Changing our Healing Mind-set
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” - Colossians 2:8 NAS
“holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power . . . ” - 2 Timothy 3:5 NAS
The modern Pentecostal Movement has a wonderful history of healings. Some scholars say that the ministry of healing began to wane alarmed around the third century, until it was all but lost, only to be picked up again by the Pentecostal movement.
Even so, John G. Lake, an early Pentecostal pioneer, stated that there was so much more in understanding and administering healing which the movement of his day needed to learn. Some seventy plus years later, I am often alarmed by the amount of unbelief among supposed believers in divine healing. All too often there is a form of godliness –, i.e., a doctrinal statement of faith in divine healing – but we, in effect, deny the power of God to perform.
Many Pentecostals and Charismatics have adopted an unbiblical world-view. Since what we believe will affect how we pray for the sick, it is important that we have the biblical perspective of divine healing, and not be deceived by the world. I have seen four unbiblical attitudes many Christians take when praying for the sick, and each is the result of an unbiblical world view.
Instead of Healing Prayers We Only Value Clergy Prayers. Many Christians don’t understand that God wants every Christian healing the sick! Rather, we act as though God only values the prayers of Pastors, and people like Pastors. This attitude is similar to the unbelief of the Jews in Nazareth who didn’t believe one of their own, Jesus, was anointed of God. Jesus said, “a prophet is not without honour except in his hometown, and in his own household.”
Francis MacNutt, a former Roman Catholic priest, and forerunner of the modern Charismatic movement, researched and found that unbelief toward healing began in the third century when the Church stopped believing that every Christian could heal the sick, but instead believed that only priests were able to do so.
Instead of Healing Prayers We Offer Courtesy Prayers. Many Christians know little about dynamic prayer, dominion prayer, and Spirit-empowered prayer, and so only offer courtesy prayers for the sick. Courtesy prayers are for the sake of cultural politeness, without expecting any results. It is much like many who merely ‘say grace’ before a meal without really expressing heartfelt thankfulness. It is a polite thing, and a nice thing to do. It’s good manners to say ‘grace’ and it’s good manners to say a prayer for someone who is sick. For example, when visiting the sick in the hospital it’s only appropriate to conclude the visit with prayer. Unfortunately, it is done out of courtesy but with no intent to heal, nor intent to defeat the sickness. No! Prayer in the hospital, or wherever, ought to be with the intent that the ill person is healed. The worst form of this courtesy prayer is when Christians visit and pray for the terminally ill. In this case, often the visit and prayer is just ‘a visit so we can say “goodbye!”’ How unfortunate! How lifeless! How contrary to the Christian’s mandate to heal the sick! Please! Please! If you hear that I am terminally ill (hypothetically speaking, on this point), don’t come to say, “goodbye,” – come to get me healed!
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.” - Matthew 10:8
Some worry this attitude toward terminal illness is actually a state of denial. It’s not denial, but it is rooted in a faith which acknowledges that God can do anything. It acknowledges that, where there is breath, there is hope. Many times Jesus arrived either at the last minute, or a minute or two late (or in the case of Lazarus, a day or two late), and performed a miracle.
Instead of Healing Prayers We Offer Coping Prayers. Coping prayers are offered to help a person cope with their sickness. Christians ask God to give the sick His grace in order to endure their sickness. Since illness is a trying time, people want to see their friend or loved one cope through it. Sometimes the concern is for the ability to cope with the side-effects of medications. Regardless, while sincerely offered, such prayer falls short of God’s best – healing.
Again, healing prayer should not be for the sick to cope but that the illness is overcome by God’s power! Sick folk don’t just want to cope with their illness and medications. They want their health back!
Nonetheless, this doesn’t exempt us from supporting the sick until the healing comes. Yes, we ought to be sympathetic, and be an encouragement. Yes, we should try to alleviate their suffering and concerns, some of which might be material or practical. But our primary goal ought to be that we seek God for their recovery. If there is any grace for endurance to be received, then let us pray that we will endure and persevere in our prayers until they are healed!
Instead of Healing Prayers We Offer Character Prayers. The prevalent, and unbiblical belief today, is that God sends us sickness in order to teach us and build character. Christians then pray that character will be built, and lessons learned, through the sickness, rather than prayer to conquer the sickness. To this I say and ask the following:
- The sick should quickly learn their lesson and get better!
- Jesus never refused to heal someone and said that they must learn first.
- This attitude, while appearing righteous, is actually very condemning and judgmental! It is the same attitude displayed by the disciples, in Jn. 9:2 - “who has sinned that this man was born blind.”
- Do we actually think God would afflict someone with terrible cancers and the like? Sadly, we attribute to God, through sickness, such evils that if a person did that to another human being, that person would be charged with abuse or murder.
Somewhere the Church has moved from what Jesus and the early Church taught, that sickness was an enemy to be destroyed, to a belief that sickness is a friend to cosy up to! Yes, if you are willing, you will learn during your sickness, but that isn’t God’s way of doing things.
In considering this thought, observe what happened when Lazarus died, and who learned from it. First, Jesus didn’t rush and heal Lazarus when requested to do so, but waited yet two more days. Second, the ones who learned from this were Mary and Martha, not Lazarus. Also, multitude who witnessed the miracle learned a lesson in faith. Third, Mary and Martha were the only ones given the promise that Christ is the resurrection and the life (Jn. 11:25) and therefore the only ones required to believe. In other words, the onus was not on the sick to believe, but on the intercessors. Finally, Jesus raised Lazarus despite the unbelief of His disciples and Lazarus’ family!
What Does the Scripture Teach about Healing? The following may be seen as what scripture teaches in regard to sickness and healing, and it is this we need to receive as our world-view, not the traditions of man.
Jesus treated sickness as an enemy. The New Testament is the final and most clear revelation of God, and more can be learned from how Jesus treated sickness, than any other part of the Bible.
Jesus commanded us to heal the sick. James gave instructions on how to heal the sick within the church setting, so it must have been expected that we do it, and that it happen.
Jesus promised that healing would occur as we obeyed His command. If we lay hands on the sick, they will recover!
Jesus provided healing through His death on the Cross. He died for our sicknesses as well as our sins! He is willing to forgive our sins and deliver us from them, and He is willing to heal our sicknesses too!
As Christians, we need to know the Word of God and reject the false mind-set of the world. As well, we need to live the Word of God even as God has called us to do!