HealThis weekend at CityLife, we spoke on the subject of healing and then took time to pray for people. We were encouraged by the many testimonies of healing that took place in each of our church gatherings and we pray for God to continue to work in the lives of everyone needing healing.

When it comes to healing, we must begin with an accurate understanding of God’s character and
nature. The Bible teaches us that, when it comes to our need, God knows (Prov.15:11.
Ps.139:1-10), God cares (Ex.34:6-7. 1 Pet.5:7), God is able to
help (Jer.32:17, 27. Mt.19:26) and God is willing to help (Mt.8:2). In
response to this, there are three different camps in the Christian community:
(1) “God knows, cares and is able but is not willing.  This is not the time or the age;” (2) “God
knows, cares and is able and always willing to heal you. If you’re sick and
you’re not well, if you have a physical need and you’re not healed it’s because
you lack faith. It’s always God’s will to heal and so there is something wrong
with you if you aren’t;” (3) “God knows, cares and is able and is willing
unless he has a higher purpose.”

The first camp (called
“Cessationists”) are strongly Biblical, but keep God in a box, in that they
don’t believe that God still heals or does miracles today. The second camp
(extreme “faith” teaching) has the strength of faith but the weakness of always
putting God in a box to move a certain way without exception. The third camp
has the strength of “balance” but must avoid a fatalistic attitude of “whatever
will be, will be”. Our responsibility is to pray and ask God to heal and help
us (Jas.5:13-16), then to trust God with the outcome.

I love the authenticity of the biblical authors who not only tell us the inspiring stories of miracles and healing, but also of others who experienced extended times of sickness and who were not healed instantly or at all, despite being people of faith and obedience to God's commands (see Job 2:7-8. 2 Kings 13:14. Gal.4:13-14. Phil.2:25-27. 1 Tim.5:23. 2 Tim.4:20. Heb.11:32-40). I love the attitude of the three Hebrew children who when faced with the fiery furnace declared that God was able to deliver them, that he would deliver them, but even if not, they would not bow down to an idol (Dan.3:17-18). In the same way, I believe we should declare that God is able to heal, that he will heal, but even if not, we will still trust him. Without an "if not" in our theology, we seek to put God in a human-made box, eliminating the paradox and mystery that life is made up of, and we can easily  take inappropriate discouragement or guilt upon ourselves OR project it on others, as Job's friends did.

The Bible teaches
that God’s will for our life, generally speaking, is “health” (See Ex.15:26;
23:25. Ps.103:1-3; 107:17-20. Prov.4:20-22. Is.53:4-5. Mt.8:16-17. 1 Pet.2:24).
God’s provision is complete. He has done all that we need for life and
godliness. He has made provision for our wholeness – spirit, soul and body. God
desires health and wholeness for each one of us, as we walk in obedience to
Him, so we can fulfil our life purpose.

However, like
salvation, good health is not automatic. There are things we need to do to
position ourselves to have the greatest possibility of good health. We need to
have faith in God as our healer (Hos.4:6. Jn.8:32. Heb.11:6), obey his commands
(Dt.28:58-60), maintain a healthy diet (Ex.16. 1Tim.4:4-5. Lev.11. Dt.14),
exercise, rest and relax regularly (1Tim.4:8. Mt.11:28-30) and deal quickly
with negative emotions (Eph.4:27-31. 1Cor.11:28-31. Mt.5:23-24).

There is no set pattern
or formula in the Bible for healing. For instance, blind Bartemaus called out
to Jesus and Jesus simply spoke to him and he was healed (Mk.10:46-52). Another
blind man was not instantly healed. Jesus took mud and saliva, mixed it
together and put it on his eye. As he went his way and did what he was told
(“go and wash in the pool of Siloam”), he was healed. God’s healing power and
anointing fell on a natural substance and flowed through it (Jn.9:1-12).

We can conclude
that, “The pathway of healing that God has for you may be different from the
one he has for someone else though you may have similar health problems.” Also,
“At times God’s healing is spontaneous and instantaneous. Other times healing
is a process and requires patience and perseverance as our healing is gradually
manifested.” It could be an instant answer to prayer, a radical change of diet,
a change of lifestyle or even a medical operation. If you are sick, pray for
God’s direction, believe God’s promises to you from His Word, have others pray
for you and talk to a reputable doctor.

