I love my local hardware store. It’s actually Ace Hardware but they’ve managed to give it a family-owned feeling. They also support a local Christian radio station which is pretty cool.
Publix is the main Florida grocery store and their motto is, Where shopping is a pleasure. And it really is. My wife, Kara, comments all the time about how Publix must be owned by Christians. Not sure if that’s true but it has an exponentially better atmosphere than Winn Dixie. And I won’t even mention Wal-Mart.
But now I’ve gotten off on a rabbit trail I’m about to bring around…hopefully. It’s a pleasure to shop at this particular Ace Hardware (see how I did that?). I feel the presence of God there. His peace. It’s what stirred me one particular Saturday afternoon.
“How’s it going?” I asked the cashier.
She glanced up at me with the kind of wild eyes that are full of stories. “Not bad. Whatcha got there?”
I set my stuff on the counter. Just a few things and a bag of chicken feed for chickens I’m not supposed to have. She shuffled the items through the scanner and I noticed a brace on her wrist. “What happened to your wrist?”
She paused long enough to raise her left arm and examine the brace. “Horses. I ride them all the time but last week I fell off.” She moved her thumb and winced. “Hasn’t been right since.”
A small smile tugged at the corner of my mouth in response to the spirit beginning to swirl in my belly. “Would it be okay if I prayed for you?”
Her eyes sparkled. “Oh, yes! That would be great.”
I backed up and allowed the customer behind me to check out. In the brief interlude the Lord wrote a few words on my heart for her and I gave them as directed. She sniffed and wiped damp eyes as I rested my hand on her injured wrist. I invited the Holy Spirit to increase and waited until I felt led to move forward, which happened shortly.
I released healing and commanded all tendons, ligaments, and bones to come back into alignment. I commanded all swelling and pain to leave and told Satan to release the precious woman of God.
“How does it feel?”
She blinked a few times and began manipulating her thumb. “It’s, uh…” A few more movements and a short laugh. “There’s still some pain but I think it’s almost completely gone!”
I prayed again for complete healing but there was no further relief of symptoms.
“That’s amazing,” she exclaimed. “I mean, it’s not totally gone but it’s so much better. Thank you so much.”
I grinned and left the store determined to come back and check up on her. I got my chance a week later. When she saw me her eyes lit up and she gushed a tale about how her wrist and thumb were totally healed and how she was telling everyone she knew about the miracle she’d experienced. “Do you do this a lot?” she wanted to know.
“As the Lord leads me,” I replied.
“Well, I need you to pray for my collar bone because it was injured in the fall as well.”
I grinned. “Alright. Let’s do it.”
I took away a few important things from that encounter. The biggest was that many times the complete healing comes a little later or even the next day. God is working for the healing of all. Just because there isn’t any improvement, or minimal improvement, when we pray for others it doesn’t mean they aren’t being healed. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time.
My good friend Praying Medic supposes that a very high percentage of healings happen later on, a few hours to a few days after prayer.
If you have the ability to follow up on the people you pray for, do it. There is much encouragement there that you may never get it if you don’t go back and check. Many times we don’t get the chance because they’re strangers or whatever else. But even in those situations be confident that a bunch of them are ending up healed!
The other thing is that if you can shop at my Ace Hardware, you should. It’s a pleasure. Did I mention that?
Jesse and Kara Birkey