Praying to Dead People
How do you pray to a dead person?
There are times when we need to reconnect with those who have gone before us - not for guidance or consolation, of course (for the Scriptures speak adamantly against that) - but for issues of forgiveness.
Once, in the middle of the Prayers of the People I had a vision of a man's left foot. It was an old foot, with bones and veins pretty well defined. I knew that God wanted to minister to an old guy that day. So at the Peace I made a general announcement.
"Is there anyone here who has a left foot?"
To my surprise, everyone in the church raised their hand. After a short eruption of joy-filled embarrassment I described the vision and invited "the man" to come up after the service for prayer.
No one came to the rail for prayer. My prayer partner and I were just about to give up and heading for the sacristy when, from the back of the church, an old man appeared and limped his way up the aisle.
It was "Charlie." Someone who I never thought would want to receive prayer for healing. Old, a staunch Episcopalian. Rite I. He knelt before us, a bit embarrassed.
"I don't know what I'm doing here," he gruffed.
And, as we prayed over him it was evident that nothing was happening. And I mean nothing. It was like God had left the building. Awkward at best.
Somewhere along the line I had learned when healing for one thing isn't happening, healing for another thing might be happening. So I asked.
"Charlie, is there anything else you might have on your mind for prayer."
A tear came to his eye. He took off his glassed and stared into the carpet. He told us that he needed to ask forgiveness to his wife for something he had done a long time ago. My first thought was to send the other prayer minister into the parish hall to get her.
"And she is dead," he added.
Okay, Lord, what happens here?
We waited in the Lord's silence for what seemed like forever when it occurred to me that Charlie's wife was in the presence of the Lord, our intercessor. He hears our prayers and communicates them to the Father. Why couldn't he hear Charlie's prayers and communicate them to his wife?
Over the course of the next few minutes, Charlie voiced to Jesus that which he needed to say to his wife. Love filled the room and we all experienced the joy of one man's reconciliation with his beloved.
Afterwards, he was just about to get up and leave when I said, "Hey, let's get back to your foot and see if anything happens."
Within moments his foot was healed and he walked out of the church without a limp of any kind.
A few weeks passed and he was still boasting in the joy of his healing. The sight of an old 80 year old man, hopping around on a once crippled foot, still brings a smile to my face, even as I write this today.
So we don't pray to dead people. But Jesus is the Lord over the living and the dead. He is our intercessor and lives for the reconciliation for all of humanity, regardless of where they are residing.
Got unfinished business?
Bless you Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth, the living and the dead, for your Spirit who is always reconciling us to the Father, and to one another. Amen.