Having prayed for healing for people over the last 50 plus years I came to realise that many who were prayed for received a fair degree of healing from the Lord in answer to prayer. It was sad though that some who had been blessed in this way had later seemed to lose some of the healing they had experienced. So I thought I would search God’s word for some answers on how people might be able to maintain the healing they had already received. So how can people “hang in“ for healing and blessing to receive it in the first place and to maintain it as time goes on?
1. THE NEED TO AFFIRM WHAT GOD IS DOING IN ANSWER TO PRAYER.
We live in a very negative world and many people either reject God or ignore Him. Thus we are surrounded by a lot of negativity as Christian believers and that can take the edge off our faith or lessen the faith and trust we once had in the Lord.
i]. We need to affirm our faith in God’s willingness and ability to heal.
We know that God has both the willingness and the ability to heal because we see it in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus taught that what He did was the Father working through Him, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” John 14:10.
God’s Willingness To Heal. We see that in the life of Jesus in Mark 1: 40-42, “And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Somehow the leper believed that Jesus had the power to heal him. But his question was “Would Jesus be willing to heal me?” It is a question that many people have had in their minds as they face the possibility of healing from the Lord. They might be thinking, “Surely Almighty God has no time to help for an ordinary person like me? I’m a nobody!” Yet we read in this story of Jesus’ willingness to heal the leper, ‘Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.’ Mark 1:41-42. We see that Jesus was motivated to heal by compassion and not on the basis of the person’s worth in the estimation of others.
God’s Ability To Heal. In Jesus’ ministry he was approached by another man who needed healing for his son, “they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Mark 9:20-22.
Jesus’ response was immediate, “‘And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 9:23. The father humbly affirmed his faith, “I believe; help my unbelief!” [It might be good sometimes for us to pray the same sort of prayer. We do believe, but does God need to remove some pockets of unbelief that He knows still remain in us?]
Jesus then rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” (25.) The spirit came out and the boy was healed.
God has always had the willingness and the ability for He never changes, Malachi 3:6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
ii. The “HOW” and “WHEN” are open to Him, unless He gives specific guidance regarding this.
- Healing can be instantaneous. We see that in the ministry of Jesus as He healed the leper, “Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” Mark 12:42. Many of us involved in healing ministries have seen instantaneous healings and it is a delight when healings happen this way.
- Healing can be progressive. We see it in the case of a blind man healed by Jesus. Jesus touched him once and asked him, “Do you see anything?” He affirmed the healing he had just experienced by saying, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then there came a second touch by Jesus, “Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” Mark 8:25. Many healings take place in this progressive way. People came to a healing service and received prayer for healing. There was some immediate improvement for which they were profoundly thankful. However, in the hours or days that followed, more healing came to them.
- Healing may be delayed. Jesus once came across 10 lepers who asked Him to have mercy on them. Jesus said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” They trusted in what He told them to do and we read, “And as they went they were cleansed.” There was a delay as they moved chronologically and geographically away from what they had hoped to be the source of their healing. But the story continued, “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16.
The whole ten were healed but he was the only one who turned back to thank Jesus. He was the only one to hear the reassuring words of Jesus, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:19. I have often heard from people who attended one of our healing services where nothing seemed to happen as they received prayer for healing. But as they went home by train or bus or woke up the next morning, the healing came.
- Healing may come in a different way than what was expected.
2 Kings 5:1-10. This is the story of a marvellous healing that came in a way the healed man did not expect. It is the story of Naaman who was described as “the commander of the army of the king of Syria, [he] was a great man with his master and in high favour, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper.” For many people, their life was as good as over when they were found to have leprosy. Eventually, he found himself at the door of the home of Elisha, a prophet of Israel. We read what happened, “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 2 Kings 5:10.
However, Naaman became angry. It was not what he expected. His thought was that Elisha himself would come to meet him, not just send a messenger. He had expected that Elisha would “surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.” How humiliating for him to be told to wash in the Jordan river seven times. “So he turned and went away in a rage.” Fortunately, his servants reminded him that if he had been told to do some great thing he would surely have done it. Why not do as the prophet had said! “So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” 2 Kings 5:14.
