Did you know there is not one single example in the New Testament of anyone being healed by prayer? I’m dead serious. Not a single one – I’m about to prove it.
Understand, I have witnessed God’s healing for myself on many occasions. And like you, I had been taught that God does this when we pray for healing. But did you ever think to ask the oh-so-obvious question… WHERE is that done in the Bible?
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
That is a scriptural command, yes… but can you point to any New Testament example where ANYONE actually did that?
Think about it. Where is there ONE SINGLE CASE of ANYONE praying for a healing?
Acts 3:6-8 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
Where is the prayer there? Where did Peter pray saying “Oh God, if it’s Your will, we know that You can heal him – we beg you to grant him Your mercy and raise him up!” – did you read that there? I didn’t. And yet that’s how your typical prayer for healing goes, give or take. But Peter didn’t do that at all! He didn’t stop to pray, he just commanded him to rise and walk – AND HE DID!
Mark 1:23-25 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
Notice! Jesus didn’t PRAY asking GOD to cast the demon out – JESUS rebuked him and cast the demon out!
Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for WITH AUTHORITY COMMANDETH HE even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Of course, Jesus did nothing without the Father – it was the Father whose power was used (John 14:10). We know that the Father did the actual work, but nevertheless Jesus did NOT pray here! He used His AUTHORITY to cast them out! And then there is the example of calming the sea – did Jesus pray, asking God to calm the sea?
Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Get that! HE said this TO THE SEA! Not to God, asking God to calm the sea, but He spoke directly TO THE SEA, and rebuked the WIND, and IT OBEYED immediately!
Verse 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Or as Luke recorded it:
Luke 8:25 …saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he COMMANDETH even the winds and water, and they obey him.
And all that was done without prayer. But that bit was just the teaser. Before we get into the article proper, we need to establish a very clear but little known fact: that healing is the forgiveness of sin.
WHAT IS HEALING?
Luke 5:20-21 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
Notice their response! The same one most people who read this article will probably have, those steeped in the old ways. They’ll say this is blasphemy – we MUST pray to God for EVERYTHING, for who can COMMAND that things be done but God alone?
The answer is simple – those whom God has given the AUTHORITY to command such things to be done! Jesus HAD the power to forgive sins, because His Father had given it to Him! And He in turn gave it to US!
Verses 22-24 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
Jesus said that healing – commanding the invalid to “Arise and walk” – is the SAME as saying “your sins are forgiven” – because healing IS the forgiveness of sin! There is no difference between the two statements! You can’t heal someone without forgiving their sins!
Psalms 25:18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
There is much more on that particular subject in my article “whose sin caused YOUR sickness?” For now, I will move on. We know that Jesus certainly understood the purpose for prayer, and the times when prayer was necessary – and how did Jesus tell us to perform miracles? Through prayer?
HOW TO PERFORM MIRACLES
Did Jesus say you would have to ask GOD to cast the tree into the ocean for you, or that YOU would COMMAND the tree YOURSELF?
Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
IT would obey YOU – not God hearing your prayers and casting it FOR you, but the tree DIRECTLY obeying YOU!
Time and time again in the Bible, EVERY example shows this same method of you COMMANDING something to be done, and it HAPPENING! Not you begging God in prayer for something, but taking God out of the loop and commanding it to be done directly!
Again, I must qualify that you are not the source of the POWER – God is the source of the POWER (John 14:10), and of yourself you can do NOTHING… but you are the source of the COMMAND! Imagine that God has given you His debit card, and His pin number; and He has AUTHORIZED you to use it for whatever you think appropriate.
It’s not YOUR money. But you can spend it without asking God first! Because your name is on the list of those authorized to withdraw the money! But only because God TRUSTS you to use it wisely, as He would have it used – if you decide to pull out $10,000 and run off to Mexico, you may be sure that God will come looking for that money you used inappropriately!
Oh yes, you’re accountable for that money, and you’re accountable for the authority you exercise on God’s behalf – but that doesn’t negate the fact that you HAVE AUTHORITY! You are able to command things to be done, demons to be cast out and healings to be performed, BECAUSE of the authority God has GIVEN you!
Luke 9:1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and AUTHORITY over all devils, and to cure diseases.
