It’s Normal To Pray For Physical Healing
When it comes to the subject of healing, our focus is usually on physical healing. In fact, a lot of what is often thought of as physical may sometimes be caused by some other malfunction in the great makeup of the body. Medical practitioners have acknowledged that many physical illnesses have at their root some emotional cause. Then, there are physical illnesses that are caused by organic, chemical, and functional problems. These physical illnesses will in time, however, also cause problems in other parts of a person’s life.
Prayer can restore those physical conditions that are caused by organic or functional disorders. However, it is far easier to pray for a spiritual condition than a physical one. It seems that we have been conditioned in the body of Christ to believe and practice to that end. But, it should be just as normal to pray for a physical condition as it is a spiritual one. The following are some of the stories from both the First and Second Testaments that describe physical healings.
Naaman: 2 Kings 5.1-15
Leprosy was a dreaded disease that degenerated its victims and eventually took their lives. There was no cure for it in the ancient world. In Israel, lepers were normally isolated from those without leprosy. This was not necessarily the case for other nations that surrounded Israel. It appears that Naaman was able to carry on his responsibilities as long as his disease would permit him to do so. During an occasional battle with Israel, some Israelites were captured and one of the young girls whom Naaman had given as a servant for his wife told his wife about a prophet who could cure Naaman’s leprosy. Naaman came to Elisha via King Joram, bringing with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of prized clothing.
As with a lot of people seeking healing, Naaman had some preconceived notions about how he would be healed. When Elisha instructed him to wash in the Jordan seven times, he refused. Both his pride and a resentment of being told to wash in the Jordan, rather than a body of water near his own home, offended him. However, a servant talked to him and he relented and did as the prophet had told him. The seven times indicated that the healing was complete. We may learn from this story that God’s usual way of doing things is not always our usual way and that we must relinquish any pride or resentment that may build because of a somewhat peculiar word from God. By the way, the number “7” in ancient Israel was a numeric way of suggestion “complete.” So, one could understand here that when Naaman completely washed in the Jordan, he was healed.
Hezekiah: (2 Kings 20.1-11, 2 Chron. 32.24-30, Isa. 38.1-22)
Hezekiah had an illness that brought him to death. The phrase in those days referred to the days of Sennacherib’s invasion of Jerusalem (18.13-19.36). Isaiah came to see Hezekiah and told him to put his house in order, that he was going to die. In response, Hezekiah prayed, and before Isaiah had completely left the area, God spoke to him and told him to return to Hezekiah and tell him that he had heard his prayers and would add fifteen years to his life.
Isaiah gave Hezekiah a well-known ancient treatment for his boils. Hezekiah asked for a confirmation sign, which was a common request among the Israelites of the day, to know that God was going to do as he had promised. God did not reject the request since he knew it was to strengthen the faith of Hezekiah. The reversing of the shadow of the sun was certainly a supernatural miracle. Those within science often complain about such things for scientific reasons. We must note that this story was pre-scientific and they simply accepted the sign as being from God. How it was accomplished is a purely Western desire to deny something God did as a useless piece of information. We must note that God does not work his healings and miracles within a certain pattern. It would be too easy for us to adjust to such patterns and expect God to accomplish healing the same way each time. This would only lead us to our already predisposed acts of legalism in which we would claim the glory for the healing because of our actions, not because God graciously did his work.
The Servant Of The Centurion: Matthew 8.5-13; Luke 7.1-10)
Matthew tells us that the servant of the Centurion was paralyzed and in terrible suffering and was about to die. In public, the Centurion came to Jesus and asked him for help. We must note that at the request, Jesus was ready to go and heal the Centurion’s servant (Matt. 8.7). What follows is an interesting account. The Centurion describes his understanding of the authority he had over his soldiers. He only needed to speak a command and those under his command carried it out. His physical presence was not necessary. Jesus was astonished at the faith of the man for his request and healed the servant immediately at a reasonable distance from where he and the Centurion were.
The Centurion had a respectful sense of being undeserving for Jesus to be hosted in his home. He understood the issue of authority in that Jesus only needed to speak the word of healing and he believed it would be done. Faith and healing seem to go hand-in-hand in the Second Testament accounts. But, we must be careful to note that it is not always the faith of the one being prayed for that is held up as the norm.
Bartimaeus (Matt. 20.29-34; Mark 10.46-52; Luke 18.35-43).
Looking at Mark’s account of this healing we can see the following. First, it took place in public (10.46-52) as Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. The Jericho of Second Testament times, built by Herod the Great as the site for his winter palace, was about five miles west of the Jordan River, one mile south of the First Testament city (Josh. 6; 2 Kings 2.4-5, 15-18), and eighteen miles northeast of Jerusalem.
The presence of a blind beggar just outside the city gates, on a road pilgrims followed on the way to Jerusalem, was a common sight in that day. The Second Testament mentions several people forced by illness or disability to beg to maintain their lives (Luke 16.20; John 9.8; Acts 3.2-11). In the first century, and rabbinical Judaism, giving to the destitute was considered a good deed, meritorious in God’s eyes (cf. Matt. 6.1-4). The beggar, as a professional class, was unknown during Mosaic times, but as cities developed, begging became more prevalent. In the First Testament, beggars appear with some frequency.
In Mark’s story, we see Bartimaeus as determined, shameless, and persistent in his call to Jesus for healing (Mark 10.47-50). He believed that God could grant him mercy. He understood who Jesus was (10.51). Jesus stopped to minister and asked an interesting question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus responded that he wanted to see and Jesus healed him. It must be noted in this story that persistence in our request to God is allowed. Second, we see that Jesus’ method involved asking questions.
Other Healing Stories
There are other healing stories that would be helpful to read in the Second Testament, some of them are: The Woman with the Issue of Blood (Matt. 9.18-22; Mark 5.21-34; Luke 8.40-50. and the Deaf and Dumb Man (Mark 7.31-37). Look for public and private healing, persistence, touch, how Jesus prayed. Was it just physical or did some healings also have an emotional component? Was the healing immediate or progressive?
Point of View
Physical healing often does not occur because the real cause (spiritual, emotional, demonic) has not been dealt with. It is important to listen as we pray for a person. We must listen to the person (ask questions). We must listen to God (accept prophetic insights). Sometimes we must touch, while other times we may need only to speak. We might look for some physical manifestation that God is at work (some folks have suggested eyelids fluttering, heat, shaking, etc.). Healing is often just a one-prayer-get-healed event. We must allow God to make the choice of immediate or progressive and be faithful to follow his lead.
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- Who needs to have faith for healing? Cite examples.
- What do you do if a person is not healed when you pray?
- Where is it appropriate to pray for one with a physical disease?
- What might be an appropriate way to begin the healing session?