Hands Reaching for Cross

Praying for Healing

Prayer is God’s ordained way to bring His miracle power to bear in human need. —Wesley L. Duewel

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” Matthew 8:16–17

Prayer is God’s ordained way to bring His miracle power to bear in human need. —Wesley L. Duewel

The Bible tells some amazing stories about healing. For example, the apostle Paul was once speaking late into the night to a group of believers (Acts 20:7-12). I suppose more than one Christian speaker has gone too long, but what happened next was anything but typical. A young man named Eutychus fell asleep while sitting in a third-floor window sill and then fell to the ground dead. Paul went down and embraced Eutychus as an act of prayer. The youngster came back to life! I once used to use this story for justification when preaching too long, but my wife cautioned that I could only do so if I had a track record of raising the dead.

The topic of healing presents one of the more mysterious and controversial issues that Christians are compelled to work through. Even Paul, the apostle who was used so mightily of God (see also Acts 19:11-12), made reference to times when God did not bring quick and miraculous healing (see Galatians 4:13, 1 Timothy 5:23, and 2 Timothy 4:20).

On the home front, I have had my own physical battles over the years—nothing life-threatening but enough difficulty to make me dig deeper into a Biblical perspective of physical healing. I have also lost loved ones prematurely to disease. I would not wish the physical and emotional pain of disease upon my worst enemy.

Wrong Thinking

The pain and cost of physical sickness can be staggering. And while the Lord is an opportunist who works each and every situation to our benefit, I am convinced that He wants to perform more miracles in the Western church than we allow. Wrong theology, I believe, has led to confusion and unbelief regarding this vital issue. I will briefly address some erroneous ideas and then follow with a healthy perspective of this vital issue.

Some people look down with contempt upon those who are sick. Like Job’s three friends, they try to fix specific blame for the cause of a sickness. I remember once hearing about a callous individual who told a mother and father that their daughter died of cancer because they did not have enough faith. Not only are such responses foolish and insensitive, they deepen peoples’ pain, confusion, and frustration rather than lifting them to new levels of faith and devotion.

The truth is that we all deal with sickness and disease in some capacity because we live in a fallen world. Healing is needed because humanity brought a curse of death upon this earth by spurning God’s warning and eating from Eden’s forbidden tree. Sickness, for its part, is a form of death at work in our bodies.

The Last Enemy

The Scriptures tell us that death will be the last enemy swallowed up by Christ’s victory (1 Corinthians 15:26), and because sickness is a form of death, its eradication does not come quickly or easily. One day, each of our bodies will be healed and transformed for eternity, but in the meantime, we must fight to lay hold of God’s promises.

Erroneous theology, however, makes it difficult for us to believe. First, there is the idea that we get sick because it is God’s will. Yes, the Lord will turn even the worst sickness for good purposes. That does not mean, however, that He makes us sick or that every outcome reflects His best for our lives. Furthermore, if we really thought that it was God’s will to be sick, we would never go to a doctor in the hopes of getting better because we would be working against our Lord.

I also find it disheartening that some theologians and church leaders will discourage people from believing for healing. There is near universal acceptance that our loving Lord brings both spiritual and emotional healing to our lives, often restoring broken relationships in the process. But when it comes to physical healing, some Christians not only balk, they argue against healing as a modern Christian phenomenon.

The Lord our Healer

God, however, does not change; He always has been and always will be the Healer of all healers. In fact, one of His Old Testament names is Jehovah Rapha (see Exodus 15:26), meaning “the Lord who heals.”And not only do we find reference to God’s healing nature throughout the Bible, Jesus also demonstrated the healing power of God throughout the course of His ministry on earth. Never in the Bible do we find Jesus saying, “I am sorry, it is not My Father’s will for you to be healed.” Moreover, the Son of God taught and equipped His disciples—and not just the twelve—to pray for the sick (see Luke 10:1-22).

The idea that Jesus healed people only to “jumpstart” the early church, and that God no longer moves in such miraculous ways, has no firm Scriptural justification. Jesus heals people because He loves people, and under the new covenant, we should believe for God to work in greater ways than He did under the old. It is in our Lord’s life-giving nature to bring healing and restoration to every aspect—spiritual, emotional, physical—of humanity’s brokenness.

Why is it, then, that healing remains such a mystery to us? Why does God sometimes heal when it is unexpected and not heal when we hope? Why did the Lord miraculously heal my friend Bryan when I prayed for him but not answer similar prayers for others? In all honesty, I do not understand all the unseen factors at work. There is, however, a huge hindrance to healing that we can all do something about: corporate unbelief.

The passage in Matthew 13:53-58 ends with a sad statement: “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” At issue, however, was not simply the unbelief of a lone individual or two, but an entire community. Such corporate unbelief—a huge problem in the Western world—causes the King of Glory to limit His work in our midst.

Cultivate Faith!

We can each make a difference by cultivating our own faith in God. We can also create non-judgmental environments in which we seek to lift up and encourage those who are struggling with various doubts. These combined efforts will help to create a spiritual atmosphere in which the healing anointing of God’s presence is more likely to be released.

We can also follow the Biblical precedent by laying prayerful hands on those who are sick (Luke 4:40; Acts 28:8; and James 5:14-16). Sometimes, God waits for us to take the first step of faith outside of our comfort zones. Exactly what the good Lord will do, we cannot say. But we can look forward with great anticipation to the miraculous work of His Spirit in our midst!

Today’s Prayer Focus: For the healing grace of God to be poured out in our community

Today’s Scripture to Pray: When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

Starting Prayer: Jesus, we thank You that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. We ask that You have compassion on our community by pouring out Your healing Spirit…

  • That You cleanse our unbelief and help us to see You as our Healer.
  • That You comfort and encourage those who have lost loved ones to sickness.
  • That You free us from condemnation over being sick or visiting a doctor.
  • That You will bring Your kingdom and all its benefits—including healing—to our community.
  • That You reveal a greater measure of Your glory by pouring out a healing revival in our land…

.  Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).

This post is from a chapter that is being added to the Community Prayer Devotional which was used in beta-draft form for a thirty-day prayer initiative (January 2019) in Indiana, PA. The “official” version of the book is scheduled to be released by March 1, 2019.