Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Expect (07/11/13)
TITLE: Where does expectancy fit into our prayers for healing?
By Noel Mitaxa
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As well as his seven-year cycle of complete cell-replacement, God has built healing into our bodies. He desires our healing, for salvation means wholeness; but healing is not always his first response. His priority is on our knowing him and trusting us to become positive, nourishing people who discover ways to be a blessing to others – no matter what goes wrong. Our personal comfort and fulfilment come along for the ride, but more as a by-product.
Jesus’ miracles came with or without Steven Spielberg-type special effects; for – unlike many modern faith healers - he often downplayed his miracles. Though Lazarus (John 11: 11-14) and Talitha (Luke 8: 51–6) had both actually died, he only described them as “sleeping” before returning them to life!
The bible contains thousands of promises that God promises to fulfil.
But imagine a family scene when dad breaks news of a delayed picnic or holiday. The kids might chorus their reactions: “But Dad, you promised!” Naturally, they are disappointed; but does their disappointment stop them from being his children?
And who needs more reminding about his promises – God or us?
Let’s not burden ourselves with a tunnel-view of promise texts, for I’ve found that “Name it and Claim it” prayers may work for strong-minded or self-absorbed people, but life serves up distractions like wider responsibilities that upset our memories or ability to maintain our concentration.
“Faith healing” can easily slip into a faith in how much faith we have, or in what we have experienced. Ironically, faith healing can limit God as much as doubt, because it can easily cramp his freedom to reach beyond the limits of our experience, our assessments or our perspectives.
Praying for insight to discern God’s choice of healing will also avoid any half-hearted “if it be Thy will, amen.” To focus on God, rather than on what we want from him, helps us to discern how to deal honestly with any lifestyle issues or habits which may contribute to illness – like unbalanced diet, smoking, drinking, gambling, bad temper, lack of exercise or the simple reality of getting older. This honesty may also lead to new, credible ministry to others whose response to the gospel, or their Christian freedom, is being stifled by these issues.
Decades of ministry has opened my eyes beyond my own expectations to see the following reasons for God’s delays or denials of healing:
Lack of faith is one reason, but it’s a cruel indictment if people in pain can’t align with the self-righteousness that can sadly flavour this verdict.
Another reason is a lack of authority or integrity within the person who prays, like the sons of Sceva in Acts 19: 13 – 16. This is rarely admitted, but allowing another to pray can enhance our maturity.
Unconfessed sin must be handled with compassion rather than condemnation, so people may embrace God’s forgiveness for themselves.
To exaggerate or to ignore satanic activity will always dull our response to God’s desire to bring healing.
Refusing to accept medical advice is also unwise, for Jesus himself said that those who are sick need a doctor (Matt 9: 12)
Conversely, relying too much on medical opinions can also delay healing, like the woman in Luke 8: 34
I’ve also seen God use illness to build people’s character or to widen their perspective; or it may be a bridge for the gospel to reach someone who may not otherwise hear of God’s love.
Perhaps the hardest challenge for our expectations is to recognise that God wants to take someone home for complete healing; so their illness is not terminal, but transitional. Paul described this in 2 Tim 4: 6 – 8
I can well imagine cynics viewing this list as excuses that “protect” God, but I offer these reasons to help readers to recognise any points where we may give God more room and time to work his grace within and through our needs.
This is so our faith in him may become more open-minded and inviting to hurting people; instead of approaching them glibly, defensively or aggressively.
God bless us all, and spread his blessing through us...
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