Tag Archives: health

3 ways to pray for your friends – 3rd John, Part 2

17 Sep
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

How should you pray for your friends?

As we continuing studying the letter called 3rd John, after greeting his friend Gaius, instead of conveying a blessing from God, as so often happens in the biblical letters, John next describes how he prays for his friend.  It’s a great prayer, too, one that you can use a model for your prayers for your loved ones.  John says he prays for Gaius to enjoy good health, that all may go well with him, even as his soul is getting along well. 

That is an interesting prayer.  The good health part?  I get it.  Very normal.  We pray for good health frequently.  In fact, my guess is if you tallied up all the prayer requests mentioned in churches in each week the majority would be for health concerns.  It’s not wrong to pray for good health.  John does it right here.  But he has some other concerns too.  That means we should avoid getting fixated on praying for good health.  When we pray for ourselves and others, we should think holistically, meaning, thinking of the whole person, as John does.  John prays for health, but what else does he pray for?

The next prayer request is “that all may go well with you.”  I get that one too.  It’s a great thing to pray for your loved ones.  Whether it is their job, family, finances, relationships, you name it, pray that all will go well with them.  Of course in this life, we know that all will not always go well, right?

That’s where John’s third and final prayer request for Gaius is so interesting: “Even as your soul is getting along well.”  He prays for Gaius’ soul!  We should be praying for our loved ones’ souls.  Do you pray for that?

What is this soul, John is talking about?  Is he just praying that Gaius would accept Jesus as his savior so his soul would be saved?  In other words, is John thinking about eternal destiny? About life after death? Notice that John doesn’t say anything like that, does he?  He simply says he wants Gaius’ soul to be getting along well.  What does John mean by this? 

We sometimes think of our soul as the immaterial part of us.  Similar to heart, soul, spirit, mind.  But these terms can be confusing.  Are they real?  Do they refer to different parts of us? 

Christian philosopher JP Moreland, in his book Finding Quiet, explains the soul like this: think of a cup of water. The water represents an inanimate human body, like a corpse, with no life in it.  Then think of a cup of salt. The salt represents our soul.  When the salt is dissolved in the water, it now represents a body that is alive, with a soul.  Our soul, Moreland says, is completely intermingled with our body.  When we are alive, a human is a body with a soul.  It is who we truly are. This is why our evangelical forefathers had a question that they would ask on a regular basis when they got together: “How goes it with your soul?”  It is a deeper way to ask “How are you doing?”  John is approaching prayer holistically.  He doesn’t want his friends to be doing well only in their health, which is a body concern.  He wants all elements of who they are to be going well.  His is a concern for their spiritual, emotional and bodily health.  John is showing us, then, great way for us to think about how we are praying for the people in our lives.

This also relates to John’s idea of a walk, which we’ll look at more in the next post in this series.

Does God want you to be rich? (and healthy?)

17 Apr

health and wealthHave you ever heard of the Health and Wealth Gospel? It is a view of faith in Christ that has been around a while that basically says “if you are faithful enough to God, he has to bless you with health and wealth.”

If you believe enough, he will heal you.

If you give enough, he will prosper you.

Basically, if you have enough faith, you’ll have the good life.

You can hear preachers on TV that seem to believe this. But is it true?  God definitely wants us to be faithful to him, and to grow in our faithfulness, but does he promise that he will give us riches and health if we reach a certain level of faith?

The clear response across the many books of the Bible is that we live in a fallen world! We are not going to live forever. There are accidents, diseases, and sinful choices that we make, and that others make, that affect us. The result is that sometimes we will face difficulties in this life. We might lose our job, get sick and have pain.

I’ve officiated enough funerals and done enough hospital visits in my short 7 years as pastor to knwo that when someone we love dies, or when something bad happens to us, we are quick to question “Why did you allow this, God?”

I get it that when we’re in a difficult situation, we are desperate for answers, for explanations, for anything to help us make sense of the pain that we’re experiencing. So we quickly turn it on God.

But think about that with me for a minute. Is the pain in this world God’s fault?

Doofenshmirtz with his Deflate-inator

Doofenshmirtz with his Deflate-inator

My kids love the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, and in that show the bad guy, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, creates a new destructive ray gun every episode. He names each gun uniquely, ending with the phrase “-inator”. So there is the “Destruct-inator,” and the “Space Laser-inator” and the “Freeze-inator” and the “Ugly-inator” and about a hundred other “-Inators”. Do we really believe that God has a “Get sick-inator” or a “Accident-inator” or “Marriage break-up-inator” or an “-inator” for all the bad stuff that can happen, and he zaps us with them?

Is the pain in this world God’s fault? When we’re going through a hard time, should we go to God in prayer and ask “Why are you doing this to me, Lord?”

We do that, don’t we? I wonder if we do it because, while most of us don’t believe in a Health & Wealth Gospel, if we are honest with ourselves, we believe it a little bit.

A pastor friend shared the following quote from Jerry Walls that introduced this idea to me:

“Accepting Jesus and following him faithfully does not guarantee or make it significantly more probable that you will flourish physically or financially, or have your best material life now. But having said that, I wonder how many of us who repudiate health and wealth gospel may accept a more subtle, respectable version. In particular, how many of us believe we have been blessed with good health, good jobs, beautiful homes/cars, beautiful bodies, and so on by virtue of thinking God has acted in particular ways to bless us that he has apparently not acted to bless many other persons, including our fellow Christians? How different is this assumption/belief than the version of health and wealth gospel preached by many televangelists?”

That’s a deep question to think about.

Maybe we actually do look at health and wealth as a blessing from God. Maybe we actually do look at sickness and poverty as a curse.

But is it? Is that how God works?

Jesus has what might be a surprising answer for us in our next section of our study through Luke. If you want a sneak peak check out Luke 6:17-26, and if you’re in the Lancaster area and are not involved in church family, we invite you to Faith Church Sunday morning to be our guest!