This service was submitted by a pastor who created the service for a specific situation in his congregation: a young mother who was dealing with cancer. He writes, “Her recent chemotherapy treatments were not working. We talked about having a special prayer service and how that was to be an expression of trust, not desperation. . . . The service was a powerful experience of God’s presence for everyone.”
During the time of prayer, a suggested outline was projected on a screen as well as printed on paper. Instrumental music was played softly at various times during the prayer as a reminder of God’s presence.
Pastor: It is good to come together with a common trust in our God in heaven. We are here to express our trust in God and to pray. We do not gather out of a spirit of desperation, as if to say, “Nothing has worked so far, so let’s pray to God for a miracle.” As if to say that God is a last resort.
No. We are participating in this service of healing because the journey of [name] has brought us here. God has been part of this journey all along, and it is the work of God that brings us to this point of expressing our trust in God. We are not here to desperately pray for a miracle. Rather we are here to pray because God hears and answers prayer. Praying for healing is part of that. Praying for daily strength, peace, and blessing is also part of that.
We gather in hope, which is, as we read in Hebrews 6:19, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hope is a confident expectation anchored in God. We always have hope. Even when a medical treatment does not bring about the desired results, we still have hope. That’s because our hope is not in human abilities or promises. Our hope is in God. That is our testimony and trust.
Scripture Reading: Our Testimony and Trust
Songs of Trust
“In You Is Gladness” PsH 566
“How Great Thou Art” CH 147, PH 467, PsH 556, SWM 150, TH 44, WR 51
Opening Prayer of Praise
Pastor: Praise isn’t always easy, but it is important to start there. We need to know who it is that hears our prayers. We need to know who it is that answers our prayers. And so we praise this great God who is with us. Again, it isn’t always easy. We experience difficult times of doubt and pain and sickness. Jeremiah speaks of this troubled heart in Lamentations 3:17-26.
Scripture Reading: Lamentations 3:17-26
Song: “He Leadeth Me” CH 690, PsH 452, TH 600, WR 499
Individual Silent Prayers of Trust
Pastor: Let us spend a few moments in silent prayer, meditating on these words: “I surrender my heart to you. I trust you, Lord.”
Song of Trust: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” CH 630, PH 403, PsH 579, SWM 172, SFL 52, TH 629, WR 473
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1-5
Pastor: Our lives, as followers of Christ, are not guaranteed to be without suffering or sickness. Our confidence is that God is at work in all circumstances. We pray for God’s power to work in the face of the challenges we encounter.
A Time of Prayer
[Worship leader invites the people to pray individually or in small groups of three to five people.]
Pastor: This is an invitation to pray. Do not feel obligated to speak out loud in prayer. While we pray, there will be occasions where music is played. This is not to indicate that we are finished; instead the music is a reminder of God’s presence while we pray and an opportunity to let the songs direct our thoughts and prayers to God. You are invited to come forward and kneel at the front steps of the pulpit area if you wish to do so. You may want to use the outline projected on the screen to structure your prayers (see excerpt, below). Copies are also available at the front.
Sing: “You Are My All in All” SWM 183
A Reading: “Imagine” (see excerpt)
Pastor: Hallelujah! God is always there for us, waiting for us to talk to him and to rely on him. And that will give us peace. It’s important to tell God everything, no matter how trivial or small we think it might be. Remember that this amazing God whom we praise cares about all our needs.
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:6-7, 10-13, 19-20
Song: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” CH 139, PH 276, PsH 557, SWM 194, TH 32, WR 72
Pastor: We trust that God hears. We trust God’s answers. Go in peace. Walk daily with God and with each other, with the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Song: “In Christ Alone” SWM 208
Imagine . . .
Imagine that there was a wonderful young mother of three who led a good, kingdom-furthering life. And then cancer hit her, her family, and those who love her. . . .
Imagine that her family, friends, and church stormed the doors of heaven with prayers so that somehow this beautiful woman could live to see her kids grow up. . . .
Imagine the news about the growth of the cancer, the CT scans, the nuclear medicine tests that didn’t reveal good news. . . .
Imagine then, after almost all hope was gone, after more than eight months of sickness, fatigue, frustration, and an against-the-odds-positive attitude, after the laws of science and medicine were turned on their head, after the oncologists said that this was the last chance for healing, it was revealed that the cancer was gone. . . .
Imagine then that the Father and his Son Jesus were talking over a cup of tea about this inspirational servant that they spared only to see that the good work that was begun in this woman would be carried out until completion. . . .
Imagine that because that good work could continue, it would send a ripple of hallelujahs throughout the land that would resonate with those who really need to hear it. . . .
Imagine? I am.
—Mendelt D. Hoekstra, Fruitland Christian Reformed Church, Stoney Creek, Ontario. Used by permission.
Outline for Healing Prayer
We pray . . .
- for physical healing; we dare to ask for a miracle.
- for perseverance, for continuing to live fully to the Lord, even in sickness.
- for character, for being an example and encouragement to others, leading others to trust in the Lord.
- for hope for today, tomorrow, and forever.
Those we are praying for include . . .
- spouse and children or parents and siblings.
- neighbors, friends, and family, who provide support and blessing.
- others who have requested prayer for their particular needs.
- your own family member, friend, or colleague who is living with physical or mental illness.