Everything About Divine Healing
By Christopher Jethro
Last Updated: Feb 13, 2018
Last Updated: Feb 13, 2018
Everyone has dealt with health issues at one point or another. Nobody likes to be sick, suffering, or impaired, so it is a kneejerk response for us to pray for healing. We all want or need to be healed of something usually across multiple points in life. It’s actually one of the most common things that people pray for. Thus, it’s very understandable that there are so many questions and teachings on this one subject.
While you can find many teachings about divine healing out there, I have never found one that actually answers all of the questions about it. For example: What are the causes of health issues? What do we do if we aren't better the first time we prayed? What is the biblical perspective on medical science? Is it wrong to go to the doctor, especially if believing for healing? Why, even among people with great healing ministries, is not everyone healed? Does the person prayed for have to have faith to receive healing? What about faith declarations to receive healing, are those biblical? Every one of these questions, and many more, will be answered in this teaching.
Truth be told, the doctrine of divine healing is actually complex. As you will learn, there can many different causes to health issues (natural causes, demons, a mixture, etc.). Sometimes divine healing is not the answer because the problem is caused by something needing fixed in the natural (e.g., someone who feels bad because of their unhealthy eating; they need to change their diet, they don't need divine healing!). There is actually a balance between medical science and supernatural healing. Furthermore, there is a difference between God healing someone versus administering healing to someone via having a gift of healing. There are also many reasons why someone may not get healed.
Many teachings you will find out there on divine healing only focus on a single narrow view of divine healing, and fail to answer all the questions or dive into the complexity of it, thus leaving people confused with unanswered questions. I am excited to bring you this teaching which will give you a very well-rounded and broad understanding of everything related to divine healing.
Why Cessationism is Wrong About Healing
The first place to start with is understanding that God is still in the business of healing. God can and does heal, and there has always been records of divine healing all throughout history to this day. There are many stories of divine healing in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well a plethora of healing testimonies in modern day times. Yet there are some people who would try to say that God has changed, that He doesn’t heal anymore, and that the gifts of the Spirit died out with the first apostles. This is a heresy called cessationism and it’s entirely unbiblical.
I think it’s important to take out a brief moment to counteract those points, because some of you may have come from a church background that taught you that God doesn’t heal anymore. Sometimes people believe this teaching because they haven’t seen or experienced healing, so their lack of faith and lack of experience evolves into the adoption of an unbiblical theology. This cessationism teaching misleads people into thinking that the Baptism of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the power of God no longer operate – when they actually do. You won’t be able to experience healing, or be used of God in healing, if you have this bad theology.
Here are eight reasons why this cessationism teaching is wrong:
- It's true the Bible says that one day prophecies and speaking in tongues will cease (1 Cor 13:8) but it was referring to when the Kingdom of God physically comes, in which the gifts will no longer be needed at that time because we will have the fullness of the Kingdom and our resurrected bodies then. The gifts are here to help the Church until then. That’s why one of the next verses says, “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor 13:10). Things aren’t perfect yet, so they haven’t been done away with!
- Cessationists claim that the Baptism and gifts of the Spirit died out in first-century Christianity because the Church doesn’t need the gifts of the Spirit anymore. First of all, the Church definitely still needs the gifts. It’s arrogant to say we don’t need God’s help anymore, and God will definitely not operate in your life if that’s how you feel. In a day and age so deceived, we need the gifts of the Spirit now more than ever to see effective preaching and responses to the Gospel. Secondly, history shows no such thing that the gifts died out. We read in multiple writings of the Early Church Fathers and Christian historians that healings, casting out demons, and even miracles like raising from the dead still occurred in the Church for hundreds of years. We have read of these things happening all throughout Church history including in modern time. The gifts have never actually ceased.
- It's unrealistic and close-minded to claim that every single modern testimony of someone getting healed is a fake story, a lie, or caused by a demon. It’s basically a paranoia involving an active decision to refuse to believe that God could heal anyone, no matter how many witnesses are behind it.
- God doesn’t change. Cessationism is wrong because if God healed people in both the Old and New Testaments, then it wouldn’t make sense for Him to suddenly stop being a Healer to His people. On the contrary, the Bible says God does not change (Mal 3:6) and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If God/Jesus has healed people in the Old and New Testament and doesn’t change, He wouldn’t stop healing. It’s part of His good nature to heal.
- The Bible indicates that Baptism in the Spirit and divine healing would continue to be present in the Church. The Bible says, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:38-39). The promise of the Spirit is for all believers! Secondly, Jesus said “these signs shall follow those who believe … they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18). Jesus didn’t say that only the first-century Christians who believe could heal the sick. No, He said “those who believe” can lay hands on the sick to see them healed. It’s applicable to anyone who believes.
- Cessationists claim that the Baptism of the Spirit and impartation of gifts could only be done through the laying on of hands of the apostles only. That claim is blatantly false; on the Day of Pentecost, no laying on of hands was required – the Holy Spirit came of His own accord (Acts 2:2-4). We also read that when Peter preached to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell upon the audience without any laying of hands (Acts 10:44-46). The apostles obviously did not control the Holy Spirit, nor was Baptism in the Holy Spirit restricted to an apostle praying for you. The argument is also illogical because since all Christians already have the indwelling of the Spirit, it logically entails that the same Holy Spirit could empower and operate through any one of us. On the contrary, the Bible says that Jesus – not any apostle – is the one was baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16). John 1:33 uses the verb in the present tense, saying that "the one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." Not that Jesus would baptize believers in the Holy Spirit once, but He is still the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
- Finally, the Bible says that we have a new and better covenant with God (Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 8:6). If the first Covenant included divine healing (Exodus 15:26, Exodus 23:25, Deuteronomy 7:15), then how could our Covenant with God through Jesus be “better” if it didn’t include physical healing of health problems which is a basic human need?
- There are many Scriptures which indicate that God heals people, in ways not relevant to the gifts of healings. These Scriptures do not say that these promises of God would cease, nor do any Scriptures elsewhere say that God would no longer honor these Scriptures. We will explore those Scriptures momentarily, but as example is James 5:15, “the prayer of faith will heal him who is sick.” It doesn’t say this verse will stop being true after a century. So plain and simple, Scripture says you can be healed when you pray with faith.
A Fallen World & The Origin of Ailments
Before moving on to Scriptures healing next, it will help to create a foundation for us to first understand the origin of sickness, disease, and death. This will require a synopsis of Creationism doctrine. We know that in the Bible, God created the world originally as perfectly good over six literal days. God looked down from Heaven and “saw that it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Obviously, sickness, disease, and death are not “very good” so this was a perfect creation free from those things. All creatures were originally vegetarian, as only plants were given as a food source (Gen 1:30). All creatures were living in co-harmony without posing a threat to each other or to man either.
In Genesis 3, the day they ate the fruit, death came. A spiritual death the moment they ate it, and physical death was introduced into the world as well, although Adam and Eve would not experience that until much later. The curse on creation in Genesis 3 introduced suffering, sickness, disease, and death into the world. God would no longer ensure perfect harmony, but as survival instincts kicked in, some animals would become dangerous and carnivorous. For our lesson, the emphasis is that the origin of sickness, disease, and death is sin, which brought about a fallen state of the world as punishment.
This curse on creation is still ongoing and is referenced in the New Testament, such as in Romans 8 which describes the whole creation as subjected to vanity in a bondage of decay, groaning until it is redeemed (Rom 8:20-22). One day, we know, there will be a new heavens and a new Earth – everything made perfect again. One day we will have our perfect resurrection bodies, immune to all physical ailments and death. But the time for that complete redemption has not come yet. Jesus paid the price to atone for sin, which can thus reverse the consequences of sin, but we haven’t arrived at that full state yet.
We understand this curse on creation as a scientific change that God induced on the world: the curse introduced biological problems like mutations, viruses, aging leading to death, and so forth. However, this is not the only source of health problems. We also know that because we live in a fallen world where demons traffic, demons are often a source of health problems. We know in John 10:10 that the devil comes "to steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10). In Luke 13, Jesus said the woman with a hunchback had a "spirit of infirmity" (Luke 13:11) by which “whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years” (Luke 13:16). So a demon (a spirit of infirmity) was causing the health problem although it might have appeared as naturally-occurring. If a health problem is very mysterious to doctors (strange symptoms that are difficult to diagnose), that is a strong sign that it is being caused by a demon. You might be surprised that many health problems are actually caused by demons, especially for Christians active in their faith because they, being a threat to Satan, are more subject to spiritual warfare. Remember that any health problems that seem particularly stubborn, in which natural remedies aren’t working which should work, these are most likely caused by a demonic spirit.
Sometimes, the cause of a problem is not an ‘either/or’ situation. It could be a combination of completely different factors in the natural, such as a combination of stress, bad diet, and lack of exercise contributing to high blood pressure. A health issue could also have both natural and spiritual causes. For example, you could have a health problem from natural causes but a demon is exasperating the issue. This is a clever tactic of the enemy, because people are less likely to suspect a demonic spirit in that scenario. This can be the case when people say, “It usually never hurts/bothers me this bad, I don’t understand why it’s so much worse!”
Finally, ironically in stark contrast, some infirmities can even by caused by God. Now for some people, this contradicts their current theology. Since God is good indeed, they think He would never do such a thing. But I’m about to show you explicitly in Scripture where this has happened. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and He can use health problems to teach things like humility and faith and as a sign of the Gospel when they are healed, or they can be a form of judgment.
In Exodus 4:11, when Moses felt disqualified for having a speech impediment, God said, “Who made man's mouth? Or who makes one mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Isn't it I, Yahweh?” We also read in the Bible that God uses the foolish things of this world to display His wisdom and power (1 Corinthians 1:27) which is one reason God may create someone with a deformity, because the message of Moses, for example, was mighty through the works of God, not eloquent speech. In John 9:3, Jesus explained to his disciples that a man was born blind, not because of sin, but “that the works of God might be revealed in him.” In other words, in a similar principle, they are an opportunity to show the glory of God. If you never had a health problem, you could never have a healing testimony that glorifies God and turns people to Christ. Healing, after all, is usually meant to be a sign that validates the Gospel.
