Friday, May 30, 2008

This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory

What is "prayer time" like in your church? In mine, as in the church below, it is dominated by requests related to illness and the desire for healing and health. Apparently that was not always the case. At Books & Culture, Lauren F. Wimmer reviews Faith in the Great Physician: Suffering and Divine Healing in American Culture, 1860 -1900:
A friend of mine who pastors a large church in North Carolina recently totted up the prayer requests he gets from his parishioners. When they ask him for prayer, what do they want him to pray for? In short, healing. He realized what prompts the vast majority of these prayer requests is illness—something like 95 percent of their prayers are for healing, either for themselves or for someone else.

It's a safe bet that surveys of your church would turn up similar results. How did we come to pray so fervently for recovery from illness? As Heather Curtis notes at the outset of her fascinating first monograph, it has not been ever thus. Although one can certainly find prayer for healing popping up throughout church history, for much of the last 2,000 years those prayerful desires for healing went hand in hand with a certain veneration of bodily affliction. Suffering was seen as a privileged spiritual state: bodily pain presented the believer an opportunity to identify in an especially intense way with the suffering Christ..... [more]

Rise and Walk - Books & Culture

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