I began pastoring a local Church when I was twenty years old. I remember receiving a phone call that year from a very desperate woman. “Do you believe the Bible? Do you believe that God still heals today?” she asked.
I was astonished to learn that she had called several pastors, and none of them believed that God would heal in answer to prayer. They had given her various reasons why miracles were not for today, and one tried to convince her that sickness and disease were methods God sometimes uses to teach us. She was told that she should accept this sickness as being the will of God. None of them even offered to pray with her.
She went on to explain that her husband was very ill. She, and a few of her friends, had prayed but no answer had come. His condition had not improved, but actually grown worse.
“Pastor,” she asked, “what do you believe? Is it God’s will for my husband to be sick? Why doesn’t God answer me?”
My heart went out to this woman. She had prayed for her husband’s healing but wasn’t sure if she was praying correctly. What she read in the Bible wasn’t what she was experiencing in her life. Even her spiritual leaders were denying her hope in a God who heals today. She didn’t know what to do.
“Sister,” I answered, “don’t be discouraged. Remember that you can never determine the will of God by the circumstances or by your experiences. God’s will is revealed in the Bible. Each of His promises are a revelation of His will for us. Let’s look at what the Bible says.”
I went on to teach her from an illustration in Mark chapter nine, beginning in verse fourteen:
14 And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.
15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.
16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?
17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to they disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
At this point in His ministry, Jesus encountered a large group of people asking the religious leaders certain questions. These questions are still being asked in our day by concerned people all over the world.
When the crowd saw Jesus they immediately ran to him and gave him their full attention. He asked the scribes, “What is the question?”
A man spoke up from the crowd and explained the situation. He shared about the terrible condition of his son, how prayer was made by Jesus’ own disciples, but nothing had changed. “I asked your disciples to cast out this evil spirit, but they could not.”
Have you ever noticed that? Even Jesus’ disciples prayed and failed to receive an answer. They prayed and nothing happened!
We are never told what questions were asked about this situation, or even what the disciples might have said concerning their inability to deliver the boy from Satan’s power. Whatever questions they asked, the debate had continued until a large crowd gathered. I think we can imagine what some of the questions might have been, and even what some of the religious answers may have been.
Perhaps you have asked similar questions yourself?
Why weren’t my prayers answered?
I know God heals some, but is it God’s will to heal me?
Is it God’s will to heal all the time?
Why didn’t healing come?
Are miracles for today?
Is God trying to teach me something?
Am I being punished for my sin?
And what answers have you heard before?
Sometimes God answers yes,
and sometimes God answers no.
It isn’t God’s will to heal everyone.
Miracles passed away with the apostles.
God has a purpose in your suffering.
You never know what God is going to do.
We have come to expect Jesus to offer different answers than many religious people. Let’s read further and see how Jesus responds,
19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground and wallowed foaming.
21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
Time after time the Bible shows us that Jesus is a healer. From the beginning of His ministry He “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people,” (Matthew 4:23). He was always busy “healing every sickness and every disease among the people,” (Matthew 9:35). Whenever people came to him, “He received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing,” (Luke 9:11). Everywhere he was “moved with compassion and healed the sick,” (Matthew 14:14).
His healing ministry became so consistent that eventually the Scribes and Pharisees waited for him to heal in order to accuse Him of breaking their laws, (Mark 3:2-5). His enemies counted on the fact that He would heal the sick.
But what if Jesus had not ministered to this child? What if this poor father had gone home after the disciples’ failure? What would people have said then?
They would have said the same thing many are saying today– that God no longer heals, that God wills for some to be sick, and that miracles are not to be expected. They would have based their understanding of the will of God on their own experiences and on their own failure to bring results.
Sometimes we miss it when we pray. Sometimes our praying is not effective. James says that “you ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss…” (James 4:3) If the disciples prayed and failed to receive, what should we do when our prayers go unanswered? Should we quietly assume that it was never God’s will to grant our request? Or could it be that we have lessons to learn about the life of prayer?
We need to learn to pray correctly for prayer was never meant to go unanswered. The reason for prayer is answers, and the answer to our prayers is a source of abundant joy. Jesus said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
I have seen people pray for the sick and when no changes were evident they have simply said, “It must not be the will of God to heal this person.” Do you see how much pride is in a statement like this? They are saying that their prayers never fail, that their spiritual walk is greater and stronger than that of the disciples.
The disciples had prayed and healing did not come. Did that mean it was God’s will for the boy to be sick? Jesus didn’t think so. He plainly revealed that it was God’s will to heal the boy. He broke through the barriers of unanswered prayer and established the will of God by healing the boy.
Later, the disciples admitted their failure and asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast the evil spirit out of the boy?” (verse 28) That was the real question that needed asking, and one that we need to ask when faced with similar difficulties.
Sometimes we miss it and God is not to be blamed.
The first thing we must learn is that you can never determine the will of God by your experiences, but only by the living Word of God. God’s promises were given to provide the ability to change our circumstances. Many go through life accepting their condition as being from the very hand of God. They live defeated lives when they could receive the healing power of God through His many promises.
It’s time we stopped covering up our failures with religious excuses.
Sometimes we miss it. Sometimes its painful to accept the truth. When healing doesn’t come or our prayers are not answered, we need to realize that something has to change. We know that God does not change, so the changes have to begin with us.
Paul talked about a “fight of faith,” (1 Timothy 6:12). Looking at the New Testament you see that the greatest miracles came to people who were willing to fight for the will of God to be established in their life. They did not fold their hands and accept what life had given them. They did not sit quietly when Satan brought sickness, disease or even death to their homes.
When a man lie dying, his four friends tore up the roof of the house to bring him to Jesus, (Mark 2:4,5). The ruler of the synagogue threw away his reputation for the sake of his daughter when he knelt at Jesus feet, asking Him to come and lay His hands on her so she might live, (Mark 5:22,23). The Syrophenician woman would not leave until she had obtained one small crumb from the Master’s table, (Matthew 15:22-28). When people told him to be quiet, blind Bartimaeus cried out even more, until the Son of David came and had mercy on him, and healed his blind eyes, (Mark 10:46-52).
In each of these examples we find Jesus referring to their “fight of faith.” Looking at the four friends we read that “Jesus saw their faith;” and to the ruler of the synagogue, He declares, “Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.” To the Syrophenician woman, Jesus says “great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt” and to blind Bartimaeus, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”
I believe that you have this same fight of faith working in your heart right now.
That’s why you are reading this book. That’s why you have opened your heart and your mind to learn what the Bible has to say about divine healing. That’s why there is a hunger in your heart to know the truth.
And that’s why you will be healed.