Praying for Healing

All believers are
called to pray for the sick. Here are some principles (not formulas) for
praying for the sick.

1. Ask questions about the person’s need. Ask, “Where does it hurt?” or “What do
you want me to pray for?” This is not a medical interview in which we probe for
medical history or technical details. It simply helps us to know what the need
is and how we should pray. Even Jesus never made assumptions about what a
person wanted from him. To a blind man he said, “What do you want me to do for
you?” (Mk.10:46-52). Other questions might include “Are you in pain right
now?”, “How long have you had this?” or “Have you seen a doctor or specialist
and if so, what did they say?”

2. Try to discern any root cause of the
This next step
is to clarify the root of the person’s problem. It asks, “Why does this person
have this condition?” This determines the type of prayer needed to bring
healing. We must also look beyond the natural surface reasons and be open to
God giving us revelation through the word of wisdom, word of knowledge or the
discerning of spirits. Symptoms in one area of our lives may be caused by
problems in other areas. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and insights.
Of course, don’t go overboard and try to probe to deep unnecessarily.

3. Choose an appropriate prayer. This step answers the question, “What kind
of prayer is needed to help this person?” We must seek to know God’s specific
will in the situation. This is the source of our confidence (1 Jn. 5:14-15).
There are two basic types of prayer:

a. Prayer directed toward
God (intercession). Intercessory prayer involves you going between them and God
out of deep concern for the person. We stand before God and ask for the
person’s healing. Prayers should be simple and straightforward – “Lord, I ask
you to heal John of this condition.” In some cases, you may want to get the
person to pray for themselves. This is especially important in areas of
unforgiveness and bitterness.

b. Prayer directed to a
condition or sickness based on words from God (command). Jesus often used the
authoritative word when healing people (Mk.9:25). We have been given power to
break bondages and release God’s blessing (Matt. 16:19). We can declare or
announce the truth of God’s Word. For example, you might pray, “I break the
power of this condition in the name of Jesus.” Prayers like this are usually
very short yet effective.

4. Pray in faith. Pray in faith, believing that something
is going to happen when you pray for them – physically (immediately or
gradually), emotionally (strength, comfort, joy) and spiritually (close to God,
trust). Have an attitude of faith, hope and love. Lay hands on them (don’t push
or lay your hands heavily on anyone), pray and possibly anoint them with oil
(James 5:14 and Mk.6:13). Be sensitive to the person and the Holy Spirit. Be
aware of your hand motions, tone of voice and volume of speech. Don’t do
anything that would distract the person being prayed for or others nearby.

5. Check for any improvement or change. As you’re praying, watch to see what is
happening in the person. Ask further questions to see what God is doing and if
there has been any change. Ask them how they are feeling or if anything has
happened. Pray again if necessary. Some people get completely better, others
show considerable improvement, others some improvement and others none at all. Not
all healing is instantaneous (see Mark 8:22-26; 5:8). Even Jesus prayed twice
for a blind man to be healed. Jesus’ promise to believers is that the sick will
get well or “recover” (Mk.16:19). At times this may be gradually. When people
are not healed, reassure them that God loves them and encourage them to seek
more prayer. Divine healing is sometimes a process.

Through God’s love
and wisdom, we can be used to bring tremendous blessing to people’s lives.

Sample Reflection Questions:

1. Consider the different Christian “camps” that exist in this area of healing. Do you know
someone in each camp? Describe them and how they approach the area of sickness.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each position? Which perspective seems
to be the most biblical? How we should relate to others who see differently
than us?

2. Read
through the Scriptures above on healing. Have any of these been
a source of strength or encouragement to you during times of sickness?

3. Reflect on the concept of seeking God to discover your “pathway to healing”.

4. What has been your experience of being prayed for healing by
someone else (positive or negative)?What about you praying for someone else who was sick (positive or negative)?

5. What
are some of the fears we may have in praying for sick people? How can we
overcome these? How should we respond when healing is prayed for and nothing

6. Pray for anyone you know who is sick, that they would experience God's healing.