In the Old and New Testaments alike, we see that God is able to inflict a health problem on someone as a form of judgment. For example, everyone knows that in the Ten Plagues upon Egypt, that included the plague of festering boils (Exo 9:8-10). That was a judgment upon Egypt. In 2 Chronicles 21, king Jehoram was a wicked king that lead the Israelites into pagan worship. As punishment, the Bible says that “the LORD struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease” (2 Chron 21:18) and he died from that bowel disease after two years. God gave him that bowel disease; it was form of judgment. Before anyone makes the mistake of thinking this is Old Testament only, I’m going to prove that God still uses infirmities as a form of judgment even in the New Testament. In Acts 5, when Ananias lied about having sold all his land for the Church, and the Bible clearly says that God killed Ananias and his wife instantly, and the church buried them. That was a judgment on people professing to be Christians. In Acts 12, we read that Herod allowed the people to praise him as a god. So in verse 23 we read, “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he didn't give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.” In Acts 13, we read that when Elymas the sorcerer tried to persuade the proconsul from hearing the Gospel, and Paul prophesied, “the hand of the Lord is on you, and you will be blind” (vs 11) and so he was blinded by God for a time.
In John 5, we also read the story of lame man that used to sit by the pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed this man, but a few verses later we read that Jesus told him, “See, you have been made well. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14, BSB). Jesus warned that this man must repent lest something even worse come upon him. This is another example of how a physical ailment can be tied to sinful behavior, which even if healed by God the first time, can come back worse if we do not repent of the sin which is the underlying cause for the judgment. Now in some cases, God may not be inflicting the infirmity Himself, He may only be lifting His protection and allowing it to happen, but it doesn’t change the meaning. Regardless, we showed examples that God can directly cause them, not just lift His protection. A modern example of this might be a person who receives a sexually transmitted disease because of their sinful sexual lifestyle. They are facing the consequence of their sin. So whether praying for yourself, or another, healing may not be received until there is repentance. We must make sure that we have truly repented, have forgiven everyone, and are walking righteously before we ask for healing.
Now these are two different things I’ve shown – a health problem as a trial from God to teach humility and faith, they could be created with a deformity so that God’s power is proven when it is healed, or it can be a judgment from God. So it cannot be denied, having been explicitly shown in Scripture, that God can inflict someone with an infirmity. Examples in the New Testament prove that God can still do this today, as He doesn’t change in nature. However, having said that, overall we don’t read too many examples of this. It would be bad theology to think that this happens often. It probably accounts for a very small percentage of health problems. Secondly, I want you to notice how health problems as a form of judgment are considerably harsher than a health issue given as a trial or given to be a sign when healed. For example, speech impediments, blindness, lameness, muteness, and deafness – these things reduce quality of life but they do not induce physical pain. So when we look at things like how God created Moses with a speech impediment, or how He created the beggar in the New Testament blind so He could later heal him, those people were not suffering in pain. But when we saw examples of things like painful boils, a bowel disease, and sudden death, those things were a judgment from God meant to punish the unrepentant.
This may be new to some, but make sure your theology is based on what the Bible actually teaches, on what merely makes sense to you personally. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and in the grand scheme of things, He has perfect reasons for everything He does that we will understand one day.
This is why the doctrine of healing is complex, because the origin of health problems is not simple. The first origin of health problems was ultimately sin, introducing a curse on the world and inviting demons to traffic among sinners. We also know that God now uses the things of this fallen world to teach us lessons of humility and faith. Thus, for any given health issue, it could be a natural cause, it could be demonic, and some deformities (that don’t cause pain) were even willed by God to display his glory.
Furthermore, we should understand that we are not immune to things like sickness from natural causes. Because we still live in a fallen world, Christians will still experience sickness and other infirmities, as well as death, just like anybody else. If Christians could not experience health problems, then there would be no need for them to call upon the elders for healing! God ‘driving sickness from our midst’ (Exo 23:25) implies that sickness came to our midst in the first place, and then God helps drive it away speedily when it does come. God “heals all our diseases” (Psalm 103:3), implying that you actually received a disease first, and then were healed.
Even very faithful Christians in the Bible experienced health problems: Paul had a “bodily illness” described in Galatians 4:13, many were “weak and sick” in 1 Corinthians 11:30, Paul said he left Trophimus sick in Miletus in 2 Timothy 4:20, Epaphroditus had a prolonged illness that nearly killed him in Philippians 2:27, and Timothy had a stomach problem referenced in 1 Timothy 5:23. In modern day times as well, even very faith-filled Christians that have seen numerous healings and miracles in their ministries, like David Hogan and Rolland Baker, have contracted very serious health problems themselves at one point by which they had to pray for healing for their own selves (and were healed indeed).
So no Christian, not even ones who operate very strongly in healing ministry, are immune to health issues. The reason is as simple that we live in a fallen world. It doesn’t mean we can’t pray for healing, because we should indeed! But the Bible doesn’t say you’ll never get sick, only that you can get healed when you are sick. It’s the same as how we aren’t immune to death either; all Christians will grow old and die like anyone else.
Scriptures on Healing
Let’s now continue by exploring several Bible verses which talk about divine healing – this is our foundation for the doctrine of healing. We won’t explore every verse relevant to healing, but the best ones.
Jesus Still Heals Through Christians
All throughout the New Testament, we see that Jesus was both willing and able to heal everyone who came to Him. There are too many passages of Jesus healing to quote, but it isn’t necessary because it’s everywhere in the New Testament Gospels. Jesus never refused to heal anyone. Jesus is alive today, and the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Since Jesus is still alive and doesn’t change in nature, that means He still is willing and able to heal those who seek Him today just as He did 2,000 years ago.
The apostles continued in healing ministry after Christ’s ascension (Acts 5:15-16, Acts 8:5-8, Acts 9:32-34, Acts 28:7-9), giving credit to Jesus as performing the healing. For example, in Acts 9:34, Paul told Aeneas, "Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and put away your mat" (BSB). So healing that takes place after the ascension of Christ is accredited to the risen Christ still healing people from Heaven, whether directly or through Christians. This proves that Jesus – although no longer on the Earth now – is still in the operation of miraculous healing for those who have faith. So as long as Jesus is alive and the same in nature, which He always will be, then that means healing is still available.
As you probably already know, we read in the Bible that Jesus gave His apostles power and authority over all infirmities to heal them. I’m going to wait to explain those Scriptures a little later, when I explain spiritual authority through the gifts of healings. For now, I want to proceed to show you three verses that prove that healing power was not limited to the first twelve apostles…
- John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.” But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is on our side. (Mark 9:38-40, WEB)
This passage is significant because a person who never met Jesus in person and was never an officially-ordained disciple of Jesus was able to use the name of Jesus to perform the miraculous. It doesn’t matter that this person was using the name of Jesus to cast out demons instead of healing people, because the principles are the same. It proves that we too, without ever having seen Jesus physically, without being one of the original twelve apostles, if we simply believe, we too can operate in the power of His name!
- How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38, KJV)
This verse specifically attributes Jesus’ healing and deliverance ministry to a) God being with Him and b) being anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and power. God/Jesus is with us too (Matthew 28:20), and Jesus has sent us the same Holy Spirit (Mk 10:39, Jn 1:33, 1 Cor 12:13) so that we can also operate in healing power and do “the same and greater works” that He did (John 14:12). If you have received the Baptism in the Spirit, then you can go about doing good and healing those oppressed by the devil as well.
- Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14, WEB)
Jesus said those who believe in Him can do the same works that He did and even greater works. He certainly didn’t say only the first apostles or first-century Christians, but any who believe on Him. If Jesus did works of healing, those who believe in Him can operate in healing power too.
Now in this particular verse, the Greek does not actually indicate if the subject is singular or plural, masculine or feminine. It literally reads, "the believing on me, the works that I do, also that one will do, and greater than these will do." We add the words ‘he’ or ‘one’ for clarity in English. I’m explaining this because I believe it is better to interpret this verse in a plural sense of those believing on Jesus, they will do the same and greater works (as a collective force, the Church as a whole). There are plenty of Christians who genuinely believe on Jesus, but they have not done greater works than Him. Extremely few Christians, as individuals, have done “greater works” than Jesus in their life. The verse would not be true if it referred to individuals. It’s probably better to interpret this in a collective sense. That is, if you look at all the miraculous works of the Church as a whole (all the total healings, raising from the dead, exorcisms, and other wonders), we have done greater works than Jesus collectively. Nonetheless, the verse still shows that those believing on Jesus, which includes me and you today, we can do the same and greater works that Jesus did in His ministry.
Jesus Paid for Healing
Isaiah 53, on the suffering of the Messiah, is a key passage for understanding that healing is available:
- He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. (Isaiah 53:3-5, HCSB)
The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ here is shalom which means “peace, well-being, health, rest, wholeness, completeness, safety, soundness, welfare, and prosperity.” Jesus didn’t just pay a price for our sins, but because of His chastisement we are able to have shalom. This is far more than peace with God, but also complete well-being and welfare. Because of His chastisement, we can have physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. By His wounds, we experience not just spiritual healing from sin, but physical healing from bodily infirmities.
Verse 4 is quoted specifically in Matthew 8 as referring to physical healing:
- When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:16-17, NKJV)
Some people have thought that Isaiah 53:4 is simply referring to the spiritual sickness of sin, however we can clearly see for ourselves that the New Testament indicates the verse is fulfilled through healing power of Christ. So Jesus takes away not only our sin, but all manner of physical sickness and disease. Jesus takes away our sicknesses, diseases, illnesses, and griefs. He carries away our pains, sorrows, and sufferings. In the Old Testament, if you kept the Law you experienced the blessings. If you disobeyed the Law, you experienced the curses. The sacrifices atoned for sin, so that you could experience the blessings of the Covenant as if you had not disobeyed in the first place. God does not require blood atonement for healing because blood atonement is a propitiation for wrongdoing (sin). However, because Jesus paid for our sins, He indirectly paid for our healing too because now we can experience that as an additional bonus.
Here’s an analogy: imagine if you lived in some perfect city where everyone was rich and received superb medical care for free – it’s for all citizens by default. Let’s say you committed crimes however and were exiled from the city. If someone paid a price so that you don’t have to be exiled anymore, you could return to that city and enjoy its blessings of prosperity and medical care again. The person who paid for your crimes was really paying the price for your crimes, not your blessings, but in doing so you were allowed to return to the city to re-experience prosperity and health again because of what he paid for. You could paraphrase that by saying the man paid directly for your forgiveness and indirectly for your welfare. Likewise, you can now experience the blessings of God’s Kingdom as if you had never sinned in the first place. Jesus paid for your sins directly, and indirectly paid for your shalom (welfare) by allowing you to return to right standing with God, experiencing those blessings as if you had never broken the moral Law.
