“Please will you pray for me?” she whispers, her voice barely audible.
“Of course,” I reply, not feeling convinced by the confidence in my voice.
We are sitting next to each other on a soft cushioned bench, running round the perimeter of a small circular chapel. The floor is made of limestone, the walls unevenly white washed. In the centre is a huge slab of rock serving as an altar, solid and immovable, a cross and two tea lights perched precariously on top, a small glass vase of freshly picked daffodils balanced at the base.
Pearl* is a grey haired woman in her 50s. She has a strong northern accent and carries a few extra pounds. As she looks at me, I can tell she is in pain. Her ears are throbbing, she explains. She often gets ear ache, and today the pain is extreme.
It’s the end of the chapel service. People are beginning to leave, quietly lifting the latch on the door, pulling it gently closed behind them.
I rise to my feet, silently praying, mouthing the words under my breath. “Lord God, please give me your anointing for healing, please use me as a channel, please help me do this, in Jesus’ name.”
Standing in front of Pearl, she gives me permission to lay hands on her ears. As I do so, I pray in tongues, speaking a heavenly language, and I feel a mantle of authority fall heavy on my shoulders …
Every Spring time, for nearly a decade, I have found myself heading to the west coast of Wales for a week of rest and reflection. There, nestled high in the hills, lies a Christian retreat centre and house of prayer, looking out over a beautiful lush green valley.
I first heard about Ffald-y-Brenin when I was given the book, ‘The Grace Outpouring‘, by a friend. At the time, the book was relatively unknown and certainly not the best seller it’s become in the years since. It tells the story of how God has chosen to pour out His grace and blessing in this remote corner of Wales, and it took me less than 48 hours to devour it.
Immediately, I was on the phone to the friend who had given it to me.
She didn’t need any convincing. Two days later and we had both booked a week off work, found a local B&B to stay in, and downloaded directions.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ffald-y-Brenin quickly took root in my heart as a special place, a place with a thin veil, where heaven touches earth in tangible ways.
It must have been my third or fourth visit, when I met Pearl.
Standing in front of her, the tangible weight of God’s authority on my shoulders, I find myself commanding the earache to go in the name of Jesus. I feel ill equipped. I don’t know what I’m doing. But I tell the infection, the bacteria, the virus, the pain, the inflammation, whatever is causing it, all of it is to go, in the name of Jesus.
I pray in tongues, and then I feel a nudge from the Holy Spirit: “Rebuke what Satan is doing over her balance.”
Where did that come from?
I don’t question it. I know it to be the still, small voice of God.
With my hands still on Pearl’s ears, I calmly and gently say out loud, “Satan, in the name of Jesus, I rebuke what you are doing over Pearl’s balance. And with the authority I have in the name of Jesus, I tell you to get off her balance and her ears, and to go to the foot of the cross of Christ where you belong.”
My heart fills with compassion, as she starts to sob, her tears free flowing. The sobs get louder, guttural, heart wrenching. God is clearly doing some deep inner healing.
I find myself declaring John 10:10 over her, that she may know fullness of life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Jesus has come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.”
The chapel is almost empty now. The handful of people left are praying, with me, for Pearl, seated where they are, dotted around the chapel. The dappled evening sunlight is pouring through the arched windows onto the altar, catching the shadows of the daffodils at the base of the altar.
I know that God is working in Pearl, so I decide to leave her in His presence.
“How did you know to pray for my balance?”
It’s the following day and I’m in the communal kitchen, making a cup of tea. Pearl has joined me at the counter, her eyes bright and dancing. She looks lighter than she did the day before and she clearly doesn’t have any ear ache today.
I explain how I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me, how I followed through and obeyed what I sensed was God telling me to rebuke what Satan was doing over her balance.
She is clearly bemused. “But I didn’t ask you to pray for my balance,” she says.
As we sit down together, steaming mugs of tea cupped in our hands, she blurts out her story. She doesn’t find it easy; she’s not naturally articulate, but she has my full attention.
Years ago, when Pearl was conceived, her mother was an unmarried teenager. Although it was the 1960s, there was immense stigma in giving birth out of wedlock. Pearl’s mother had never intended to get pregnant. Pearl’s father didn’t want to know. It was a classic unwanted pregnancy.
Pearl’s mother tried to abort her … only it didn’t succeed.
Pearl fought through. But her ears, her hearing and her balance were permanently damaged. None of them have ever worked as they should, something the doctors have directly attributed to what happened when she was in the womb. She regularly gets excruciating earache and labyrinthitis, an inflammation in the inner ear, causing dizziness and loss of balance. She has learnt to live with it.
Pearl tells me how she came to Ffald-y-Brenin because God had convicted her that she needed to forgive her mother. Their relationship has never been good. Pearl has always felt responsible for not dying in the womb, when her mother wanted rid of her.
Yesterday, she finally forgave her mother.
A few hours later, I prayed for her.
Last night, she went to bed, feeling peace unlike anything she’s known before. This morning, when she woke, she felt that same sense of peace. Her earache has gone. Her balance is restored. She feels like a new person. She still can’t believe what’s happened.
She thanks me for praying for her balance. We exchange a hug.
I feel humbled. Why me? Why would God use me to bring this about?
And then I sense Him speaking:
It’s not about my ability; it’s about my availability.
It’s not about my understanding; it’s about my trust and obedience.
Only God ever has the full story; I just have to play my part.
* Name changed to preserve anonymity.