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Service of Prayer for Healing

St. Mark 5.21-43


Pentecost 6, Proper 9, series B
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 In the gospel for today we see two people doing exactly what we've gathered here to do today.  Both Jairus, and the woman suffering the issue of blood, pray to Jesus for healing.  They don't approach Jesus the same way; they don't say the same words; but they do pray for precisely the same thing—healing from God.  Jairus comes publicly to Jesus on behalf of his young daughter.  He pleads on her behalf.

[St. Mark 5.23]

My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.

The woman secretly prays a prayer only God can hear.  She prays in the silence of her heart, but she prays with no less fervor than Jairus.  She says:

[St. Mark 5.28]

If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

Jairus' prayer is open and public.  The woman's prayer is silent and private.  Jairus prays for his daughter.  The woman prays for herself.  And yet both of them seek the same thing from Christ: healing and relief.

2 Both prayers express the faith of those who offer them.  Jairus asks Jesus to come to his daughter's bedside "that she may be healed; and she shall live."  He prays boldly, confident in Jesus ability to save his daughter's life.  The woman prays, believing that if only she can get close enough to touch Jesus she shall be whole.  In response to them both, Jesus commends and encourages their faith.  After he heals the bleeding woman, Jesus says:

[St. Mark 5.34]

Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and whole of thy plague.

On their way to Jairus' house, even after word has come that his daughter is dead, Jesus encourages him in his faith:

[St. Mark 5.36]

Be not afraid, only believe.

3 Faith—belief—receives the healing Christ gives.  Faith holds on to the promise of wholeness Jesus proclaims.  Faith clings to Jesus' ability to heal—now, 12 years from now, or 112 years from now.  Faith prays in earnest hope and confident trust that Jesus can and will heal us all from everything that afflicts us in this life.  So in faith, we gather here today to do what Jairus did.  We come here to do what the bleeding woman did.  We're here—by faith—to pray that Christ would grant us healing, and grant it to those we love.

4 Perhaps you're here because you've recently become ill or injured.  Like Jairus' daughter, your sickness is new and scary, maybe even deadly.  So we will pray that you be delivered from disease, danger, and death.  Perhaps you're here because you've been suffering for years, like the woman with the issue of blood.  So we'll pray that the power of God will flow forth from Christ into your body and heal you of your plague.  Whether you're here to pray for yourself or someone else, we will join with you in crying out to God to send healing in Christ.  And each and every one of our prayers will be heard.  They will all fly into the heart of God and into the ears of Christ.  And as they are heard, our prayers for healing will be answered.

5 St. James tells us today:

[James 5.13-16]

Is any among you afflicted?  let him pray.  Is any merry? let him sing psalms.  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

6 Perhaps you won't be physically healed right here on the spot.  (Perhaps you will, for nothing is impossible with God.) But certainly a deeper, spiritual healing will indeed take place in us all today.  St. James speaks of physical healing and of forgiveness.  Jesus speaks of faith making people whole.  As we pray for ourselves and for one another, God promises that our prayers offered in faith will save the sick and he will raise them up, and their sins shall be forgiven.  Here is our ultimate healing: the forgiveness of our sins by Christ our Lord.  We may have to wait for our bodies to be healed, but we will leave here with souls as healthy as can be, for the forgiveness of our sins is the greatest healing we receive from God.

7 This spiritual healing, just like physical healing, comes to us from God through Christ; just as it did for Jairus; just as it did for the bleeding woman.  Christ comes to us as we gather in his name, as he came to the crowds we hear of in the Gospel.  Christ hears our prayers for healing.  Christ hears us as we pray to be made whole as he heard the prayers of Jairus and the bleeding woman.  An answer to our prayers, Christ speaks to us as he spoke those who thronged him on his way around Galillee.  He says:

[St. Mark 5.34]

Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

[St. Mark 5.36]

Be not afraid, only believe.

And even after we have died, Christ, our Lord will say to us what he said to the little girl.

[St. Mark 5.41]

Talitha cumi.

"Little girl, arise.  Little boy, arise.  Old woman, stand up and live.  Old man, rise up and be made whole.  Thy faith has made thee well."

From our graves we will hear his voice, and as we rise up new and whole and well, we will then receive the fullness of the healing that Christ brings.

8 While we long fervently for that great day of resurrection; that wonderful day when our prayers for healing will be fully answered, her and now Christ answers our prayers through his Holy Word and Blessed Sacraments.  Through the reading of Scripture we hear him speak to us and promise healing to us.  Through our reception of Holy Communion we brush the hem of his robes, for the bread and wine are but the garments of his true body and blood.  Through Holy Absolution, Christ cleanses us from our sins, and as St. James says, raises us up and forgives us.

9 So today we pray.  We pray for healing.  We pray for ourselves and for those we love.  We pray for our forgiveness.  And in faith we receive Christ's answer to our prayers: "Be not afraid.  Only believe.  Thy faith hath made thee whole.  Go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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