- And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18, NKJV)
As explained previously, Jesus didn’t say that these signs would only follow first-century Christians. The signs follow “those who believe”, which is applicable to every Christian right now. The meaning here is certainly that the people prayed for recover supernaturally, because it wouldn’t be anything of wondrous “sign” if these people only recovered from sickness in the same way they would by naturally fighting it off. They will recover supernaturally. Nonetheless, it does not say how or when they will recover, but only that they will. It could be instantly, within minutes or hours, overnight, or over any given period of days which constitutes a very speedy recover compared to how long it would have normally taken them. We should be encouraged by this Scripture that we can lay hands on the sick and see them divinely recover!
- Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will heal him who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15, WEB)
This is my favorite Scripture on healing. Now you might wonder why it says that the sick person should ask the elders of a church to pray for him. This is because it is assumed that the elders of the church were chosen to be elders because they are people of faith. In other words, it’s not that elders only have the power to heal, but the elders had faith to see healing. It’s all in the conclusion – the prayer of faith will heal the sick!
- "If you will diligently listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, and will do that which is right in his eyes, and will pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you, which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am Yahweh who heals you." (Exodus 15:26, WEB)
- You shall serve Yahweh your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. (Exodus 23:25, WEB)
- Yahweh will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, will he put on you, but will lay them on all those who hate you. (Deuteronomy 7:15, WEB)
These three verses from the Torah were promises for health under the old Covenant. We have every reason to believe that these blessings, among many others, carry over to the new Covenant. Although we do not believe that God will put those diseases from the Egypt on our enemies as an exception (by which Israel was protected from those wishing to destroy them), yet we do believe the principle of health still applies. Since we have a “better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22, Hebrews 8:6), then it should have the same blessings of the old Covenant by default before it can become even better than that. We read in Galatians 3:13-14 that Jesus was cursed for us so that the blessing given Abraham can come on us. Finally, we also read in Ephesians 6:1-3 that Paul said that the blessing of a long life was still available for keeping the commandment of honoring parents. This means, once more, that the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant and Law certainly carry over to the new Covenant. These three Scriptural promises combine to mean that a) God will protect us from sicknesses and diseases, b) God will bless our meals so they do not harm us, and c) God is our Healer.
- 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)
This Scripture is important because it shows that prosperity and good health are part of the will of God; it is a biblical thing to pray about. John would note write about how he prays for their prosperity and health if that wasn’t God will! God wants us to be well, not just spiritually, but physically.
- Praise Yahweh, my soul! All that is within me, praise his holy name! Praise Yahweh, my soul, and don't forget all his benefits; who forgives all your sins; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your desire with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5, WEB)
Here we see that the benefits of knowing the Lord is that he not only forgives our sin, but also heals our diseases, redeems us from Hell, crowns us with graces, and satisfies our needs so that we are renewed in youth. It compares God renewing us in youth “like the eagle” because old eagles are proverbial for a long and vigorous life – a symbol of having strength, energy, and grace all the days of your life. What a wonderful promise!
- Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. (Isaiah 40:28-31, AMPC)
This verse is complimentary to the previous verse shared. It presents another promise that God gives strength to the weak. Those who wait upon the Lord will be renewed in strength, figuratively lifting up from their weakness like eagles soaring high. As explained in my teaching on faith, waiting on the Lord is an important part of having faith because everything is in God’s timing. We can stand on this Scripture knowing that if we continue to wait upon the Lord with faith, we will be strengthened in our bodies.
- "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD" (Psalm 118:17, KJV).
This particular verse, if read in context of the whole chapter, is about how the Lord saved the psalmist from being slain by his enemies in war. Although it isn’t talking specifically about healing, there is a principle that we will not die from premature death (whatever cause that is), but will continue to live and declare the works of the Lord. This is a good verse to stand on for those battling life-threatening health problems.
Promises for Good Things
Here are some other Scriptures that don’t talk about healing specifically, but certainly imply that God would be willing to heal us.
- He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32, WEB)
If God was not willing to spare his Son, He would also freely give us everything else. Surely “health” is included within “all things.”
- Therefore, if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in the heavens give good things to those asking Him! (Matthew 7:11, BLB)
Healing is definitely a “good thing”, so our Heavenly Father would be willing to give it to His children.
- And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Health is a basic human need, so it is something that God can supply us through Jesus.
- But those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:10, WEB)
- For Yahweh is a sun and shield; Yahweh will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11, WEB)
Health is certainly a good thing, so it is something not withheld from us.
There are some other Scriptures people like to use when it comes to healing that have not been included because they do not speak of divine healing when read in context. It may be worth addressing those because you are not having real faith on the Word if you are taking those Scriptures out of context.
- For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:1-3, KJV)
As you can see, this Scripture is about the coming Day of the Lord, a time period of great punishment on the nations and the day of Jacob’s trouble. Those who fear God’s name, when the Messiah comes with healing in His wings, those people will be like calves released from the stall so that they tread down the wicked in victory of war. The passage is not really about physical healing, but figurative healing for the nation of Israel when they take down their enemies, and regardless it’s only talking about when the Messiah comes this will happen – not a present experience.
- If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. … Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:1-12, 23, WEB)
The meaning of verse 11 has been controversial. Some people believe it means if the Holy Spirit lives in us, He will give health to our bodies. While this interpretation is possible, it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the chapter which never talks about healing. That would be a very random thing for Paul to throw out there in the middle of his discussion of overcoming the sinful nature of our flesh through the Spirit, a sinful nature that we will be redeemed from eventually when we receive our resurrection bodies. Therefore, other better plausible interpretations, based on the context in which this was said, is that a) the Spirit will give us strength in our sinful bodies to resist sin and live after the things of the Spirit, or b) the Spirit will one day also give immortal life to our bodies, just as He raised Jesus from the dead.
- He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. "By His stripes you are healed." (1 Peter 2:24, BSB)
As explained previously in my teaching on atonement, the passage in Isaiah does indicate physical and spiritual healing by His stripes and a complete shalom we receive through the Messiah’s chastisement. However, the way Paul used it in this context, was this congregation was spiritually healed when they became saved, not that they are mysteriously already physically healed of present health issues. That Paul meant spiritually healing (synonymous for salvation) is evident by the context of the full verse itself and the context of the whole chapter which does not talk about healing or infirmities but only about holiness and sin. It is better to simply point to the original Isaiah 53 passage which speaks of complete healing that is available to believers in the Messiah (“by His stripes we are healed”), without communicating the idea that we are already physically healed of health issues before we even pray (“were healed”). If all of us are “already” physically healed of health problems, there would be no logical reason for us to call upon the elders of the church to pray for our healing (James 5:14).
We’ve finished exploring many Bible verses that show that healing is available today for all believers.
Biblical Perspective on Medical Science
Before I continue, I would like to clarify a biblical stance on medical science, because that can be confusing for some Christians. We see that divine healing is something clearly available in Scripture, so how should we feel about medical science? Some Christians are worried that if they go to the doctor it is somehow wrong, that reliance on medicine might be somehow sinful, or they feel that reliance on medical science in general is inconsistent with belief in a healing God. Let’s be clear: medical science is not at odds with a healing God. It is never a sin to go the doctor for help, to use medicine, and medical science always has its place in our lives, even for the faith-filled believer.
First of all, unlike counterfeit healing performed by occult witchdoctors, medical practice is just about science, and God created science, so there's nothing inherently wrong with medicine. In addition to giving us conscious immaterial souls intertwined with a spirit body, God created our physical bodies as highly complex and wondrous biological machines which are understood and aided through science. Many health issues are caused by a problem in your body that medicine can correct. For example, a diabetic person’s body is not producing insulin properly, so a medical solution is to take insulin injections to compensate for that. A person who is diagnosed with anemia is advised to now take iron supplements to help the body produce more red blood cells. In another example, a virus enters someone’s body which turns into a bacterial infection, and by taking antibiotics (which inhibits or kills the bacterial growth), that person is able to fight off that infection. In every example given here, there is a simple science behind the problem with a scientific solution to resolve it, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with science. Modern medical science has found many important discoveries about causes behind health problems, provided many cures, and has many life-saving resolutions. It’s a blessing to mankind.
Secondly, the Bible indicates that God understands medical science. In the Old Testament, it’s true that God said “I am the LORD who heals you” and "I will take sickness away from among you" (Exodus 23:25). Yet, even God Himself proceeded to give the Jews practical advice to keep them healthy. He said you must consider certain foods as being “unclean” and we know it was because those foods are very unhealthy. We do know from science that pork and shrimp, for example, are proven to be terribly unhealthy for you to eat. Under the New Covenant, we know it’s not a sin to eat those things, but they are still unclean animals, and the point is that God was trying to keep the Jews healthy through a natural means. God also told them to separate and bathe themselves when in contact with unclean things, which prevented spreading of contamination. He also said that a house which has a mysterious mold issue which doesn’t go away must be burnt down, because God understood that mold makes people very sick. God instructed the priests, not on how to heal people with skin diseases, but on how to examine their skin to make a diagnosis and then how to quarantine those people until their skin issue went dormant. God gave these instructions so they could understand how to make a medical diagnosis of sorts and how to prevent it from spreading to others. In all of these examples, these were all resolutions to avoid or deal with health issues in a natural way, not a supernatural way.
Thus, from these examples, God understands the science behind what causes health problems and He’s not against the practicality of medical science. In fact, the Bible even says that medicine is good. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (NKJV). Notice here how the Bible speaks positively of medicine. A merry heart does good for one’s soul, just as medicine does good for one’s body. Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew 9:12, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (NIV). Jesus would not have said this if He thought sick people should avoid doctors. So in God’s eyes, ‘medicine does good’ and ‘the sick need a doctor’! Therefore, we understand that medical science, whether preventative or curing, does have its place because a) there is real science behind health issues and b) medical science is biblical. It is never a sin to rely on medical science if you need to. If anything, it could reflect a lack of faith, but not sin.
