No one wantsto be sick, but everyone gets sick sometime or other. Evangelistic meetings with healing emphasis draw larger crowds than the rest. One of the obvious reasons why surging crowds followed Jesus was the manifestation of healing power through Him. The ministry of Christ reflected the perfect will of God. Because Christ is unchanging and alive today, we too can experience healing from Him as those who were healed when He walked on this planet in flesh and blood 2000 years ago.
God the Father is a Healer. He bound Himself to His people with the promise, "I am the Lord who heals you" (Ex 15:26). God the Son is a Healer. He carried our sicknesses on the Cross (Mt 8:17). God the Holy Spirit is a Healer. He bestows gifts of healings and boosts our mortal bodies (1 Cor 12:9; Rom 8:11). What an encouragement to know that all the three Persons of the Godhead are interested and involved in our healing!
Though healing is a gift from God, an analysis of the Bible passages on healing gives several conditions one must fulfil to receive healing.
1. Receive Christ as Saviour.
There was no sickness prior to the fall of man. Therefore it is proper to seek God first for the healing of the soul before the healing of the body. While listing the benefits God bestows on us, David put them in proper order. First, forgiveness and then healing (Psa 103:2,3). Prophet Isaiah also indicated the same order when he was describing Calvary: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." To a paralytic man Jesus first said, "Your sins are forgiven you" and then, "Arise, take up your bed and go to your house" (Mt 9:1-7).
Healing is "the childrenís bread" (Mt 15:26). It is only when you believe on Christ and receive Him as your Saviour, you become a child of God (Jn 1:12). Not until then. When you believe that Christ died for your sins and rose again, you will have the assurance of sins forgiven and an inner witness of the Holy Spirit that you are a child of God (Rom 10:9,10; 8:15,16). Then you can cry to God, "Abba, Father!"
Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God before healing the people (Mt 4:23). Healing is a Kingdom blessing for the Kingdom citizens. One must be born again into this Kingdom to enjoy the privileges of citizenship.
This does not mean that God never heals a person unless he surrenders his life to Him. God is love. He gives rain and shine both to the good and the bad. But nothing satisfies or pleases Him as accepting His Son as the Lamb sacrificed for us. And nothing better illustrates His love than that He calls us His children (1 Jn 3:1).
2. Review your life.
If you are already a believer and you fall sick, take a stock of your life. Physical health and spiritual wellbeing are interrelated. Apostle John greeted Gaius, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 Jn 2).
Though all sickness is not divine discipline, it is certainly one of the means God uses to correct His people (Dt 28:58,59). C. S. Lewis penned, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
God struck Miriam with leprosy for the sin of backbiting. She was healed after seven days of repentance (Num 12). The physical suffering of Job deepened his repentance and heightened his knowledge of the Holy (Job 42:5,6). After healing the man at Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years, Jesus warned him, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing comes on you" (Jn 5:14). As long as David was covering his sin, he could not enjoy health and vitality (Psa 32:3,4; 38:3).
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God allows the health of the body to be decayed if the body is defiled (1 Cor 6:18,19; 3:16,17). This relationship of spiritual wellbeing to physical health is rediscovered by modern medicine. The human immune system is inhibited by bad moral choices and by the distortion of the personality such choices cause. Earlier we repent, sooner will we recover.
3. Reconcile with the wronged.
"Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed" (Js 5:16). Apostle James writes this as part of Godís prescription for healing in the New Testament Church.
Medical science recognizes that emotions such as envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of sicknesses. Solomon the wise observed, "A sound heart is life to the body but envy is rottenness to the bones" (Prov 14:30). Pluck out all roots of bitterness from your heart. Take the initiative yourself to set matters right with anyone with whom you are not in good terms (Mt 5:23,24). Holding grudge against someone is to your disadvantage. Forgive everyone freely.
The Corinthian Christians were breaking bread with all their fights and factions. They did not discern or realize that the bread represented the Lordís body of which each of them was an organ. Therefore the Lord punished them with diseases and even death (1 Cor 11:17-20, 28-32). This is written for our admonition and warning. How can we expect the Lord to heal our body when we hurt His body?
You should restitute matters not only with believers but also unbelievers if you have harmed any of them. A guilt-free conscience is like medicine. Good and smooth relationships keep us cheerful. Health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other.
If you cannot meet the offended in person, send him a letter of apology. Donít defer the matter for any reason.
4. Rely on the Word of God.
When Abraham and Sarah believed the promises of God, they received healing and strength against their barrenness and deadness (Rom 4:21). When Mary took God at His Word, her virgin womb conceived without a manís help (Lk 1:37,38). The Word of God has the same supernatural power to perform medical miracles if we can believe.
About the healing experience of the people of Israel we read that "God sent His Word and healed them" (Psa 107: 20). Christ delivered and healed people with His Word (Mt 8:16). He called the faith of the military official great. It was because his faith had been based solely on the power of Christís Word (Mt 8:8-10).
