(Adapted from a sermon preached at Winter Park, Florida on Sunday 21 October 2012)
We are looking at the words from our Gospel passage. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” (36) And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” What a probing question from Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Fifty two years. That’s how long the Wednesday night Healing Service in the Anglican Cathedral in Sydney has been going. Almost every Wednesday night for 52 years. In that time, thousands of healings have taken place. During the services we asked people to put up their hands if they needed prayer for any need they had. Some of our pray-ers would go to those people in the seats and ask them this question. “What do you want the Lord to do for you?” (The same sort of words Jesus used in this gospel passage.) They would tell us and we would pray according to their expressed needs.
I’d like to share just a couple of those healings that remind us that God brings His healings in His way, in His time, to His glory.
1). THE WIFE A OF A MEDICAL SPECIALIST. At the Wednesday night Healing Service
The first story is about the wife of a leading surgeon. She had cancer of the brain. He had been given 2 months off to spend with his wife before she passed away. It was to help prepare him and their 2 young boys for life without her. He brought his wife to our Healing service in the Cathedral. On the first night we prayed for her she was no more than a vegetable having been assisted into the Cathedral for the service. She looked down for the whole service. The next Wednesday night they attended for the second (and last time). She actually looked up at us as we prayed over her.
The weeks went on and I was saddened to hear after a couple of months that she had passed away. The following Wednesday I noticed the doctor in the Healing service. At the end of the service I went to see him to express my condolences. I was surprised when he said to me, “Jim, did you know she was healed?” I must have looked utterly shocked. You know that some people can be in denial. But here was a medical specialist telling me that his wife had been healed and I knew she had just been buried. He must have seen my shocked expression. He smiled and said “Jim, let me tell you what happened after that second healing service when you prayed for my wife.”
He told me the story. They went home from the service. It seemed as though nothing much had happened. The next morning he woke to find his wife smiling beside him. She was as she had always been, before the cancer took hold of her mind. For the next few weeks she was the wife and lover she had always been to him. She was the beautiful loving mother that she had always been to their 2 young boys. For those 2 months it was as though there was nothing wrong with her. They had the time to enjoy trips and picnics and had a wonderful time together as a family.
At the end of those 2 months, he woke one morning to find his wife dead in bed besides him. He said to me, “But Jim she was healed. She was wonderfully healed for those 2 months. What happened was a miracle. It just can’t happen medically. I lived with a miracle for all those weeks. The last memory I have of my wife is of a woman who loved me deeply. The last memories our boys have of their mother, are of a mother who was fun to be with. A loving mother who loved them so deeply over those 2 months. I will always be grateful to God for the healing He gave to my wife during that time. It was a miracle. He saw it as time they were given together when it seemed impossible for anything good to happen in their situation.
2). A DYING BABY. At Our Healing Ministry Centre In Inner Sydney.
This second incident happened at our Healing Ministry Centre in inner Sydney, just a few kilometres from the Cathedral. About 9 pm one evening there was a knock at a side door that was rarely used. My wife Carole and I were in the room with the Manager and Assistant Manager of our Healing Centre. We opened the door to find a young couple holding a tiny baby that was only hours or days old. They had been told by the specialists at one of our major children’s hospitals that the child could not survive. It would be dead within hours. They told us that they had been given special permission to bring the baby to our Healing Ministry Centre to receive prayer. They came immediately without being able to contact us.
So here was the scene. Four of us in the room with the parents, and a child who would be dead in a few hours. What do you do in such a case? PRAY! But what to pray? For comfort for the parents or healing for the child? Again it was a case of “What do you want the Lord to do for you?” Their answer was, “We want Him to heal our son.”
We prayed over the little baby asking that God would touch the child in His love and power. Then they left, going out through the same side door to take the child back to the hospital. We heard nothing more. We often talked among ourselves over the following years about what a strange occurrence it was. We wondered what had happened to the parents and the baby.
About 10 years later there was a knock on the front door of our Healing Ministry Centre. We opened it to find a young couple standing there. The man said, “Do you mind if we come in and talk to you for a moment?” When we were seated inside the fellow asked, “Do you remember us?” We had to say, “Well not really? Were you guests here once?” She said, “No, but can you remember the night we knocked on that side door because our baby was about to die?” Of course it all flooded back into our memories. Then pointing to the young 10 year old boy who was with them, she said, “Well, here he is!” He didn’t die. He has no problems at all since that night you all prayed for him. We just wanted to come back to thank you all for praying for him. God answered our prayers. We were so grateful to God for saving our son’s life that we have now entered into full-time Christian ministry. We are now both Pastors in a Pentecostal church.” 10 years of wondering were solved as they gave testimony to the grace and power of God in saving the life of their child.
The thing we have learned in more than 50 years in the Healing Ministry is that God loves to answer His children’s prayers. As Jesus promised in John 14:13-14, (13) WHATEVER you ask in my name, THIS I WILL DO, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.(14) If you ask me ANYTHING in my name, I WILL DO IT. But He does it in His own way and in His time. We need to pray that we will be able to recognise how He brings the answer.
TODAY is another day in which we can know His love and power in our own lives. The Risen Jesus stands among us. As Jesus promised, “Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in My name, there am I in their midst,” Mat 18:20. He says to each and every one of us, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Do you want Him to do something about the (USA) nation that it may continue to be a nation whose motto is “In God we trust.” Then tell Him what you want. Do you want Him to do something about your children or grandchildren caught up in addiction to alcohol, drugs or sex. Tell Him what you want. Do you want Him to do something for you personally. Your illness or weakness? Your stress and anxieties? Your depression? Your own addiction? As we pray, tell Him what you would like Him to do for you. Then thank Him that He has heard your prayer and that He will bring His answer in His way and in His time and always to His glory.
Blog No. 098. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday 18th November 2012