The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Right Prayer Partner


I am creating this thread as a companion piece to my thread “Are you a blessing machine?” Sometimes people aren’t healed because the right faith-filled person did not prayer for the answer to the need in question. Here is the first of my many instructive examples that illustrate the need for reflection on precisely what is the ideal state of consciousness “to get the job done.”

(1) Anglican mystic, Agnes Sanford, has written several books on prayer and spirituality. In her classic, “The Healing Light,” she tells the story of her dying baby grandson. Doctors had doomed the baby to imminent death. She was caring for the boy and organized prayer vigils to pray for healing–to no effect. She prayed constantly for healing without success. Then one day, a young first-year Bible school student dropped by, saying, “I heard you have a dying baby here and I’ve come to pray for his healing.” Agnes said she felt indignant at his presumption. Didn’t he realize that she was an expert on prayer and that the room was prayer-saturated? The arrogance of this inexperienced young man! But she couldn’t bring herself to deny his request; so she grudgingly complied. She watched as he picked up the baby with joy radiating from his face as he lovingly prayed for the boy’s recovery. She saw the baby gloriously healed before her very eyes, and was properly humbled by the realization that this young man was the right person at that time to serve as God’s instrument of healing.

Agnes, was too ego-invested and too agitated to be God’s instrument of healing in this case, and the Bible school student’s calm divinely instilled confidence was exactly what God needed to channel full healing. Such anecdotes could be multiplied. Agnes’s humbling experience raises that question of the criteria God uses to determine “the right intercessor.”


(2) Dave is in our small prayer group, He suffered from a massive blood clot that extended from his ankle to his groin. Doctors expressed the hope that this clot would eventually calcify, removing the risk to his heart. But Dave was advised to limit his movements due to the danger of a piece of clot breaking off and going to his heart or brain. Despite the fact the he was in great pain, he generally ignored this medical advice. Dave and his wife Patty’s prayers did nothing to change his condition.

Then one day they ate at Mavericks, a restaurant I can see from my residence. An unknown young couple approached their table, asking, “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but do you have a serious physical condition that needs prayer?” Dave was initially taken aback at this intrusion, especially with other customers overhearing the question. Though a tad embarrassed, he told them about the massive clot. They nodded relief, and felt that the “word of knowledge” they had clairvoyantly received was confirmed. Then the couple asked if Dave wanted prayer for his condition. He consented, but was again taken aback, when they prayed loudly for his healing. It turns out the couple were young missionaries about to leave for some African country.

Subsequent X-rays confirmed that Dave was completely healed. Dave realizes he would never have been healed unless God brought the right prayer partners. Nor would he have been healed if his pride prompted him to decline their request to pray for him. So this healing provides a great parallel to Agnes’s dilemma at the presumptuous Bible school student’s request. Had her pride promoted her to decline the eager young man’s offer of prayer, her grandson would in my view never have been healed.

The Bible teaches that there are right and wrong ways to pray, i. e. prayer principles that facilitate a favorable divine intervention and attitudes that inhibit the power of prayer. So here is the giant pink elephant in the church, the question that would be insensitive and inappropriate to ask a seriously ill person: Are some people dead who would be alive if they had either prayed in faith or received prayer from “the right” prayer partners?

Other faith lessons from such testimonies? (1) As in Agnes’s case, true humility is a great asset to effective faith. (2) Real faith takes risks, risks I would typically lack the confidence to take. I would have been more polite and prayed quietly–and my prayer would have had no effect. I would have been hedging my bets to prevent myself from looking really bad! I later learned that gifted faith healers do not pray softly in situations like that, because they want the healings to serve as a witness to God’s power. (3) The younger generation is jumping out of the windows of mainline churches, because these churches are “holding to the outward form of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid them (2 Timothy 3:5)!” Thus, Paul says of his rivals: “I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people, but their power. For the kingdom of God depends not on talk, but on power. (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).”