Prayer Keys – Prayer Key #5 – Its About Faith
As a kid going to church I used to wonder why they had a prayer list at church. When someone had a need, they could have it added to the prayer list. It was almost always a request to pray for someone who was sick. This perplexed me. As I listened to the minister , or someone else who had been designated to publicly pray, he would always give a very concerned, heartfelt prayer for the sick people on the prayer list. The confusing thing to me was that he would always pray for comfort for the sick person and their family. I didn’t know a lot about the bible at that time, but I did know that Jesus didn’t pray that the sick be comforted. As a matter of fact, I knew enough to know that Jesus, the apostles, and the members of the early church always prayed for the sick people to be healed, and they got healed. Now from the perspective of a child it seemed that we should probably pray and ask God to heal these sick people that were on the prayer list, and the He would heal them. It all seemed so simple, yet all the adults seemed to not be able to get it. At some point, I figured they must know something I didn’t, so I gave up on the idea that we should pray for God to heal people.
As I became an adult, I realized that Christians in some churches actually did pray for the sick people to be healed. The problem was, that very few of them ever got healed. It was always amazing to me when someone was truly healed, but it just didn’t work out that way most of the time. Then I would hear stories from missionaries in poor third-world countries about healings and miracles. Healing seemed to abound in these types of places, so why were cases of healing so rare in America.
Then I began to meet people from the Faith movement. Some called it the “name it and claim it” or “blab it and grab it” teaching. I was fascinated by their audacity. Being the very logical person I am, I waited and watched patiently to see if these people got healed, better jobs, or numerous other things they were praying for and claiming. The key, they said, was to keep speaking it as though it was true. After awhile, I realized that they didn’t seem to be getting any better results than anyone else in America. People would approach these “faith” people, telling them about how they had been praying for healing and claiming it, yet they hadn’t received their healing. The reply was always the same, “you must not have enough faith!” Many a person, after hearing that reply, walked away dejected and ashamed. Some walked away from the “faith” movement, some walked away from church, and some even walked away from God. This made me sad for those people and it caused me to completely discount their whole “faith” movement philosophy.
Nonetheless, this whole subject of healing never left me completely. It was always in the back of my mind. I decided I wanted to explore the subject further, so I began to study what the Word of God said about healing (I had already heard what Man had to say about it, and it wasn’t correct). I wish I could tell you that right now, I sit here with all the answers about healing and why some get healed and some don’t, but the truth is I don’t have all the answers. Having said that, I have learned a few things that I believe are truth from God’s Word.
The first thing I want to say may sound a bit like a cop-out to you, but please hear me out. God is sovereign. He has the right to decide who gets healed and who does not. I know, most people think you have to say that whenever someone doesn’t get healed, but I think there is more to the story. I lost my father to cancer when he was seventy-three years of age. When he was diagnosed, his cancer was quite advanced and was deemed as not curable. The oncologist’s plan was to treat him in order to slow the progression of the disease and to give him a little longer to live. As it turned out, it got to the point that my father’s doctor began to refer to him as Superman because he had taken more chemotherapy sessions than patient he had heard of. From the time my father was diagnosed to the time he went home to be with the Lord, it was seven years. I believe that it was only by God’s healing touch that he lived that long. The doctors didn’t really think he would last for more than a small fraction of that time. God gave us more time with him. Could God have healed my father completely of the cancer? Absolutely. No doubt in my mind He could. So why didn’t He? That’s that million dollar question. Consider this: the bible tells us that it is appointed once for a man to die, then the judgement. That means that we each have an appointed time to die. For some it may be before they make it out of the womb; for others it may be when they are over on hundred years old. How are these times decided? I really don’t know. I happen to believe that this appointed time for each of us will be based on what would have happened if we had lived longer. It could be that a young child may be spared a childhood of abuse. Or possibly a child may be taken while they still have a relationship with Jesus, but if they stayed here they may have gotten off track and rejected Jesus and not made it to heaven. In the case of my father, his quality of life was good up until the last few weeks of his life, when he took a sudden turn and ended up basically bedridden and unable to communicate or know much of what was going on around him. I believe God shortened that time for him by taking him to heaven when he did.
