Surprised by Joy Again

by Taylor Smith
Jan/Feb/Mar 2012

We were nearing the end of the morning session during day two of the recent CHM in the Rockies Conference, and I was dreamily thinking about the hot soup at the hotel’s lunch buffet when my phone buzzed. It was a text from my wife, Kathi, asking me to meet her at noon in the hotel’s boardroom to pray for a woman who was suffering from “unspecified severe issues.” The text triggered a tremor of anxiety. I was slightly fatigued from a combination of travel, work stress and the fast pace of being a part of the CHM conference team, and I always react the same way to an invitation to pray for healing – with some degree of anxiety and doubt. Nonetheless, I obediently made my way to the designated location, arriving a few minutes early to find the room empty and freezing cold. It seemed as though frigid air had been piped from the nearby mountains directly into the boardroom. I shivered involuntarily as I regarded the locked thermostat and thought about how I would rather be in the hotel restaurant. Doubt and uncertainty crept into my mind alongside anxiety, even as Kathi arrived and we busied ourselves preparing the room for the prayer appointment. My thoughts began to form into a unified opposition against praying for the woman who would be arriving shortly: what if we don’t correctly discern the source of her issues; what if she isn’t fully healed; what if the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up; what if nothing happens at all…. My anxiety peaked!

The woman, who was to receive prayer for healing, was led into the boardroom by a prayer minister. She was visibly trembling and unable to make eye contact as we settled into big leather chairs, which we had arranged into a small circle at the end of the conference table. She began to tell us her life’s story, which involved extraordinary levels of painful memories. As we listened, it seemed almost impossible for anyone to have suffered so much trauma and still survive. In fact, she had developed coping mechanisms for self-preservation, which had become additional sources of emotional pain. Layers upon layers of “stuff” had built up, and I wondered how many years of secular therapy would be necessary for her to be fully restored. I knew that we had only a few hours to pray with her. Still anxious, we began to pray with her, and suddenly everything began to change.

My thought pattern and state of emotions that day in Denver were actually normal for me. My personal experience in praying for healing has most often been preceded by feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and doubt. Experience with healing prayer, Biblical knowledge and considerable prayer ministry training have not seemed to offset this condition, even though I have personally witnessed and received both physical and emotional healing as well as a release of the Holy Spirit. Almost without exception, when I am invited to pray for someone, it is as though the clock is reset to the very first time that I was invited to participate in praying for healing.

Thankfully, God has provided a great gift to me in the form of my wife and a group of prayer ministers who repeatedly encourage me to pray for healing for others. I doubt that I would participate without their encouragement. Tragically, if that were the case, I would fail to experience what I believe to be the most amazing aspect of praying for healing; the wondrous “thing” that occurs each time that I actually begin to pray.

It is difficult to explain, but it seems as though a spiritual transformation occurs in me, albeit sometimes temporary and other times permanent, when I pray for healing. Perhaps it is a release of grace by the Holy Spirit, maybe in response to the simple act of praying for another. My experience includes both a change in my feelings as well as a change in my attitude. The feelings of anxiety, fear and inadequacy that precede the time of prayer fade very quickly and are replaced with a sense of peace, calmness and sometimes even joy, which Webster defines as “the emotion evoked by well-being”. Spiritual gifts seem more “released” and heightened (in my case it is often the knowledge of unspoken facts or circumstances pertaining to the person receiving prayer). While praying for healing, my perspective seems to shift more into alignment with Scripture; for example, Paul’s “love chapter” (1 Cor. 13) begins to appear reasonable and the seduction of the world lessens. The engagement of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes angels, with the person receiving prayer becomes almost visible and definitely perceptible. The authority over the demonic realm is very evident. I am confident in these times of the Holy Spirit’s presence and active participation.

In the hotel boardroom, as we began to pray for healing, we were flooded with knowledge, discernment, love and - most interestingly - patience for the woman. My negative thoughts, anxiety and expectations evaporated and were replaced with a sense of joy, awe and respect. The Holy Spirit (and Jesus) provided tremendous healing that day, both directly and through us as prayer ministers. She was set free from spiritual oppression and was restored in ways that she previously thought impossible. It was humbling and awesome to be included on the team, and I would not have missed it for the world.

A work associate once commented that a successful business needs to be “sticky” in order to retain customers. Praying for healing in Denver produced sticky joy in me as well as in Kathi, which has lasted well beyond that day and that experience has helped us greatly in our daily challenges. We received so much more than we contributed in terms of time and effort in Denver. We have seen the overflow onto our children as well, with this most recent Thanksgiving being the most joyful family celebration in memory. The joy has also made us eager for more opportunities to pray for healing, although at times I still feel the drag in the opposite direction.

I am definitely one of the Lord’s works in progress. I also know that the enemy doesn’t like anyone praying for healing which contributes to my difficulty in “gearing up” to pray when asked. The other day I was at work when my phone buzzed with a text from Kathi inviting me to pray for a man in our church who is suffering from a debilitating chronic illness. I was tired, stressed and behind on several deadlines at work, and I felt the familiar rise of doubt and anxiety as I considered the invitation to the prayer appointment. I declined her invitation. As I write this article, I am saddened by my decision. What was I thinking? Thankfully, I know that there will be many more invitations to pray in the future. Next time, I plan to accept.

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Taylor Smith Taylor Smith is a member of CHM's Board of Trustees and speaks at many of CHM's schools and conferences. Magazine Issue

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