He gave them AUTHORITY! Authority over devils, and authority OVER DISEASES! It’s that thing of AUTHORITY that so many have missed! Suppose you’re a building contractor, and you hire a foreman to manage your crew; and you give him AUTHORITY to make decisions; does he then HAVE AUTHORITY? Of course he does! He can hire and fire, decide whether to put a wall here or there, and make DECISIONS – decisions without consulting you! That’s what authority IS – authority to make decisions ON YOUR OWN!
That foreman has the authority to COMMAND an employee to dig a ditch – it’s not a request! The employee either does it or gets fired! The foreman doesn’t have to ask you about every nail he drives or every cent he spends – if he does, what’s the point in having him? You hired him so you wouldn’t HAVE to make every little decision yourself! That’s HIS JOB!
So, as servants of Jesus given authority, we are to act as that foreman did – and as our example to help us do that, we are given Jesus; we are to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). And how did He perform miracles? By praying, or by simply COMMANDING them to be done?
Matthew 8:5-7 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
Notice Jesus didn’t say “I will come and pray for him”. He said “I will come AND HEAL HIM”!
Matthew 8:8-9 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, DO THIS, AND HE DOETH IT.
This man UNDERSTOOD authority! And he knew how authority WORKED! And he knew that Jesus HAD authority! So He knew that Jesus had only to SPEAK THE WORD and his servant would be healed! Not pray! Again and again, PRAYER IS NOT INVOLVED IN THESE HEALINGS AT ALL! But only to COMMAND the sickness to depart, and it would depart!
Verses 10, 13 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel…. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
And Jesus was AMAZED by the faith this man had! Far greater than the Israelites He was used to dealing with! Because he recognized Jesus’ authority and realized that Jesus had only to command, and it would get done!
Mark 13:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
God compares us to SERVANTS who have been given AUTHORITY! And specifically says that we have AUTHORITY over devils and diseases! Not only that, but the ability to do GREATER works than even Jesus Himself did!
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
God has given us authority. And authority means the POWER to make DECISIONS for ourselves! In fact, GREATER authority, and the power to make GREATER decisions than He made as a man – meaning we can do mightier things than He did! It means that if you COMMAND that mountain to be cast into the sea – IT WILL BE CAST INTO THE SEA. Jesus plainly said so.
Matthew 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
He didn’t say, “if you pray to God, asking God to cast the mountain into the sea…” – did He? I know that’s how you’ve been taught; it’s how I was taught… but have you ever DONE IT? Jesus KNEW how it was to be done, and HE DID NOT SAY TO PRAY ABOUT IT! He said IF you have faith, then you can say TO THE MOUNTAIN “be removed, and cast into the sea” – and IT WILL BE DONE!
This is a direct COMMAND to the mountain! But that’s just an inanimate object – does that apply to healing people? How did Jesus do it?
Luke 4:39 And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
Jesus didn’t pray about it! He just REBUKED the fever – just as He had REBUKED the devils! Did He pray about the damsel, to raise her from the dead?
Mark 5:41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and SAID UNTO HER, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
EVERY SINGLE EXAMPLE – every ACTUAL example – of healing in the New Testament was done WITHOUT PRAYER! Every one… well, almost. But there is a definite reason for each of the semi-exceptions. Let’s start with the easiest one:
John 11:41-43 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead [Lazarus] was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
Jesus did pray in connection with raising the dead here; by why? Because He needed to do so? Certainly not, based on Matthew 5:41. No, He plainly gave us the reason He chose to pray here – so that the people standing by would know that it wasn’t HIM that did the work, but that GOD had sent Him. So that they didn’t think it was some magic of His own, but just the authority His Father gave Him that accomplished these things. He clearly said it was for THEIR sakes that He prayed, not His own, nor for the sake of Lazarus!
A lot of light is shed on this subject by a story which is often read, but seldom fully understood. A man’s son had a devil, and he told Jesus…
Luke 9:40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.
And picking up the story in Matthew…
Matthew 17:18-21 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNTO YOU. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Jesus said simply that they could not cast Him out because of their unbelief! Because of their lack of faith – which you know from my other articles means their lack of OBEDIENCE! So they didn’t have enough faith, meaning they didn’t have enough AUTHORITY to cast out THIS RANK of devil – yes, devils come in ranks. Some are more clever, some more wicked than others (Luke 11:26).