Naaman had to humble himself to receive healing in the way the Lord wanted him to be healed and not in the way he thought his importance demanded.
Mark 2:3-12. A paralysed man is healed by Jesus. “And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
Jesus’ response surprised many of those who were present. There had been some expectancy that Jesus would touch the man or speak words of healing to him. But he spoke in terms of the man’s sins being forgiven. Some of the scribes who were present were also surprised, saying, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7. Jesus then posed them a question, “And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? Mark 2:9-10. The first saying would be easier to say for it did not demand evidence. However, the second saying did demand proof. If Jesus told the man to get up and nothing happened, then it would be obvious that Jesus was a fraud.
The scribes had questioned His authority to forgive sins, so Jesus answered them by saying, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” Mark 2:10-11. The result? “And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” Mark 2:12. Jesus had shown that He did have the authority both to forgive and to heal the paralysed man.
iii. Healing can be more profound than we asked for.
There are many people who have been challenged physically with pain or decreased mobility in their bodies who ask for prayer for healing expecting that God will deal with those physical problems. But very often the presenting problem [the pain] is not the real problem. They are in pain because there is a dis-ease within them. They are not at peace and the emotional distress they have suffered has triggered some physical problem. This is what is called “psychosomatic” illness where “psyche” is the mind and “soma” is the body. A psychosomatic disorder is a disease that involves both mind and body.
On several occasions I have prayed with folk who came for physical healing but after sharing their stories with me, realised their thoughts were very unhealthy. For a couple of folk, they realised that they were full of bitterness towards someone who had hurt them in the past. As they confessed their bitterness and asked God to forgive them, they received the physical healing they had been seeking.
The cause of much physical distress may come from problems in relationships. Unforgiveness is a major barrier to receiving God’s healing. In one of my previous articles I mentioned a woman who asked me at the end of a teaching session I had given on forgiveness, “Do you mean to say that if I forgave someone, I would be more likely to receive healing?” I said that was so. She told me later that when she went home that night she realised the person she most needed to forgive was her own mother. She prayed to God asking her to forgive her for holding resentment and unforgiveness towards her mother. Then she said loudly, “Mother, I forgive you in Jesus’ name!” As she said those words, the shaking she had been experiencing for months suddenly ceased and she realised she had been healed of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Knowing she had been unable to write or sign her signature, I asked her to write her name in the back of my Bible. Which she easily did. It was the first signature she had been able to write in several months. She remained healed for many years later.
Often a physical problem needs a spiritual answer. In the story of the paralysed man in Mark 2 above, Jesus said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Later he commanded him, “Rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all.” Mark 2:11-12. I discovered after many years of running healing seminars that it was helpful to include a time when I would lead those present in praying a prayer of commitment to Christ. Many people over the years testified that after they prayed that prayer, their physical and emotional problems subsided or disappeared.
iv. Healing from a “common-sense” change in behaviour.
Sometimes humans are their own worst enemies. They don’t live a balanced lifestyle and because of that physical problems arise. A lot of people are driven by the desire to succeed or to accomplish many things in life. For some, the nature of their work means that they live lives under great pressure. But to the extent we should slow down we need to do so. We need to remember that as Christian believers our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. So we have a duty to keep it in good order so that Christ can do and through us what He longs to do by His indwelling Spirit.
A good question to ask ourselves from time to time is this. “Whose expectations am I trying to reach?” It may be that our own expectations of ourselves are unrealistic. We need to be led by the Holy Spirit, not driven by some inner urge to succeed. It may be that God’s expectations of us are far more realistic than the ones we are trying to live by. It is certainly a sin to live below the level of God’s expectations of us. Perhaps it is also sinful to be doing far more than He wants us to achieve! We need to pray to the Lord that He might lead us by His Holy Spirit as we seek to live our lives from day to day.
We need to have common sense as we live in this world. We may need sometimes to change our eating and drinking patterns to gain and maintain good health. Timothy had obviously shared with St Paul his frequent stomach ailments. St Paul didn’t say, ”You don’t have enough faith!” Or “You must have some secret sin!” [Which some unwise peoples sometimes say.] Paul was full of common sense, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23. Wine was certainly preferable to the untreated water Timothy had been drinking. Those common sense words are part of the inspired word of God.
v. Asking God to show us the barriers hindering healing. There are many, many barriers to receiving God’s grace. I have written a lot on this subject in previous blogs and I refer readers to those articles, eg., Numbers 432 and 433 on this blog site.
