Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. —Ephesians 4:31–32
If we would model, teach, and empower people to live like these verses instruct us, we could transform the world. God is still in the prayer-answering, life-transforming business! In my morning prayer time, I wrote a1list of prayer requests, leaving space to record their answers. One of those requests was for Geri , who lived in personal turmoil and frustration. She always had a critical attitude, looking for the worst in almost every situation. She complained to the parents of children she taught in Sunday school, about things she didn’t like in the church. Geri found it difficult to talk constructively about changing her attitudes. She said things that severely hurt our hand-bell choir director, Penny, and Geri didn’t want to deal with her harsh attitudes in a positive way.
Those of us who knew about Geri’s situation began praying for her. I wrote on my prayer request list Geri’s need for healing of her negative, bitter, critical attitudes. I prayed that she would experience release from these feelings and would be able to make amends with Penny. My wife Sandie had tried to talk to Geri in a helpful way, but Geri had tuned her out. Two weeks later, Geri called Sandie and our office manager to tell them that she regretted the way she had handled the situation with Penny. She felt that she had committed sin in the way she had acted. She had already called Penny to apologize and ask for her forgiveness.
When Geri brought a plate of homemade Christmas goodies to me two days later, I sensed a spirit of release in her. God had begun his healing work in her spirit. She began growing spiritually and relationally. I prayed that she would allow him to continue and complete the work, for she was one of our most gifted children’s teachers. If she could be released from those negative, complaining, critical attitudes, she could be used by God to teach children about his love, forgiveness, and acceptance.
This is evidence of the power of intercessory prayer to heal inner wounds, strained or broken interpersonal relationships. This opens our inner spirits to the healing balm of God’s love and grace. It reminds me of on my hand. My hand and forearm were red, swollen, hot with fever. When I saw the doctor, I wasn’t prepared for his treatment. He cleaned it with alcohol. With small sharply- pointed scissors, he cut an X-incision in the boil. The pain was excruciating! It got worse! The doctor closed the scissor blades, inserted them into the incision and opened them, spreading the incision wider. I thought I would pass out as the infection gushed out. After pressing around on the boil and draining a lot of infection, the doctor cleaned the incision and covered it with antibiotic ointment and a bandage, and wrote an antibiotic prescription. Within a few days, the pain, swelling, and fever left. It was painful, but by lancing the boil, the doctor set the stage for healing to begin. Likewise, “getting rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” from a person’s heart is painful like draining a boil. Applying kindness, compassion and forgiveness is like the antibiotics that aid in the healing process. In intercessory prayer we escort people to God for healing. It’s about Transforming Hearts…Transforming Lives!
Lord, shape me as a bearer ofYour healing balm oflove and grace to bitter, hurting, broken, critical folks I meet; a carrier of kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Enable me to open my heart to your great heart of love and compassion as an intercessory prayer warrior. Amen.
Dr. Sam Bruce; President, Sam & Sandie Bruce Ministries; Pastor, Hope Point Church, Pearl, Mississippi; Online Instructor, Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1. Names have been changed.
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