So although God had given them the authority, they didn’t have the FAITH to use it! And so they couldn’t cast it out BY THEMSELVES! But now we get to the fascinating part! Remember EVERY SINGLE EXAMPLE of a demon being cast out in the ENTIRE Bible is done without prayer – but here Jesus said that THIS kind comes out only by PRAYER and fasting!
…but did Jesus pray, before casting it out? No! Because Jesus’ faith, and hence His authority, was ample for the task! But the DISCIPLES did NOT have enough faith, thus not enough authority for the same miracle! So THEY would have to PRAY, and perhaps FAST, to have it cast out!
This tells us that if your authority isn’t enough for a really tough problem – be it demon, healing, or whatever it is you’re doing, then it is APPROPRIATE, NECESSARY, and GOOD to pray for help!
Let’s go back to that analogy of the foreman again. You’re the foreman this time, and you work for a good boss. Your boss is a busy man though, and doesn’t like to be bothered for every detail of the job – that’s why he hired you and gave you authority to make decisions on your own. And so you don’t ask his permission to buy a truckload of drywall or hire a new employee. He knows you’ll do a good job – sure, you’ll make mistakes occasionally but they aren’t likely to be anything he can’t fix.
But one day the city inspector comes by, a real nasty fellow, and threatens to shut you down just because he doesn’t like you, or maybe because he wants a bribe. You can’t handle this on your own. He knows the laws better than you, he has all the power, and there’s simply nothing you can do. Does your boss expect you to sort it out for yourself? Of course not! This is when you call your boss and say GET DOWN HERE! I need help to do the job you sent me to do!
And so your boss gets involved, talks to his friends on the city council and gets this corrupt inspector fired, and you can move on with your life. Yes, you need the boss’s help sometimes! And when you need it, you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for it because the last thing your boss needs is a foreman who is too proud to ask for assistance when he’s in over his head!
And Peter did the same thing. He’d never raised the dead before. He’d seen it done, sure, but let’s face it, it must be a rather intimidating thing to set your hand to do!
Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Peter needed help. The proper way – if you had perfect faith – would have been to do what Jesus did, and simply say “arise”. But Peter didn’t do that. He prayed – apparently by himself, presumably asking for help. He wasn’t praying OVER her, because it says he prayed and THEN turned to the body and said… “Tabitha, arise”.
So this still wasn’t a prayer FOR healing – this is a prayer BEFORE healing! There is a difference. The fact is there is not a single example in the NT of anyone praying for someone’s healing. If you want to heal someone, you have to man up, take the responsibility for the choice on your own shoulders and rebuke the fever; not whine at God, asking Him to rebuke the fever for you!
HOW IT WORKS
Here’s what happens. You work for God – as a priest, foreman, whatever you want to call it, so long as you understand that you have been given authority by God which you can exercise, with discretion, when you feel it is appropriate.
You are personally responsible for when you use this power, and when you don’t. God will audit your accounts at the end of the month (so to speak) and so you need to be ready to provide receipts and explain why you did this or that.
When you command something to be done, it is done on your authority, and yours alone. When you rebuke a fever, it is God’s power, but it is YOUR authority that made the decision. If not for you, this wouldn’t have happened.
When you pray, however, you are ASKING God to make a decision. You are pleading/asking/begging Him to heal someone, forgive someone, or whatever the case may be. And while it is you that is asking, it is GOD’S authority that makes the decision!
Back to your foreman analogy, when you’re the foreman buying a load of shingles, if it’s right your boss will be pleased; if it’s wrong, he’ll be annoyed. If however, you call him on the phone and say “look, I’m buying X shingles for Y price to be delivered in Z days”, and then he says yes or no, either way it’s HIS decision and can’t possibly come back on you!
So then it makes sense that you’d want to run EVERY decision past your boss – but if you do that, why does he even have you? No, he WANTS you to take personal responsibility, and make the RIGHT decisions. And God wants that even more!
These decisions, when to pray, when not to – these are relatively unimportant, the key is that He wants you to learn HOW TO MAKE SUCH DECISIONS PROPERLY! He wants you to be able to make them just as well as He can!
When you pray, you’re asking God to make a decision because you’re either too gutless or too inexperienced to make it for yourself. When you command something to be done, you’re doing it on your own authority – and if it’s the right call, you’ll be trusted more. If it’s the wrong call, you’ll be given an opportunity to learn from it. If it’s a REALLY wrong call, or the last in a long LIST of wrong calls, then God might simply start ignoring you altogether and take that authority away.
