One of the most difficult things that we endure in the human experience is watching our friends and loved ones suffer and die. As Christians, we often struggle with knowing how to pray for them. In the Acts of the Apostles (9:36-43) we read that one of the most important the functions of the church is to pray for the healing of sick and the souls of the dead. The church body takes on the role of a community of healers for the broken world.
So how do we become a community of healers? First, we acknowledge our God-given natural state of being in full union with God. We have been imprinted with the DNA of God. We are the daughters and sons of God. Jesus said that he and God were one. He goes to tell us that just as he and God were in union, we too are in union with God. God abides in us. We abide in God. Then Jesus go even further to say that because we too are children of God, we will do even greater things than he did (John 14:12). That means we will be healers like Master Jesus.
So what is healing? Healing is creating a space for the integration of our mind, body, soul (psyche), and spirit (relationship with the divine)—in others words to heal is to bring about a state of non-duality—what we call holistic living. What this means is that what affects one aspect our self, affects every other aspect of our self. Therefore, if our mind is healed, so then too our body will feel the affects of that healing, likewise our soul, and our spirit will feel the affects.
As a community of healers we must trust the divine to know what aspect of the person we are praying for needs the most attention. While we might see the need for someone’s physical healing, the divine may sense a greater need for the healing of the soul. That means we must let go of what we desire for the person and give our trust over to the divine to do the best form of healing for the person.
The vast majority of us pray for the sick. We pray as a community. This is the work of the church. Several studies in holistic medicine have shown that a significant percentage of people that know they are being prayed for (especially by a large community of people) typically recover faster or bear the burden of their illness better. That latter part of the statement is often difficult for us hear. Regardless of the outcome, we pray as a community for the person’s holistic healing, trusting the divine to do her work. This is what our prayer book teaches us.
On page 458 of the Book of Common Prayer, there is a prayer that has been offered for the sick for over 500 years. Pray for people. Call their name. There’s no need for you to guide the divine in what you want done. You don’t need to know what’s wrong with the person. You don’t need to know who the person is. Simply pray. Let the prayer do its work in the ears of the Divine Spirit.
O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit, and relieve thy sick servant N. for whom our prayers are desired. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; preserve him from the temptations of the enemy; and give him patience under his affliction. In thy good time, restore him to health, and enable him to lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory; and grant that finally he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
While we all pray as a community, there are within the community, are a very few people whose vocation is to be a healer, like Saint Peter. Vocation is your purpose in life. Everyone has a purpose, a vocation. God has imprinted your purpose on your soul; it’s in the DNA of your soul. Your purpose is a gift that can always be used to serve other people. Your purpose in life might be, to be creative, artistic, to build, to inspire, to teach, to heal. But remember, your purpose doesn’t have anything to do with your job. It’s nice if your purpose and your job are in sync with one another—but that’s not absolutely necessary.
If your vocation, your purpose in life, is to be a healer—other people will recognize this in you. You do not have to point out your gifts to others. Most people I know that are healers never call themselves healers. Healers don’t rely fully on their gifts. They recognize that they are a conduit—a channel for the healing love of the Divine Spirit. Healers find a teacher and learn the art of healing, like Saint Peter who was trained by the Master Healer, Jesus. They are trained, in something like Reiki, Healing Touch, Message therapy, shamanism, or alchemy. Then they practice. In practicing they learn that they will, at times, fail, like Peter who failed on more than one occasion. Finally, the healer learns the lesson that healing has a cost. Master Jesus knew the cost. When the woman in the crowd touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, he knew that some of his energy, his love, had gone of his body.
Real sustainable healing comes from the mutual exchange of divine love. This was the teaching of the Inkling Charles Williams. To be a healer, one must know that the love of the divine spirit is the healing agent, the healer, however, the healer must also know that in the act of the exchange of healing love, the healer will be left with a residual from the exchange. In other words, the healer must prepare their self for the cost of transmutation to take place in their life.
That’s what happened to Saint Peter. After he healed Tabitha, he went to the house of Simon the tanner. There, Peter had been fasting and praying. He had a vision. In the vision he learned that he would have to sacrifice an important portion of his religious practice. What he had to give up would be the equivalent of us being told that instead of going to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to worship, we now had to go to the mosque to pray every Friday. The cost of being a healer is always substantial. Sometimes even our own life.
A very close friend of mine, Scott Haasarud died this past Wednesday He was a healer. He was a friend, spiritual director, therapist, and mentor in all things Carl Jung. He was a big man in every way. He loved deeply and healed with love from his heart. He healed the broken hearts of so many people and finally his big heart could give no more. He was Master Jesus for me so many times.
We are followers of the Master Healer, Jesus. We have been left the task of healing broken hearts and lives. To be a healing community, we must live in the abiding love and union with the One Holy Living God. We must live integrated lives. We must pray for the sick and the souls of the dying. And we must trust the divine to do her work for the sake of the mind, body, soul, and spirit. We must be a healing community.