We’ve been looking at the principles laid out in Scripture regarding prayer, and specifically how they relate to seeking physical healing. Find the first two posts in this series here: Should we pray for healing? and How to pray for healing.
When we’re seeking healing, the first step is always to commune with God in prayer. But prayer isn’t the only thing that matters: we must also have faith in who He is and how He works!
Not only do we need to pray about everything, but we need to trust that God will answer our prayers according to what glorifies Him the most. We need to believe His plan for our lives is whatever HE considers the absolute best for us.
Our faith must be placed in God alone — not in our good works, efforts to regain health, or even our prayers. tweet this
True faith is not merely wishing for something good or wanting something desperately. Rather, it carries the idea of heart-felt conviction and total confidence in the object of one’s faith. As believers, this is characterized by genuine confidence in God and His Word, complete assurance of His leadership and sovereignty, and total reliance upon His promises. Note: this exercising of faith differs from saving faith; we must already have repented of our sinfulness and confessed a need for Christ’s salvation before we can seek God’s blessing of healing.
This steadfast faith is commanded of every believer. Many Old and New Testament passages clearly state the righteous should live by faith. We also find explicit instructions regarding faith in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, admonishing him to set an example for believers in faith and to earnestly pursue faith.
Additionally, Hebrews instructs us to approach God by faith: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” In fact, the entire chapter surrounding this verse depicts those who had faith in every word of God, and lived by faith no matter what — even to the point of dying for their faith in God. Those men and women were commended by God — He considered them righteous because of their faith, and was not ashamed to be called their God.
Clearly, if we are to have an ongoing personal relationship with our Creator and Savior, we must have faith that He is who He claims to be and will do what He promises to do. We must have total confidence in God and His words throughout every circumstance of our lives here on earth!
Yet it is not enough to simply say we have faith in Him: we are also commanded to manifest our faith by our works. Our visible expressions of righteous living should testify of our inner faith in God’s Word.
For instance, the men and women of Hebrews 11 did not merely profess faith in God, but actually proved their faith by their actions, living and even dying for their beliefs. Only those who wholeheartedly believe something will sacrifice their very lives for it!
This principle is further explained in the book of James. In chapter 2, the man who merely professes faith is contrasted with one who truly lives out his faith, by an illustration of helping someone in need:
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
James goes on to compare this person, who professes faith but does not act on it, to the demons who acknowledge God and tremble. Their “faith” is certainly not a saving faith — and if we fail to show our faith by our actions, we are no better than they are!
But he doesn’t leave us with what not to do; he also offers some examples of what to do:
- Because Abraham offered his beloved son Isaac upon the altar, signifying his obvious intention to obey God completely, he was counted as righteous. Notice, the Bible does not say Abraham was considered righteous for simply acknowledging God’s saving power — as the demons do. Rather, it says his faith “was completed” by his works. He was considered righteous because his full obedience demonstrated his faith to all around him.
- The prostitute Rahab is also given as an example of true faith. She believed God would destroy her city and deliver it to Israel, and when two Israelites came to scout out the land in advance of the army, she hid them from the authorities and later helped them escape. In return, her life was spared when the city was destroyed. She, a harlot and a pagan Gentile, was considered righteous in God’s eyes because of the visible manifestation of her faith in His decrees.
James offers one final comparison to further establish the imperativeness of showing our faith by our works: For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Could it be said any more simply?
Next week we’ll consider one more tricky aspect of seeking healing: the “prayer of faith” mentioned in James 5. Can it truly save a person from physical suffering — or is it talking about something else entirely?
Share your thoughts in the comments, or send me an email!
Note: this post has been adapted from my book, Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering. Want to learn more? Visit the website to learn more about the book, download the free study guide, and find related reading recommendations. Or buy your own copy of the book here!