“This sickness will not end in death.”
In a world gripped in crisis, I’m using the most powerful prayer method I know: the Lazarus Prayer Technique.
Should you choose to try this prayer technique, be aware that this form of worship is not directly aimed at healing the sick, or mourning the dead. Instead, we praise God’s loving kindness and glory—in public—just as Christ often prayed. The Lazarus Prayer is based on the gospel passage at John 11, in which Jesus allows Lazarus (his best friend) to pass away. In the end, however, Jesus makes use of his friend’s death. He resurrects Lazarus from tomb while the bereaved family looks on. Jesus performs this miracle in order to demonstrate the reality of God’s infinite power for the sake of generations to come.
With regard to Lazarus’ plight, Jesus explains to his shocked audience: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
John 11 – New International Version (NIV®)
How to Use the Lazarus Prayer Technique
I have a Canadian friend, Harold, who’s male neighbor had been diagnosed with 4th-stage cancer. Worse, Ted’s doctors at the time told him that he had only a few weeks to live. Then late one evening Harold phoned me. He’d just watched his neighbor start the car and drive off. For the last time.
“Ted and his wife just left,” Harold said. His voice held a touch of sadness. “He’s going to the hospital to be euthanized.”
“What?” I could not fathom such a thing. “Ted’s going to let his doctors kill him?” At the time, I didn’t know that the Canadian healthcare system puts end-stage cancer patients to death.
“Yeah. Too bad,” my friend said. “Beautiful wife, three kids.”
This was too much to bear. Despite the fact that my friend, himself a staunch non-believer, used offensive phrases such as “Sky Cake,” (and worse) with regard to the Father, this time I refused to remain silent. Of course I’d been longing to show Harold the awesome reality and might of God. Now, my time had arrived. So I prayed aloud, there on the phone, with this man who did not believe.
“Father,” I exclaimed, “Do not let Ted die!” For the sake of your Name— for Harold’s sake—let him be a witness to your loving kindness.” Indeed, this was a very bold move. But I believed that God would answer my prayer– if only to show Harold who’s boss.
A while later, perhaps around midnight, my phone rang again. This time, Harold seemed rather excited. “Buddy!” he exclaimed into the answering machine. “You won’t believe this! Ted just came home!”
I snatched up the phone. “Harold. Is Ted still alive?”
“Yah dog! The doctors gave him a CT scan—which is a normal procedure before they put a patient down. And do you know what they found?” Gauging the tone of Harold’s exited voice, I knew what the doctors had found. In silence, I quickly thought-thanked Father.
“And?” I prodded my previously non-believing friend.
“Well,” Harold began, “Ted had four malignant tumors in his chest three days ago. But when they did a CT scan, Ted was clean! The doctors found no cancer!”
It takes real courage to openly pray with someone who doesn’t believe. During this uncertain period of worldwide hardship and loss, even skeptics will join in prayers for the sick and the dying. Mention God’s love, and bless those who dearly need to witness the strength of your faith.
God bless you and yours this Easter,
— Andrew Michael