Previous posts in this series include: Should we pray for healing?
Not only are prayers for physical health exemplified in God’s Word, but even common sense suggests wherever there is lack or need, there is reason to pray. For instance, in times of war we pray for peace, and in times of drought we pray for rain. Thus, it follows that in times of sickness, we ought to pray for healing.
But it’s not enough just to utter words asking God to heal — we must pray according to the standards set forth in God’s Word.
In order to pray for healing, we must not only experience redemptive cleansing by Jesus’ blood, but we must also daily keep our hearts pure and righteous before Him. If we cherish iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us. We must continually confess our sin in order to be forgiven, cleansed, and able to regain fellowship with the Father through the righteous name of Jesus. This is the only way we can approach God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ.
We are to approach God’s throne with boldness, but we must also render proper humility and reverence. Both Old and New Testament accounts portray people kneeling as they prayed. Of course, physical posture does not determine heart attitude; however, these examples show the proper attitude of obeisance, the right heart posture to have when approaching a holy and righteous God. Even when we do not physically kneel during prayer, we ought to inwardly kneel before Him, bowing our hearts in humility before His throne.
Our prayers must also be made with thanksgiving. The book of Daniel gives many examples of Daniel praying in times of trouble, simultaneously offering supplication and thanksgiving to God. Philippians 4:6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 also instruct us to offer our prayers and requests with thanksgiving, not apart from it.
We are to pray with persistence. Again, in the book of Daniel, we find him praying and entreating God until he received an answer. We also see this throughout Christ’s earthly ministry, when those who were sick would beg Him for healing until He responded. Never were they condemned for repeating their requests. In fact, Christ likened our need for persistence to a man who begged his neighbor for bread until he got what he needed. We should keep asking until we have a clear answer from God!
This persistence also implies passion and expectancy. That is, a vital heart interest in acquiring whatever is desired, and a firm belief in God’s ability to fulfill that desire. James tells us the fervent prayer of a righteous man produces results, not requests made halfheartedly or with a double mind. He points to the example of Elijah, who prayed with passion and expectancy for both drought and rain — and his fervent requests were granted.
Coupled with believing God will fulfill our requests, however, is the command to pray according to God’s will. We see this principle established when Christ taught the disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We see it at the Mount of Olives when Christ prayed, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” We even read it in John’s epistle, when he speaks of having confidence in God: “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
Along with that, we must also acknowledge the supremacy of His ways and thoughts, which are far beyond our human comprehension! We must remember, even as we expect God to answer our prayers, that He has promised to fulfill everything we truly need, not simply everything we desire. We must place our confidence in the God who has all knowledge, wisdom, and power; the One who loves us unconditionally; the One who is good and faithful.
The culmination of all these principles is found in the command to pray in Jesus’ name. Again, as with the posture of kneeling, this is a heart attitude rather than a magic formula. We can only approach the throne of God under the banner of His Son — it is only through Christ’s righteousness that the Father can look upon us and hear our prayers. Outside of His righteousness, we are covered in the blackness of sin.
So, what happens when we follow these principles of prayer?
When we adhere to every one of these standards, we have this promise from Christ: “Whatever you shall ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” He will work our requests for the glory of God! Not for our comfort, our gain, or our ability to boast. Simply so the Father’s name will be exalted through the Son’s work on our behalf!
Alternatively, when we refuse to pray about something — or fail to pray as God has instructed — we have a warning: “So whoever knows the right thing to do, and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Failure to pray is sin, because it indicates a failure to believe God’s Word and act upon it. Failure to pray according to God’s direction is sin, because it demonstrates disobedience to God’s commands and a rejection of His authority.
Prayer is an outward expression of the believer’s inner faith and trust in his Savior. So if we truly believe what God has said in His Word, then we must pray according to His standards and about all things! tweet this
But prayer is not a magic wand. We can’t wave it and magically receive everything we want, when we want it, and exactly how we want it. And these principles are not a surefire formula for getting our way: they are guardrails to keep our deceitful, desperately wicked hearts in line with God’s holiness and purity. They tell us how to commune with a holy God in a way that pleases Him. They show us how to outwardly express our inner faith and confidence in His character.
The biggest key to praying for healing is that we must pray believing that God will answer according to what glorifies Him the most — 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. Next week, we’ll look at this issue more in depth.
Until then, I’d love to know your stories or questions about this topic! Share them in the comments below 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!