I have never been a person to pray for specific favors. It never felt right to me. My prayers generally are for strength, guidance, an acceptance of what comes my way. That is always how I "felt" right praying. To pray for a specific favor like a good grade, to do well in some competition and things like that just always felt a little wrong and to pray for physical healing was something I never would have considered.
I am not saying this was any kind of selflessness. I am not sure exactly what it was. A fear of seeming childish or perhaps it was out of fear that my faith would be shaken if the prayer wasn't answered. Regardless, this is how I generally pray. And that is not to say that I don't or didn't think that God doesn't concretely answer prayers. I believe that He does. For instance I have always prayed when overwhelmed something like "God, I cannot do this all alone, please help me" and I will somehow, someway find my way through whatever it is. Not only that but how the situation resolves more often than not leaves me in awe knowing that the only way it ended up like that was by the Hand of the GOD. So I don't like to pray for specifics and I do believe that GOD concretely and actually answers our prayers, makes tons of sense, right?
This Monday morning during a workout called a "tempo" run, I hurt my knee. A tempo run is a run in which a large chunk, 5 miles for me yesterday, is run as fast as the runner can sustain for 45 minutes to an hour. This is a hard workout. Near the end of the 5 miles I tweaked my knee and I was unable to run home and instead had to walk/jog for next 3 miles and even that was painful.
I iced and adviled yesterday and "hoped" for the best. But I didn't prayed about it. Around 9 last night I went for a short 1 mile test run. I am in marathon training and had a longer run planned for Tuesday morning so I wanted to see if there was any chance I could get it in. It was pretty painful and I was resolved that I wouldn't be running for at least a few days and would need to supplement with some other form of exercise.
After the test run, my wife and I were sitting on the couch watching Olympic coverage. Everyone in my family runs so the Olympic runners have been getting a lot of attention from us. My wife had read an article about Ryan Hall the other day and had started telling me about it. Hall readily shares his faith and in this particular article she read somethings that caught her attention. One of those things was that his wife shared a story of healing through prayer that happened to her.
Hall's wife is also a runner and apparently, she had an Achilles problem that doctors were not able to cure even after a year. She took matters to God and received what she asked. Her heal problems were cured and she has since not had any recurring problem with it.
As I said, this is never how I have prayed. But when my wife relayed this to me A flood of Scripture and Tradition came into my mind. I realized that one of the most prevalent and concrete ways God has relayed Himself to man throughout the Old and New Testaments has been through physical healing. I also realized that this continued in the in the early church and continues even today at places like Lourdes. I also realized that I and probably a lot of other people don't have enough faith to even give this a try. We hear stories and either think "oh, that's nice" or "umm, what a nut job." Looking back I wonder how I ever rectified the fact that God manifested Himself to people throughout the Bible but somehow we think today that He will no longer do that.
I was moved to pray for a healed knee. It wasn't a profound prayer. It wasn't a profound movement even. There was no glistening light from above, no music. I barley even realized I was praying. I am not even sure what if any words I used. It was a split second and I didn't give it much more thought. My knee didn't all of a sudden feel any different. But when I got up Tuesday morning there was absolutely no pain or even discomfort.
I woke up to workout and my knee felt fine. I put on my clothes and just thought I would give it another try before heading to the gym to use the elliptical machine (a torture device used by injured runners as a means of punishment for being injured). But after 1 slow mile and no pain and I thought, I can go a little farther. 2 miles down, no pain then 3 and 4, still no pain. I am beginning to realize what has happened. I am picking up the pace and still feeling just fine. By mile 5, I know that this is nothing short of an answered prayer. There is no other explanation; remember 8 hours ago 1 slow mile was painful. Now I am running at a normal pace and am over 5 miles into it.
I finished off 14 miles at an overall pace of 7:44 mpm and ran the last 2 around 30 seconds faster than that. WITH NO PAIN. Having been the person who actually lived this event, I have no other explanation and I've got to say, I don't really need one.