Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. (Psalms 67:2)
Why don’t more people get healed? Why are some healed while others are not? Why are very shallow and worldly Christians sometimes healed while more sincere and dedicated people have not yet received healing? These are some of the questions you face when you begin to minister healing and deliverance. This lesson concerns variables that affect healing. A “variable” is a factor that causes variations or different results.
God promised healing in His Word. We must remember, however, that every promise of God is conditional on the response of man. This is why it is important to understand the variables that affect healing.
Variables in the ministry of healing are reasons why some people get healed and others do not. Before you begin this study, it is important to remember that you will never have the answers to every question you encounter in healing and deliverance.
It is human nature to want to understand everything. The first temptation centered on this very issue. This desire to know all things stems from rebellion at having unanswered questions. This problem of human nature is one you must conquer in order to minister healing and deliverance effectively.
The Bible does reveal some variables that affect healing and deliverance, but you will never have answers to every question. If you did, you would have no need of God or faith. The Bible is clear that some things are revealed to us, while others are not:
In healing and deliverance, you must learn to put aside unanswered questions and leave the secret things with the Lord.
Healing and deliverance are part of the Gospel just like salvation. When you minister healing and deliverance and some do not receive, you will be tempted to give up. But consider this question: Do you stop preaching salvation just because everyone who hears the message does not get saved? Why then are we so quick to stop ministering healing and deliverance because not everyone receives? Most likely because in healing and deliverance, pride enters in. We tend to be embarrassed when we pray for a visibly sick person and they do not get healed. Others can see this because it is external. If someone responds for salvation but does not really get saved, people cannot see it because it is internal. Our pride is affected by what people can see externally.
You will never have answers for all the variables that affect healing any more than you will for the factors that affect responses to salvation. Some get saved, some do not. Some get healed, some do not.
The Bible does reveal some variables that affect healing and deliverance, however. It is important for you to understand these so you can help others work through them to receive healing. Here are some of these variables:
Lack of knowledge about healing, its principles, source, how to exercise faith, and receive it can affect healing. God said:
Jesus said that we fall into error when we do not understand God’s Word and His power:
Some people do not receive healing because they do not understand God’s Word and His power.
Faith for healing comes by hearing the Word of God concerning healing (Romans 10:17). The Bible calls the Word of God the seed. Some people try to reap a harvest of healing without the Word of healing being planted in their hearts. The seed cannot work unless it is in us. Before saying “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” God first said, “If thou wilt diligently hearken unto my Word.” The Word preceded healing.
How many people would get saved if they never heard a message on salvation? Or how many would get saved if the main points of a salvation message were:
-It may not be God’s will to save you.
-Your sin is for God’s glory.
-The day of salvation is past.
Yet we hear these statements about healing which is also part of the atonement of Christ:
-It may not be God’s will to heal you.
-Your sickness is for God’s glory.
-The day of healing is past.
People must be taught the Word of God regarding healing just as they are taught salvation. It is the seed of the Word that brings forth the harvest of healing.
Traditions are beliefs, rules, and principles of man. Our traditions and beliefs hinder the work of God’s Word:
If faith comes by hearing God’s Word, then it can leave by hearing and accepting traditions and doctrines of man that destroy faith. Here are some common traditions of man that affect healing:
“Healing and miracles are not for today.”
Some people claim healing was only for Bible times or for the future when Jesus returns.
“I am” is present tense. How can we change it to “I was” in the past or “I will be” in the future? The Bible teaches that God does not change:
For I am the Lord, I change not. . . (Malachi 3:6)
God has not changed since the beginning of time:
If the day of miracles is past, then so is the day of salvation, for there is no greater miracle than salvation. Some say healing is for the future when Jesus returns to earth. If this is true, then the ministry of teachers, pastors and other leaders must be for that future time also because the gift of healing is a spiritual gift just as these other gifts.
The most convincing argument against claims that miracles are not for today is the documented record of experience. Jesus performed miracles and healings:
The book of Acts records miracles and healing in the early church. The documented record of modern Church history also confirms many healings and miracles. Some people ask, “If healing is for today, why don’t believers go around raising all those who have taken sick and died?” Raising the dead was not part of the Great Commission given to the Church. It was commanded to the disciples when they were first sent on a preaching tour to announce the Kingdom. The raising of the dead was the first fruits of the resurrection of Jesus which was to come.
