By Vicki Edwards
When flu season hits, we pay attention to hand washing, vitamin popping, and other simple methods to enhance our immune system or minimize our exposure to nasty microorganisms. While this is appropriate, God’s Word tells us there are spiritual precautions and remedies for physical health as well.
Why do Christians get sick? Because we are inhabitants of a broken world. Even so, I believe more healing is available to us than we routinely access. Two primary obstacles may hinder the wellness God wants for us: impure lives and anemic prayer.
God is holy. Author and minister Mark Buchanan defines holy as: wholly other (unique); wholly alive (lacking nothing, completely content), and wholeness (perfect health, well-being, invulnerable to corruption or decay). When we are connected to God, we are connected to health. When we think of God like this, we realize healing is not just something God does, it is a part of who he is. One of his names is Jehovah Rapha, meaning, “God, our Healer” (Exodus 15:26).
However sin, an unforgiving spirit, and pride grieve the Holy Spirit and hinder our connection with the giver of life and health. Fortunately for us, confession and repentance can bring about restoration of peace and joy (strong pillars of our well-being).
Treating others disrespectfully, refusing to forgive, and other sinful acts expose us to the work of our enemy, which can include physical ailments (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Matthew 18:33-35; 1 Peter 3:7; and Exodus 15:26). This is not to say every disease and injury is the result of personal sin. But when your normal healing processes seem to be falling short, it is a good time to prayerfully examine your heart.
God has given us a remedy within the church. Mutual confession and intercession can play a part in the healing process (James 5:13-16; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 10:8-10).
Have you ever witnessed “hand wringing” prayer? These prayers are often whined out with more fear than faith: “Oh Father, Aunt Jane is so sick. Please heal her . . . if it is your will. Please!”
This kind of praying focuses on the size of the problem rather than the power of God. Admittedly, I’ve offered up many anemic prayers myself. In such times it helps me to remember what James wrote in the context of praying for wisdom: “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
Consider what Jesus did and said. Did he ever pray to God and ask him to heal someone? No. He knew the Father’s heart. He healed the sick, the blind, the lame, and the leprous, restoring them to full function. Of course he was God in the flesh with power and authority we do not possess.
Still, consider this example. “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed” (Mark 1:40-42).
Notice that Jesus was indignant. Whether he was strongly displeased at the man’s condition or at the idea that the man might consider Jesus unwilling to help is unclear; but either way, Jesus’ feeling about the man’s physical state is apparent.
Do we believe he has any less compassion for the suffering today?
Don’t Despise the Prescription
The Bible records a number of different ways healings were carried out. Jesus made a mudpack for a blind man’s eyes. The shadow of Peter healed some (Acts 5:15, 16), while handkerchiefs that touched Paul’s body healed others (19:11, 12). One woman accessed Christ’s healing power without asking (Matthew 9:20, 21).
In 2 Kings 5 we see an account of a desperately diseased man who nearly walked away from his healing. Why? He didn’t like the prescription.
What keeps some people from healing today? Are we hurting, but too proud to seek help? Are we willing to accept relief from Heaven, but not from doctors? Are we more comfortable in the physician’s waiting room than with a prayer team?
Even though we pray and believe all healing is from God, God never said it’s wrong to seek human assistance (medical attention). But Scripture does imply that seeking help from doctors alone (without prayer) is displeasing and potentially unfruitful (2 Chronicles 16:12). Since every good and perfect gift is from above, we are free to accept help and give thanks to God, whether that relief comes from a prayer partner, a physician, or wise advice from a friend.
Scripture indicates there are times and places where God’s healing power is made available in spectacular ways (John 5). Don’t be afraid to approach a godly person God is empowering to intercede for healing. Don’t miss your opportunity to be healed by disdaining the persons God is working through (Mark 6: 1-6).
Confronting Our Temptations
Addressing unhealthy choices doesn’t seem to be popular in the western church. How much healthier would we be if we simply exercised and watched our diets? Some of our other unhealthy choices stem from our need for comfort. Although we’ve received Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation, we forget we can accept his gift for our present needs.
The next time life’s stressors rake their fingernails across the chalkboard of your nervous system, don’t reach for the cheese puffs. Try the approach author Bruce Wilkinson has applied in his life. Wilkinson identified a pattern in his actions: just before he made a poor choice, he found himself seeking comfort in food. So instead of reaching for the ice cream, he chose to call out to the one named Comforter. In Wilkinson’s experiences, the Lord has always answered his prayer for comfort within minutes of his asking. With this approach, God’s comfort comes without the side effects of excess calories, antidepressants, or other self-medicating practices (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When God Says “No”
Sometimes God answers our prayers with grace. His grace is not some poor, second-class answer. It is a substantial outpouring of his goodness and sufficiency for those who will temporarily bear affliction in their body. We don’t stop asking for healing. God is pleased with our compassion, faith, and perseverance. A slow answer does not mean God does not care. It means he is God who knows all and does what is right at the right time.
When dealing with sickness, we should ask for God’s healing in faith, always giving praise for what he is doing in each life. He does not withhold good things (Psalm 84:11). Giving thanks opens our eyes to the good things he is doing around, in, and through us.
Vicki Edwards is a freelance writer in Johnston, Iowa.
Clearing Out Life Pollution
While our illnesses and ailments don’t always correlate with our actions and attitudes, our sins do have consequences in our lives. When you need healing, stop to evaluate your life. Getting right with God won’t necessarily end your suffering, but it will open the path for his presence, peace, and growth in your life.
• Am I depending on God or myself in my day-to-day life and for my long-term health?
• Do I make choices that compromise my physical, mental, or emotional health?
• Do my attitudes toward myself and others reflect the way God sees us?
• Do I use my suffering as an excuse not to do things I know God wants me to do?
• Am I using this situation as an opportunity for ministry or a hindrance to the gospel?
• Would others describe me as growing closer or farther from God as a result of this situation?