My friend JR Woodward recently posted A Theology of Healing on his blog. It’s a great introduction to the biblical teaching on sickness, healing, prayer and faith.
These are often uncomfortable issues for us to deal with as disciples of Jesus. Some who have seen healing prayer done badly find it easier to avoid the issue altogether than engage it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and biblically. Others who have had good experiences of healing prayer sometimes find it easier to disregard as “religious” those who have hesitations and questions instead of engaging patiently and humbly with the questions.
The reality is that, from a biblical perspective, if we want to really be involved in what God is doing, we cannot avoid the issue of supernatural encounters, including divine healing. This is God’s kingdom we’re talking about, so we’ll need more than just what we can do in our own strength. We need God’s power to do God’s work. We can’t throw away the gift just because we don’t like the wrapping.
Sometimes we forget that the Spirit was given not just to comfort us and encourage us, but to clothe us with power to do the task Jesus gave us. Jesus told his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12) and then told them explicitly that they should do nothing until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This should make us pause and consider our own ministries: how much do we seek to do without the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the “incomparably great power” that raised Christ from the dead in their daily lives. Because we are “in Christ” resurrection power is available to us, is present within us. But we need the eyes of our heart to be enlightened to know it. Not that we would know about it. Not that we would intellectually comprehend it. That we would know it intimately, experience it daily, walk in it constantly.
Jesus commands us to do the same things he had been doing, and through the Spirit gives us the power to do so. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there for us to ignore this just because we’ve seen it done badly. The power of God is open to you. Are you open to it operating in your life?
How do we grow in it? We offer ourselves to Jesus as best we can, seek to walk with him every moment, step out in obedience to his commands (especially when they make us uncomfortable), seek to grow in faith, and we see what happens.
From JR’s post, this comment from Andrew Ardnt helps clarify what this might look like:
…remembering that we’re not dealing with an impersonal force, but with a Loving Father who lives in an intersubjective relationship of love and care with us, and who aches for our good; both immediate and ultimate. And so we cry out to him in our pain and on behalf of others’ pain like creatures dependent on their Creator… and when healing happens, we rejoice and give thanks with all our hearts… and when it doesn’t, we mourn and grieve and lament, and keep worshiping (like David) the God who one day will make all things right.
In addition to that, I’d say that we also need to understand what faith is and how it works. Jesus was often very explicit about this (“Your faith has made you well,” etc).
If you’d like to explore this issue further, I’d recommend the following resources:
- Mike Breen: 3-Part MP3 series on Faith and Healing
- John Wimber: The Way In is the Way On and Power Healing
- Derek Morphew: Breakthrough
- Bill Johnson: When Heaven Invades Earth
JR Woodward says
Nice post Ben. Thanks for the HT. Shalom.