I was looking through an old blog I used to run years ago when I came to this post I had written over 5 years ago. It explored the connection of God and his physical healing of people.
Sadly, I still see this as an issue that many Christians miss the mark on and having a wrong understanding of God and his healing will affect how someone sees and understands God so it is important that (as best as we can) we try to understand his nature and character.
While republishing an old post might seem cheap, there’s a larger reader base now than there was when I originally wrote this and I truly believe this is a topic worth the revisit.
This is a post that I make with great respect and caution even though the pics may seem to say otherwise. I want to expand a little on a popular image of God and see if we can’t move Him past that to something… more in line with who He is.
Over the years through singing I have had the fortune of being at hundreds of different churches representing many denominations. Often as I would look at their bulletins one pattern became clear to me. In the prayer requests section it was almost exclusively prayer requests for people who were sick.
Before I address anything else let me say that praying for the sick is important. In fact the Bible teaches us that we should pray for them in the book of James.
What troubles me is that apparently the world has no problems other than physical sickness. I suppose that’s great news, but if that is true, then why are self-help books always at the top of the best seller lists? Why is half the country* on depression medication? Doesn’t the Word say in Ephesians 6.18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”? So why do we fill our prayer request sheets with our friend’s cousin’s uncle’s ex-neighbor’s former boss’ gym buddy instead of what really gets us?
*stat is completly made up.
I think that Jesus gives us a great picture of why he healed so many people in his earthly ministry in John 5.1-15. After Jesus healed this man by the pool of Bethesda he told him “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (v.15) This wasn’t Jesus threatening the man, far from it. It was him warning that sin is a sickness that is greater than anything physical.
If someone who is sick gets well, will they be well forever? Nope. But if they get what Jesus was talking about and start living by the Spirit will they become spiritually healthy? YES!!! And that is far greater, because no matter how physically sick you may become your life is right and whole because of the one in whom you have put your trust and faith.
Now, onto the next issue: sharing our REAL prayer requests.
We’ve already determined that God wants us to bring our prayers and requests to Him (for more proof, see 1 Timothy 2.1) and we may do that… individually. That’s sad. Actually, that’s more than sad. It’s tragic. In Galatians 6.2 we read that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” and it also tells us that we are to “confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5.16)? So why can’t we do what God commands us to do and allow others to pray for us and help carry our burdens?
When we pray, we need to pray for more than the phycially sick condition. In our church we had a gentleman before Christmas request prayer from the church because he was in a nasty depression and was suicidal. In the beginning of January he stood in front of our entire congregation and testified as to how God was delivering him from that. He, his wife, and their children all credit the continued prayers of our church.
That was awesome. That was answered prayer. That was a person asking his family (our church) to pray and believing it would happen. That’s what our (and by “our” I mean “the body of Christ”) prayer life should look like. Depression was not just a physical sickness, it was a sin sickness that was keeping him from his Creator. So when praying for that distant friend of a friend, don’t just pray for their health, pray for their spiritual health. If they don’t know the work that Jesus did for them, which is more important? As Jesus often did, he can and would heal both ways so we can pray for that. I just don’t ever want to get caught in the belief that we are not suppose to share what really bothers us and what our struggles truly are.
Besides missing what God wants us to pray for we run another risk in the way we pray for the sick. I think that people who do not believe in prayer can be swayed in the wrong direction if we don’t pray in the right frame of mind.
As an example, when we pray in church for God to physically heal someone, and we shout and stomp and make a fuss about it then God gives that ultimate healing by taking them home, what does that say to the person who doesn’t pray? I’ll tell you what one of them once said to me.
“I watched as a church prayed for a woman with cancer. Week after week they prayed ‘We know you’re going to heal her God, because you’re not done with her here yet.” and then months later when she died they didn’t know what to say. If the prayers of these Christians fell on deaf ears, what hope do I have with mine?”
In that case, the way this group prayed turned someone away.
Again, I want to be clear that we need to pray for the sick! My only concern is that we do it with childlike faith as Jesus asked, but then we pray as Jesus did in the garden “Not my will, but yours be done.” We must realize that sometimes through the healing of death God works wonders.
I have two of my dearest friends who came to faith in Christ at a funeral of someone I had personally and selfishly prayed for their healing for a long time. If I had gotten my way it is likely these two would have never met Jesus.
Sometimes, it’s as though God knows what He’s doing…
Pray for the sick, but please, don’t lose sight that God wants to heal us of the other troubles we have. Depression, broken marriages, finances. God wants to move in our lives and in the lives of our friends…he’s just waiting for us to ask and in His word he even tells us to let others pray for us as well.
It’s time to stop pretending everyting is fine except for when we get a cold every now and again and start praying about what really makes us sick.