Every Christian, even those who are biased against doctors and medicine, enjoys benefits of medical science whether or not they realize it. We don’t pray that God kill bad bacteria on our hands each day and have faith for that, instead we wash our hands to prevent getting sick. We don’t pray that God clean our teeth, fix our cavities, or remove our wisdom teeth. Instead, we brush our teeth to prevent cavities (among other reasons), we go to the dentist for fillings when we do get cavities, and we go to an oral surgeon to get our wisdom teeth removed. Very few Christians are giving birth in their homes – instead they go to a hospital or a birthing center because they want help from medically-trained professionals. Numerous Christians wear corrective eye lens as well. In fact, even Christians who are renowned for their powerful healing and deliverance ministries, many of them ironically wear glasses or contacts, prescribed to them by an eye doctor, to correct their vision. So we all rely on medical science in some ways and there is no biblical reason to have an attitude against it. Truth be told, the reason many Christians avoid doctors is because they are afraid of the doctor – they fear bad news. But avoiding a medical diagnosis doesn’t make your problem go away or get any better.
We know God heals supernaturally, so that’s why we pray for supernatural healing of health problems and often receive divine healing. However, sometimes even Christians with great faith still go to the doctor to take medicine like antibiotics that helps them recover from sickness. I also don’t know a single Christian who had enough faith for God to remove their wisdom teeth supernaturally – they want to the doctor for that! We see this principle even in the Bible. When Paul was not able to heal Timothy’s stomach, he told him “use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). It was just a practical way for Timothy to help his stomach problems by drinking some wine. So if we don't have enough faith to be healed supernaturally or we just aren’t receiving the healing for some reason, we can at least still go to the doctor to get help. Since medical help doesn’t require faith, it’s a wonderful convenience and practical. So medical science can be a blessing, and we should be thankful that we have doctors, in the same way we are thankful for advances in technology that improves our lives.
Furthermore, because of the science behind it, sometimes supernatural healing isn’t the answer. For example, a person who feels bad because they eat very unhealthily needs to change their diet to resolve that, not ask for divine healing as they continue to eat terribly. Perhaps a person feels bad because their diet, while not necessarily unhealthy, is not providing enough of a certain vitamin, and they have a type of vitamin deficiency now. The solution is not for God to heal them but for that person to change what they eat or take a vitamin supplement, because otherwise the problem will only continue. Someone could also be ill because of mold in their house. Praying for them to feel better isn’t going to resolve the real issue – they need to get rid of the mold. Someone may feel pain in their lower back because they are only working out the upper and lower body muscles, which resulted in a muscular imbalance that lacks enough core strength. Yes, God could supernaturally strengthen the core muscles for them, but as long as they continue to work out the same way, they will have the same problem! In this example, the ultimate solution is to correct the bad workout routine, not pray for divine healing. I could list many other examples of this but hopefully you get the point that sometimes, the answer is not divine healing, but a scientific resolution. We must have medical knowledge to understand these scenarios, so medical science always has its proper place in our lives. Secondly, medical knowledge allows us to have better understanding about what exactly is wrong with our body, both for knowledge sake, and also to have accuracy about what we’re praying about.
For these same reasons, there should never be an attitude against Christians in the medical field. It would be impractical and ignorant to Christianity if no Christians had medical knowledge. Christians in the medical field is a great thing, and it would be a disgrace to discourage that. In fact, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Books of Acts (Luke) was a physician himself! Paul even called him “the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14. Luke used his medical knowledge to describe issues which people were healed of, using medical terminology like “hemorrhage” (Luke 8:43), “dropsy” (Luke 14:2), and “dysentery” (Acts 28:8), and many other terms of which I won't bother to list them all.
Notwithstanding these benefits of medical science, solutions through medical science is certainly not the healing that the New Testament speaks of. Healing in the New Testament is always supernatural/divine. We can believe that God has blessed us with medical science and doctors, and that it has its necessary place in our lives, but God still wants the Church to operate in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that God couldn’t use medical science to help someone, I’m just saying that’s not divine healing.
Finally, although medical science has its place and is a blessing, it is often not the answer. Sometimes doctors do not even know what’s wrong and can’t make an accurate diagnosis. Other times, the diagnosis itself is wrong because doctors are fallible people too. Some medicine has negative side effects and does more harm than good! Most importantly of all, many health problems cannot be cured through medicine whatsoever, and many of us have dealt with that. Any health problems caused by demons obviously can’t be cured through medicine either. But even for many problems caused by natural things, there isn’t always a medical treatment for that. Sometimes medicine only treats symptoms and doesn’t correct an issue, so that person still needs divine healing. So while medical science can help us in many ways, but it is often not the answer. We still need God for divine healing because medical science can’t always help us, and also because healing is listed as sign of the Gospel’s authenticity (Mark 16). God wants the Church to function in the gifts of healings. When the Gospel is preached and people are supernaturally healed through the laying on of hands, that sign proves the authenticity and power of the Gospel, something medicine can never do.
Overall, I hope you understand that medical science is not at odds with God because it’s just about science (which God created and understands), it’s often helpful and practical in a way that benefits all Christians, God Himself gave natural ways to deal with health issues, the Bible itself says that medicine is good (Proverbs 17:22), and some health issues require a solution in the natural realm only (not divine healing). God does heal supernaturally and this teaching is meant to encourage you about praying for healing. However, it’s worth clarifying that it’s also okay for Christians to go to the doctor and use medicine. One is divine but requires faith, and the other is natural but doesn’t require faith. One of them can do the impossible and is always positive, and the other is limited in ability and has possible downsides. Both are a blessing, but only one is a sign to unbelievers.
Explaining the Gifts of Healings
Before we move on to practical advice for praying for healing, I first need to explain what are the gifts of healings. This is something that many people ignore because they don’t understand how to reconcile it with other Scriptures on faith healing, but for those who don’t ignore it, the meaning is controversial.
The Bible is clear, as we have read, that any Christian can receive healing. But in 1 Corinthians it describes something different called the gifts of healings. And yes, both words are plural in the Greek. It’s not “a gift of healing” and it’s not “the gift of healing” but “gifts of healings.”
The whole passage will be recited because this is necessary for context…
- 4There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6There are different ways of working, but the same God works all things in all men. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in various tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who apportions them to each one as He determines. 12The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink. 14For the body does not consist of one part, but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact, God has arranged the members of the body, every one of them, according to His design. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I do not need you.” 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts we consider less honorable, we treat with greater honor. And our unpresentable parts are treated with special modesty, 24whereas our presentable parts have no such need. But God has composed the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:4-31, BSB)
When you read this whole passage in context, there cannot be confusion about the meaning. There are different gifts of the Spirit which the Holy Spirit apportions some to each person. We each have different gifts of the Spirit, and nobody actively has every gift of the Spirit. Just as a body is composed of different parts, every Christian makes up a different part of the Body of Christ. The body parts are different; we are each different with a unique calling and unique set of gifts of the Spirit. People don’t choose which gifts they get, only God the Holy Spirit does. The gifts of healings are only one of those gifts.
It clearly says “to another is given gifts of healings” – it doesn’t say all are given gifts of healings. It also ends with “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor 12:29-31, BSB). These are rhetorical questions. The answer is of course: no. Not all Christians are apostles. Not all Christians are prophets. Not all Christians are teachers. Not all Christians work miracles. Not all Christians give a message in tongues. Not all Christians can interpret a message in tongues. And finally, as far as this teaching is concerned, not all Christians operate in gifts of healings!
It’s both clearly spelled out in Scripture, as well as a perfect match with what the Church experiences. Many of us know of or have seen healings happen, but we know a far greater number of Christians who do not see people get healed when they prayed for them. The answer for this is in the Bible – not all Christians have gifts of healings. Now before this confuses you, I will explain what exactly the gifts of healings are and why it doesn’t mean God won’t heal you just because you don’t have that spiritual gift!
First of all, a gift of healing is the ability to lay hands on someone and heal them. It’s that simple. This is not the same thing as praying to receive healing, or praying for another to be healed, but the ability (through the power of the Holy Spirit) to heal someone. We read in the Bible that Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to pray for the sick, but to actually “heal the sick” (Matthew 10:8, Luke 9:2, Luke 10:9). We also read in Acts 28:8 that when Publius’ father was sick in bed “Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him” (NASB). It says that Paul healed him. We know that God gets all the glory in any such work and that we can do nothing without Him. However, the Bible does use the terminology that believers can heal the sick. This is the gifts of healings. Some people have a problem with saying Christians can heal the sick, but since we all understand already that it’s technically God healing through us, there’s no reason to argue semantics about it.
Secondly, the gifts of healings are temporary empowerments. They are not something that you can active at will, any time you please. We read in the Bible that God used Paul to heal people, such as the aforementioned Acts 28:8, and in Acts 19:11 it even says God did “extraordinary miracles” through Paul. Paul undeniably had gifts of healings! Yet, ironically, we read that Paul was not able to heal absolutely everyone at absolutely any time. As previously mentioned, Paul himself got sick in Galatians 4:13, apparently unable to him himself. He was also unable to heal Trophimus in 2 Timothy 4:20 and had to leave him behind, he was not able to heal Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:27, and he was not able to heal Timothy's stomach problem in 1 Timothy 5:23 so he advised him to try using wine for his "often infirmities."
Thus, any gift of healing cannot be activated and controlled at will. It is not a permanent heal-any-time-you-want sort of gift. Rather, it can only be done by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, just like many other spiritual gifts. For example, a person who operates in words of knowledge or words of wisdom cannot force God to give them a special message to share. No, the Holy Spirit imparts that when He wills. You cannot give a prophetic message in tongues any time you please to a church, the Holy Spirit must come upon you to do that. The gift of prophecy as well – you cannot prophesy at will! The Holy Spirit must speak to you, and then you share that. Those who think they can “prophesy at will” are just sharing fabricated or random things generated from their subconscious mind. The Holy Spirit cannot be controlled!
There are gifts of the Spirit which are permanent and abiding which we read about in Romans 12, such as a gift of teaching, gift of serving, or gift of giving encouragement. But the gifts of healings are one of the spiritual gifts which must be manifested, not automatic at all times.
This is also why it reads plural in the Greek with “gifts of healings.” The word “gifts” is plural because each time the anointing is given to heal someone, it is another grace to heal someone, another gift. It’s the same with how each time someone gets a word of knowledge for someone, that was another separate word of knowledge. It’s not a gift of “the word of knowledge” (as the Greek doesn’t say the word ‘the’); such a person is operating in words of knowledge. The reason “healings” is plural is because there is a different type of healing for each unique health problem, and each healing only counts as one. A person healed of multiple things, for example, has received multiple healings. It’s not “the gift of healing” because it’s not an automatic gift that you can activate any time at will. It is unclear if the gifts of healing technically abide in us always but aren’t automatically activated always, or if, like words of knowledge, are a temporary gift every time. But whichever is the case, it doesn’t change how we understand their function.