The second thing I would like you to consider is also related to the “appointed once to die” scripture (Hebrews 9:27). If God healed me of a terminal childhood disease when I was 7, then He healed me after a tragic automobile accident in my 30s, then He healed me of one type of cancer when I was 73, then He healed me of another type of cancer when I was 97, then he healed me of a terminal disease when I was 119, and then He healed me again when I was 152, etc, I would live forever. This would violate God’s principle of “appointed once for a man to die” and I would live forever. It would also violate God’s promise to limit the span of Man’s life to 120 years (Genesis 6:3). As humans, with our instinct for self-preservation, we tend to think of death as the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. Maybe it’s not. Certainly going to Hell would be worse…and it wouldn’t end after only 120 years! God is interested in helping us to grow and mature spiritually and to make us have His characteristics. I guess the bottom-line here is that God is sovereign and “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8) so we won’t always be able to understand why He decides to heal some and not others.
Now that we’ve talked about why God in His sovereignty might choose not to heal everyone of every sickness, let’s look at things that we do, or don’t do, that might play a part in whether we get healed or not. Some of these I’ve talked about in my previous “Prayer Keys” posts; things such as relationship to our heavenly Father, motivation, and lining our prayer requests with His will. The one I would like to address now is faith.
As I studied the scriptures, pouring over all the accounts of healings, I kept running into the same thing over and over: faith. In the many of the accounts of healing in the New Testament the faith of the individual in need of healing played a key role. Sometimes it was stated plainly that it was their faith that was key, with phrases such as, “your faith has made you well.” In other instances, the same thing was implied. The connection between faith and healing/miracles is so strong that even the negative side was mentioned in the account of Jesus in His hometown and how He could not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith (Matthew 13:58 & Mark 6:5).
It is absolutely the power of God that heals us, but our faith is the missing key that unlocks that power. This is the method He chose to provide us with healing. If you have the faith (in Him) that He is going to heal you, you will be healed; that is, provided it isn’t your appointed time to die, which is a different thing altogether. I believe the reason so few people in America receive God’s healing these days is predominately due to a lack of faith. When I say a lack of faith, I don’t mean to imply that they don’t believe in the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross and won’t go to heaven. What I mean is that they don’t have the faith required to be healed. But why is that? Good question.
Remember, I mentioned previously that God heals many people in poor third-world countries in the world, but not so much in America. My thinking is that they live in such poor and desperate conditions, often without enough food or adequate medical care, that their only choice is to believe God for their healing, or suffer in their diseased condition and die. When we feel a little under the weather we go to Urgent Care. When we get a broken bone or other serious injury, we go the the Emergency Room. When we get cancer we go to the oncologist for treatment. We automatically turn to the medical profession, because it is available. We would be a bit crazy if we didn’t turn to them. The poor in those other countries have nowhere to turn but God. As it turns out, desperation is a good motivator of faith.
A second reason why I believe the world’s poor have more faith than us, is their lack of formal education. In America, we have the privilege to get educated up through the 12th grade for free. Such is not the case in most third-world countries. Don’t get me wrong, education is a good thing, but sometimes we don’t see the negative impact it can have on our spiritual lives. I recall sitting in a college sociology class once where the professor went around the room one at a time, asking us to tell whether or not we believed in evolution. Mind you, he was very much a believer in evolution, and worked hard at convincing his students every chance he got. I listened intently as each person gave their answer and the rationale behind it. Over half of the students said something to the effect, “I used to go to Sunday School as a child and I was taught about Adam and Eve and creation. After sitting through this class for the entire semester, you have convinced me that what I believed was merely a fairy tale and that the facts show that evolution is true.” This is an example of how education strives to teach its students that everything is based on what you can see, hear, feel, touch and taste; beyond that, there is nothing else. Education is man-centered and really has very little, if any, place for a God or any type of religious beliefs. It teaches us to trust our senses.
What does God have to say about things? God says we must trust in what we can’t see, hear, feel, touch or taste. He tells us that there is a spirit world all around us in a dimension that we cannot see. In His word he describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). That is in stark contrast to what man teaches in his educational institutions. It is now wonder that the more-educated people are the ones that struggle the most to have the faith to be healed. That seems rather sad. Does that mean that it is impossible for well-educated people get healed? The bible says that nothing is impossible with God.
Let me share a story from a book on healing written by Smith Wigglesworth:
Another person came and said, “What can you do for me? I have had sixteen operations and have had my eardrums taken out.” I said, “god has not forgotten how to make eardrums.” She was so deaf that I do not think she would have heard a cannon go off. I anointed her and prayed, asking the Lord to replace the eardrums. But she remained as deaf as it was possible to be afterward. However, she saw other people getting healed and rejoicing. Had “God forgotten to be gracious” (Psalm 77:9)? Wasn’t His power just the same? She came the next night and said, “I have come to believe God tonight.” Take care you do not come any other way. I prayed for her again and commanded her ears to be loosed in the name of Jesus. She believed, and the moment she believed, she heard. She ran and jumped on a chair and began to preach. Later I let a pin drop, and she heard it touch the floor. God can give drums to ears. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God can save the worst case.
