|Prayer and animals
E. Norbert Smith, Ph.D.
As most of you know when I started driving a truck over the road, I was lonely and considered finding a companion. I emailed 20 friends, explaining my plight and seeking their advice. I knew I needed a companion, but was undecided as to whether I should attempt to find a woman or a dog. The overwhelming advice favored the latter and suggested I avoid the former. It was good advice. My daughter bought me a pedigreed rat terrier puppy two Christmases ago and I have not been lonely since. He is my constant travel companion, friend and CO-driver. He goes with me in 3 hour car ride and 12 hour truck ride each night.
As some of you know he was recently attacked by my renter's Chow dog and badly hurt. I shared that information with a few friends; many said they would pray for my dog. I sincerely appreciated the thought and had already prayed healing and pain relief for him. Time passed and I continued to ponder prayer for animals. After a couple of days at the local veterinary clinic my little furry friend is as good as new and much wiser. My mind remained fascinated with the wisdom of prayer for animals. Let me share some thoughts.
We know without a doubt, God is concerned about our lives and the things that trouble us. One of the most comforting Bible passages is this familiar verse: Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Ps 55:22, NIV) I was deeply concerned about my little dog so it is clear God also cared. My concerns are His concerns. That was comforting. Does God care about the welfare of animals? It would seem so, after all He who created them and said all of Creation was good. He speaks with obvious pride about some of the animals He created in Job chapters 38-41. It is obvious God delights in all of His Creation, not just in Man. There is more.
God expects us to treat animals humanely. Consider the Jewish law pertaining to oxen: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. (Deut 25:4, NIV) It would be cruel for the hard working ox to be denied of the very grain on which he is walking. There is a similar passage regarding people tending fig trees. He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored. (Prov 27:18, NIV) Perhaps the most revealing passage is one dealing not with actual cruelty to an animal, but to the appearance of cruelty. Consider: Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Exod 23:19b, NIV) Although certainly not cruel, cooking a young goat in it's mother's milk would be disrespectful. God does care about animals for their own sake as well as for our sake. With that brief introduction, let me share some examples of prayer for animals.
One of the first emergency prayers I prayed was when I was 12 years old. My best friend then (as now) was my dog. His name was "Freckles" and he loved chasing a baseball I would hit with a bat. He also knew more tricks than any dog I have ever had. Besides the usual "stay", "sit", "sit up", "roll over", "play dead"...all from hand signals...he would fetch a ball or stick and drop it at my feet. He would also jump over a stick thrown at him and through the hoop made with my arms.
We had just moved from Ohio to the farm where I now live. I was playing ball with my dog near the house and he jumped for the ball as I swung the bat. I hit him hard on the head and face with my bat. He fell on the ground quivering like a chicken with its head chopped off. I screamed in anguish. My mother rushed out, grasp the dire circumstances and shouted, "Pray Norbert Pray!" We dropped to our knees and prayed God would NOT let my friend die. God heard and answered our frantic prayers. Within less than 30 minutes he recovered and was again fetching the batted ball, while keeping a safe distance from the swinging bat. He did lose some teeth, but God saved his life. Perhaps this is a trivial example of answered prayer, but it certainly gave me a life-long respect for the power of desperate prayer.
Senior Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church was also reared on a farm. His Dad was a veterinarian. For years they had been good Presbyterians, but were not saved. Ted's Dad met Jesus in a personal and life-changing way in a small Baptist church. Each of the family members became born again Christians. His Dad then heard about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in a home Bible study. Like most of us, he wanted all that God had to offer. Each family member became Spirit filled at the home study meetings and they were all kicked out of the Baptist church and joined an Assembly of God church. Ted's father then heard people needed to be set free from demon possession. The people at the new church did not agree that Christians could be demon possessed. Again, in a home Bible group each member of the family was delivered one at a time. With Ted, deliverance freed his mind to think more clearly and enabled him to make better grades in school. He believes he would never had been able to finish college without the deliverance from a demon that clouded his mind.
Pastor Ted's father became disenchanted with all organized churches and continued in personal Bible study and in the gifts of the Spirit. When Ted told his father that he felt God was calling him to become a pastor and lead a church, he made Ted promise to always serve God and NEVER to commit to any denomination. Ted kept his promise and now New Life Church has grown in just 15 years from a home church to 8,500 members. For many years Ted's father had a strong healing ministry and would pray for and see healing of not only animals but also many people visiting his animal clinic.
Once in a restaurant, Ted remembers seeing a man with a grossly large tumor on his face sitting alone. He looked repulsive and people treated him with scorn. He was a homeless drifter...an outcast...the kind God loves. Ted's father went over to him, bought his meal and began praying healing for this stranger. Over the course of about two hours the tumor shrank and the unsightly man's whole appearance changed for the good. Ted grew up with these things and expects them and the occur regularly at New Life.
Ted tells the story of a poor family bringing their race horse to his father. The horse had injured its leg in a race and other vets said it must be killed as there was no hope for the horse to recover. By what Ted's father had learned in school and by experience he agreed, but decided instead to pray for the horse. He anointed it with oil and stayed up most of the night praying healing for the horse. He did not approve of horse racing and gambling, but understood this was this family's only source of income so he prayed God would heal the horse so the family would have money for food. He went to bed late and even to his surprise found the horses leg fully healed the next morning.
Here is where the story gets AWESOME! When the owner returned he was overjoyed, but ask how the Vet had treated the horse's blind eye. Unknown to Ted's
father the horse had been blind in one eye for years from an injury as a young horse. He had examined the injured leg and was focused on that. He had simply prayed for healing of the horse. God not only miraculously healed the injured leg but also restored sight to the blind eye. The horse went on to win many races and support the family for years. Yes, God is concerned about animals and will heal them too if we but ask. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14, NKJ) This horse healing example reminds me of the account in the Bible where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He said, "Lazarus, come out!" If Jesus had only said, "Come out!" all the graves would have emptied! When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (John 11:43-44, NIV) Pastor Ted's father forgot to only pray for healing of the injured leg so God healed the entire horse. Praise God!
The night Gator was injured and in such pain and could not sleep, I prayed a simple, but directed prayer. I prayed God would release a generous amount of endorphins...the bodies built-in pain killer. Within minutes of my prayer Gator lay with his head next to mine and went to sleep. PRAISE THE GOD THAT CREATED DOGS AND PEOPLE TO LOVE THEM.