I’ve never heard anyone explain their understanding of prayer and healing quite like my husband, Gary. I asked him to share his thoughts on this issue with you. While they may differ from what many of us have believed, it seems that his insights are worthy of prayerful consideration!
A few weeks ago, a huge class-action lawsuit was filed against a major corporation for misrepresentation of some of its products--"false advertising." Even if that company eventually is found “not guilty” of the grievances brought against it, its reliability has been seriously challenged and there will be a long road of damage control ahead. Many former customers will never be won back.
It seems to me that a similar situation has developed regarding God. Those who claim to speak for our Lord often misrepresent Him. While there may be no lawsuit, many have turned their backs to the One who has been falsely presented. What is even worse is that the honor and integrity of our Creator and King has been unnecessarily soiled.
Recently, I have been re-evaluating my prayer-life and how I perceive God, especially in the area of "healing." As a young boy I was intrigued, yet puzzled by the religious "faith-healers" I heard on the radio and whom my friends in other denominations raved about. In our denomination, the "gift of healing" was never mentioned. We were encouraged to pray for ourselves and others who were ill; we were reminded that modern medicine was a miraculous gift from God, but certainly were not directed to a "faith healer." Whenever I read the New Testament accounts of Jesus and His disciples proclaiming miraculous healing, however, questions continued to stir in the back of my mind:
• Are some Christians truly gifted healers?
• Does God always desire to heal?
• Does lack of faith prevent healing?
• If healing is always related to faith, how much faith is needed?
• When there is no healing, who is at fault?
• What roll does modern medicine play in the context of “faith healing?”
When these and other connected questions are answered with different and even contradictory firmness by Christians of various backgrounds, the result is often confusion, disappointment, frustration and even intense guilt and shame. Adamant responses by well-intentioned Christians who have not thoroughly and personally searched through the ways of God, is certainly not honoring to the Lord whom they desire to represent. While I claim no special insights into the ways of God, beyond what He has revealed in His Word and the evidence of personal experience, many years of studying these things perhaps affords me an opportunity to share a few thoughts along with a few cautions.
• While prayer is vital in the life of a child of God, nowhere in the Bible are God's people ever instructed to pray for healing, either for themselves or for others. Even James 5 which connects healing and prayer does not specifically command "prayer for healing."
• God certainly does heal in miraculous ways. Even today people of faith, gifted by the Holy Spirit, are often used by Him to pronounce healing.
• While it may be beyond our understanding, God does not always desire to heal. In the case of the apostle Paul, for example, God's strength was made more evident because of Paul's infirmity.
• Often it is people of greatest faith who are not healed when afflicted, for reasons which ultimately glorify God.
• While illness and adversity are sometimes “from the hand” of Satan, it is God Himself who does the assigning (see Job 1:8,12). Satan is never able to thwart the plans of God who always remains in control.
• While Jesus rebukes an illness in Luke 4:38, I find no Scriptural evidence for an “evil spirit” of any illness that needs to be driven out.
• Professional healthcare may have a place; however, Scripture never identifies the care provided by medical professionals as miraculous. In fact, while doctors at the time were quite advanced and doing amazing things, no direction is ever given to seek their help.
I understand that many faithful Christians hold views different from these. However, I also realize the importance of brothers and sisters in Christ sharing their views with one another in order to come to deeper insights into God's ways. I am definitely eager to visit with others about such things. My specific concern in this article, though, is that we learn from one another to be cautious about how we represent and seek to honor our Great Physician. Only then can the world see our God and Savior for Who He truly is.