When someone sick asks us to pray for them, how often do we pray that they will get well? We pray for peace . . . that the doctors will have wisdom . . .we pray for the family . . . but how often do we pray for the healing they need? Then because we never see anyone get healed, we gain no further confidence in that possibility.
Is it possible that we have not, because we ask not (James 4:2)? Remember that Jesus told his disciples to heal the sick (Matthew 10:8) and the apostle James told the sick to ask for healing (James 5:14).
Why do we hesitate?
Perhaps it is because we are unsure of the will of God. Sometimes, people confuse the sovereignty of God with fatalism. In reality, the idea that whatever will be, will be has more in common with other religions than with Christianity. In contrast, our all-powerful God repeatedly makes room for humans to impact what happens. Even in the most important issue of all, eternal salvation, He gives free will to each hearer, and co-labours with those He sends to preach.
Why do we assume that He changes His way of working in the area of physical healing?
Similarly, our thinking is sometimes closer to the concept of karma than it is to the true nature of God. We behave as if only good things should happen to good people in spite of the fact that Jesus (the best who ever lived) was falsely accused, tortured and executed.
At times not praying for healing seems kinder. We think that does not open the door to false guilt or blame. We don’t want someone to walk away from our prayer with the added burden of feeling that their continued sickness is their own fault. That idea is patently untrue. Hebrews 11 reveals one group of faith-filled people miraculously delivered; then another group of equally faith-filled people who suffered terribly. In fact, God declares of the sufferers, “the world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:38).
We also don’t want to be in the position of drumming up emotionalism in ourselves. That kind of counterfeit faith leaves such a bad taste that we would rather miss the possibility of healing than risk being part of that.
Yet that seems like such a high cost. In fact, some would argue that the existence of a counterfeit implies a genuine original exists. Let’s be honest. If we truly believed a particular sickness was part of the will of God for that person, then we would not intervene with medical help.
Yes, we are right to get the best medical help we can. There is no evidence that Luke renounced his medical training and Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach (1 Timothy 5:23). But let us also learn how to pray for healing.
It seems to me that a holistic, biblical approach to health is three–pronged:
1. Healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, rest, and good relationships)
2. Excellent medical care as needed
3. Spiritual well-being (through an intimate walk with God and prayer for healing as needed)
It takes courage to pray for healing. We have to put aside our feelings of awkwardness and uncertainty. We may feel we are risking our reputation. We have to accept the mysteries of God that make the results completely unpredictable. That is where faith comes in. We believe that God is always good, that He is infinitely powerful, and that He knows what is best. Most importantly, we believe that He wants to co-labour with us . . . and that means our prayers make a difference.
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 NASB