The Bible abounds with Godís promises of healing and health. Read them again and again and stand on them. Faith comes through the Word of God (Rom 10:17). The healing power of Christ was manifest "as He was teaching" (Lk 5:17). "Pleasant words are 1ike a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones" (Prov 16:24).
If due to illness you are not able to concentrate and study the Scriptures, you may simply be recollecting the promises of God you know by heart. The Holy Spirit indwells believers to remind them of the words of Christ (Jn 14:26). Hereís seen one of the benefits of memorizing Bible verses as a regular habit.
5. Request the prayer of others.
Praise God for the gifts of healings and working of miracles available in the Church today through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:9, 10, 28). Request the prayers of ministers who are endowed with these gifts, wherever possible. Attend meetings where the sick are ministered to. People took advantage of the healing ministries of Peter, Philip and Paul when these men visited their cities and towns (Acts 5:15,16; 8:5-8; 28:8,9). But quite unfortunately several healing ministries these days are merchandised. In your desperation to receive healing, beware lest you are manipulated.
The plain directive given to the sick is to "call for the elders of the Church" to offer the prayer of faith (Js 5:14,15). Elders in the New Testament Church mean pastors. They need not be spectacularly gifted. Because it is the Holy Spirit who has appointed them as overseers to shepherd the flock, He honours their prayers and heals the sick (Acts 20:17,28). Heaven upholds its officers, who minister in the Church (Mt 18:17,18).
Not only leaders but also any member of the Church can minister healing to the sick. The resurrected Christ unequivocally said, "These signs will follow those who believe: In My name... they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mk 16:17,18). Donít despise any believer. God used just an ordinary disciple to minister healing to the would-be great apostle! (Acts 9:10,17, 18). After mentioning the ministry of the elders to the sick, apostle James said, "Pray for one another that you may be healed" (Js 5:16).
6. Release your faith.
Faith is basic to receive healing. Believe in the fatherhood of God and expect good things from Him. He is interested in your wellbeing (Mt 7:9-11). Believe on the finished work of Christ on the Cross. He has authority over all diseases and sicknesses (Isa 53:4,5; Acts 3:15,16). Believe in the formidable power of the Holy Spirit. He can deliver you from all the oppressions of the devil (Acts 10:38).
No doubt God listens to the prayers of others made on your behalf. But He ultimately expects "you" to reach out to Him in faith. Eventhough prophet Isaiah was there with him, King Hezekiah did not solely depend on the prophet but cried out to God personally with tears. And God answered him, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you" (2 Ki 20:1-5).
Negative confession kills faith. Keep confessing the promises of God. Donít be thinking about the negative instances of the past, if any. So many preachers and people prayed for my mother to be cured of cancer. But she grew worse and died (1924-1981). My brotherís two little daughters had observed all these. One day the elder one accidentally cut her finger with a penknife. She got scared of the bleeding and started to pray. Immediately the younger one told her, "Nita, donít pray. If you pray, you will also die like grandma!" Away with such childishness. Look to God afresh for your present need. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living! He is a very "present" help in trouble! Donít limit His power (Psa 46:1).
Donít murmur. Give no place to worry or anxiety. Keep praising God (Psa 30:4,5). Even if you are not able to believe enough, articulate your feelings like the sick boyís father: "Lord, I do believe; Help me overcome my unbelief " (Mk 9 :4). God understands.
Very often healing may not be instant but progressive (Lk 17:14). Godís delays do not necessarily mean denials. He may intend to develop your faith so He may show greater glory as in the case of Lazarus (Jn 11:6,40). Donít give up even if you are suffering for many many years. To a 38 year chronic case, Jesus asked, "Do you want to be made well?" He answered yes and Jesus healed him (Jn 5:5-8). Folks may discourage you from praying so long for healing. But be determined like Bartimaeus who was blind (Mk 10:48).
7. Resort to medical help.
God works through natural as well as supernatural means to bring health to His people. There is not a single reference in the entire Bible that condemns medical help. Jesus Himself said that the sick needed a physician (Mt 9:12).
Dr. Ambrose Pare confessed, "I bandage, God heals." This is what is seen in the healing of King Hezekiah. In answer to his tearful prayer God promised the King through Prophet Isaiah that he would heal him. Isaiah said to Hezekiahís servants, "Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil." They did this and he recovered! (2 Ki 20:5,7). Did the prophet underestimate the healing power of God by prescribing a herbal medicine to a leader of Godís people? Or, did the apostle undermine the miracle-working power of God by recommending medicinal wine to a young leader in the Church? (1 Tim 5:23).
