Faith and Healing


One of the first things many would think of as an important ingredient for divine healing is faith. Biblical faith is not mere intellectual assent but rather the kind of trust that leads to surrender and active obedience. Underlining the importance of faith, Mark records an incident in the ministry of Jesus that took place in Nazareth, His hometown: “[Jesus] could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:5,6). Jesus Himself was limited in what He desired to do by an environment of disbelief!

It is important to clarify that faith itself does not heal. Faith is like a channel through which divine healing may flow. God heals through faith in Him. A misunderstanding of this principle has led many to misplace the purpose of faith. While faith is imperative for healing, it is never “faith in faith” that heals. Unfortunately, many saints in the Body of Christ have been wounded even more deeply by being told that their continuing sickness is due to their lack of faith.

Several years ago, I was at a conference where the sick were given an opportunity to be ministered to. I joined a team that was going to pray for a dear woman in a wheelchair. Her legs and feet lay lifeless against her chair, in which she spent most her time. After several minutes of boisterous prayer, one man told the woman she ought to take off her shoes and stand up. She said, “Oh, no, I can’t do that!” The man replied that she would not be healed unless she did. Finally, they persuaded her to follow his instructions. With great effort, she tried to stand. When it was clear it was not going to happen, the small ministry team was quick with impersonal comments about her situation. One guy offered a parting bit of advise: “You just need to have more faith.” And then they left her barefoot in her chair.

I had to control my anger. Fortunately, I quickly regained my focus and simply sat with the woman for a few minutes before I offered to help her with her shoes. With tears streaming down her face she shared with me that this was not the first time this had happened to her. Feeling awkward, yet somehow privileged to be with her, I listened to her story and quietly prayed. It became incredibly clear to me that I was with a woman of real faith and a warrior in the Kingdom. Perhaps, in a situation similar to the apostle Paul’s, whom the Lord would require to live with a thorn in the flesh, this wounded disciple would serve her Lord from a wheelchair.

Though faith and healing are dynamically tied, exercising one’s faith is not a guarantee that healing will occur. That is why “divine healing” is preferred to “faith healing” in describing this gracious work of God. It is the Person of Christ rather than the quality or quantity of our faith that is the basis of healing. Jesus promised, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing” (John 14:12). Jesus’ concern is not so much with the quantity of faith but rather with the reality of faith that is put into practice. We are simply encouraged to exercise whatever faith we have. Our faith is meant to point our hearts in humble confidence to the One who is all sufficient in everything.

Our faith is not in healing, but in the God who heals. And so we pray for the sick in humble confidence and in obedience to His command. We simply put our trust in God’s loving presence, promises and power and ask Him to do what only He can do. As we pray we don’t have to whirl anything up to get God to move. Such behavior only serves to put the attention on ourselves and places a heavy weight on the person being prayed for. Praying with expectation without an agenda is a healthy posture in confronting sickness with the healing presence of God.

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