It was a beautiful Sunday morning, as my friends and I were greeted at the door by the sweet sounds of southern hospitality. The decor of the church reminded me of growing up in the ’80s where we slept soundly under the pews while the loud hell, fire, and brimstone preacher delivered his message. Potluck smells filled our noses as we dreamed of the savory country fried chicken and gravy cooking in the cast-iron skillet for the church potluck following the service.
Even as a visitor this particular day, I felt like I was at home. The music refreshed my soul as we sung old hymns like, “Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever.” and “Oh, how He touched me and made me whole.” If you needed prayer, then the altars were always open. No invitation was needed and this morning was no different.
Church members were met by the pastor and church leaders as they began to walk down the aisle. I watched from the third row as more people filled the altars after the pastor’s invitation, “If you need anything from God today, come forward for prayer.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a man moving slowly towards the front, for obvious reasons. He was bent over at the waist at about a 45-degree angle and his face painted with pain and weakness. Trying not to stare, I focused my gaze back on the members at the front of the church already receiving prayer. Immediately I heard God say, “Khristina, I want you to pray for that man.”
The conversation quickly ended with my response, “Lord, it’s okay, he will be prayed for by the pastor and church leaders. These people don’t know me. If I walk up there and pray for that man in this old school, country church, that pastor may reign fire and brimstone down on me.”
After a few minutes of chatting with my friend, I saw the man return to his seat in the same condition that he was in when he had slowly walked to the altar.
I heard God say again, “Khristina, I want you to pray for that man.”
“God, I have never been to this church before, the pastor has not asked me to speak and you want me to go pray for this man?” I contested. If I go up there, people are going to be staring at me. What if I pray for him and nothing happens. Not to mention, he doesn’t even know me.
“Evidently, I was the only one in the wooden pew that day that was willing to argue with the Creator of the universe.”
After a few moments of contemplation, I took a deep breath and leaned over to tell my friend what God said, in hopes that she would help me convince Him that this was not a good idea. Of course, I was the only one in the wooden pew that day that was willing to argue with the Creator of the universe because my friend quickly took His side.
Alright God, you win! My heart started beating fast before my foot ever breached the brown carpet in the aisle. When I approached the altar to ask permission from the pastor to pray for this man, he was already praying for someone else. That had to be a sign, right? The pastor was busy, so I must have missed God.
Even as I stood there, butterflies in my stomach and my heart beating fast, I thought… “I just need to go sit back down in my seat.” Instead, I stood still.
The pastor finished praying and I walked up to him quickly before he had time to move on to the next person. The pastor was very willing to allow me to pray for this crippled man. I turned to walk to the man’s seat on the back pew of the church when all of a sudden I hear over the microphone an announcement, “Tom, come up here!”
I’m sure the church members could see my pupils quickly dilate, and my mouth nearly drop to the ground. My shock was palpable….is that even a word? I quickly shared with God, “What!!! O, Lord! You didn’t tell me this part! I was just going to go pray for Tom in his seat located in the last row. Now you have the pastor calling him to the front of the church?!!”
The pastor, his wife, myself, and 300 people in the church watched as Tom slowly limped towards the front of the church. After inquiring, I discovered that Tom had a slipped disc in his back. He was most concerned about his injury because he was a children’s leader in the church and was unable to effectively minister to the children.
I began by asking him, “On a scale from 1 (little pain) to 10 (very painful), where would you rate your pain?” He could barely look up at me to answer, so he held out his ten fingers.
We prayed together that God would release His healing power into Tom’s body and that all his pain would go away in Jesus Name.
After we prayed, I asked again, “What is your pain level now?” to which he responded, “Level 7.”
We prayed again and his pain went to a level 5.
We prayed again & it went to a level 1.
As you’ve probably gathered and my mother would readily share with you, I can be a little stubborn at times. Since God said that He heals all diseases, there was no way I was going to settle for a level 1. I was ready to pray one more time, but I heard the Lord say, “wait.” An action that I had no problem displaying less than 15 minutes ago, yet I found myself lingering, along with the rest of the anxious church members who had locked their eyes on us. I waited and how thankful I was that God did not take long. Instead of laying hands on Tom and praying one more time, God gave me instructions that did not include me in the equation.
I said to Tom, “I believe that God can make all your pain go away. Can you walk from the middle of the church where we are standing to the end of that stage and come back?”
The church erupted in praise as we watched Tom stand straight up and walk to the end of the stage and back again.
“It was like God was strutting in front of this church congregation.”
That last act of obedience in communicating God’s desires was so like God showcasing his miracle, healing power. Almost like He was strutting in front of this church congregation. Tom was still in pain when he began his walk, but much like our biblical heroes, it was his faith that made him whole. Upon his return to me and the pastor, he confirmed that all pain was gone and started his second lap to the stage.
As I returned to my seat, I heard a huge gasp from the church members. I turned to see Tom on his knees praising God – a movement that was impossible before. Later he was jumping up and down worshipping God for healing him.
After the service, a sweet, elderly lady approached me and shared, “This morning as I was praying for Tom at home, God told me to call him. So I did. God told me to tell him, ‘Tom, if you will come to church this morning, God said He will heal you!’”
PRAISE GOD He does what He says He will do!! I’m so glad He is patient with my stubbornness sometimes, too.
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