2. THE NEED FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF A PRAYER OF FAITH
i. What we say (pray) becomes a part of us
The Bible teaches that we have to be careful with our speech, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. 7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Proverbs 18:6-7. Fancy our lips being a snare to our souls. But we can see that sometimes when we hear some people talking about themselves in very down-putting terms, e.g., “I’m just useless. I’ll never amount to anything.” Saying that is a snare to the soul of the one saying it. Or “Every winter I get a bad dose of the flu and I know I’ll go down with it again this year.” These words are a snare to our bodies for we are almost looking forward to and expecting this to happen. They are negative affirmations and can be almost self-fulfilling prophecies. It is much more healthy to have positive affirmations about ourselves, such as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” AND ”But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!” Psalm 31:14-15.
ii. We have to thank by faith until we can thank by sight.
It is often very difficult to see how God can bring an answer to the difficulties we are facing. But we need to pray with the confidence that He is hearing us and that He will bring the answer in His way and in His time. The apostle John wrote, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15. There is a twofold confidence in those words. He hears us when we pray and He answers prayers prayed according to his will.
God can bring the things we hoped for and asked for in prayer, into reality. The writer to the Hebrews put it like this, ”Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.” TPT. So as we pray for healing or blessing from the Lord, very often the potential healing becomes the experienced healing.
Some people have found it helpful when praying to include these words, “and I thank You Lord for the answer that is coming in Your way and in Your time.” We are thanking God by faith until we can thank Him by sight when the healing comes.
3. THE NEED TO COMBAT NEGATIVITY FROM OTHERS.
i. Why some people suspect healing.
We live in a very negative world where many people are opposed to God. They think that He does not exist or if He does, then He has no relevance to them. They certainly think that He has no power to make any difference in our world. That is the problem when people have a worldview that has no place for God. They see the world through that sort of lens which does not allow for God’s existence or His working in our world today.
Or for others, their view is of a God who may exist and may have done miraculous things in the past but not anymore. There may be some believers who believe in the Old Testament miracles and the ones Jesus performed but fail to see that He is alive today. When people fail to see that God is living and active in His world then they have little hope of seeing answers to prayer.
ii. Ways we can lessen the impact of negativity from others.
Those who have received wonderful answers to prayer are surprised when many of their friends do not share in their joy. We need to recognise a very simple but important truth. That is, we are on the “inside” of our experience and we know what has happened. They are on the “outside” of our healing experience. It has had no impact on them so they fail to appreciate the answered prayer of others.
4. THE NEED TO RELEASE PEOPLE TO GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THEM.
- Healed for His sake, not ours only, to do His will. Phil 2:13.
Many years ago I was trying to compose a prayer for healing that was less selfish than the prayers we often pray for healing. Our prayer may focus on the need to be healed to get rid of the pain or to become more mobile so that we can enjoy life more. Eventually, I arrived at something like these words, “Lord, heal me for Your sake so that I might do Your will to Your glory for the rest of my life.” [In a previous article I mentioned an older woman who began to pray those words every day, and she became much more alive than she had been before.]
Over the last couple of years, I have been struck with Paul’s words in Philippians chapter 2. God has work for every believer to do. He wrote, ”Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13. It means that we have to work out in practice what He is inwardly working in us by His Holy Spirit. He gives us the willingness and the ability to do what pleases Him. That is why the less selfish prayer is our way of opening ourselves to His ministry in us by His Holy Spirit because our deepest desire should be to please the Lord in every moment of our lives.
2. Variations in individual responses from the “healed.”
When Jesus healed people He asked them to respond in different ways. To some lepers He said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As they went to do so, their healing came. He told others He healed to share with other folk what He had done for them. On another occasion, he told a man not to share with others the healing he had received. Unfortunately, he did share and it made it more difficult for Jesus to minister in that area.
