So last night we had our monthly Healing Service at Good Shepherd.
And in this particular season of our church’s life — reaching the culmination of our Beyond Capital Project — it was tempting to call it off. Or at least postpone it.
But we didn’t. We had our typically intimate, reverent, painful, and poignant time together. And it gave me pause to consider and then articulate: why do we have these services in the first place?
So here they are: the top five reasons why we at Good Shepherd have healing services:
1. People Need Healing. This may seem obvious, but it bears mention. The people who come to our healing services have the typical array of physical maladies you’d expect, ranging from injured shoulders to cancer-ravaged lungs. But beyond those physical struggles, the people of this community are brave enough to trust our healing teams with bruised spirits, broken relationships, and battered souls. The healing we pray for ends up being holistic.
2. We Give The Holy Spirit Room To Run. I Corinthians 12:9 promises “to another [is given] gifts of healing by that one Spirit.” The focus there is not on the gifted person (that’s coming), but on the Giver himself. So if the Holy Spirit is in the business of bringing his healing to the gathered community, we need to give him the space to operate. As we say at every gathering: “Don’t wait for a special person to pray for you tonight. We don’t have celebrity pray-ers. The Holy Spirit is the only celebrity we need.”
3. People Have Gifts. I told you this one was coming. I Corinthians 12 isn’t merely describing an ancient church; it’s heralding today’s reality. We have people in our church who have the Spirit-inspired gift of praying for people with laying on of hands . . . and healing happens. For some people, that sounds almost kooky. For others, who have experienced it personally, it resonates with both power and beauty.
4. It’s Biblically Obedient. Since James was Jesus’ brother, we ought to listen to him, right? Here’s James 5:14: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” And that’s what we do, oil included.
5. There’s The Personal Piece. Some of you know that when I was 22 and a senior in college, a shoulder injury threatened to end my tennis playing days prematurely. When the doctors suggested surgery — which would have ended my final season before it began — I went to a fellow student whom I knew prayed for healing. He laid his hands on my shoulder and as he praised the name of Jesus, I felt an unmistakable surge of divine electricity enter my body. And . . . I’m now 53 and never had that shoulder surgery. I have come to believe that in those prayers God not only healed my body, but imparted the gift of healing to me as well. So if I serve a church and we don’t offer special gatherings for healing, that is somehow disobedient to the call and the gifts God has given me.