It’s a beautiful Spring morning and I’m sitting in a spacious living room in a hotel that was once a stately home. The vaulted ceiling is high and sunlight is pouring in through the floor to ceiling windows. Outside, beyond the deserted patio, lie vast green lawns, stretching into the distance. Scattered across them are clumps of yellow daffodils, clustered together in defiance at the cold, swaying gently in the breeze.
My companion is a woman who I’ve only just met. Let’s call her Emily*. She’s beautiful, twinkly eyed and smiley. Her hair is swept up into a chignon away from the pale grey cowl neck sweater she’s wearing. She must be in her early 40s. She is well rounded and motherly, her concern for others evident even in the short time we’ve been talking.
Our tan colour soft bottomed chairs are set at a jaunty angle, as we clasp our palms around mugs of hot tea and lean forward. A warm rapport soon begins to build, as our conversation meanders through various themes.
It soon emerges that Emily has three daughters. The oldest, Jemima*, is 16 years old and causing a lot of angst in the family. Emily has heard that I pray for healing for people and she’s wondering whether I would be willing to pray for Jemima, although she’s very vague about the specifics.
“Has she got anorexia?” I enquire, making an educated guess. (I’d like to say it was Divine revelation, but I’m not known for having words of knowledge!)
“How do you know that?” Emily responds, her eyes welling up with pain.
Before long, the tears are free flowing, as I reassure her that I didn’t know; that I’d simply guessed, based on my experiences of interacting with other teenage girls of a similar age and social standing; but perhaps God can use educated guesses to bring insight and understanding to a situation. She nods slowly, acknowledging that she understands.
I move to give her a slightly awkward sideways hug and, as I do so, a familiar surge of compassion and courage come over me and I start to pray, out loud, for Jemima. I pray with a confidence that belies my feelings, as I simply command the anorexia to leave Jemima, body, mind, soul and spirit, in the name of Jesus. I declare John 10 v.10 over her life – a Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to mind – as I feel a sense of anger surging up inside.
When I look up, Emily’s cheeks are streaked with mascara and small strands of hair are framing her face where it’s begun to fall out of the clip holding the chignon in place. She smiles at me weakly, exhausted from crying.
“Are you aware of how much authority you have when you pray?” she asks me. “That prayer was powerful.”
I feel deeply humbled. Can this really be true? Surely the way I pray is the way anyone would pray in the same circumstance?
I encourage Emily to keep praying for Jemima, to not lose hope of her situation being turned around before it’s too late.
A few days later, by now back home, Emily finds me on Facebook and sends me a private message: “I think Jemima is healed,” it says. “She’s been eating completely normally all week and she seems to have returned to her old self, the Jemima we thought we’d lost. I never thought this would happen. Thank you for praying for her.”
God, you are good, I think to myself. Even when I can only pray from afar, you still show up and surprise me. Thank you for using me. Thank you for hearing my prayer.
*Names changed to preserve confidentiality.