Author: Ron Graham
Whether we are sick or well, we still pray and are still prayed for. But what is the relationship between prayer and healing? Can we pray for healing and expect physical healing through prayer?
Paul, Timothy, and Trophimus are three examples of godly, believing, and prayerful people who suffered physical ailments which had not been healed (2Corinthians 12:7-8, 1Timothy 5:23, 2Timothy 4:20). Epaphroditus is another example. God spared him from death, but not from the period of serious illness that almost killed him (Philippians 2:25-30).
In the time of those mentioned above, many Christians possessed miraculous gifts of healing. Yet godly people still suffered illness. Miracles were to confirm God’s word, not to banish physical illness from the world, or even from the church (Hebrews 2:3-4, Mark 16:17-20).
Some in the "Charismatic Movement" teach that Jesus died for our physical healing as much as for our spiritual healing, and we have the same right and power to claim physical healing by faith, as we have to claim forgiveness of sins. But this is not true. The scripture which says, "He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses" was not fulfilled at the cross. It was fulfilled in the healing ministry of miracles which Jesus did among the multitudes (Matthew 8:16-17). Jesus bore our sins on the cross, but not our physical illnesses.
In some cases, we may have insight into why some must suffer sickness. We know for example that one man was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him (John 9). However, it is impossible to generalise and to offer an explanation for why God allows suffering to come upon some folk, both the just and unjust, while other folk, both just and unjust, experience good health. This is a case for acknowledging that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In pointing out these negatives, we are by no means discouraging you from praying to God for healing. Nor are we denying that physical healing can be granted through prayer. Indeed everyone has the ability and the right to pray for physical healing, both for themselves and for others. No special gift of healing is required for this. Our expectations of God’s response to such prayers should however take into account these negatives, as well as the positives that we notice next.