I’ve had the impression over the last several days that I need to pray for my daughter. To be more specific, that I need to sit beside her, place my hands tenderly on her head and her chest, and quietly, expectantly, seek God’s healing for her body.
I’ve wondered why the impression has been stronger here recently.
Is it because I’ve drifted away from more intentional times of prayer with her like this and I feel guilty?
Is it because I believe that God’s power makes a real, fundamental difference in people’s bodies, and Hannah has some areas of great concern?
Most certainly; always this.
Or is it because God wants to use me to do something more powerful in Hannah than in normal times of healing?
Am I being led to obediently pray out of respect for the leadership of the Spirit in this specific circumstance?
Questions like these continue to be important for me in my life, especially as I’ve recently been focusing more on the leadership of the Spirit in how I go about my day:
As I walk or bike to teach at Withrow High and pass people along the way, how do I bless them, hold them in the love of God?
As I observe students acting differently today then yesterday, how can I quietly pray for them, knowing they have unique challenges at home and outside of school that impact who they are at school?
As I walk through Kroger, how might I be led to pray for the people in my aisle, in my checkout line?
These questions are more broad, overarching life questions that sharpen my focus on listening and obediently praying. These questions help me to to practically, expectantly go through my day turning my attention toward God. They help me to abandon my functional atheism that I am so familiar with to live as though there is a living God who needs me to step up and serve Him so that certain things can get done in the world. I have a small, but essential role to play in God’s expanding kingdom in this world.
I find great meaning in those broad, overarching life questions.
But this nagging feeling that I needed to pray for Hannah? I came to the conclusion this was not a broad, overarching reminder that as a father I should pray for my daughter. I felt this needed to be done as soon as possible. Last night I returned from work at Cracker Barrel, communicated to Bethany that this was my impression, and later in the evening, I went upstairs by Hannah’s bed, and began to pray. After about a minute, nodding off twice, and my arm falling asleep from the bed railing, I realized then wasn’t maybe the appropriate time, promised God I would pray in the morning, and fell asleep.
This morning, as Bethany prepared to worship with our church family, since this was my morning to stay home with Hannah, I realized that with coffee in hand and a night of sleep behind me, I was more ready than ever to obediently say “Yes” to God and pray with Hannah.
While we waited for Bethany to leave, I popped in a DVD of Francis MacNutt I wanted to review for our upcoming healing prayer group in our church. Francis spoke about “Baptism in the Spirit” with some bracing words about its importance in our life. I was reminded of my own experience of baptism as a teenager; how God showed up that day in a unique way. Francis reminded listeners that the baptism of the Spirit, as Peter preached, empowers us to “go around doing good and healing all who (are) under the power of the devil.” (Acts 10:38) In short, instead of standing at a distance and pointing out that Jesus did crazy things, we are to, obediently, seek to do the same things he did.
I was reminded by Francis to be courageous, step out, and do what Jesus did because that is what he expected his disciples to do. Period.
What better opportunity to practice than with my daughter!
So I brought Hannah up to the bedroom, laid her down on Bethany’s side of the bed, placed a hand on top of her head, another on her chest, and began to pray for her. Like the MacNutts suggest, I prayed with my eyes open; communicating the love of God in meeting the gaze of Hannah, and looking for ways Hannah was responding to prayer.
I noticed after a bit that Hannah’s demeanor was changing; that she was smiling much more broadly, meeting my gaze and holding it for long stretches of time.
As I continued to pray specifically for the development of her lungs, the strengthening of her esophageal muscles, and the removal of psychological barriers to eating, she grasped my hand on her chest, lifted it up to play with, and I could feel her hands shaking.
As our prayer progressed, Hannah’s gaze, instead of looking directly at me, or wandering around the room, seemed to consciously and specifically focus in one specific area off to the side and behind me. I looked behind, and followed her gaze to see it was just a blank piece of ceiling. Yet she seemed to be interactive with her gaze, smiling and showing some form of acknowledgment of something. Because she was peaceful and happy in this, I welcomed it, believing God was comforting her with some sort of vision, remembrance, or an angel. I rejoiced that children in their simple acceptance can lead adults to abandon supposed maturity and turn to God like a child. I acknowledged I let so much stuff get in the way and let Hannah lead me to enjoying the presence of God.
As I prayed with Hannah this morning, I felt noticeably lighter.
I felt that God was encouraging me for having responded obediently (however slowly) to praying for Hannah.
I was glad for this quality, loving time I could share as a father with my daughter.
I thanked God that I could participate in my small way in “doing good and healing all” as Jesus did.
And I prayed that the Holy Spirit would continue to move in power in Hannah in the specific ways that I asked.
I felt honored to collaborate, to work together, with God for Hannah’s health and wellbeing.
Thank you, God.