This week we are talking about healing. We spend a lot of time this week discussing this topic on the Everyday Jesus podcast. You can catch up with the conversation by listening to that episode here:
Today I want to answer the question: How should we pray for healing? First let’s look at what I think is the more common problem in most of Christianity today: not praying at all. Now I’m not saying that people don’t get in their prayer closets and pray for their loved ones healing. What I am saying is we don’t do as James commands us.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James instructs us to call for the elders and have them anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will make them well. We seldom see this in Christianity today. Too often we settle for praying for someone in private, not in their presence.
I’ve been trying to make it a point to pray for people as soon as they ask for prayer. I want to pray in person and by laying hands on them. That was the example of Jesus. Jesus frequently prayed for someone immediately after discovering their need and many times he laid hands on them. I’m trying to do better at this.
But as we discussed in this week’s episode, one of the primary issues we face when discussing healing is the fact that not everyone gets healed. We talked about various reasons as to why this happens, but nevertheless, it does happen.
Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic Theology, when talking about praying for people, “Someone may object at this point that, from a pastoral standpoint, much harm is done when people are encouraged to believe that a miracle of healing will occur and then nothing happens – disappointment with the church and anger at God may result. Those who pray for people to be healed today need to hear this objection and just wisdom in what they tell people who are ill.”
Grudem says that we need to be cautious in how we speak about healing, but we should not make the mistake of not praying for healing at all or telling people that God seldom heals. We also shouldn’t tell people that God always heals. Grudem says that it is up to God to decide these things.
“In each individual case it is God’s sovereign wisdom that decides the outcome, and our role is simple to ask him and wait for him to answer,” Grudem explains, “We can tell people that God frequently heals today, and that it is very possible that they will be healed., but that we are still living in an age when the kingdom of God is “already” here but “not yet” fully here.”
I agree with Grudem, we need to be wise in this arena. Our goal should be to love those who are sick among us and be mindful of their overall well-being. We should explain that it is by his stripes, we are healed (according to Isaiah). We should also explain that God is sovereign over healing and that it is his choice as to what that person needs at any given time, not ours. And sometimes we won’t understand his choices, but he is worthy of our worship anyway.
So pray for those who are sick. Do as the Bible commands. Be wise.
Not everyone will be healed, but no one will be healed if we don’t pray for them.