There is a difference between special miracles and covenant miracles. Special miracles were performed as a sign in special circumstances, such as turning water to wine, walking on the sea, multiplying the loaves and fishes, opening the Red Sea, and raising the dead. Healing is a covenant miracle of the Old Testament, not a special miracle. God still does raise the dead, but this is determined by His sovereignty and is not a general part of our commission to heal.
While we are on the subject of death, some skeptics claim that if divine healing always worked, no Christian would ever die. No such claim is made by Scriptures. The Bible only provides divine health within the normal life span.
Although the atonement of Christ purchased our eternal redemption from death, these mortal bodies will eventually die unless Jesus returns first and the rapture occurs. The same Bible which teaches healing also sets a limit on the length of man’s life:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
“There was no competent medical help in the time of Jesus. Now that help is available, we are expected to use it instead of praying to God for healing.”
As early as 400 B.C. there was a medical healing science. Hippocrates 460-370 B.C., the father of medicine, developed the science of medicine to a relatively high state. Some of his techniques are still used today. Greece, Egypt, and Rome had many competent practitioners in the time of Jesus.
Divine healing has nothing to do with the competence or incompetence of medical science. It is a blessing provided in the atonement. Every good gift comes from God, so it is acceptable to use legitimate medical resources. Remember, however, that medicine is not a substitute for the covenant promise of healing.
Despite the advances of medicine there are still many incurable illnesses, so divine healing is still needed. Also many people are beyond the reach of medical help. For example, in Africa it has been estimated that some 80% of the people do not have even elementary medical care.
“Divine healing is only taught by false cults.”
Wesley, Luther, and Zinzendorf, leaders of the Methodist, Lutheran, and Moravian churches, respectively, all taught divine healing. Those who teach it today, along with the saving power of the blood of Jesus and the deity of Christ, are no more unorthodox than these leaders. Some
false cults do teach healing, but it is not true Biblical healing. It is “psychic” or “mind over matter” healing from a source other than God.
Satan is a deceiver and imitator. We do not eliminate divine healing just because he deceives and heals through evil powers. Satan deceives many into believing that by washing in the Ganges River in India they will be cleansed of sin. Do we stop preaching salvation just because Satan imitates it? The fact that Satan would bother to imitate divine healing is another indication there is a true healing.
“Divine healing puts more emphasis on the body than the soul.”
Some in healing ministries have fallen into this pattern but this is not the Biblical pattern of healing. The Biblical pattern deals with the whole man, body, soul, and spirit. Healing is not a Gospel of itself, it is one aspect of the Gospel of Christ. It should never be preached apart from atonement for salvation of the souls of sinful men and women. The church’s concentration on the spirit and medicine’s preoccupation with the body have both missed the whole person concept presented in the Bible.
“You are sick because you sinned.”
We have already covered this subject in the discussion on the source and reasons for sickness in Chapter Sixteen. While all sickness is in the world because of sin, a person is not necessarily sick because of personal sin.
“It is God’s will for your to be sick. It is for His glory.”
Many do not question whether or not God is able to heal, but whether He is willing. The Bible indicates we are unwise if we do not understand God’s will:
Knowing God’s will concerning sickness provides fertile ground on which faith can grow. The prayer of faith is the only prayer that is effective in obtaining healing. It cannot be prayed as long as we are wondering if it is God’s will to heal.
First, if you really believe it is God’s will for you to be sick, then it is wrong to ask someone to pray for your healing. If sickness is of God, then doctors would be of the devil because they are trying to get rid of sickness. Hospitals would be in error because they are seeking to get rid of disease in rebellion against God’s will. Every nurse would be defying God with each effort to relieve suffering.
Those that believe sickness is a blessing should not accept medical treatment to get rid of their “blessing,” but should pray all their family and fellow church members would receive a similar “blessing.” Those who believe it is from God should not let the doctor operate and remove their “blessing.” If you really believe sickness is God’s will for you as a believer, you should stop taking medicine and seeing doctors because you are fighting against the will of God.