Jesus did not condemn the woman who spent all her money on doctors. Rather He comforted her and cured her (Mt 5:25,26,34). Medical science has its limitations. Doctors and nurses cannot put scrambled eggs back into the shell! Also if a disease or condition is caused directly by demonic activity, the greater power of God alone can bring about complete deliverance (Mk 9:17,20,25; Lk 13:11-13). Again, if a sickness is a punishment from God, the primary remedy is repentance. Hereís where King Asa failed. He fell ill when he backslided. Instead of seeking God in repentance he sought the physicians only (2 Chron 16:7-12).
If you are firm in not taking medicine, good. May God honour your faith. But remember that miracles are more an exception than a rule. Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, but He expects us to go to work and earn bread. You cannot always expect crows to bring beef and angels bring bread!
Thanks be to God for "beloved" physicians like Luke! (Col 4:14). Praise God for "good" Samaritans who pour oil and wine on the wounds! (Lk 10:34).
8. Relieve the poor and the suffering.
Donít sympathize with yourself. It actually makes your condition worse. Empathise with others whose condition is poorer and suffering greater. Amidst excruciating pain on the Cross, Jesus thought about His mother through whose soul a sword had been piercing (Lk 2:35; Jn 19:25-27). It was when Job prayed for his friends the Lord restored his losses (Job 42:10). On the other hand the rich man was denied even a drop of water in his agony because he cared not to chase his dogs which fought with poor Lazarus for the crumbs that dropped from the table.
What good we do to the poor and the needy is accepted by the God of the poor as done to Himself (Mt 25:34-40). His smile and sunshine are guaranteed when we walk though the valley of the shadow of death. "Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble... The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness" (Psa 41:1,3).
Distribute your amassed wealth to the masses who do not get even one square meal a day. This may speed up the answer to your prayer. When you feed the foodless, house the homeless and cover the clotheless, "your healing shall spring forth speedily" (Isa 58:7,8). No one is too poor to give. People poorer than us are more than the richer. Do something specific to alleviate someoneís pain so you may attract divine favour.
9. Rearrange your priorities.
It is a human tendency to strive to become Jack of all Arts. But God does not want everyone do everything. Each one should stay within his calling. Otherwise we will spread too thin and accomplish little (2 Cor 10:13, 14). More often than we think physical illness is a signal from God to stop and listen.
The Word of the Almighty and the wisdom of the ancient seem to agree on the following order of priority for any man or woman whatever be the calling. First, God; second, family; third, job or ministry. This is hinted right in the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments refer to our relationship with God, the fifth relates to our family, and the last five speak of social relationships (Ex 20:1-17). The qualification lists of Church leaders also maintain this order (1 Tim 3:1-13). Heaven does not endorse a manís work when he becomes too busy to spend time with God and family. Before Abraham became a blessing to the nations, he became a friend of God and a good father to his own family (Gen 15:6; Js 2:23; Gen 18:17-19).
A systematic devotional life has positive effect on health. "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty... No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling" (Psa 91:1,10).
A harmonious home is the next best to Heaven. There will be the fruit of the Spiritólove, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22,23). It is like a beautiful garden. "When you eat the labour of your hands, you shall be happy and it shall be well with you. Your wife sha1l be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table" (Psa 128:2-4). Doctors say that cheerful people resist disease stronger than gloomy people!
10. Rest and relax.
One reason why the Lord permits some physical discomfort is to slow us down to prevent burn-out. He doesnít desire that we join the madness and over-ambitiousness of this world and die before time. More than one saint and servant of God have sincerely testified that the period of their illness was a compulsory rest granted by God! Even to the land God gave compulsory rest when people over-cultivated it (Lev 26:33-35).
Listen to good music and songs when bedridden. Your spirit will be lifted up. I cannot forget the evenings when Swarnu, one of our missionary kids, played his guitar and sang songs for me while I was down with jaundice (1990). If you are not too sick to read, go through the books that are shelved unused for years.
Great hymns were composed by men and women when confined to bed. King Hezekiah wrote an impassionate poetry when he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness (Isa 38:9-20). The hymn Rock of Ages was authored by Augustus Toplady who had a poor health and died at the age of thirtyeight. Stand up, stand up for Jesus is based on the dying words of Dudley Tyng who was involved in a tragic accident and had a painful death. I envisioned several welfare schemes for the staff of our Mission and received new directions for the ministry while confined or hospitalised. All things work together for good ! (Rom 8:28).
Is healing guaranteed?
Under normal circumstances, when we fulfil the Biblical conditions, we will be healed. But God sometimes chooses not to heal. Reasons are unknown. The Scripture has several striking examples. Paul the greatest among apostles was not healed of his sickness (2 Cor 12:7-10). Timothy his most trusted coworker had chronic stomach problem (1 Tim 5:23). Paul could not exercise his gift of healing on another member of his team by name Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20). And prophet Elisha, who had on him the double portion of the spirit and power of Elijah, died of illness (2 Ki 13:14). But when the dead body of a man touched his bones in his tomb, the man revived and stood on his feet! (v 21). Letís therefore shout with Paul,
To me, to live is Christ,
And to die is gain!