too often we find our prayers infrequent and frail. when we hear that someone is ill or not well our automatic response is more “that’s too bad” rather than “let’s pray.” if we actually do pray for healing for another person we keep it general and not too specific. and we are sure to add on to our prayer “if it is Your (God’s) will” to get God off the hook…or ourselves.
why is that?
it may be that we’re not sure what his will is, especially when it comes to healing. yes, there are certainly inscrutable things about the Lord’s will in specific cases. however, there are things about God’s will that are relatively clear. healing, surprisingly, is one of them. again, there are instances where he may not provide healing for some reason but in general it is reasonable to think healing is his will.
- when Jesus inaugurates his kingdom he proclaims the gospel AND demonstrates the gospel through healing. (matthew 4:23, 9:25)
- when Jesus sends his disciples on their short term mission trips he sends them out, commanding them to proclaim the kingdom AND to heal (the 12 in luke 9:6, the 72 in luke 10:9)
- we never see an account of Jesus in which he turns people away from healing or says it is not the Father’s will
- Jesus instructs us to pray for “His kingdom to come and His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” if heaven is where God’s kingdom and will is fully established and in heaven there is no sickness or pain, then we ought to ask for healing to be unleashed here on earth.
- lastly, our actions betray us. when we do not see healing then we conclude it must be God’s will that we not be healed…but then we continue to pursue medical treatment. aren’t we disobeying God then if we truly believe that?
it is not a matter of IF healing is God’s will, it is just a matter of WHEN. this leads us to the second reason why I think our prayers may be so weak willed. as americans, we’re terrified of disappointment. we’ve twisted our theologies of prayer to protect ourselves and limit God. we’ve found believers in other countries, especially those not cushioned with wealth, to be of tougher faith who don’t give up on God and prayer at the first sign of disappointment. often they do not have the luxury of health care so they go after God in ways that we can learn from.
in fact, Jesus teaches us, through the story of a widow who keeps going to an unjust judge to get justice (Luke 18:1-8), that perseverance in prayer IS faith (v.8). when full healing didn’t come to a blind man after Jesus laid hands on him, Jesus just did it again (Mark 8:22-25). He was fine to acknowledge that healing is a process. if Jesus had to pray twice for the same healing we could surely pray twice (or more).
just so you know that the kingdom of God isn’t just a matter of talk, i’ve experienced more breakthrough as i’ve kept asking of God in my life. one night a couple months ago at our discipleship school, right after a teaching on healing prayer, we prayed for anyone who was feeling any physical ailment. each person we prayed for was not healed instantaneously. however, when we pressed in to pray a second time, without fail, people felt a significant decrease in their physical symptoms. i took the teaching challenge to enter into any opportunity to pray for people’s physical healing for the following week. again, when i didn’t stop with one prayer, i witnessed healing. one sister with chronic pain in her knees went from barely being able to walk to me to joyfully walking down the stairs.
even if the answer does not come right away he may be shaping us for the better in the asking.
let us persevere with God beyond what we’re comfortable with.
*special thanks to chris rattay for many of his insights concerning physical healing