But we know that legitimate doctors, medicines, hospitals, and medical science are an extension of the goodness of God. Since sickness is of Satan, every legitimate manner of relieving suffering is of our Heavenly Father. (By legitimate we mean those methods that do not involve Satanic methods or violate God’s Word.)
It is true that our bodies are bought with a price and we are to glorify God in them, whether we are sick or well. But in the Biblical record, God was glorified when people were healed. If sickness glorifies God, then Christ robbed God of glory by healing the sick. If sickness glorifies God, we should all pray to be sick. God is not glorified by sickness in the body anymore than by sickness of sin in the spirit.
Sometimes God permits sickness to come on a believer, but always remember that Satan is the source. (Job is an example of this.) God does not will sickness on a believer. He has knowledge of the attack by Satan and He uses all things (even bad) to work together for your good. This is why that even during sickness you can be drawn closer to the Lord. God is always seeking to bring good out of evil. He used the effects of sin to remedy it by the death of Jesus.
Paul first preached in Galatia because of a schedule change due to illness (Galatians 4:13-15). Trophimus’ sickness kept him from going to Rome with Paul and suffering a similar fate (2 Timothy 4:20). Sickness was used to prevent sin in Genesis 12 and 20. Although these examples illustrate how God uses it, remember that. . .
God is not the source of sickness in a believer’s life, but He takes something Satan intends for evil and works in you to accomplish spiritual victories as you undergo the attack.
Sickness alone does not produce saints. It can produce bitter, complaining, unbelieving people. It is the Word that sanctifies and produces growth (John 17:17). While it is true that you often get into the Word more during a sickness, it is not necessary to have sickness in order to grow spiritually. It is helpful to remember this: The will of God for believers is Christ-likeness in character. Everything else, including sickness and health, derives its significance in relation to this divine goal (Romans 8:28-29).
In the case of unbelievers, sickness results from sin and the inherent judgment of God that comes from sin. But even this can be used by God for good, for as healing and deliverance is ministered, salvation can result.
God has given many promises in His Word regarding healing and deliverance. Why would God give these in His Word if it is His will for you to be sick? If a believer says, “I do not know if it is God’s will to heal me,” ask him, “Is it God’s will to keep His promises?”
Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” He said this because He did the work and will of the Father (John 14:9). If you ever wonder whether or not God wants to heal, you have only to look at our Lord’s actions.
When you pray for healing, pray “Thy will be done” or “according to Thy will.” Do not say “if it be Thy will” when you are praying for healing and deliverance. A sinner does not pray “Lord, save me if it be Thy will.” Healing is part of the atonement just like salvation. If implies doubt that God wants to make us whole. “According to Thy will” projects confident faith, while yet leaving the method, extent, and timing to Him.
Even in cases of sickness unto death, pray “according to Thy will” not “if it is Thy will” to heal. “According to Thy will” leaves the time and conditions to God. He may choose the ultimate healing through death that rids a believer from the presence of sickness for all eternity.
Jesus taught us to pray “Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in Heaven.” There is no sickness and disease in Heaven, so we can pray confidently against it on earth knowing it is not His will. Jesus never prayed “heal if it is your will, God.” The only time He prayed “If it be Thy will” was in relationship to His own submission to the plan of God for His life–not healing.
“If it be your will” destroys faith. When it was used by an outcast leper who did not know Christ’s will in healing. Jesus corrected his uncertainty by assuring him, “I will.” Never turn God’s facts into hopes or questions. Act on them as realities and you will find them powerful.
Just because someone is not healed immediately or because he dies from a sickness unto death does not mean it was not God’s will to heal Him. We view things in terms of time, while God views them in terms of eternity. You must remember that there are. . .
Delayed Healings: Sara was not healed immediately of her barrenness. Job was not healed immediately. John the Baptist’s father was not healed of his dumbness until a set time. Jesus prayed twice for one blind man, who received only partial healing the first time. Healings are sometimes delayed to bring greater glory to God. A good example of this is the story of the resurrection of Lazarus.
Sicknesses Unto Death: Death is just an event within the realm of eternity in the life of a believer. Even a sickness unto death is swallowed up in victory because death to a believer is the ultimate healing. As we enter the presence of the King we are made whole and no longer suffer from sin or sickness. In speaking of death, Paul says we are prepared for this purpose: “To be absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-9).
