Coming from my western Christian background, I would say I believed prayer works. At least sometimes and more so in far away places like Africa than the USA. Especially in areas of physical healing. In the USA we don’t need God much and we really believe He operates in a little corner where medical, science, knowledge, and money can’t touch. A really little corner.
For someone in Papua New Guinea the physical and spiritual world are inseparably intertwined. It’s simply a matter of asking or doing the right things spiritually to affect a physical response. Sometimes it’s prayer to God and sometimes it’s doing things for other spirits. It’s a very different worldview than my USA worldview.
So I found myself on Thursday praying for a Papua New Guinean for physical healing.
We had been conducting a Trauma Healing workshop that week. After learning about why there is suffering in the world, how to heal from heart wounds (or belly pain as they say here), and what happens in the grieving process, we had a time of taking your pain to the cross on Wednesday night. Angela (not her real name) found her burdens she had been carrying for years and even decades were released and she was feeling light and free. At least for a couple hours.
That night her head began hurting and she felt cold and generally unwell. Thursday she came to us and asked us to pray for her because she felt she was being spiritually attacked. Thursday night we gathered and prayed for spiritual protection and physical healing.
I have to admit that even as a missionary that is supposed to believe that prayer works, when I first started praying for physical healing I felt compelled to “protect” God by explaining that prayer doesn’t always work right away or sometimes He answers “No”. I’ve come to realize that if God isn’t big enough to take care of Himself, He isn’t really a god at all.
Friday morning Angela comes to class feeling all better. I kind of expected her to be at class but I was also worried she wasn’t going to feel better Friday morning. I guess after 15 years in Papua New Guinea and seeing many physical healings, I’m at the point of 60% belief and 40% doubt, which is a huge improvement from when I first arrived in the country.
It’s one more thing that PNG is teaching me.