We read in Matthew 10:1 that “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (NASB). In Luke’s version, it says He gave them “power and authority” (Luke 9:1). The first thing I want to explain is Jesus gave the twelve apostles power and authority over all sickness and disease. This is why we need to read the Bible in context, because Jesus gave this ability to those twelve apostles specifically and not to all Christians. They were given all the gifts of healings. And it is generally true, as well, that people called to be an apostle will operate the most in healing and deliverance. However, later in 1 Corinthians 13, we clearly read that not all Christians would have these gifts of healings. So we can’t assume that everything the apostles did will be true for us. The Holy Spirit has a special role for you in the Body of Christ, with special gifts of the Spirit, that may or may not include gifts of healings.
You might be thinking, “but didn’t Jesus say that believers will lay on the sick and see them healed in Mark 16?” Indeed, Jesus said “these signs will follow those who believe” and listed healing among them. So it’s true that Jesus said believers will lay hands on the sick and see them recover. However, He didn’t say that all Christians would see those results and signs. Since the beginning of Christianity, as well as now in modern day times, not all Christians see every single one of these signs. Some Christians who were poisoned were miraculously immune and lived, but some Christians did die when they were poisoned. Some Christians cast out demons, but not all. And some Christians lay hands on the sick and see them healed, but not all Christians see people healed when they lay hands. In every example, those Christians truly believed in Jesus, so it wasn’t a matter of not meeting the prerequisite. We each have a different measure of the faith, different gifts (see Romans 12). So as a collective Body of believers, those signs absolutely do follow those who believe. But Mark 16 doesn’t say that all Christians will see every sign, at every time, at every place. The signs generally follow those who believe (plural, the Christian Body). When you put it all in context, Mark 16:18 speaks of those Christians in the Body who have gifts of healings.
The second thing I want to explain is about authority and power – Jesus have both to the disciples over bodily infirmities and demons (Luke 9:1). Authority is the right to do something, and power is the ability to do it. The authority comes from Jesus, which is synonymous with saying the authority is in His name. Power comes from the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A police officer is an example of a person with authority and power – between the badge and the gun, he has both a right and the ability to take on a criminal. We need both to get the job done. You could have authority over a demon or illness, but it doesn’t go away if there is no power of the Holy Spirit behind your words. On the other hand, a person might have a strong anointing on their life, but if God hadn’t granted them authority over say, a principality, then that spirit wouldn’t be affected. To add further to the complexity, you also need faith! The disciples were given authority over all demons because couldn’t cast one demon out “because of their little faith” (Matthew 17:20). This means that, in complete context, the gifts of healings are a temporary increase of authority and power to heal a particular bodily infirmity which are fueled by faith. Some, but not everyone, are called to operate in these gifts of healings – the ability to heal people when they lay hands on them.
On the subject of operating in the gifts of healings, that is the proper realm of commanding something to leave, because you have been given authority and power over it. Often when Jesus prayed, He didn’t ask for healing, but spoke a command. Christians operating in the gifts of healings are better suited to commanding the infirmity to leave, instead of praying for it, because the power of God to accomplish it is readily in their hands, not something that needs petitioned for. We see this in Acts 3:6, for example, that Peter told a lame man “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (KJV). This was a command, not a petition. But for everyone else not functioning in gifts of healing, asking is more appropriate. Some people try to teach that anyone who prays for healing must command the infirmity to leave, instead of asking. But the Bible doesn’t say that, and that would contradict other Scriptures which teach that asking in faith is all we need to do to receive anything. E.g., “Ask and you will receive” (Matt 7:7, Lk 11:9, Jn 16:24), “whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt 21:22), “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn 15:7), “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:14). So those who argue for we should command the healing, as opposed to asking for it, is another example of arguing semantics. I know I’ve seen healings without getting caught up about whether it was ‘commanded’ or ‘asked’ for.
The final thing that is very important to explain on this subject is that it doesn’t mean that God won’t heal you, or hear your prayers to heal others, just because you aren’t called to operate in gifts of healings! As explained at the beginning of this section, gifts of healings are the ability to heal people when you lay hands, which is entirely separate from a general prayer for healing.
Receiving healing is different from administering healing. For example, every Christian should be able to hear from God (such as through the Bible, directly to their spirit, discerning His will, etc.). However God speaks to you doesn’t matter, it only matters that every Christian understands God’s will for their life on at least some level. But you hearing from God is completely separate from whether or not God uses you to speak to others such as through giving words of knowledge/wisdom or operating in the gift of prophecy. Just because you do not operate in gifts of healings does not mean that you cannot receive healing!
We have explored various Scriptures already that Jesus paid for our complete well-being (Isaiah 53:3-5), Yahweh is our Healer (Exodus 15:26), God will drive sickness away from us (Exodus 15:26), God heals our diseases (Psalm 103:3), and He renews our bodily strength (Isaiah 40:28-31). These are promises for every believer wherein God can directly heal them, which is not the same thing as some Christians being empowered to heal others themselves.
Not having gifts of healings also doesn’t mean that God won’t use your prayers to heal others! We read in 3 John 1:2 that John said, “Beloved I pray you would prosper and be in good health.” John wasn’t laying hands on them to see an instantaneous healing work, he was simply praying that God would heal and prosper them. The Early Church was always praying for each other’s needs, which definitely included their health. The Body of Christians is supposed to be a warm loving family that uplifts each other up in prayer for whatever needs we have. If we don’t have gifts of healings, that only means that our hands touching them will not be the means by which they get healed.
The Bible says that a sick Christian should ask the elders to pray for them, yet it concludes with “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (James 5:15). If these elders had gifts of healing, it wouldn’t be necessary for them to all pray for them. Only one of them with a gift of healing would need to touch them. But the conclusion is not that the elders heal, but that the healing results from “the prayer of faith” and “the Lord shall raise him up.” God will raise them up (heal them), which is not the same as having received a gift of healing. The very next verse adds further clarity to why praying for healing works – because “the prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail” (James 5:16, BSB). So faith still results in answered prayers of healing, even if it didn’t occur by your own ability directly.
As you can see now, divine healing is a complex doctrine because of a) varying sources of bodily infirmities, b) some things require a change in the natural (such as diet), c) the variable of whether the Holy Spirit wills to empower you with a gift of healing so you are the means by which they are healed, and d) you can even have a gift of healing but not see results because of lack of faith!
Praying for Healing
Now we can finally transition to practical tips on praying for healing. Some people love to skip straight to this part, but it’s actually important to first lay a foundation of explaining the origin of health problems, healing Scriptures, balance divine healing with medical science, and the gifts of healings. Now when you are praying for healing, you will have a much more well-rounded understanding about these things!
Hereunto, you’ve actually already been provided with all the knowledge you need to pray for healing, you simply need to put it all together now. Like anything else promised in Scripture, you simply need to have faith. I've already extensively taught about biblical faith, so you must go back and read that teaching before you can understand having faith for healing.
No Magic Formula
What will be emphasized, however, is that faith is not a magic formula. Some people will waste years of their life researching misleading teachings on “how to receive your healing” that confuse them and don’t actually work. There was actually a lot of variation in how Jesus healed people! Sometimes He laid hands, sometimes He touched their eyes or hand, sometimes He only spoke a word, He once put mud on a blind man’s eyes and said wash his eyes to be healed, He told one group of lepers to go show themselves to the priest to be healed, he told a lame man to pick up his mat to be healed, etc. We cannot examine the ways Jesus healed to deduce a “formula” on how to heal people, because that’s not how it works. There was never a “one size fits all” prayer that worked for everyone. It’s not as if Jesus used the same words every time He prayed, as if it were a special healing prayer that just needs spoken. On the contrary, Jesus understood biblical faith and was led by the Spirit.
So when it comes to praying for healing, there is no secret formula, no magic trick, and no special prayer. As long as you have faith and aren’t disobeying any promptings of the Spirit, it wouldn’t matter the exact words used. It wouldn’t matter if you said “Father, I pray for Your healing touch” or if you instead prayed, “we pray this ailment be removed.” The principles of faith are all that really matter, not the exact method. And faith begins with the Word of God.
Stand on the Word
So my first advice is to meditate on and stand on healing Scriptures. Continue to meditate on how Jesus heals and is the same today, remember we receive shalom because of His chastisement (Isa 53:3-5), the prayer of faith will heal the sick (Ja 5:15), Yahweh heals us (Exo 15:26), God blesses our food and drives away sickness (Exo 23:25, Deu 7:15), He heals our diseases (Ps 103:1-5), He gives us bodily strength (Isa 40:28-31), He'll protect us from premature death (Ps 118:17), and He will give us all good things (Rom 8:32, Matt 7:11, Phil 4:19, Ps 4:19, Ps 34:10, Ps 84:11). Meditate on these Scriptures – read them, trust them, believe them, stand on them, and declare them! Faith in God and in His Word is absolutely essential and mandatory. We must grow in our faith, and nothing works without faith (a little more on that later). These healing Scriptures are your foundation to begin to see divine healings in your life.
In God’s Timing
Secondly, remember that none of these Scriptures say how or when God will heal. We only know it is His will to heal. We know, for example, that the prayer of faith will heal the sick, but we don’t know how or when God will heal them. They could be healed instantly, within minutes or hours, overnight, after a week, after months, etc. When you understand biblical faith, you realize it’s about the Lord’s way and timing. God has a certain way He wants to do things and has a planned timetable for when He will do it. Faith is a way of aligning ourselves with His will, not a way of making God do something we way we determine.
There have been many testimonies in which a person prayed for didn’t receive instant healing, but they were supernaturally healed later. For example, David Hogan has testified that often he has laid hands on sick people in villages and nothing happened, but the next day they were completely healed of terrible things, including leprosy. David Hogan, in this example, wasn’t having faith about what exactly would happen when he laid hands, but only having faith that “they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:18). He believed they would recover, but he didn’t know how or when. Do you see the difference between biblical faith and fabricated faith? We can only believe what God has said, not what we say or assume. IF God had not said this to you, then you could not walk into a situation and say, “God is going to heal you in exactly this way [your assumption] when I lay hands on you!”
Because we don’t know when we will get the breakthrough, patience and persistence are always key to receiving any breakthrough. Abraham, for instance, couldn’t have got his promised child any earlier than God planned. As an example, let’s say you have prayed to God to heal you for something, but you don’t feel better at all. A biblical faith would be completely unfazed by this. Biblical faith trusts that God honors His Word and is going to heal you, however or whenever that is. A weak faith says, “I guess it didn’t work!”, gives up on having faith, and let’s itself give into fear and doubt. We must keep having faith until we receive the breakthrough – whether continually praying for yourself or somebody else.
