Hot HandsJohn Buckeridge recounts a surprising miracle.

On a Sunday morning last December I got hot hands. By ‘hot’ I mean really hot. So hot that my hands felt like radiators on full blast. Sweat was literally running across my palms. Not comfortable or nice. God knows I’m not the most spiritually sensitive person He created, but even I realised this wasn’t normal. I realised God wanted me to pray for someone. But who? Then the meeting leader invited those present who wanted prayer for healing to raise their hand and for others to come and stand alongside them and pray. I looked around and felt drawn to a man who I hadn’t seen at church before. The man briefly explained that he had cancer – the outlook was gloomy. “Please pray that I get healed,” he asked. I asked his permission to lay my hands on his back, he agreed. Then a group of us prayed.

Straightaway I could feel the heat in my hands fuse into him. His shirt glued to my hands. After five minutes of praying in English and tongues, I became acutely aware of the damp mess I had made of his shirt. I was sure that neither his nor my antiperspirant was strong enough to deal with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Being very British and therefore anxious about the laying on of super-sweaty hands – I asked if he was OK to continue, or if he’d prefer to stop. He replied in a voice croaking with emotion, “Keep going please…” We prayed on and then worshipped God together.

Moments later I left the meeting as I was teaching Sunday School at church that day. By the time I had finished tidying up afterwards many people had drifted away – including the man I prayed for. But then a friend came over to tell me that the stranger had experienced heat running through his body. This phenomenon convinced him that God was real and he had committed his life to Christ. We celebrated with the angels. No longer a stranger, but a brother in Christ, he returned to church most Sundays.

However the cancer did not leave his body. Earlier this summer it killed him. When I heard the news I reflected on how our prayer had been answered, but not in the way we expected. We asked God to heal him and God moved in power, but healed his heart not his cancer.

I don’t understand healing, sometimes my prayers get answered the way I expected and hoped for, but often I don’t see an obvious answer, or God moves, but His priorities are patently different to mine.

A powerful feature this month illustrates the power and mystery of prayer. ‘Miracle Child’ (page 12) tells of an incredible and truly miraculous answer to prayer that touched several lives – and yet within the same family another child is apparently untouched by the healing power of the living Christ.

God hears and answers prayers, of that I am certain. But sometimes we just don’t see it. His ways are higher than ours. God help us all to grow in discernment, to see where His Holy Spirit is at work and cooperate with what He is already doing. And if that means getting hot hands, dirty hands or damaged hands, I pray that you and I will be prepared to pay the cost of being part of the solution to seeing God’s kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven.

John Buckeridge is the senior editor of Christianity magazine.