If you do not believe that healing is for all, then you must believe that healing is governed by direct revelation in each case as to whether or not it is God’s will to heal. You are then relying on direct revelation to man rather than the written Word of God. You will have no basis for faith until you receive a special revelation in each case that the sick one is among the favored ones to be healed.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous. Your sickness is an affliction you must bear because you are righteous.”
The meaning of the word “afflictions” used in Psalms 34:19, from where this tradition developed, does not refer to sickness, but to trials, hardships, persecutions, or temptations. Even if it did refer to sickness, the remainder of the verse indicates that the Lord wants to deliver us.
In James 5:13-16 a difference is noted between afflictions and sickness. If you are afflicted with trials, persecutions, and temptations, you are to pray for yourself (James 5:13). Although you can ask others to pray with you, they are not called to pray all your troubles away.
The Scripture instructs you to pray when you are afflicted because you need to learn how to be an overcomer by praying yourself through trials and temptations. In cases of sickness, however, the elders are to be called to pray (James 5:14). The sick are to be saved (from their physical sickness), raised up (return of strength), and forgiven of sin (spiritual healing).
“Your sickness is a `thorn in the flesh’ like Paul’s or it is your cross. You must learn to live with it.”
The claim that sickness is your cross is easily dealt with. The cross is not problems, sicknesses, and afflictions that come upon us through no choice of our own. Jesus made it clear that “taking up the cross” is a voluntary act, not something we accept because we have no choice. Jesus did not treat sickness and death as a cross sent from God. He treated them as an enemy.
The “thorn in the flesh” claim is usually based on Paul’s thorn in the flesh described in 2 Corinthians 12. People who believe Paul’s thorn was sickness make it a prominent point when discussing healing. Many believers have been deceived and not received healing because of the thorn as sickness doctrine.
Let us examine what the Scriptures actually say about this thorn.
The Bible says it was “a messenger.” The Greek word “messenger” appears seven times in the New Testament. It is translated “angel” 181 times. All 188 times it is speaking of a personality, not a sickness or disease. A “messenger” is a personality.
The use of the word “thorns” in the Old Testament also supports this. Thorns is used in Numbers 33:55 and Joshua 23:13 to describe the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. In both of these cases it was not a physical affliction, but a buffeting by an enemy.
The Bible says it was a messenger from Satan.
Paul said the thorn was permitted because of the abundance of revelations he received and his tendency towards pride. Before anyone claims to have a thorn in the flesh he should consider how many revelations and visions he has had. Does he qualify for a thorn? Most folks who think they have a thorn in the flesh have not had any kind of revelation or vision.
The thorn was also part of a fulfillment of prophecy. When Paul was converted, God said:
What It Did:
The thorn buffeted Paul. To “buffet” means to “give repeated blows, over and over and over.” The word “buffeting” does not refer to a permanent state of sickness but to repeated blows. The messenger was sent to buffet Paul to try to stop the Word of God from being preached.
God never promised to take away from believers their external buffeting, but He did promise to take away sickness. We are repeatedly warned in Scripture that if we live godly we will suffer persecution and affliction, but not sickness.
Here are some examples of the various ways this thorn stirred up opposition to buffet Paul:
-Jews determined to kill Paul right after his conversion: Acts 9:23
-Paul was hindered in joining the believers: Acts 9:26-29
-He was opposed by Satan: Acts 13:6-12
-He was opposed by Jews in a mob: Acts 13:44-49
-He was expelled out of Antioch in Pisidia: Acts 13:50
-He was mobbed and expelled from Iconium: Acts 14:1-5
-He fled to Lystra and Derbe where he was stoned and left for dead: Acts 14:6-19
-He was disputing continually with false brethren: Acts 19:8
-He was beaten and jailed at Philippi: Acts 16:12-40
-He was mobbed and expelled from Thessalonica: Acts 17:1-10
-He was mobbed and expelled from Berea: Acts 17:10-14
-He was mobbed at Corinth: Acts 18:1-23
-He was mobbed at Ephesus: Acts 19:23-31
-There was a plot against his life by the Jews: Acts 20:3
-He was seized by Jews, mobbed, tried in court five times, and suffered other hardships: 2 Corinthians 11:23-33
Never once, in all his writings, does Paul name sickness as a buffeting which he suffered. In 1 Corinthians 4:11, Paul showed that his idea of buffeting was not a permanent sickness. He said, “Even unto this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place.” Paul did experience sickness as indicated in Galatians 4:13-16, but this was not his thorn because it was not a permanent condition. He said he had it only at first.
