By Fran Blomberg
In 1986 Craig and I had dinner with a Pentecostal pastor. It came out that we couldn’t have children, and his response was immediate. “You need to tell God the desires of your heart! Claim his promises! Show your faith!”
“I am NOT going to tell God what to do! He knows the desires of my heart, he knows my faith, but I want his will, “I replied.
“Well, I’m going to pray for you,” the pastor shot back.
“Fine, pray for me!” I responded, rather sarcastically.
The next month I was pregnant.
Here’s the mystery of healing: Both the pastor and I were right. You can’t manipulate God, and God responds to our prayers.
When we pray for healing at Scum, we rely on certain principles:
God is sovereign—in a nutshell, we cannot guarantee that God will at in any specific way in any specific situation. Isaiah 55:9 reminds us: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 1 Cor. 2:9 tells us “…no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” How limiting it would be if God only did what I imagined possible!
Healing isn’t dependent on our emotions--I sat with a 33 -year-old friend who was racked with grief that she didn’t have 100% confidence that God would heal her of breast cancer. The more she cried the more anxious she got that God would think she was doubting him. She had been told that you had to present a certain ‘face’ to God, full of confidence and boldness. But God knows our fears, thoughts, desires, and doubts already! The father of a sick child cried, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus healed the child.
Healing doesn’t even depend on our faith. Half of the miracles Jesus performed in his life were on people who expressed faith, such as the woman cured of 18 years of bleeding, or blind Bartimeaus. The other half seemed to generate faith in either the person who received the miracle or people who saw it happen, like the crowd that saw a legion of demons enter a herd of pigs, or the disabled man who sat complaining that no one would put him into the supposed healing pool.
So healing is a crap shoot, there’s nothing I can do to win God’s favor? Yes, and no.
Obedience and humility position us to hear God and discern his will. If I want food, I go to the fridge, not the closet. If I want to hear a band, I go to a music venue, not the library. We put ourselves in the “place” to speak with God, hear from him, and understand his purposes. We pray, we use Scriptures, we seek support from other believers.
We acknowledge God works in many ways.
Some miracles are outright. “Get up and walk,” Jesus told the paralytic.
Some are gradual. A broken bone mends. Fewer things trigger a PTSD response.
Some miracles use human intervention as well as divine intervention, perhaps a particularly meaningful sermon, therapist, or doctor.
Some require our cooperation and follow through. The person immediately healed of a craving for drugs still needs the discipline to not use again.
God won’t override my actual will. If lifestyle choices are furthering the problem, God will not override what I actually do to “rescue” me from my own desires. If I struggle with internet porn, I need to be accountable, tighten the filters, and do my part.
Sin can stand between us and healing. James urges us: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” The first healing is often of our pride and shame.
Sometimes the miracle is the change in attitude we experience; the ability to persevere despite the affliction. Or the miracle could be that profound change in desire that then allows the addiction to be put aside. When we pray for healing at Scum, it’s because we know God is able. We have seen miracles. We pray for many more.