If you live with a visible disability or illness, then there’s a good chance you’ve experienced a stranger coming up to you and asking to pray for you. As someone who has lived for 21 years with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and uses a motorized wheelchair, I have had this happen to me many times throughout my life.
Sometimes it occurs in places where you might expect it, like in a church or at a Christian music concert; other times it has occurred at places that some might consider strange, like the grocery store, the mall, or a restaurant.
While this would be considered highly offensive to some people, I have personally never minded having strangers ask to pray for my healing, although I do not expect that this physical healing will occur anytime soon. This may seem like I lack faith in the very same God that I worship, but that is not the case. My love of God and belief in His power is quite strong, so let me explain why I don’t think these healing prayers will work.
As a Christian woman, I believe that God has a purpose for everyone and that He never leaves us in a certain situation without having a plan. While my disability has many downfalls, I can see that God has used it to allow me to minister to others in a way that is completely unique. He has taught me to have a level of faith that is very different than what you might expect from someone in my circumstance.
I am certain that God is fully able to heal me, but I am also certain that He has a plan for me just as I am. In addition, I don’t think that God views me as needing to be physically healed at this point in my life. I believe that He loves me just as I am, and will continue to create abundant blessings in my life.
Writing this reminds me of a story that my mother has told me many times. When I was very young, some family friends on my dad’s side came to visit and to pray for me. My mom held me in her lap while they prayed, and then set me on the floor in front of her when they had finished. The ladies were shocked that she had not tried to stand me on my feet and felt that this indicated a lack of faith on my mother’s part. Her response is that her faith is so great that she knew that if God was going to heal me at that moment, she didn’t need to stand me on my feet because I would have stood on my own.
Throughout my life, my perspective on being healed has been much like my mother’s in this instance.
While this was something that occurred in the privacy of our home, there are many times when these prayers occur in public settings, like at the Mall of America. During a visit with my mom, we happened to stroll past a store that sold crosses made of wood from Israel. The owner chased us down the mall to give me one of these crosses. He prayed for me and was certain that this cross would help heal me. I haven’t been healed yet, but the thoughtful gift still hangs on my wall.
There will be many more times throughout my life when people will ask to pray for me, and most likely, the same thing will happen to quite a few other disabled people. While I will always welcome and appreciate prayers from anyone who offers them, please remember that not everyone you meet will share the same viewpoint. You should always ask before praying publicly for someone, and if they say no, be respectful of their decision. If you still wish to do pray for someone with a disability, please consider doing so quietly so as not to upset them.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.