The act of prayer is always attached to the need for something. Praying to God firmly establishes the foundation that we are in need or in want of something that we cannot attain on our own. This means that prayer is often “option B,” where we toss our desires into the hands of someone who might, possibly, achieve the impossible. When we pray we are praying for miracles that are clearly beyond our reach.
When we think of miracles as beyond our experience, our faith in the impossible becoming possible is limited. Likewise, our understanding of our prayer life is limited.
We see it around us every day: in the world, impossibility is limitless. We expect the expected and doubt the unexpected. When we take inventory of the problems we decide to pray about, we see numerous problems with very few answers. We see limitless obstacles with limited solutions. With this outlook, when we do pray, we find only enough faith or hope to pray for one or two things at one given moment. Although God claims to be the healer of the broken and the achiever of the impossible, we buy into the idea that only a few impossible things are possible even for him. Thus, our prayers, and what we feel the need to pray for, are limited along with everything else. We might be completely aware of something that needs healing, however, our limited view of possible solutions limits our petitions and we withhold our request.
The Gospels display certain characteristics of the healing nature of Jesus. While grace and love are constant, we must also consider the foreknowledge he always possessed of the problems he faced. Jesus always desired more healing than any one person expected, and always thought ahead of the person requesting help. Even before meeting a particular person face to face, Jesus had already set in motion a chain of healing events that would line up perfectly with one particular person. Jesus always desired more. When he healed he always achieved more than people expected. Even more than the person asking for help, Jesus always saw where the healing was most needed and how to maximize that healing in the person’s life, and in the lives of those around them, in ways they would have never expected themselves. It is then no surprise that this desire of Jesus is a constant trait in the character of God from the beginning. Being the creator God that he claims to be, he has more knowledge and understanding of our situations than we could ever attain. This larger effect of healing is similar to the way medication works its way through the body. As the medication enters the bloodstream and rapidly flows throughout the body there emerges a widespread sense of “healing,” not only restricted to the particular area of pain, but throughout the entire body.
God wants to work in a similar fashion. We might have one prayer that we most desperately wish to be answered, but God has twenty more that he desires to answer, if only we would have faith and simply trust that he in fact does desire for us to be completely and thoroughly healed.
Our culture makes it easy to take on a limited view of prayer. While this attitude is understandable, it is not scriptural. The scriptures do not portray a world of limitless problems and limited solutions. On the contrary, the scriptures describe a God that came into our world to eradicate the “problems” we face, bringing us into a life of limitless healing.