Keeping Praying About It
If a person, or yourself, is not healed the first time you prayed, you should simply keep praying about it. This could mean continual prayer in that moment or it could mean taking out some time to pray about it everyday until the breakthrough comes. The Bible indicates continual persistent prayer for anything we want to receive. We’ve already taught on the requirement to persistence in prayer, so here is very quick recap: In most Scriptures that talk about praying, the Greek verb is in present tense and actually says “keep asking” or “be asking” to receive. This means a continual asking, not asking just once. It literally says "keep asking" in the Greek in all of the following verses: Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 11:9-11, Mark 11:24, John 16:24, James 1:5, James 4:2, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 5:14-15. We also know that Jesus taught a parable that "men always ought to pray" (Luke 18:1), not pray only once, but keep praying. Jesus also said the man who received bread at midnight was because of his persistence and concluded with “therefore, I say unto you, keep asking and you will receive” (Luke 11:9). The meaning is that, like the man who kept knocking for bread, you keep asking until you receive. Elijah kept earnestly praying that it would not rain (James 5:17), he didn't pray just once.
We read in Mark 8 a story where Jesus prayed for someone more than once to be healed:
- And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. (Mark 8:22-25, KJV)
The first time Jesus prayed for the blind man, he saw men as trees (he had vision now, but it was very blurry). He had to pray a second time for the man to be completely healed. Many of us are glad this story was recorded for our own sake. We know from Jesus’ example that if someone is not healed the first time you pray, it is not biblical to dismiss them saying “well, just receive it in faith” or such. It should be kept in prayer, whether you keep praying then, or as something you remember to pray about each day until it gets better. Some people may think you only pray once and must receive it in faith and never pray again, but that both contradicts a plethora of Scriptures on persistent prayer as well as contradicts how Jesus healed this man with multiple prayers.
There is a second thing to learn from this. Not only do we see that you simply keep praying about it until you receive the breakthrough, but we also see that healing can come in layers. It is kind of like when God brought the Jews to the Promised Land, they had to fight multiple battles to win all of the territory – they conquered more of the Promised Land with each winning battle. Just as the blind man’s sight was not healed fully all at once, often times when we pray for healing, that person will continue to get better and better until it is completely done. Healing is very often received, not all at once, but in gradual layers of victory. And remember that whatever God starts, He wills to complete.
For this reason, a practical pointer you will hear in ministry is to ask the person you are praying for how they feel, and ask them to rate their pain on a scale of 1-10. As you keep praying for them, you may pause and ask them to re-evaluate their pain level, and keep praying until it is completely better. This is similar to how Jesus asked the blind what he now sees.
The next thing to remember about faith is that biblical faith is always in the context of being Spirit-led – hearing from God and being obedient. Jesus Himself was always Spirit-led, having received the Baptism of the Spirit when John baptized Him and He only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). We need to hear from the Holy Spirit because we may not know what is causing the problem, and also so we can be made aware of the way God wants to perform the healing. When Jesus said that the woman’s hunchback was caused by a spirit of infirmity, it’s because He heard from the Father about that. As previously explained, health problems can be caused by a plethora of different things in the natural or by a demonic spirit. The Holy Spirit can reveal those things.
I have two real examples from my own life to demonstrate both of these scenarios. There was once a time when I had what looked like a little swollen sac of tissue in my mouth, on the side of the cheek. I assumed that it was an abscess because that’s what it looked like. So for a few days I kept praying that God would heal this infection and shrink the abscess. When I wasn’t seeing results, I decided to go to the dentist, since they can drain an abscess or refer you to an oral surgeon if nothing else. It turns out that it wasn’t an abscess at all; my salivary gland was inflamed because I must have bitten down on it during my sleep. The dentist referred me to an oral surgeon that could cut it out if the swelling didn’t go down on its own in a week. But now that I knew what the problem really was, I then accurately prayed that God would reduce the inflammation of my salivary gland, and also had my pastor pray with me about it. We agreed with faith that God would heal it. The next morning, it was significantly better, the swelling was almost completely gone. The reason I wasn’t healed the first time I prayed was because I kept praying that God heal me of an “infection” and shrink the “abscess”, but I did not have an infection or an abscess to heal! The prayer didn’t make sense, so I wasn’t healed until I knew what the real problem was so I could pray accurately.
At a different time in my life, I was having a problem with lots of pain in my right hip. This pain had actually been persisting for an entire year. I had been praying about it and had others pray with me, but my hip wasn’t getting better. At that time, I was regularly taking Jiu-Jitsu classes, so I assumed that it must have been related to an injury incurred from rolling with my classmates too roughly (“rolling” is practicing Jiu-Jitsu, i.e., open mat). Being my stubborn self, I didn’t want to give up Jiu-Jitsu though so I kept taking hot Epsom salt baths to alleviate the pain after classes. When I decided I needed help, I began to see an experienced chiropractor at a rehab center. For nearly three weeks, I wasn’t going to Jiu-Jitsu classes but was only going to the rehab center where the chiropractor had me do physical therapy exercises, core-building workouts, administered electric shocks to me to force the hip muscles to relax, and massages as well. After three weeks, the chiropractor was puzzled by my issue. He was insistent that based on my symptoms, it really sounded like inflammation of the hip, which is weird and puzzling because we had done everything which should have fixed a simple inflammation. I went to my pastor for prayer again. We had prayed about it before and my problem persisted, but this time would be different. When he prayed, he heard from the Holy Spirit that it was indeed an inflammation of the hip but it was being caused by a spirit of infirmity. He rebuked that spirit, and the pain left instantly. It’s now been two years and I’ve never had hip pains again. The reason I wasn’t healed all those other times was because we were praying that my hip be healed. But praying for healing, not to mention receiving any treatments in the natural, doesn’t make a demon leave. The demon needs rebuked!
In both of these real experiences from my life, I personally realized the importance of hearing from the Holy Spirit to understand the cause of an issue. If I had taken out time to hear from God about the source of the problems, then I probably could have been healed quicker of both my inflamed salivary gland and my hip pain.
Secondly, we must be obedient (obeying promptings and directions of the Spirit) because biblical faith only works in the context of God’s plan – the specific way He wills to accomplish something that requires obedience on our part. Abraham received a new land because he obeyed God to leave. Joshua won the battle for Jericho because he obeyed God’s instruction about marching around the city and blowing the shofars. Naaman was healed because he obeyed God’s instruction to dip in the river seven times. The blind man was healed because he obeyed God’s instruction to go wash his eyes in the pool. The lepers were healed because they obeyed God’s instruction to go show themselves to the priest when Jesus told them to.
This is part of why there was so much diversity in how He healed people, because Jesus obeyed the promptings of the Spirit. Sometimes the Father wanted Him to lay hands, at others times to put mud on someone’s eyes, at other times to speak a word, etc. If God is using you to heal someone, He may have a specific thing He wants you to do as well. If you don’t learn how to hear from and be led by the Spirit, you may see little success in healings. However, on a practical note, if God does not speak to you about it, then just keep praying about it as normal with persistent faith. If God doesn’t reveal the underlying cause, then play it safe with a well-rounded prayer that asks for both healing and rebukes any possible spirits.
When praying for healing, there is also the subject of whether or not to use faith declarations or faith confessions. As we know, God “calls those things which are not as though they are” (Romans 4:17). God called Abraham “a father of many nations” before he was that, and Jesus said the little girl was not dead before he had actually risen her from the dead (Luke 8:52-55). This is because God sees the future and He knows that if something is already accomplished in the plans of God, then it’s as good as done. Compared to eternity, the speed at which God will accomplish His plans could be considered as if already accomplished. And they already are accomplished in a sense – in the spirit, but not in the natural yet.
Some people like to use this advanced teaching of faith to practice faith declarations or faith confessions when it comes to healing. For example, a Christian diagnosed with cancer who says, “I don’t have cancer. I’m healed in my body. I already received my healing.” They are saying that in faith until they receive their breakthrough, although they really do still have cancer in the meantime. Technically this is biblical to express faith this way if you so chose. Jesus was once led by the Spirit to use a faith confession of sorts, when He said that the little girl was not dead, although she really was dead, just before He raised her from the dead. However, I wish to point out that Jesus was only led by the Spirit one time to do this in His ministry, so that’s probably reason for us to think God won’t lead us to do this very often either. For example, Jesus was once led by the Spirit to put mud on a blind man’s eyes and tell him to wash his eyes to be healed. Extremism would be formulating a new doctrine that says every time we pray for a blind person, we must put mud on their eyes in order for them to recover sight because of the one time Jesus did it. I’m not saying faith declarations aren’t biblical, because they are, I’m just saying to avoid extremism. If you, like Jesus, are being led by the Spirit to use a faith declaration, then by all means do so. However, I want to warn against some extremisms in this teaching which have created a LOT of confusion in the Body of Christ.
One extremism is using faith declarations without understanding biblical faith. Faith declarations are really just about having an assurance about something, as if it were already done. You have received the answer (see 1 John 5:15), but you don’t yet have the breakthrough. It’s a faith-principle of believing you have received something now in the spirit (now accomplished in the plans of God), but you haven’t received it in the natural yet (see Mark 11:24). But some people don’t understand this. They have an extreme view of faith declarations where they believe that it’s about mentally persuading yourself that you really are healed now, which is supposed to manipulate reality to align with your words. This is not biblical faith. That is using a psychological tool to make yourself believe something, then wrongfully assuming God has to honor that because you made yourself think so. We can never force the hand of God or manipulate Him with such fake faith. Biblical faith is trusting God and His promises, and remembering that He has a specific plan and timetable for how He wants to accomplish His will.
Furthermore, in continuation, is the extremism of thinking that you really are already healed in the natural now. They believe that faith is what you make yourself believe. But biblical faith is continuing to pray about something with faith and then waiting upon the Lord. There have, in fact, been Christians who used “faith declarations” to claim that their already healed of serious health problems and stopped taking they medication. Do you know what happened? They died. Yes, they actually died! You can read many such stories online, but my family personally knew one boy that died because his parents thought they were having “faith” to refuse to take him to the doctor for a serious intestinal issue. It is very sad that the real reason those people died was because of a misunderstanding about having and applying biblical faith. These real stories may hurt some people’s faith, but only if you think that faith means whatever you believe is now true. Those stories don’t hurt my faith because I understand that if I were to say I’m ‘healed now by faith’ (which I rarely do unless Spirit-led), it only means I received the answer to my prayer – I receive my healing only in the sense of an invisible promise stamped over me to be fulfilled in God’s timing. I don’t believe that I’m actually healed and then do foolish things. God’s timetable of when He will heal someone (or do anything, for that matter) cannot be manipulated through some faith confession or self-persuasion techniques. You’re healed when God actually heals you. We must use wisdom.
