It was a Friday in December of 1991. My head was completely bald. Its skin was deeply tanned from four months of radiation therapy. There were several sets of scars and some recently added stitches. In four months I’d gone from a muscular 155lbs to a skeletal 90lbs. If I jumped as hard as I could, my toes wouldn’t leave the ground. My cheeks were puffed out from the steroids I took to keep the brain swelling under control. In other words I looked like I was on death’s door.
On the prior Monday they had operated to remove an infected shunt. The shunt had been causing me burning abdominal pain for months. I was happy to have it out. But since Monday I’d been running very high fevers. In the afternoon a nurse would come to give me IV antibiotics. For most of the days and nights I was oblivious to everything else.
On Friday my mother got a phone call and came in to see me. An elder from our church wanted to come in and anoint me with oil from the Holy Land. Mom looked very nervous when she asked my permission. I remember saying, “Okay.”
There are times when our bodies, minds, spirits and souls are so worn down that we lack the energy to care much about anything. It is times like these that we are carried by the prayers of others. During the four months of radiation therapy an entire church and dozens of my parent’s friends had been praying for me. I hardly remember the woman coming or putting the oil on my head, but I found out later that it was that hour that my fever broke. Much later I found out that the Holy Spirit had been nudging the woman to come and anoint me for three months. She’d been afraid that her visit would be intrusive, or that anointing me and having me die would be bad.
As Christians we often pray for others. Sometimes we pray casually, a couple words or thoughts. Sometimes we pray intensely, laying on hands, groaning, getting down on our knees. Sometimes the Holy Spirit prompts us to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone. I’m living proof that prayer benefits those who are prayed for. I’m also firmly convinced that the practice of prayer benefits the one praying as much as the person prayed for.
When has the Holy Spirit prompted you to do something outside your comfort zone?