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The Rev. Canon Bill Riesberry has enjoyed a fulfilling and fruitful parish ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada. He is retired but continues to serve where needed, and often provides Priest in Charge Interim ministry. The following is a testimony regarding healing prayer.
I can see, exclaimed Russ, I can see!
by Bill Riesberry
Our meetings at the Lord Dufferin Centre at Orangeville are called Bible Studies. We meet on a Thursday evening once a month. Being a retired Anglican priest I was approached to start up a group in this Seniors residence. Weve now been meeting for about a year. We sing old favourites, read an in-season passage with reflections, offer up some short prayers, sing another familiar hymn, share a hug all around, and wind up with a cup of tea and some chit-chat.
Last time John brought along Russ. They sit at the same table in the dining room. John explains to Russ whats for dinner, portions it out, and guides his cutlery to his mouth, with a bit of friendly batter. So Russ arrives at our meeting with his white cane and his companion John. They sit together. John alone holds the large print book of oldies and later the large print Gideon New Testament. Russ remembers some of the verses from both, but his eyes have for some years lost their sight.
... Something unusual happened with me. I felt a confident nudge, a holy boldness, a joyful impulse to ask Russ if I might pray for the return of his sight.
In our studies that day we first read about the Feeding of the Multitude and then drifted to the Healing of the Blind Man. Two women in the group were not quite blind but could not read our large print books. One could hardly make out faces. Something unusual happened with me. I felt a confident nudge, a holy boldness, a joyful impulse to ask Russ if I might pray for the return of his sight. He agreed gladly. John placed his hands on his shoulder and I placed mine over his eyes. John, in the Name of Jesus receive your sight. I might have said more, I cant recall; but the joy and faith I do remember. John opened his eyes. Tears flowed down his cheeks. I can see! I can see! We hugged deeply giving thanks to the Lord, and the surprised group broke into joyful clapping.
I moved on to Evelyn. She removed her glasses to allow my hands to rest on her eyes. Again I prayed. There was a sweet pause, a waiting upon the Lord. I removed my hands. I can see your face. She spoke softly, with a lovely warm smile. Her joy and mine released the joy and thanksgiving of the whole group.
I crossed the small chapel and approached Stella. She has been coming regularly to our gathering. Even though she has not been able to read the words of our two books she listens and follows along. Again we prayed, for I felt we were now united in prayer. My hands were their hands, and our hands were the gracious hands of Jesus. For her the large print came into focus! What joy we experienced that evening, what hugs, what tears! Even the lovely little staff attendant who wheeled it in stayed with us and joined in the hugging, for she too experienced the joy of the Lord.
The Rev. Linda Riesberry R.N., B.Sc.N., M.Div. was ordained by The Evangelical Church Alliance, and serves as Chaplain to The Avalon Retirement Centre, in hospital chaplaincy, is a trainer in pastoral care, and minister in palliative care and pastoral care. See Order of St. Luke.
Open Our Eyes, Lord
by Linda Riesberry
Blind from birth, Jane simply requested, "I want to see!"
We had spent the day hearing from the Linn Brothers teach us about healing. Now it was time to put the teaching into practice. Those who needed prayer for healing were instructed to rise from their theatre like seats and stand signifying their need.
The rest of the people were asked to gather around anyone near by, ask what the prayer need was and then lay their hands on the person and pray silently for 5 minutes for that person. Be Jesus to the person, was the instruction. What that meant I had no idea. In fact in some way I thought it was a bit presumptuous. 3 of us lined ourselves up around Jane, a tall 40ish woman near us- one each side of her in her row and myself reaching out over the seats in front of her.
On one side of her a short elderly priest, somewhat patronizingly, said, Well dearie what can we do for you? Her reply was quiet and simple- I want to see. The priest was quite taken aback and the woman on the other side almost faded out of the picture. My scientific medical nurses mind said, Impossible Then I asked, Do you just need to see better without glasses? No, she said, I have been blind since birth. Then breaking through the sense of overwhelming helplessness came the leader's instructions again, Get on with your praying and just be Jesus to whoever needs His healing. In obedience we began.
In silence. 5 minutes at first seems like a long time! It was in that time that I heard God tell me how to pray. It was also in that time that I struggled and reasoned with God about why I couldnt or shouldnt do what I heard Him saying. Very clearly I heard Him say Lay your hands upon her eyes. I cant Lord! You know as an Anglican Im not to do the Laying on of Hands and especially on the head. Lay your hands on her eyes, came the persistent charge over and over again.
After what seemed like an eternity (in actual fact only a couple of minutes) I gave in and laid my right hand across her eyes. That moment for me was a profound experience of God - a real theophany! Then breaking through the awe came some more instructions from the front of the room - Check with the person with whom you are praying and see where she or he is at. We all opened our eyes and to our amazement Jane read my first name which was in larger print on my name tag. She said, I can only read your first name. Your last name reminds me of the story of how the blind man Jesus was in the process of healing saw trees walking! We were awe struck to put it mildly!
Jane continued speaking directly to me, You know when you put your hand on my eyes, it was not your hands I SAW but I SAW the hands of Jesus. I saw Him as soon as you touched me. At this point further instructions were given- If the healing isnt complete pray more, continue to be Jesus - another 5 minutes.
We went back to silent prayer! With expectation this time! No hesitation about laying hands on her eyes! At the end of the 5 minutes Jane opened her eyes and read what she said was a clear first name and a slightly blurred last name. God had not only opened her eyes but had also taught her to read! Awesome!
People were encouraged if they needed continued healing to go home to their prayer groups and have loving, soaking prayer until the healing is complete.
God works through our simple prayers, our listening to Him and our obedience in acting on His Word to us. Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine!
Linda is married to The Rev. Canon Bill Riesberry, a life long Anglican.
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