The other day I met with a patient who was curious about my particular beliefs regarding prayer and healing.
I know that for many of us it is tempting to pray by hedging our bets. By that I mean we pray in some fashion, “God please do X, but if X is not your will we ask that you would give us the ability to accept your will.”
I have two problems with that. First, it is a weak prayer because we are not boldly making our claims known to God. Second, it really doesn’t matter if we accept God’s will or not, its gonna happen.
It fails to pray like Jesus says in John 15:7, which says “If you remain in me and I remain in you ask whatever you want and it will be given to you.” Does that mean whatever I ask God will grant–no. The beginning clause is crucial. If we remain in God, whatever we request will not be of our desire but a request that comes through the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, our prayers are no longer weak because we no longer have to ask God for the ability to accept his will, for we have remeained in him. We can pray boldly because we are speaking the words given to us by the Holy Spirit.
In the specific requests regarding healing, I think we have falsely limited healing to our temporal understanding of healing. I do not think praying for someone’s miraculous physical healing will mean that they will continue to live (even Lazarus died a second time at some point). No, rather I think full physical healing, for Christians, comes only at death, because it is at death that we will be bodily resurrected and reconciled to God.
I spoke to someone earlier this week about this and they responded, “Yeah, perhaps healing means spiritual healing and not physical healing.” I think that response still reveals a limited understanding of healing, if you believe in the bodily resurrection.
It is only at the bodily resurrection that both our spiritual and also our physical beings will be fully healed and reconciled. It is not just a spiritual healing, which allows the body to decompose in the dirt. It is a full, wholistic healing.
Therefore, I can bodily pray for a patient knowing that God will “heal” this person because I while I am not bargaining with God (telling him what to do), I am also not hedging my bet. Rather I boldly claim, what I know to be true, that either temporary physical healing (the recover from X) may occur, or that full healing shall occur at our deaths because our wholeselves will be reconciled to our Creator.
Otherwise what do we do with the fact that Jesus Christ did not heal all the sick people he came into contact with? Was their request/prayer not good enough (works righteousness)?
Of course I would never tell a patient after praying for their “healing” that I really meant their death.