I have been doing a number of posts on the subject of healing which you can find here and here. The subject of healing has been a topic that is close to my heart, as I have been recovering from a major debilitating illness since 2007. This year as I resumed my studies, I took the elective subject on healing and part of our brief was to attend a healing service, in which we have to write a debrief on the experience, and therefore a group of us from college attended St Andrews Cathedral’s healing service.
I was in the interesting position of being both an active observer within an academic framework in which I was to fulfil my course requirements, as well as being in the position of being an active participant in which I sought personal prayers for healing. It may be a surprise to some of my readers and those who know me that I have a tendency towards having a depressive / anxious personality and that I also suffer post traumatic stress disorder. It’s true that I battle through it and possibly hide it from all but those who are closest to me, and therefore appear to live a fairly functional life. This is compounded by the physical remnants that the viral encephalitis caused my body and memory and so I tend to fatigue very easily.
Over the years I have had some very good and positive experiences of healing and prayer, though this positive experience was before I collapsed in October 2007. Since then my experience has been a less then positive one, and so within the subject of healing, I came to distrust any Christian who wanted to take me to a healing service, and or pray for me. And so there have been few who I actually trust enough to share and have them pray with me, though, deep down, I have a deep yearning to be able to do so.
What struck me as I entered the building tonight was the high degree of warmth and acceptance by those greeting me. Because of the train times I arrived 1/2 an hour earlier and had a interesting discussion with a older man who greeted me at the door. As people passed by, he would stop and introduce me to them and share with me their position or role within the service. The service started at 6 pm and finished around 7:15pm, followed by supper. The service comprised of 3 songs, the sermon, another song, the Lords prayer and a benediction, which we sung to each other. The time of prayer came after the sermon in which anyone who would like prayer were invited to put their hand up. The prayers could be for self or another person…and after the service, we were further invited to come down the front, where one of the elders would anoint us with oil and further prayer. Those leading the service did a great job of not assuming any of the visitors would know what was going on, and the service leader told us, what we would be doing, who would be doing what and who would be doing what – including pointing to an area where one of their pastors would be able to answer any questions one had about the Christian faith and questions about the healing ministry.
The end result was that I couldn’t help but get drawn into the atmosphere of the night which generated a lot of trust. Granted, walking into the old but renewed cathedral is breathtaking, and one can’t help but be drawn towards the majesty of God. During the time of the service, I put up my hand to request prayer, and it was one of the gentlemen who met me at the door who came over. And I requested that he prayed for me in the area of my easily fatiguing. After a little more discussion, he asked permission to lay his hand on my shoulder and asked the Lord to heal and strengthen me. As he did, I was filled with a warmth that permeated deep within my very being, that seemed to fill me, flow out of me and cover over me and I could sense God’s love in a very real and tangible way.
I also went down the front at the end of the service to be anointed with oil, and when asked what I wanted to be prayed for, I shared about the PTS and so she thoughtfully and quietly prayed and then prayed for me as she anointed my head with oil. One of the things I found that surprised me was that I could breath, and breath deeply. I find it hard to normally breath through my nose and yet during this time of prayer, I could feel my lungs filling up, the air flowing freely through my nostrils and once again a feeling of warmth filling my inner being once again.
All said and done, tonight was a deeply positive experience and I came away with the deep impression of having met with God once again in a very real and tangible expression of his love.