A while back, I watched a five-year old boy drag his aunt back into our church building after the service because he felt he was supposed to pray for a lady with a cast on her leg. He went over to the lady, prayed a one sentence prayer, and with a look of total satisfaction, promptly left with his aunt, never to be seen again (he lives in another state.)
The next week I noticed that this woman didn’t have a cast on her leg. I asked her why and she said when the boy prayed it began to itch, so she went to the doctor and found out he didn’t need it anymore because her leg wasn’t broken.
I use this story as an illustration of some things I’ve learned on my journey in the three realms I talked about last time. If you haven’t read what I wrote about the three realms, I suggest you do so first because it lays a foundation for what I want to say here (and in future posts).
As I said before, when it comes to walking in the rest of God, I’m very much at the consciously-incompetent stage. In other words, I’m growing in my understanding of what I’m not yet walking in! It’s like God has opened up a whole new world in Him that I’m totally unfamiliar with, even though I’ve been walking with Him for 42 years.
In my experience, I’ve prayed a quick prayer for someone with stage-four cancer who got healed, and prayed fervently for another not as far along who died. I’ve also seen Jesus totally change a person’s life in moments (see post, “Whom the Son Sets Free“). In my successes, I confess I felt more more like a witness than the minister.
What I’ve found from all of this is that none of these miraculous encounters had anything to do with my knowledge of how to pray, the forcefulness of my tone, or even my dogged determination. Looking back at it now, I probably got in the way of what God was doing more than I was helpful. But He was very gracious to me in all cases, and He comforted me in my many tears over the heartbreaking failures.
What I’m discovering is that I can only believe what God has already done in Christ. I can only receive what is freely given. And this still boggles my analytical mind.
The best way to explain the difference is to recall a scene from the Matrix movie where the young boy is showing Neo how to bend spoons.
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
We can learn something helpful from this dialogue. When we live from the first and second realms, we believe we should pray real hard for people (try to “bend the spoon.”) We’re trying to use our willpower (we might call “faith”) to change something in the earthly realm (first realm). If God has given us the gift of healing or we believe in divine healing (second realm), we may have some success, but we’re still not doing it like Jesus.
Ultimately, it’s not about the strength of our faith determination, or even mind over matter. It’s about seeing things from a heavenly worldview, where we’re seated in Christ right now, where there is no sickness or injury.
To use “spoon boy” as an analogy, God is not wanting us to try to bend “spoons,” He’s bending us! He’s changing what’s going on within us so that we can see things the way He sees them.
He’s showing us that it’s not at all about figuring out how to make our prayers work; it’s about living from a place of divine fruitfulness in His love, where “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” is a matter of course because we have the Father’s heart (see John 15:5-12).
This is what praying from a place of rest looks like.