If you have been sick and asked God to heal you and you didn’t get healed, it may be because of your lack of faith. If that is the case, don’t beat yourself up over it; don’t condemn yourself for it. Just do what it takes to increase your faith.
How do you increase your faith? There are several things that can help increase your faith. Certainly the faith of the Jesus disciples was bolstered by seeing the healings and miracles He did as they witnessed them. In the same way, we may increase our faith by seeing people get healed and experience miracles. But this is really not the main way for us to increase our faith. Romans 10:17 says, “faith come from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you read this verse in context you will see that it is talking about “saving faith”, or the faith needed to come to know and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. However, I believe that it also has a broader application. I believe that the same principle works in healing faith. At first this may see a little strange, that if you hear or read the Word of God, it builds your faith, but it really does work.
When it comes right down to it, faith is quite simple; either you believe or you don’t believe. Sometimes when it comes to our healing, we have a difficult time believing that when we ask God to heal us, we will be healed. It is interesting to note that, as a born-again believer, you didn’t seem to have any difficulty believing something incredulous; that the God that created the universe chose to send his son to become a man who died a brutal death to save the very people who stubbornly rejected Him and treated Him with contempt, in hopes that they would repent and turn back to Him. That is a pretty crazy thing to swallow, yet none of us Christians have a problem believing it. That, my friend, is faith. That was “saving faith”; so “healing faith” shouldn’t be that hard for us either. If we can believe that God did all that to save us, why should it be difficult for us to believe that the same God who did that, would fix a body that He designed and built Himself. The way God provided us with salvation is a much bigger deal, and was much more difficult for God then the act of healing an individual. So why do we have trouble having healing faith?
It seems to me, that when we pray for God to heal us, we tend to strain really hard to make ourselves believe we are healed. Believing that goes against everything we see right in front of us. If you are praying for God to heal you of being paraplegic, and you still have no feeling in your lower extremities, your mind naturally tells you that you aren’t healed. “It was a good try. You prayed. Nothing happened. Epic fail!” That’s how the enemy (Satan) works; he tries to distracts us from what God has said and keeps us focusing on our visible, physical circumstances. After all, seeing is believing and you’re not seeing any healing in your body, right? Wrong. In this world, in our universe, everything that is said or communicated can only be one of two things: truth or a lie. Everything found in the bible, the Word of God, is truth, absolute truth. Things that don’t agree with this truth are lies. Sometimes what our eyes see and what we feel is a lie, it isn’t truth.
In every situation we have a choice what to believe. We can believe the truth…or we can believe a lie. It is amazing how often Christians choose to believe lies that do not line up with the Word of God. For some, it is because they are simply ignorant of the truth; they don’t know what God has said about certain things. For others it is a willful denial of the truth. Many times, the world doesn’t agree with the truth, so we naturally think that they must be right since that many people can be wrong. Or can they…? It wasn’t for no reason that God told us “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” You want to be free from physical sickness, mental illness, etc; believe God when He tells you that He will heal you if you ask Him.
We have made the concept of faith way to complicated. If you tell your young child that something will happen, they simply assume you are telling the truth and that whatever you told them would happen absolutely is going to happen. They have no doubt! There are two reasons that they believe you. First, they have a parent-child relationship with you and they have known you long enough and have been through many experiences with you; in short, they have a close relationship with you. It is because of that relationship that they trust that you won’t lie to them. Second, they believe it because you said it. They don’t believe everything that they are told by others, but because they trust you and you said it, it is true. If you said it will happen, it will happen! The same is true with us and our heavenly father, if we have a close relationship with Him, we soon realize that He never lies and whatever He tells will happen is going to happen! Key one: have a close relationship with your heavenly father. Key two: if He said it, it will happen (we know that He never lies).
When it comes to having the faith to receive healing, don’t focus on the act of the healing itself, trying hard to believe it is happening. Instead focus on the healer, our heavenly father and how He only speaks truth and He never lets us down. If you do that, your healing faith is energized.
If you desire to receive healing from God, pursue a close relationship with Him. If you desire for God to heal you, learn to trust Him and learn that He will never lie to you and He only tells you the truth. If you desire God’s healing touch, explore the Word of God to see what HE says about healing. If you do things things, don’t be surprised at the results!