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Published:March 10th, 2007 08:33 EST
Prayer Changes Things

Prayer Changes Things

By Rev. Leeman A. Place

I remember when I was growing up; my parents had this small sign hanging on the dining room wall, which read, Prayer Changes Things". It wasn`t until I was older and wiser that I realized the depth of its meaning. For most of my life, I have been asking myself, What does prayer change? How should we pray for change and what good can prayer really do? "

As a hospital chaplain, I`ve used prayer many times, at the patient`s request, to help patients with their illness or disease. Many times the prayers were very troubling because patients would ask me to pray for things, which I either didn`t believe or knew, were not achievable in their particular situation. It`s not a matter of belief for me but rather a matter of results.

After several years of postulating and trying to come up with a universal prayer for all faiths, I finally realized I was chasing the wrong end of the problem. You see, we all pray for the relief of the symptom, i.e.: disease or illness. In reality, we should pray for the deliverance from the source of the ailment. Many scientific studies show prayer can heal people in a number of circumstances. I believe this is the dilemma: We don`t know what to pray for nor how to pray for results. Let me state my premise: People pray for the wrong things. We pray for the relief of the symptom rather than the elimination of the problem source. "

The Bible is riddled with examples of God`s healing grace, or so it seems. What if I told you it was not God`s perfect will to heal us. This doesn`t sound like what we have heard in church or on TV from the evangelists. After years of Chaplain experience and observation of human nature, I have come to this realization and belief - God is committed to preventing us from causing our own problems. Allow me to sight a few examples.

First from the Old Testament

1) Exodus 15:26, If only you will obey the Lord your God . . . "

2) Deuteronomy26: 16, This day the Lord your God commands you to keep these statutes . . . "

3) Deuteronomy 28:58-61, If you do not observe and fulfill all the law written down in this book, if you do not revere this honored and dreaded name . . .  59. Then the Lord will strike you and your descendants with unimaginable plagues, virulent and choric, and with lingering and severe sickness. "

Now the New Testament

4) 3 John11, Dear friend, follow good examples, not bad ones.

5) Galatians 6:7, Make no mistake: God is not to be fooled; everyone reaps what they sow. "

6) 1 Thess. 5:23, May God  . . . the God of peace, make you holy through and through, and keep you sound in spirit, soul and body . . . "

The scripture leads me to believe, God is committed to the business of prevention because many of our illnesses seem to be the rooted in our disobedience. We humans have a tendency to distance ourselves from God and the separation aids in the disease process.

Unfortunately, it`s too late when someone is in the hospital with an illness or disease that`s so far advanced it`s not possible to offer a healing or a cure. Now don`t misunderstand me. I`m not saying God can`t heal or cure someone from a terminal illness.

However, if and when such an event occurs it`s for God`s own purpose and not our own. Let me put this in perspective. We can`t continue with our favorite abuses, bad habits and out right sinful ways and expect God to bless and care for us. We need to be partners in God`s plan or be ready to pay the consequences.

This leads me back to what we should pray for . . . we need to recognize our harmful behavior. .  Repent or turn away from harmful behavior . . .  Replace our ways with things that are pleasing to God . . . And React in a positive way to what God expects from us. This is not an all-inclusive plan but rather a start for us to pray for the strength and faith to change any destructive behavior before we find our selves knee-deep in our own misery and disease.

Remember, God is in the prevention business and will give us the tools to keep ourselves healthy if we are ready and willing to pray for help, strength and faith. I`m not saying all diseases are preventable because some are inherited from family genetics so some illnesses are not preventable. What I`m offering is a means to an end not the end itself. Prayer Changes Things . . . like us.

Prayer changes the way we look at our life and the way we behave. We can`t pray ourselves out of a lifetime of abuse and neglect so take care of yourself now. There is an old saying - If I had known I`d live this long I would have taken better care of myself. " God willing, it`s not too late to start.

Note: Scripture quotes from The Revised English Bible