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?
Some examples in the Bible of people who prayed for physical healing, show that it is right to do so, and that God will honour and answer such prayers in a way that is best.
If it is wrong to pray for healing of "a thorn in the flesh" then Paul was wrong, and he was wrong three times, because he prayed three times for healing (2Corinthians 12:7-10). Yet Paul nowhere indicates that he was wrong in what he did. He simply points out that in his case God saw good reason to let Paul put up with his illness, and God gave him the grace and strength to do it. Paul's example is our authority for praying for healing of our thorns in the flesh. The example also shows that, in whatever manner God answers our prayer, God’s answer will be what is best for us.
John wrote to Gaius, "I pray that in all things you may prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers" (3John 1:2). It is true that John placed much more importance on Gaius's spiritual wellbeing and his walking in truth. However John did pray for Gaius's general wellbeing and good health.
Perhaps the Bible's best example of praying for healing is Hezekiah's prayer when he was sick and was told he was going to die (Isaiah 38:1-22). Hezekiah had prayed, "O restore me to health, and let me live!" The Lord answered Hezekiah's prayer by allowing him to be healed and to live fifteen more years.
God never does anything without reason. If he does not grant healing of a physical illness when we ask him to, he will have good reason. Likewise, if he does grant healing, he will have a good reason for that too.
We cannot always understand God’s reasons, yet on the other hand there are some reasons we can well understand. For instance, there are certain commandments of Christ which we want to obey, but we may be hindered from doing so if we suffer serious and debilitating illness. Among these commandments are those that exhort us to earn a living, pay our debts, raise our children, be rich in good works, teach the gospel, lead a quiet and tranquil life, be happy, attend church meetings, and so forth.
God will certainly understand our inability, however he will also understand our distress in not being able to serve him and others as we would like. For this reason, he may have mercy on us, and answer our prayers for healing by giving us relief.
The example of Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25) reveals some reasons why God healed him.
From what we study in the three lessons on Healing and Prayer, we conclude the following:
1. It is right to pray for physical health and healing.
2. God is not restricted in the means he can use to grant physical healing.
3. When there are good reasons for health and healing, God in his mercy will grant it.
4. When there are good reasons for a sickness not to be healed, God in his mercy will grant the grace, strength, and assistance to bear it.
5. If we pray, fully trusting in God, he will never fail to give us sufficient for our wellbeing, whether cure, or courage, or a mixture of both.