Finally, is the extremism of trying to apply faith declarations to somebody else if you aren’t Spirit-led to do that. Jesus never told someone they were already healed before He prayed for them, or in the middle of praying for them. When He prayed for the blind man’s eyes who received blurry vision, Jesus didn’t say “you need to have received it in faith the first time I prayed.” Jesus prayed a second time because the blind man wasn’t healed yet. This is an example to us; if we are praying for someone else who didn’t get completely better yet, don’t tell them “well you need to speak out in faith that you’re already healed!” That’s not biblical. Instead, we should keep praying for them until they are healed. This is entirely practical. If someone were manifesting a demon and in demonic torment, would we tell them they are “already delivered” and that they just need to keep confessing that? No, we would keep praying to rebuke the demon until it actually left. Likewise, if someone isn’t healed yet, I’m not going to tell them they are healed if they aren’t. Continual prayer should be done for healing until the breakthrough comes. When the Holy Spirit tells you that “it’s enough” and no more prayer is needed, that is a better time to stop praying and transition to a place of faith declarations.
Other Tips for Praying for Others
As explained earlier, just because you don’t have gifts of healings doesn’t mean God can’t use your prayer to heal someone. Whether praying for someone in your personal prayer life, or whether you are uplifting them in prayer corporately as a church, we should always be encouraged to pray for anyone suffering in their bodies. The prayer of faith will heal the sick!
Secondly, how do you know God won’t use you in gifts of healings? The Bible says to ‘earnestly desire the spiritual gifts’ (1 Corinthians 12:31, 1 Corinthians 14:1). It says this for a reason. How would I have known God would use me in gifts of healings unless I tried? I didn’t know, I just earnestly desired the gifts of healings and was willing to try.
Finally, my experience, as well as something observed by and large by Spirit-filled Christians, is that God can let you operate in gifts outside of your calling from time to time. It’s true that God has apportioned each of us certain spiritual gifts which only He determines, and it’s true that no Christian will have every gift of the Spirit at all times. But that doesn’t mean God can’t make some special exceptions to allow you to operate in a gift you aren’t really called to for the most people, and the Church would has often experienced this. Someone who God hasn’t called to operate in giving prophecies, for example, may still be used by God one time in their life to give a prophecy. I’m not saying all Christians will function in every gift of the Spirit at one point in their life for sure, I’m only saying sometimes God let’s us operate outside our calling, which could include a gift of healing.
Since you don’t know if God will use you in a gift of healing, I would advise: When you pray, have faith in the sense that a) you truly believe that if it is God’s will, He will use you right then and there, b) despite what happens, continue to trust in God, and c) know that God is still our Healer even He didn’t give you a gift of healing, so you can always continue to keep them in prayer about it regardless.
I also want to address another issue regarding praying for others. Some people have taught that the person you are praying for must have faith or it won’t work, and this isn’t true. It’s true that Jesus told many people “your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42, etc.), but that doesn’t mean Jesus couldn’t heal them on account of His own ability. We all know that you can receive your healing as an individual through faith in our Healing Messiah, such as when Paul saw a man that had faith to be healed (Acts 14:9). But that doesn’t mean that the person you are praying for must have faith in order to receive healing. Only the person praying has to have faith.
We should consider how when Jesus prayed for the centurion's servant, that servant was not physically present to receive healing in faith. The servant was sick in bed, not having faith, but Jesus was still able to him regardless of him not having faith. Let’s also consider the people Jesus raised from the dead, including Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, and the coffin He touched in Luke 7. Can a dead a person have faith? No, they’re dead. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, for example, Lazarus had zero faith to be raised from the dead because he was dead with the inability to have any faith at all!
Some people point to the passage of Mark 6 which says Jesus could not do many miracles because of their unbelief. The passages reads, “Many hearing him were astonished, saying [in criticism] … Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:2-6, KJV). From context we can see that Jesus was being criticized and rejected. They did not believe He was the Messiah; they had no faith in Him. Consequently, He wasn’t able to stay there to perform miracles because they drove Him away because they did not believe Him. It doesn’t mean ‘Jesus couldn’t perform many miracles because these people did not believe in faith healing.’ That interpretation does not flow well with the rest of the story. The story is about Jesus no longer being able to minister there because He was driven out, not about people who felt doubtful or uncertain if they would receive their healing when Jesus prayed. The unbelief that marveled Jesus was their unbelief in Him as the Messiah, not their unbelief in faith healing.
It’s true Jesus said some people were healed on account of their own faith, but where did Jesus ever say that someone wasn’t healed because they didn’t have faith to receive? Is there any person that was ever brought to Jesus who wasn’t healed because they didn’t have enough faith? Also consider that healing could scarcely be a sign to the unbelievers if it only worked if they believe it will! For these reasons, I don’t believe this teaching is biblical that the person prayed for must have faith. I have noticed that sometimes the person praying has little faith, so they blame it on the person they prayed for when it didn’t work, telling them they didn’t have faith to receive. It’s mostly an excuse and I never do that personally. Many people I have prayed for did not believe God would heal them, and it didn’t matter because I was having faith, and they did get healed. I have also seen multiple atheists get healed by God when we prayed for them! I assure you they did not believe they would get healed, they were only humoring us, and were very surprised. If someone isn’t healed when we pray, and it’s a matter of faith, we have only ourselves to blame.
Can we rely on medical science in the meantime?
Some people wonder, what should be we until we receive our healing? Can we rely on medical science in the interim of waiting for our breakthrough? This is a valid question and it confuses some people. The answer is: of course you can! It’s never wrong to go the doctor, as previously explained. In fact, sometimes medical knowledge is useful because it allows accurate prayer! It also doesn’t mean you’re not having faith because you continue to rely on medical science. For example, if you are believing God to heal your vision, you can still wear your glasses in the meantime. It doesn’t mean you’re not having faith, it just means you haven’t been healed yet. Some people think they are having faith by stopping taking their medicine, and the vast majority of time they will regret that. We already explained earlier that you don’t know when you’ll get your breakthrough, so doing foolish things in the meantime isn’t going to get you healed any faster. All of that said, if you rely purely on medical science, you probably aren’t having faith. The reason why many Christians never experience divine healings, is because they only have faith in the doctor to help, and extremely little faith in God to heal. For example, only going to the doctor out of a state of fear or because you don’t think God will supernaturally heal you, does reflect a lack of faith. You will probably never experience divine healing if you ultimately place your hope in the doctor instead of God.
Can you lose your healing?
A final special question of interest is, can a person lose their healing? Some of us have heard of odd stories, or witnessed firsthand, where someone appeared to be healed but then the problem appeared to return.
There is no simple answer to that question, but here is my thoughts of possible explanations:
- They may not have been healed in the first place. This happens when sometimes people assume they were healed from a symptomatic issue that only causes them problems on occasions. When the problems creep back up in a symptomatic issue, it could indicate they were never healed in the first place.
- It could be a similar, but separate, issue. One healing doesn’t guarantee no more issues in that realm. For example, if you received an instantaneous healing from a headache or migraine, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will never have a headache or migraine again. In these cases, it’s not that you “lost” your healing, it’s just another case of the same problem.
- It could be caused by a returning spirit of infirmity. This is probably the most common reason for why someone appears to have “lost” a healing when the healing seemed very genuine. A demon which is causing a health problem can temporarily alleviate the issue, then return later, simply to create confusion. Now that person is getting confused about why they aren’t healed anymore and discouraged in their faith, because of a tactic of the enemy.
- Symptoms do not necessarily mean a health issue has returned. Some times people are only being paranoid or worried that a health problem is returning because of a symptom, which is sometimes a coincidence. Secondly, and this does happen, the devil could mimic symptoms in someone’s body to induce this fear that a health problem is returning. He wants you to believe that you are no longer healed, or were never healed in the first place, because that place of fear will discredit God and cause you to lower your shield of faith, making you susceptible to other attacks.
Personal Testimonies of Healing
I would now like to share with you different healing testimonies from my own life to help you understand what these things look like in practice, and also to encourage your faith…
- My first time to experience divine healing was when I prayed for my dad who was suffering from a severe case of gout in his foot. We were walking back to the car from my brother’s college graduation ceremony, and the pain was so bad I can tell my father was fighting off some tears as he walked. I felt strongly in my spirit an eagerness to pray for him. I stopped him and told him I wanted to pray and believe for God to heal his. He did not believe anything would happen, but he humored me. I prayed a simple prayer along the lines of, “Lord, I command this gout to leave his foot in Jesus’ name!” He was quite shocked because almost all of the pain left his foot after I prayed. We got in the car, and as he was driving he kept saying, “This is so weird – I can’t believe it son but my foot feels so much better!” We drove only 10 minutes down the road to a restaurant and the pain had completely left his foot by the time we arrived. Later on, he contracted gout in his other foot too. This time he was out of town, so he requested prayer by text message, and I prayed for his foot that night. He told me the next day that he had woke up in the middle of the night feeling a warm sensation in his foot and all the pain went away. When he told me what time that happened, we realized his foot had been healed immediately the moment I prayed the night before.
- My brother once injured his foot severely enough that he was using a crutch (I know, ironically another foot healing story). At that time, we were working at the same facility. He was not a person of faith either, and but he hesitantly allowed me to pray for him in the company warehouse. I prayed for his foot, asking the Father for healing to come. He didn’t feel anything in that moment, but a few hours later, I asked him to test to it out. He really didn’t want to because he insisted that it hurts so bad to walk on it, but I implored him to just test and see if God may have already healed him. So he tested it out, and to his complete shock and amaze, his foot was completely healed. He was able to walk on it just fine! Like many people who doubt, his reaction was not to praise God, but he remarkably exclaimed, “Wow, what a coincidence! This is so weird, it doesn’t hurt anymore.” I had to insist it was no “coincidence” but a divine healing. God healed him, but unfortunately he did not give the Lord glory, and you might be surprised to see how often that happens in ministry.
