“This sickness will not end in death.”
In a world gripped in crisis, I’m using the most powerful prayer method I know of:
the Lazarus Prayer Technique.
For readers who wish to learn this prayer technique, it’s a form of worship not directly aimed at healing the sick or mourning the dead. Instead we praise God’s loving kindness and glory—in public—as Christ often prayed. The Lazarus Prayer is based on the passage at John 11, in which Jesus allows Lazarus (his best friend) to pass away. In the end, however, Jesus makes good use of his friend’s death. As the bereaved family looks on, he calls Lazarus from the tomb. Jesus performs his miracle to demonstrate the truth of God’s infinite power and love to remind the future generations.
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 seen his neighbor start the car and drive off. For the very last time.
“Ted and his wife just left,” Harold said. His voice carried with it a great deal of sadness. “He’s going to the hospital to be euthanized.”
“What?” I could not fathom such a thing: “Ted’s going to ask his doctors to kill him?” At that time I did not know the Canadian healthcare system often assists end-stage cancer patients to die.
“Yeah, too bad,” my friend said. “Beautiful wife. Three kids.”
It 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 keep 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, right there on the phone, with this man who did not believe.
“Father,” I prayed, “Do not let Ted die!” For the sake of your Name—for Harold’s sake alone—let him be a witness to your loving kindness.” Indeed, mine was a very bold move. But I believed that God would answer my prayer, if only to show Harold who’s the 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, a fairly normal procedure before they put a patient down. And do you know what they found?” Gauging by the tone of Harold’s exited voice, I knew exactly what the doctors had found. Or did not find. During my friend’s silence, I quickly thought-thanked Father.
“And?” I prodded my previously non-believing Harold.
“Well,” He began, “Ted had four malignant tumors in his chest just three days ago. But tonight, when they did a CT scan, Ted was clean. The doctors found no cancer!”
It takes real courage to pray openly with someone who doesn’t believe. Especially during this uncertain period of worldwide hardship and loss, even the skeptics will join in prayers for the sick and the dying. Just mention God, love, and openly bless those who dearly need to witness the strength of your own faith.
God bless you and yours this Easter,
— Andrew Michael