Perhaps the wisest thing to tell people who have been healed, that they should share their healing if it seems to be appropriate to do so. We need spiritual wisdom to be appropriate in every situation in our lives.
5. THE NEED TO RECOGNIZE GOD AS THE HEALER
i. He always is faithful; we are not.
It is always a delight when we have prayed for someone and they have received some degree of healing. They may even thank us for healing them. But it is unwise to think that it was us who healed them. God is THE healer and He may heal directly or He may work through a human instrument to impart His healing. So we can say to people who thank us for healing them, “Praise God that He healed you. It was a privilege to pray for you. Isn’t God good!”
When Jesus spoke of His healing ministry, He attributed all the healing to God, John 5:19, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” AND John 14:10, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.“ It was the Father who was at work through the ministry of Jesus.
Paul recognised that it was God at work through his ministry and also at work through the ministry of Peter, ”On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles.” God was at work through both of these apostles.
Humility demands that we give all the glory to God when people are healed or blessed through our prayers. He is the healer as He said in Exo 15:26, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”
- The discrediting of the human instrument used in healing does not necessarily discredit the healing.
I have had the privilege of being present at meetings when marvellous healings took place through the ministry of world-renowned preachers. But it was disturbing when some of those men later were dismissed from ministry because of some sin they had committed during the time they had been conducting those meetings. Did it mean then that the healings they had been used to bring, were false healings? Many of those once healed by them remained healed in spite of their sin. The answer is No, because there is an important principle in operation in Christian ministry. That is, that God uses the available rather than the perfect, to bring His love into the lives of those who need it. If God was going to use only the perfect, then nothing would ever take place. But He uses imperfect people who trust in His healing power, to impart healing through their ministry. It is because God so loves the people in need that He uses imperfect instruments in His purposes.
6. THE NEED TO FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHERS WHO BELIEVE IN HEALING.
Because the world, by and large, is hostile to God, it is helpful to have contact with those who have a positive faith lest the negativity of those around us dampen our enthusiasm for God. Sometimes initially small ministries are used by God to bring many blessings to His people.
i]. Thus the Healing Service, and the Postal Congregation. Small in origin but with a wide extending influence.
The Healing Ministry at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney began with a small group of women who met for a Bible Study after work at 6pm on Wednesdays each week. They asked Canon Jim Glennon who led the studies to do a series on prayers for healing. This eventually led to a Healing Service attracting hundreds of people each week. There wasn’t much happening in healing in Sydney at the time and so people heard about the service and came regularly from all different denominations or from none.
One woman who began to assist at the service, Deaconess Gwyneth Hall, began to make notes of the sermons and these were then typed and duplicated and sent throughout the world as Sermon Notes to those in what was called the Postal Congregation. Then they arranged Postal Congregation seminars in Sydney to which were invited those who received the sermon notes [and others came as well.] I took over as Leader in 1988 and in the 18 years I was in charge, we continued what had been happening and added regular teaching seminars on healing. Part of that teaching led me to do 5 Stages of Core Teaching with 5 or 6 subjects in each stage. This article is in fact based on topic 5 of Core Teaching Stage 1. The Healing Ministry still continues in Sydney and has just celebrated its 62nd anniversary since it began in 1960. Thousands of needy people have received much blessing and healing through its ministry over all those years.
It may be possible for you in your own locality to find or suggest such a group where like-minded believers can support each other.
ii]. Prayer-partner/s to “keep us on track”? We need to be in balance.
Many of my friends have found prayer partners with whom they regularly meet to pray for one another. It is one way of maintaining our balance in the Christian life for if our prayer partner thinks we are going overboard in a certain direction then they can help bring us back to the truth of the scriptures.
iii]. Keep in touch with those who believe in healing.
As noted above, that was the purpose of the Healing Ministry in Sydney and through its ministry, thousands of folk have been encouraged to pray for healing over the last 62 years. Since my retirement from full-time ministry in 2006, I have tried to make some contribution to ministry and am so grateful to a neighbour who suggested in 2011 that I write blogs. This means that 434 articles later I have encouraged over 126,500 people in over 200 countries of the world as they reached out to know more about God’s healing power in today’s world.
Blog No.434 posted on Monday 03 October 2022