- I had a friend who I was talking on the phone with, sharing about things God was doing in our lives. He was very excited to hear about the things we have experienced, and asked me if I would please pray for his girlfriend (now his wife, they later married) who had experienced a painful stomach issue for many years. He put his phone on speaker phone, and she explained to me how she has had these terrible pains in her stomach, as if it were twisted up, for many years. I prayed for her over the phone, believing God to heal her stomach. She didn’t feel any different as I prayed, but I told them I’ll continue to believe God and then let them go. After I had hung up the phone, I decided to pray about it again earnestly that God would heal her stomach. I forgot about that conversation and prayer until my wife and I bumped into her a year later. She excitedly told us how right after I got off the phone, she felt this “warmth” in her stomach and she just knew God was healing her. She said that ever since then (at that point, an entire year) she has had no more stomach problems whatsoever.
- My wife once developed a ganglion cyst on her hand. We had prayed about it and had our pastor pray about it with us too, but nothing happened. We continued to pray that God would heal it on occasion, but it never went away – it didn’t even shrunk up a little. But one day I resolved that I was going to keep praying until that cyst was healed. So every single day, during my devotional time, I took out a moment to sincerely pray that her cyst would be fully healed and completely go away. I kept checking with my wife and looking at her hand, but nothing was happening. I didn’t give up though, I continued to have persistent mustard-seed faith. So I continued to pray about that hand cyst every day for months, and finally one day it completely disappeared! I could have easily given up on this, but I’m thankful that I continued to believe that God would do it because now she doesn’t have to have that uncomfortable cyst on her hand the rest of her life. This is one of those examples where God’s timing may not be immediate, and we have to continue to exercise continual faith until the breakthrough comes.
There are many testimonies of healings out there, but I've only shared examples of times from my personal life because I wanted to give you an idea of faith in action from firsthand experience. So, this does not even include the many other healings which I have been an eye witness to through others praying. I have also seen, on many occasions, many lesser healings, such as an instantaneous healing from headaches and other bodily pains when I prayed for someone. I’ve also been healed of several health issues myself that creeped up over time (such as muscular injuries). I have not shared the full stories behind these however, because a) most people only want to hear healings from major health issues, and b) there isn’t much story behind them anyways, it was as simple as healing came after simple prayer. Suffice to say that I’ve certainly experienced the healing power of God and I’m very grateful.
Why Are Only Some Healed?
The final to discuss is, why are only some people healed? Even people who see incredible numbers of healings in this ministries, not everyone they pray for gets healed. In my own life as well, God may have used me to heal some people, but not everyone I prayed for was healed. We already listed biblical examples of this as well. Paul was able to heal people and perform miracles (Acts 19:11, Acts 28:8). Yet, ironically, Paul was not able to heal himself when he got sick in Galatians 4:13, he was also unable to heal Trophimus in 2 Timothy 4:20 and had to leave him behind, he was not able to heal Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:27, and he was not able to heal Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 so he advised him to try using wine for his stomach problems. No one has ever seen 100% success in healing ministry.
So why isn’t everyone healed? The answer is complex, but we’ve indirectly answered that question throughout. We may not know the exact reason for a specific given scenario, but we can biblically deduce the following list of reasons why someone did not receive healing…
- Lack of faith. The simplest and most common reason why reason why people do not see healings, or experience other biblical promises for that matter, is because of lack of faith. If you do not have faith, you won’t experience God’s promises. The disciples couldn’t cast out a demon because they had too little faith (Matt 21:22). The unbelieving Jews "were unable to enter [the Promised Land] because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). The Bible says the one who doubts should not expect to receive anymore (James 1:6). Healing Scriptures must be buried in your heart first. If you don’t have faith in God to honor His Word as your starting foundation, you won’t see healings! Trusting in God as a healing God, and trusting in His Word, is foundational. A weak faith quickly gives into fear, doubt, and unbelief. And remember that any time you are experiencing fear or worry, you are not having faith. This, combined with the second reason about to be listed, really is the most common reason.
- The answer is only delayed. This flows from our last point, really. We are to keep having faith persistently until we receive the breakthrough. It’s not just a matter of faith, but also of God’s timing. We won’t receive the breakthrough if we stop having faith until then. As the Bible says, we are to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12, NIV). God wills that we all go through trials in life, and those trials will include health battles. Remember that in the book of Job, God allowed Satan to inflict Job with painful sores (see Job 2). It was God’s will to heal Job in the end, but Job went sometime until he received that healing. God may delay the breakthrough until He determines the trial is over. Our trials, which include health battles, are lessons to teach us to have faith and humility. It doesn’t mean God won’t heal us, it only means we are not immune to facing such trials, and the breakthrough may be delayed.
- The way that you are praying is inaccurate. I shared earlier my real example of how I once prayed for God to heal my mouth “infection” and “abscess”, but it turns out I really needed healing for an inflamed salivary gland which I mistook for an abscess. There was no abscess or infection to heal, so the first prayers didn’t work. I was also once praying that God heal my hip pain, but it ends up a spirit of infirmity was inflicting the pain. I was praying for healing, but a demon needed rebuked. The bottom line is if you pray about something you don’t really need, it doesn’t make sense. We need to pray accurately for what we really need, based on knowledge of the real underlying problem. There are a few ways for us to address this dilemma. First of all, always try to hear from the Holy Spirit, as He may reveal the true source of a problem. Secondly, if God doesn’t speak, you can utilize medical knowledge, such as from a doctor as I have, to understand the underlying issues. Medical knowledge is often very practical, and it’s especially a blessing to have Christians in the medical field. Third, you can attempt to use well-rounded prayers that include both praying for healing and rebuking any possible spirits behind it.
- Supernatural healing isn’t the answer to some problems caused by natural things or are self-inflicted. We gave examples of this earlier which we will repeat and then some. A person who feels bad because of their terrible diet, doesn’t need healing, they need to change their diet. If God numbed them so they don’t feel bad anymore, that doesn’t actually resolve the problem, they just need to change their diet. A person who feels funny because of a vitamin deficiency, doesn’t need divine healing, they need to incorporate new foods into their diet. A person who is ill because of mold in their house, won’t feel better through prayer alone, until that mold (the source) is removed. One of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration, and most people don’t even realize they aren’t drinking enough water! The answer, again, is not for God to take away the headache, but for you to drink more water. Many more examples could be given, but I think you get the point that divine healing isn’t always the solution. In most of those examples, the health problems are also self-inflicted. Sometimes God may allow us to experience the consequences of our actions. For example, if you failed to brush your teeth, God will probably not heal your cavities because that was your own fault. Or a person who severely overeats becomes obese and thereby develops a plethora of new self-inflicted health problems. God expects us to take care of our bodies! We must eat properly, sleep enough, exercise, etc. Don’t expect God to heal you of things that arise out of pure irresponsibility to care for the temple of your body.
- You don’t have gifts of healings. As explained earlier, this doesn’t mean that God won’t heal you or that your prayers won’t be answered for someone else’s healing. But it does mean that if God hasn’t called you to operate in gifts of healings, people won’t be healed by the specific means of you laying hands on them. Again, you can still pray for their healing, it only means the healing power isn’t in your hands. There is no shame in this – we each have an important, God-ordained role in the Body of Christ, and we just have to accept the true calling of God on our lives.
- It is a judgement from God. We explored biblical examples at the beginning that sometimes God can create a health problem as a form of judgment because that person is committing a sin. In this case, prayer isn’t going to do anything if that person does not stop sinning. As we concluded in that early section, we must make sure that we have truly repented, have forgiven everyone, and are walking righteously before we ask for healing.
- It may not be God’s will to heal every little issue. You are free to disagree with me on this point, but allow me to explain. We explained in the beginning an important foundation of the origin of sickness, disease, and death. We live in a fallen world and we don’t have our resurrected bodies yet. All of us are going to undergo the natural process of aging. As we grow older, our eyesight will deteriorate, our sense of hearing will faint, our skin will wrinkle and blemish, our bones will grow weaker, our hair will whiten and possibly thin too, you won’t have as much strength as before, etc. Even elderly Christian people who are very big on faith healing, and believe God has blessed their health, they won’t deny that they don’t have as much energy and strength as they did in their youth. No one can deny this, that even Christians get weaker in their bodies as they age. I do not believe that God will heal us of every little one of these things we encounter as we grow older. Even some people with the greatest healing ministries themselves wear glasses because their eyesight has deteriorated. If you believe God will heal anything, it doesn’t make sense that they can heal others but not their self! Even outside of the aging process, we have imperfect bodies in general. Every person has several dozen little defects and mutations – moles, scars, a few crooked or misaligned teeth, receding hairline or baldness, imperfect vision, a slightly raised hip, slight bends in the finger or toes, extra cartilage in some joints, etc. No Christian is, or has ever been, free of every little thing! I myself, for example, was born with a condition called hammer toe which causes the long toes (second toes) of my feet to curl very strongly to the side. I have never bothered to pray for healing of this because I could really care less – it doesn’t affect my life negatively at all. However, I want to emphasize that many of these things are very minor and don’t affect our quality of life. If you read the Bible carefully, you will also see that the Scriptures only say God heals our sicknesses and diseases (which do cause suffering), but it doesn’t say He will heal every defect! If it’s not a sickness or disease, I don’t personally believe God will heal us of every little defect until the day we receive our resurrected bodies. This does not contradict belief in divine healing. We should believe God to heal nearly anything that causes true pain or suffering. An example of being extreme, however, would be praying that God stop your hair from graying or that He heal a tiny scar nobody notices anyways.
- It could be time to go home to the Lord. Let’s say someone had an 80-year-old Christian grandfather who was now having heart problems and began to ask people to pray for their grandfather, but he passes away next week. You could say, “Why didn’t it work? I thought we were having faith for healing!” But I would say God willed for that to happen, to take grandpa home to Heaven. Perhaps you think this so obvious that it’s silly to even explain, but I’ve actually seen many of these scenarios in real life; where others felt confused, I was honestly convinced that it was simply their time to go home. We don’t have our resurrected bodies yet, so we are going to die one day, and no prayer can stop that. The experience of healings may improve our quality of life, and sometimes lengthen our life span, but death is still inevitable. So sometimes, God may not be willing to heal a Christian of a health issue if it’s time to take them home. The Bible does not support a fatalistic view of life nor premature death, so this really only applies to the elderly. This requires wisdom and discerning God’s will, because it could become ambiguous if their time is really up, depending on how old someone is.