I once heard it said that if you want to see your spiritual gifts work, go where you are a stranger – an unknown who isn’t thinking about what other people will think. I got to put this to the test during a business trip to another state.
Several team members had planned for us to enjoy a “girls’ night out” while I was in town. On the appointed night, Jenny, Dina, and I headed to a popular restaurant abuzz with professionals enjoying drinks after work, and groups eating dinner.
At our table-for-three we enjoyed each other’s company, fine wine, and shrimp nachos. A handsome young man delivered our drinks, smiling from ear-to-ear. Jenny was the only single gal at our table, so of course she got kidded about the handsome waiter.
I was drawn to this young man without knowing why, and couldn’t let the evening come to a close without engaging him in a conversation. Over the anxious protest of bachelorette Jenny, I beckoned the young man to our table one last time.
Since I had no official reason to call him over, we made small talk until the young man began to share his story. Out poured the fact that he was 34 years old and had recently wrapped up a successful career as a Computer Programmer to pursue his passion in acting. He educated us on his cities’ blossoming movie industry, including some movie stars who recently passed through town.
“What might we have seen you in?” I asked. “A movie? Or a commercial perhaps?”
“Nothing major yet,” the young man smiled with hope, “but I won’t give up; I audition as much as I can.”
I don’t remember exactly how one statement led to the next, but in sharing his tale it came up that he was a successful athlete who played basketball through college. Years later, he still enjoyed playing basketball with friends.
The young waiter said he had hurt his Achilles tendon playing basketball over a year ago. The doctors warned him it would take up to three months to heal, if he stayed off of it. But alas, he admitted he couldn’t sit still and never slowed down. A year later, he is still in pain, to the extent that it is now hurting his acting career. And this is where everything changed, for him and me. His next words were my cue.
“But I pray to God every day that he will heal me,” he said with hope. I didn’t have to await further instruction; I knew exactly what God wanted me to do. I was equipped for this.
“Well you are doing it wrong,” I replied.
“What do you mean ‘doing it wrong?’” he said, surprised.
“You aren’t supposed to ask God to heal you. You are supposed to command it away!” I was already in motion as I spoke, moving from one side of the table around to the other. Before he knew what hit him, I was standing directly in front of him.
I looked him in the eye and said, “God loves you very much, and wants you to be well, to be pain-free. I would like to pray for you, but I am also going to put my hands on your ankle. It’s your right one, correct?”
“How did you know it was my right one?”
“So it is, then? God told me that!”
“No way! How did you know that?” he says again.
“God told me! Because he wants you well!” I exclaimed with excitement.
“That is amazing! How did she know that?” he asks Jenny and Dina, who are still in their seats just as confused and amazed as our young waiter.
I lean down and put both hands on his right ankle and say one of the shortest prayers I have ever spoken. I realize through the noise of the restaurant, the young man can’t hear me, no one else around can hear me, I have only the spirit-realm to talk to.
I start with the bad spirit first and command, “Spirit of pain, I command you to leave this young man’s ankle right now in the name of Jesus Christ! Achilles tendon, in the name of Jesus Christ I command you be healed!” And then I add, “Spirit of God, I thank you for blessing this young man with a perfect ankle.”
Seconds pass, and I don’t want to prolong what might be embarrassment for this young waiter in his place of employment. I stand up, smile and proclaim, “You are healed!” When I stand, I realize he had continued talking with my two teammates, so I turn and head toward my chair on the other side of the table.
Before I reach my seat, the young man says, “Whoa! What did you do? My ankle feels…different…it feels heavy…something is happening!”
Such excitement bubbles up inside me and I exclaim: “God is healing you! He is healing you! What do you feel now?”
“It feels better! It’s amazing! The pain is completely gone!” He starts bouncing up and down, like an athlete getting ready for the big game. He cannot contain his grin as he gives me a great big hug and then continues bouncing around the aisle of the crowded restaurant.
Within seconds, a second waiter approaches and asks what all the excitement is about. The healed young man pointed to me and says, “I’m healed! She said God healed my ankle and it doesn’t hurt anymore!”
The second man responded, “I wish she could do something like that for me; I’m in pain all the time.”
With a short step I am in front of the second young man and I say, “Of course God will heal you!”
To which he sadly replies, “God won’t heal me. He doesn’t even know me.”
“Oh but He does know you! And He wants you to be healed. What is causing you pain?”
“Your left one, correct?”
“How did you know that?”
“I told you God wants you well, so He told me which knee was in pain.” After preparing the second young man the same way I prepared the first, I bent down in the middle of the restaurant and put both of my hands on his knee.
This prayer was different than the first–it had to be. The first young man was a believer; he had been praying to God already to heal him. But this young man was so lost he thought God didn’t even know who he was.
Knowing once again no one but the spirit realm could hear my prayer in the loud restaurant, the words fell softly from my lips, “God, you promised us signs and wonders, and this young man needs exactly that! Pain, I command you to leave; knee, I command you to be healed!” I felt my palms heat up, a sure sign that God had heard my prayer. I left my hands in place a few more seconds, knowing the love of God was pouring into the young man.
This time when I stood, I assumed the best possible outcome and asked the young man what he felt.
“It’s gone! The pain is gone already! I can’t believe it!”
“Oh but believe it! God loves you that much!” Before I could say any more the second young man began hopping away shouting to his fellow co-workers, “I’m healed! I’m healed!” The first young man, still just as excited, trotted off behind the second to confirm their stories were true.
At this point, I realized I had caught the attention of most of the tables around us. The next few moments were a blur as I headed back to my seat, alive with excitement for how mighty my God is.
Since I was hundreds of miles from home, I’m guessing I may never see those two young men again, but perhaps that is what gave me the courage to jump out of my seat!
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18 NKJV