Examining the ways of Jesus in healing equips us to touch the lives of suffering people
The miracles that Jesus performed were done with such ease that the methods defy analysis. Like a great baseball pitcher who throws the ball with such lightning speed that we hardly can see it, Christ furnishes so great an ideal for us that we despair of following in His footsteps.
Fortunately, Jesus left for us one example of what I might call a slow motion, close-up view of His technique of healing people who were sick. Careful study of this incident will present a perfect model for us to follow with confidence that we are following in the right path.
I invite your attention to Mark 9:2: "And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves" (KJV).
"Six days shalt thou labor" (Ex. 20:9), says the Scriptures, and that phrase "six days" has symbolized good honest work. Our high moments of prayer come, not out of neglecting our duties and responsibilities, but they grow out of facing life's hard realities with faithfulness and honest toil.
Woe unto us, however, if we become so engrossed in our tasks that we forget to take the time to go apart once in a while and pray. As a climax to any hard work there should always come a place and time for prayer.
The Quiet Hour
Mark continued saying: "Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves" (v. 2). The highest moments of group prayer come only when we have a carefully selected group who are perfectly in tune with us.
These three were the only ones of the 12 that Jesus could count on to ascend to the highest understanding of prayer. In times of extreme need it is our duty to take into the inner closet with us only those who are completely in tune with each other and who possess unquestioning faith in the power of the healing love of God.
But suppose you are going alone into the "secret place of the most High" (Ps. 91:1), without three spiritual friends available to go with you? I suggest that you take with you only these highest attributes of your mind and soul: faith, hope and love, and deposit all fears, doubts, angers, jealousies, lusts and greed down at the mountain foot.
When you enter into your quiet time, it is well to take a few books along. First, the Bible—a statement of the laws of God's power. Second, bring a collection of poems, prayers or inspired prophetic literature that will lift your vision to the very stars.
The laws will furnish foundation to your belief; the prophetic literature will furnish inspiration. Thus fortified in the quiet hour, you will be ready to emerge into any situation with the light of victory shining in your face.
Peter would have rested satisfied in that hour on the mountaintop, and with that purpose in mind, exclaimed: "Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias" (Mark 9:5). Jesus knew better. Such a transcendent experience was merely preparation for the humble work of helping His fellow men.
No matter how marvelous this experience with God on the mountaintop may be, it always comes at last to an end (see Mark 9:8). We cannot live in the mystic cloud of oneness that shuts out the view of the work-a-day world, all day long.
When the period of meditation and prayer has run its course, it often ends quite suddenly. But God abides deep within us, and the power of that hour will accompany us along the way, ready to work miracles upon whomever comes into our presence with faith and love.
However, power generated in this quiet time may be easily dissipated in a way that we least expect. It is so very easy to let idle talk enter in after such a spiritual time. Jesus does not fail to make this law clear: "And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen" (Mark 9:9).
In the Valley
Now this mountaintop vision manifests itself with miraculous power upon the sick in the valley below. Into this picture comes an example of one of the most difficult of all illnesses for prayer to heal.
The situation is rendered doubly difficult because the father of the sick one has asked the disciples to heal him, and their attempts have failed (see Mark 9:17-19). To make matters worse, the son has an attack right there, as the father is speaking (see v. 20).
First of all, Jesus asked the question, "How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And oftimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him" (vv. 21-22).
I have often asked a person in trouble to tell how it began, and when he is finished I would say, "It ends right now."
Then we have a little prayer time together, in which he gives his end of it, which he is confident that he knows, and I give the end of it, which I am confident that I know, into the hands of the Father. When two agree together in this way in giving any trouble or any illness completely into the hands of the Father, He always takes it away (see Matt. 18:19).
The Faith Factor
The next step that Jesus reveals in curing the sick is to ask the person to muster all his or her faith. "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).
The father's tears revealed the deep love for his son and the great intensity of his desire for his boy to be well. Love, faith and deep desire are essential requirements for prevailing prayer. And the father added the attribute of honesty when he said: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (v. 24).
Occasionally, a person comes to me for help, and down in his heart he has great doubts that he is ashamed to reveal. The most important thing, almost more important than faith itself, is absolute honesty and absolute humility, which leads one to tell frankly his own faults and weaknesses where it would help to effect a cure.
The next step was Jesus' rebuking of the foul spirit (see Mark 9:25). Christ's absolute conviction of the all-powerful reality of God enabled Him to cast out demons and heal the sick wherever people came to him in humility, honesty, faith and love.
Jesus' disciples were curious as to why they were not effective. Jesus told them: "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (v. 29).
"Prayer and fasting" summarize the whole philosophy of healing I am putting forth here. Fasting refers to the necessary washing out of the bad, and the cleansing through relinquishment of all that would block the way of cure. Prayer refers to the inpouring of power and inspiration through opening oneself to the healing power of God.
"Lord, empty me of self," is the voice of fasting. "Lord, fill me with Thee," is the cry of prayer.
Glenn Clark (1882-1956), one of the most widely published authors on the life of prayer in the 20th century, founded the Camp Farthest Out in Koronis, Minn., in 1930. By 1961, there were 41 of them, meeting in nearly every area of the country.