made you well. Go in peace and get something to eat! The gospels contain many more stories of Jesus healing the sick. Searching for and studying each will be beneficial. Find one you can identify with. In prayer, imagine Jesus healing you. Feel free to let your imagination run wild in prayer. The Holy Spirit will sanctify your imagination and help you pray. Envision encountering Jesus and him providing for your deepest longings. As you do, you will be blessed and encouraged. You may also receive the healing you imagined.
"When You Walk Into the Room" by Brian and Katie Torwalt is a powerful and unique declaration of faith. I hope you love it as much as I do.
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