Some believe Paul’s thorn was defective eyes, but his eyes were healed of blindness (Acts 9:18). Believing that he continued to have eye trouble discredits the healing power of God. Also, would it be right to call eye problems that resulted from seeing the glory of God a messenger of Satan? Paul himself tells us in the year 60 A.D., when he wrote this epistle, that it was around 14
years ago that he received the abundant revelation which resulted in the thorn in the flesh. That was 12 years after his conversion experience in which he saw God’s glory.
When Paul uses the phrase in Galatians 4:15 that “ye would have plucked out your eyes and have given them to me,” it is a Hebrew figure of speech. It is similar to phrases used in some places today to express intense desire. For example, “I would give my right arm.” If Paul had the oriental eye disease of ophthalmia with pus running from his eyes as some claim, it is strange that this would inspire people for faith for special miracles. When Paul wrote the Corinthians about their failure to discern the Lord’s Body as a reason for being sick and weak, they probably would have asked “For what cause are you so sickly?”
Paul speaks of his “infirmity” which means “want of strength, weakness, an inability to produce results through his own natural abilities.”
The conclusion regarding Paul’s thorn is that although we cannot know for certain exactly what the thorn was, if you have been taught it was sickness keep the following in mind:
Paul’s thorn resulted in God’s power being demonstrated in His life. Some people use the “thorn in the flesh” excuse to languish in illness. They should remember that the only Biblical example of such a thorn in the flesh out-wrote, out-preached, out-traveled all of his partners in ministry. The thorn did not hinder his dynamic service for the Kingdom nor the demonstration of God’s power through him.
Another variable that affects healing is unbelief. Unbelief may result from. . .
-Thinking God cannot heal.
-Thinking God can heal, but He may not choose to heal me.
-Thinking God can heal, and He may heal me, but not now.
-An environment of unbelief that prevents healing.
There are several Biblical examples of how unbelief hindered the work of God. In the city of Nazareth Jesus. . .
Jesus marveled, or was amazed, that people would not believe:
The Bible says:
For let not that man think he that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)
Read the story of the healing of Jarius’ daughter in Mark 5:35-40. You will discover that those who hindered the environment of faith were put out of the room while Jesus ministered healing. Communal unbelief is one of the main reasons we do not see healing and deliverance flowing in our churches as God intends. We are members one of another. If part of our Body does not believe in healing, this unbelief can hinder the flow of its power in our midst.
The Bible says, “These signs shall follow THEM that believe.” This verse is speaking of believers (the church). The verse does not say “him that believes,” referring to an individual. It was not the faith of one or two solitary evangelists that resulted in the healings recorded in Acts. It was the faith of a Spirit filled Church as a whole.
If Jesus could do no mighty works in Nazareth because of their (communal) unbelief, is it not also true that our communal unbelief hinders healing? Today a large part of the Church is opposing that for which the early Church prevailed in prayer. They have not accepted the Biblical attitude towards sickness. They have not been taught the Word of God about healing. Yet, they point to those who fail to receive healing to accuse those trying to minister healing. But it is a failure for which they–communally–are largely responsible.
Those who preach the full Gospel of salvation with healing and deliverance are often obliged to labor in a “Nazareth” of unbelief.
We see more salvations because there is almost universal acceptance of the doctrine of salvation in fundamental churches. But we do not see many healings because we are compelled to labor in the face of tradition, rejection, and unbelief in many denominations.
If communal unbelief does not affect the flow of the healing ministry, why did Jesus not go ahead and minister in fullness in Nazareth? (Today, generally we witness more healings in Third World nations than in Western nations because there is an attitude of communal belief. What God has said, they believe. They expect the supernatural as part of their everyday lives. Many people in the Western world are not as receptive because of their materialistic orientation and humanistic reasoning.)
