The Cyst

Several years ago my wife, Ceci, developed a troubling pain in her abdomen. It began as a minor discomfort and grew in intensity over the course of a year, at which time she went to have it checked. The doctor found an ovarian cyst about the size of a large egg. He informed us that surgery was necessary to remove it and possibly the ovary as well.

The doctor was a believer and understood spiritual principles so I talked with him about giving us a little time to pray for healing. "Doc," I said, "if you can give us some time I think we can get rid of it by prayer."

Being fairly confident that the cyst was not malignant or life threatening he replied, "I'll give you two months. If you don't get it your way, we'll get it mine."

"Fair enough," I agreed.

We prayed for Ceci with every biblical method we knew of: laying on of hands, elders anointing her with oil, the prayer of agreement, speaking the Scriptures, binding, loosing, casting out and, like good charismatics, we even knocked her on the floor and let her lay there awhile-sometimes you just have to try everything! The next time you speak with someone who insinuates they always know exactly what needs to happen in prayer and spiritual warfare, tell them Dutch Sheets doesn't believe it. (They will then ask you who Dutch Sheets is, but don't be intimidated by that.)

No change in her condition occurred, and I realized we were going to have to obtain this healing through perseverance and laying hold by faith (see 1 Tim. 6:12). That, by the way, is the way most answers-to prayer come-not as instant miracles, but through fighting the fight of faith and patience.

I felt I needed to spend an hour a day praying for Ceci. I began my prayer times by stating my reason for approaching the Father. Then I referred to the Scriptures on which I was basing my petition. I would quote them, thanking the Father for His Word and Jesus for providing healing. This usually took no more than five or six minutes. I prayed in the Spirit for the remainder of the hour. This went on for a month.

Some would believe that to be an unreasonable amount of time to pray for something-an hour a day for a month. Others would say God doesn't need that long to heal someone. I'm only telling you what worked for me. And I've discovered that He does not have only one way of doing things, even the same things. His creative varieties never seem to end. The key for us is always obedience.

After a couple of weeks of this, one afternoon the Lord showed me a picture as I was praying in the Spirit. I saw myself holding this cyst in my hand squeezing the life out of it. I did not yet know that the literal meaning of "helps" in Romans 8 was "taking hold of together with against," but the Holy Spirit was teaching me a wonderful truth.

I knew, of course, that I couldn't really get my hands on the cyst, but He was showing me that as I allowed Him to pray through me, HE was "lighting on" and "taking hold with me against" the thing. Obviously, it was His power making the difference.

It sort of reminds me of the mouse and elephant who were best friends. They hung out together all the time, the mouse riding on the elephant's back. One day they crossed a wooden bridge, causing it to bow, creak and sway under their combined weight. After they were across, the mouse, impressed over their ability to make such an impact, said to the elephant, "We sure shook up that bridge, didn't we?"

Kind of reminds me of some of our advertisements and testimonials. You'd think He was the mouse and we were the elephant. (Maybe that's why we don't shake many bridges.)

After seeing the picture of myself squeezing the life out of the cyst, I asked Ceci if there was any change in her condition. "Yes, the pain is decreasing," she informed me.

The doctor's response was, "If the pain is decreasing, the cyst must be shrinking. Keep doing whatever it is you're doing."

I tried hard to make sure I wasn't conjuring up any mental images, but twice more the Holy Spirit showed me this same picture. Each time the cyst was smaller. The last of them, which was

the third time overall, was about a month into the process. In the picture the cyst was about the size of a quarter and as I prayed it vanished in my hand. I knew the Lord was letting me know the work was finished. Even though Ceci said there was still a very small amount of discomfort, I could not bring myself to pray about it any further. I knew it was done.

Three days later she informed me that all the pain and discomfort was gone. The subsequent ultrasound confirmed what we already knew in our hearts-no more cyst!

You know what happened, don't you? PAGA!

Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, p.103-105. 1996, Gospel Light/Regal Books, Ventura, CA 93003. Used by Permission

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