Editors Note: The three previous article spoke of Lent as a time to “open wide our hearts to Christ”, a time “to listen to God’s voice”, and a time “to repent in words and actions.” This article will look at Lent as a grace-filled time to pray for miracles — small ones and big ones.
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18).
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it (John 14:12-14).
My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11).
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).
Francis MacNutt, in his book, Healing, tells of a time he spoke at a conference of priests at Blue Cloud Abbey in Watertown, South Dakota. During his talk to 45 priests, a group of Native Americans spoke to them as well. They spoke of the many miracles of healing that were performed through prayer in their small prayer group. One of them, an Indian man, asked these questions of the priests: “Now who likes Jesus?” All the priests raised their hands. “How many of you ever heal anybody through prayer?” Then only about two hands went up. Then he asked his third question: ‘How come you know Jesus and you no heal nobody?” There was dead silence.
When MacNutt, the founder of Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville, FL, speaks at a Catholic Church, he will often ask the audience for a show of hands to this question: “How many of you can remember your father praying with you for your healing when you were sick as a child?” Usually this is about three percent of the audience. For mothers, it is a little better — about twenty percent. He has asked this question of thousands, so his sample is not small (from The Practice of Healing Prayer).
During Lent our emphasis is on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, as we look forward to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. So let’s talk about praying for miracles. We know they were a regular part of Jesus’ ministry, and he even promised that those who believe (that includes you and me) would perform great signs of power (Mark 16:16-17). And he promised also that we would do even greater things than he did as we pray (John 14:12-14). So why don’t we see more miracles — either in the Church or in our own lives?
Do you remember how, when Jesus visited his hometown of Nazareth, he was unable to perform many miracles because of the people’s lack of faith (Mark 6:1-6)? It’s not the only factor, but perhaps it should lead us to examine our own faith to see how deeply we trust in God’s power, and in the power of prayer.
Paul tells the Corinthians that when he came to them, he didn’t rely on eloquence or persuasive words but on heavenly power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Of course, Paul preached and reasoned with them. Of course he encouraged them to search the Scriptures. But at the same time, he made sure that he left room for God to work miracles in their lives. He wanted the Corinthians to experience the power of God so that their faith would be dynamic, life-changing, and full.
Let’s challenge our thinking today. Yes, it is true that there is a great mystery associated with praying for miracles (such as healing), and we don’t know the final outcome of our prayers, unless God chooses to reveal it to us. But we know God loves us, and he wants to work wonders in us and around us. So let’s step out in faith. Let’s make it a normal part of our faith to pray for miracles. We can start small, maybe by praying for a parking space or good weather. We can pray that our children do well on a test at school or that a meeting at work will go well. As our confidence grows, we can pray that God will help repair a wounded relationship, heal a friend who is sick, or reveal his great love to a loved one who has drifted far from the Lord. How about praying for all our Christmas and Easter Catholic relatives, that they would be so touched by the Easter Mass that they would give their lives to Christ and return to his Church. All we have to do is have faith and trust in God, and begin to pray. Let’s leave it up to our Heavenly Father to take care of the rest.
Jesus told us to ask and seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). So let’s knock on his door every day through prayer. He wants to give us good things, if only we will ask and believe (7:11)!
“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! Increase my faith in your great love for me and those I pray with and for.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to use material in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
[Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. What is your reaction to the story of the three Native Americans at the beginning of the article? How would you have answered the Indian man’s questions?
3. Though an unscientific survey by Francis MacNutt, were you surprised at how few Catholics had experienced being prayed to be healed by their fathers and mothers? How often do you pray directly over your children or others for healing or other needs? Do you think you should pray even more? Why or why not?
4. In the article, we here these words: “Yes, it is true that there is a great mystery associated with praying for miracles (such as healing), and we don’t know the final outcome of our prayers, unless God chooses to reveal it to us. But we know God loves us, and he wants to work wonders in us and around us. So let’s step out in faith. Let’s make it a normal part of our faith to pray for miracles.” Are you willing to “step out in faith” and do this? Why or why not?
5. The article goes on to give some examples of the small and big miracles we can pray for. Which of these have you prayed for in the past? Which ones will you pray for now? What other small or big miracles do you feel lead to pray for as well?
6. The article ends with these words: “Jesus told us to ask and seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). So let’s knock on his door every day through prayer. He wants to give us good things, if only we will ask and believe (7:11)!” Take some time now to pray that the Lord would increase your faith in his great love for you and for all those for whom you pray, and that he would touch in some way everyone you pray with and for. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.