Unbelief is the attitude that God cannot or will not do something. Absence of unbelief does not necessarily mean you have faith. For example, an atheist does not believe in God. An agnostic is neutral. A believer has faith. The lack of unbelief on the part of an agnostic does not mean he has faith.
You must replace unbelief with faith in God because it is the prayer of faith that raises up the sick (James 5:15). You must appeal in faith, speak words of faith, and act in faith. You must walk by faith and not sight (looking to the condition of the body or symptoms).
Satan tries to prevent healing by getting you to walk by sight instead of faith. He has you look at symptoms. He has you look to others who claimed to be healed, but were not. It is not faith in your faith or faith in the faith of another. Faith alone does not heal. It is God who heals. Paul perceived the cripple had faith to be healed by God (Acts 14:8-10).
It does not take a great amount of faith to be healed. Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed was very powerful. Jesus meets people at the level of their faith. Where they felt it was necessary to have His bodily presence, He went. Where they had faith that it was not necessary, He spoke the Word from a distance and healing occurred.
When the sick are not healed, people usually try to blame lack of faith as the reason. But as you are learning in this lesson, there are many other variables to consider. Jesus never condemned people who sought healing for their lack of faith.
The Bible confirms a direct relationship between individual sin and sickness in some cases:
David said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
God has not promised to destroy the works of the Devil in the body while we are clinging to the works of the Devil in our soul. If there is iniquity in the heart of the one who is sick, he may not be healed. If there is iniquity in the heart of the one ministering, healing may not occur because the Lord is not hearing him.
An unforgiving spirit or holding a grudge hinders healing. Jesus said, “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.” If God cannot
forgive us when we will not forgive others, He cannot heal us either, for healing involves wholeness of soul, spirit, and body.
Jesus asked the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda:
Often, we seek only healing or deliverance. God wants to deal with the whole man and heal body, soul, and spirit. Because man is body, soul, and spirit, the concept of wholeness implies dealing with all of these. We cannot emphasize physical health apart from that of soul and spirit, healing apart from salvation.
God is a spirit. He relates to you through your spirit. Your spirit governs your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional life. Your whole life is spiritually based. Because you are a spiritually based being, healing of the body begins in the spirit.
When God created man, His spirit was to be the governing power of his life on earth. It was to have supremacy over the mind and body and bring them together into a unified whole man in which God would live. Originally, in the Garden of Eden, man was in close spiritual relationship with God.
In forbidding the tree of knowledge in the Garden, God was forbidding man to live on the level of physical and intellectual knowledge. When man sinned, his spirit was submerged and he chose to live by his intellect. When the mind ascended above the spirit and took over, the spiritual part of man died (or ceased to function as the source of his response to God and to life). From that time, there was a separation of spirit, mind, and body, which resulted in a lack of harmony in the human being, between the man, his environment, and his Creator.
Healing is more than the absence of sickness. It is more than a healthy body. It is the return to proper functioning of every part (body, soul, spirit, including the mind, emotions etc.) in harmony with every other part, the environment, and the Creator.
Jesus ask the lame man at Bethesda:
At this point, the lame man had to make a decision. Some people do not want to be healed. They enjoy the sympathy and attention they receive from being sick. Some receive medical
benefits through pensions or legal settlements and they do not want to lose them. Others have a great desire to go be with the Lord and do not want to be healed.
There are several problems with our requests for healing that can hinder its manifestation:
First, and most basic, is that sometimes we do not ask for healing. We turn to medicine for help or to friends for comfort:
Sometimes, prayers are hindered because they are not specific:
When you are amiss, you are not specific in your prayers. You did not hit the target.
Sometimes, we pray with the wrong motive:
Some people want to be healed, but do not want to change their sinful, worldly, uncommitted lifestyle. They want to be well so they can go back to doing their own thing. People should consider these questions: “What is your motive for wanting to get healed? Is it so you can return to self centered living? So you can rush around doing good works instead of accomplishing God’s specific purpose for you?”
Sometimes we do not persevere (continue) in prayer long enough. Paul himself had “at first” preached while being ill (Galatians 4:13-14) and was later healed. Prayer apparently had no immediate effect on Epaphroditus who almost died (Philippians 2:27) and Trophimus who was left behind ill (2 Timothy 4:20). Yet they both eventually recovered. (Note also that Paul continued to pray for the sick despite that in these cases there was not immediate healing).
