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Denying the divine

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2021 - 12:00am

I could not shake the feeling and so I inquired how the official was doing. As expected, I was told by his associate that he was following doctors’ orders to rest and was doing fine. I expressed my concern for the official and prayed he would actually follow his doctors and give himself a break. Later that week I discovered that the very same official was going through a very serious medical challenge that was kept hidden when one of his friends asked me in confidence to pray for the official but not to make the situation known to the public because the family had requested for privacy on the matter.

In the many years I have been a journalist, such requests to keep sensitive matters under wraps is quite common and I have respected them all. But this has not kept me from feeling a sense of loss, a lost opportunity for friends, supporters and the public at large to be able “to pray for the sick” as well as our “leaders,” as our “Christian faith” mandates us.

Both the old and the new testaments of the Bible are loaded with tried and tested instructions and encouragement that when we are sick or facing challenges of every kind that we should pray and ask for prayer. Unfortunately, all of that has been suppressed or misdirected by modern culture and western thought that teaches us to suffer in silence, privacy and therefore suffer alone. I call it the devil’s work when we are taught not to follow biblical teaching but instead to “Deny the Divine” or seek divine intervention. What shame is there for people to know when we are ill or facing grave or serious challenge? Isn’t it ironic that in our desperate moments and moments of loss and defeat we cry out to THE GOD almighty but when there was still a lot time and opportunity to rally the fervent and effective prayers of the faithful, the world teaches us that we should keep the matter private? To what end and for what purpose? To ensure our defeat or seal our demise?

Yes, God is merciful and kind, but if you’ve read about Jesus Christ he has on occasion asked, “Do you want…?” During the ministry of Christ some of his big miracles involved a parent, an employer, family members looking for Christ, approaching Christ and asking Christ to heal a daughter, a brother, a son, a servant. On at least two occasions the crowd was fully convinced that the situation was hopeless and that turning to God or to Christ would unnecessarily inconvenience the Lord. Had the affected family members followed public opinion and not opted for divine intervention, they would have had a funeral and not a celebration of life!

We are instructed that when someone is seriously ill, to invite the elders of the church to anoint the sick with oil and to pray over the sick. Prayer and healing were never meant to be separate realms and one of the teachings I have firmly believed in comes from the book of James chapter 5, verse 6: “The effective, fervent prayers of a righteous man/woman avails much.” I so believe this verse that every time someone calls for prayers, I in turn sound the alarm on my Facebook page and call upon my circle of friends to take time out to pray for someone who could be a complete stranger to them, even to me, but someone who is in need and humble enough to ask for prayers.

Some of us have the notion that others are more prayerful or have the ear of heaven and that in part is what the apostle James points out, but that is just part of it. As I pointed out, the other half is having the humility and the “faith” to believe that when we ask our brothers and sisters in the faith, their effective and fervent prayers and our belief will be heard.

Even more important is to understand that we too have the ability to become prayer warriors, the guys and girls who “knock, knock, knock on heaven’s door and who storm the heavens with prayers.” Your sincere effort has the potential to become effective and fervent prayer.

In 2020, our daughter Hannah got COVID-19 when she was all by herself in the Netherlands. My wife and I felt so helpless, but only for a moment. We immediately called out for prayers and by God’s grace she was asymptomatic all the way and became COVID-free quickly. That frightening episode was soon followed by the sudden inexplicable collapse and comatose state of “Alexandra,” the daughter of one of my good friends. I immediately made a general appeal for prayers, omitting the details initially, but once I spoke with my friend we agreed to “go public.” The odds were against us, the possibilities dim and dark but we kept “ringing the bell,” so to speak. Alexandra came out of her coma and survived what should have killed her. From paralysis and being unable to communicate, she has slowly but surely recovered and I have to point out that people and incidents fell into place where her recovery was much faster. There are a number more similar “miracles” of people we all prayed for, especially those who landed in the ER or ICU because of COVID-19 and they have all recovered magnificently.

Although the official’s family has asked for privacy, we have included him in our prayers and I’ve made it a point to ask viewers of AGENDA our TV show, to please pray for ALL our government officials because your effective and fervent prayers avail much. May God bless you and bless us Filipinos, one and all.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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