- Is God hearing my prayers for healing?
- If God wants good for His people (Romans 8:28), why do my prayers for healing go unanswered?
- Am I not healed because of something I am doing or have done that God is displeased with?
- How can anything good come from my medical condition?
People often find themselves frustrated by questions such as those above. Prayers for physical healing and health are among the most commonly made. We pray for the health for ourselves, our loved ones, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He was sought after by multitudes for physical healing, and miraculous healings were performed. These included raising people from the dead, giving sight to people born blind, curing long-standing diseases otherwise thought to be hopeless, and of course, raising Himself from the dead. His disciples performed healings in a similar fashion, as described in the book of Acts, and many examples of healing done by God are found in the Old Testament.
Today, there are documented medical cases of healing that could only be explained as miracles. Why would God choose to heal some and not others? To gain some insight into this question, we can look at some examples in the Bible where healing did not occur.
Example 1: Strength through Weakness
Consider this passage from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul is speaking:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul complains of a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, tormenting him. Further, he pleaded three times for the Lord to take this away from him. There has been considerable discussion as to what this “thorn” was, whether a physical ailment, a person bothering Paul, or an evil spirit tormenting him. It is also possible that it was a physical ailment caused by an evil spirit, or a “messenger of Satan”. Nevertheless, Paul pleaded three times to be healed of this affliction to no avail. Paul explains to us in the same passage why is has not been healed of this. He points out
– He was given the thorn in his flesh so that he would not become conceited.
– God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him, and that His power is made perfect in weakness.
– Subsequently, Paul boasts in and delights in weakness and other persecutions in Christ’s sake, because through these weaknesses Paul is made stronger.
This is a difficult teaching. Very few would delight in suffering, would want suffering to come upon themselves, or would want to not be relieved of suffering, even if through the suffering we are made stronger in the Lord. Nevertheless, the fact remains that God wants us to draw closer to Him, and as we draw closer, His grace, comfort, and power will strengthen us.
Example 2: A Higher Purpose
In another example of unanswered prayer for healing comes from Jesus himself at Gethsemane prior to his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. In Matthew 26:39, Jesus pleads to God, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Later, on the cross, Jesus pleads to God in Matthew 27:46, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”
Jesus prays for deliverance from the “cup” of his impending trial, scourging, and crucifixion, and cries out on the cross as well. However, Jesus knows the purpose for his death, and that only through his sacrificial death can man have any hope of salvation and eternal life in God’s presence (Man’s part is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior). Jesus relinquishes His will as a man, and instead accepts God’s divine will.
Obviously, no one on earth will have such a high calling as Jesus’. But could there be a divine purpose for our struggles, in addition to bringing us closer to God and relying fully on Him. Do we have a higher calling, higher than ourselves, though which many others could benefit? This possibility takes prayer, discernment, and counsel with other Christians.
Example 3: Sin in Our Lives
One final example of unanswered prayer for healing is found in 2 Samuel 12. To paraphrase, David bore a son out of sin with Bathsheba while she was still married to Uriah the Hittite. David plotted ways to conceal the pregnancy, and eventually Uriah was killed in battle. The Lord was greatly displeased, and warned that great calamity would fall onto David and that his son would die. David admitted that he had sinned against the Lord, and when the child did become ill, he fasted, wept, repented, and prayed fervently for the child’s life.
The child died, but David did not become bitter toward God. Instead, he worshiped God. While David had hoped that God might be gracious and spare the child, he accepted God’s will. He then bore a legitimate son with Bathsheba, Solomon, who clearly was a great blessing to David and all of the people.
In this example, the unanswered prayer for healing was based on the magnitude of David’s sin and attempted cover-up. David, however, was repentant, and the Lord eventually forgave David and blessed him. Unconfessed sin in our lives can lead to separation from God and the withholding of His blessings. Having a broken, humble, repentant spirit before the Lord pleases Him. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to bring us to that point.
Is there anything that we can do today to help in the healing of ourselves and others? Look at the posting, Unanswered Prayer – What Can We Do?, for more understanding about healing, prayer, and drawing closer to God.