Some people think if you ask more than once for healing it is lack of faith. Jesus did not teach that persisting in prayer showed unbelief or lack of faith. He encouraged it. Luke 11:1-13 teaches the importance of persisting in prayer in the parables of the inopportune friend (verses 5-
8) and the widow and the judge (verses l-8). Daniel’s example also encourages perseverance. God heard his prayer from the first time he prayed, but Satan hindered the angel bringing the answer.
Do not give up if healing does not occur the first time you pray. Remember that there are the “asking, seeking, and knocking” levels of prayer. Sometimes you ask and get an immediate answer. Sometimes you have to seek and continue to knock before receiving an answer to other prayers. The Prophet Elisha prayed one time for fire to fall from Heaven. He had to pray seven times for rain to fall.
Continue to persevere in prayer until you know your petition is heard. When you have that confirmation in your spirit, then begin to praise God even if you do not yet see visible results:
-Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel began praising God in a loud voice before they actually saw the answer to their prayers.
-Jesus thanked God in advance for raising Lazarus.
-Once Abraham had assurance of the promise of a son, he did not keep on praying. He believed and glorified God.
Sometimes God gives special instructions in the healing process. For example, through the prophet Elisha, God told Naaman to go wash in the muddy river to receive healing (2 Kings 5:1- 14). Sometimes a very simple act of obedience is all that is between you and a miracle.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-30. For additional background also read Luke 22:2-20, Matthew 26:27-29, and Mark 14:22-25. Weakness and sickness result because we do not properly discern the Body of Christ. To “discern” is “to learn and understand something by examining, investigating, and discriminating.”
We can fail to discern the Body of Christ in three ways:
We fail to discern when we do not understand the meaning of the fruit of the vine and the bread which are symbolic of His blood and flesh. This is what happened when Jesus first gave this
teaching in John 6:66 and many turned back from following Him. They did not understand the spiritual meaning of what He was teaching. While many discern the blood for remission of sins, they often do not understand the true meaning of the body. The body was for healing, so we could eat of it and be healed. (See John 6:48-58 and Luke 6:48-51.)
Sometimes we fail to discern our brothers and sisters who are part of the Body of Christ and divisions occur in the church. We eat and drink unworthily if we do not properly discern (really understand) our union with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 3:1-13 that carnal Christians involved in division cannot eat the meat (flesh, body) of the Word because of their carnality.
We eat unworthily when we take communion with an unexamined life. Weakness and sickness result. This is why Paul says to examine yourself spiritually and repent before taking Communion.
Some do not receive healing because their sickness is the work of an evil spirit which must be cast out. They need more than a prayer for healing. In conditions caused by an evil spirit, the Bible records that the enemy was cast out in order for healing to occur.
The same God that said “I am the Lord that healeth thee” also gave many natural laws of health and cleanliness to His people. Some people do not receive healing because they violate these natural laws. For example, a person may continue to drink alcohol and wonder why they are not healed of their liver condition. They may continue to smoke cigarettes and wonder why God does not heal their lung cancer.
The Bible teaches that there is an appointed time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2 and Hebrews 9:27). Even the great prophet Elisha, who did many miracles of healing and deliverance, became “sick with the sickness whereof he would die” (2 Kings 13:14). You will learn how to deal with this variable when you learn to minister to the terminally ill as part of the instructions on ministering healing in Chapter Eighteen.
We opened this lesson with several questions:
What variables affect healing? Why don’t more people get healed? Why are some healed while others are not? Why are very shallow and worldly Christians sometimes healed while more sincere and dedicated people have not yet received healing?
The variables you studied in this lesson are just some of the factors that can affect healing and deliverance. Always remember, however. . .
Faith requires just that: Faith. If you have all the answers, you do not need faith. God only asks that you act in faith upon His word, not provide answers.
In closing, here is an important statement regarding the variables of healing. It was made by a famous minister who ministered for many years in healing and deliverance:
“I, for one, will preach all the Gospel if I never see another man saved or healed as long as I live. I am determined to base my doctrines upon the immutable Word of God, not upon phenomena (experience).”