Either way, prayer is what you do when you’re a spiritual babe. When you are mature, when you’ve grown up as a Christian, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. That’s what God wants, and that’s what you need – and that’s how to REALLY see the power of God working around you.
WHY DID GOD GIVE YOU AUTHORITY?
God has given His followers AUTHORITY. This authority is given for a reason – not so you can empty the hospitals, but so you can learn what it’s like to make decisions with the power of God – something you’ll be doing a lot in the resurrection as a king or a priest!
This authority is proportional to, and limited only by, your faith. You are a servant in whom God has invested authority to decide to heal someone, or decide not to heal someone – to cast out a devil, or not.
Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Now there are things that govern whether you should heal someone, or whether you shouldn’t. Their attitude – are they repentant, did they commit their sins in ignorance, are they determined not to repeat them; is there good to be gained by healing them?
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
Few scriptures are more abused than this one. Every prayer is prefaced with “O God, if it is your will, heal this poor man!” Think about this; God is in charge; God is aware of everything going on in this man’s life; God cares about him more than you do! What exactly do you think God is intending to do if not His will!! What else COULD He do, but do HIS OWN WILL? Who is going to stop Him?
If God is all powerful, then God’s will is ALREADY being done. The only reason for Him to change that is because you ask Him to do so! And the only reason to do that, is for you to learn responsibility, compassion, but most of all good judgment. Keep reading the context:
Verses 15-16 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
Here we are told that we should pray for some sins but also that we should not pray for other sins! Which? God expects you to know!
John 20:23 (ESV) If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.
God expects you to hear people’s sins, and refuse to pray for their forgiveness! That’s what these scriptures say! If you just rubber stamp “yes” to all prayer requests, you are certainly praying for some “sins unto death”, and making your prayers meaningless to God!
1 John 5:14 doesn’t mean you are supposed to pray using the words “if it’s your will, God…”! It means your prayer is ALREADY supposed to be in line with His will! You’re supposed to know what it is!
Ephesian 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
If you don’t know what God’s will is, if you don’t know whether someone should be healed or not you should keep your mouth shut! Otherwise, God will withdraw what little authority He has given you, for you are not using judgment – you’re just saying yes to everything!
Healing is the forgiveness of sins. Physical, spiritual, either way – to be healed, you must be forgiven. Every example in the Bible of healing shows people powerfully and miraculously forgiving someone’s sins. But what if someone is unrepentant? What if they haven’t stopped their sins, but are STILL actively sinning?
What if a smoker comes to you, asking for you to heal his lung cancer. He isn’t asking for your help quitting smoking – he absolutely refuses to stop smoking and sinning against his body. He is completely unrepentant. But he wants God’s help anyway, to make his lung cancer go away.
That man’s sins should be retained because he still hasn’t learned the lesson from those sins! When he has, and he’s ready to repent then – only then – will God be willing to heal him and only then should you even CONSIDER praying for him!
Or what if someone comes to you for healing, but refuses to “confess their faults” – remember, that’s the other half, the FIRST half, of James 5:16! If they aren’t willing to discuss what caused this problem in their life – whether it’s sickness, unhappiness, poverty, loneliness, or whatever – then why should you pray for their sins to be forgiven when they won’t even look at them?
In other words, if they aren’t interested in finding the CAUSE of their problems, if they’re only interested in a magic pill to make the pain go away… that’s why there are doctors in the world. That’s why there are false preachers in the world. God brought TRUTH, he brought freedom from sin for those who want it!
James 5:14-16 is there for people who need help, who truly don’t understand why they are living under a curse, and who go to the elders of the church, the wise men who should understand what causes problems like this, for help finding out what they need to do differently!
And when the person is sincere and willing to work on their problems, the elders should, on their own authority that God has given them, use the power of God to forgive their sins and heal their sickness. But if in their judgment the person isn’t willing to change, then they should refuse. That’s what the Bible REALLY says.
Many people will be horrified by that statement, but slow down and ask a simple question… so what? So this one person refused to pray for them. Like there aren’t tens of thousands of people out there glad to pray for anyone, for any reason – without even KNOWING the reason? If God disagrees with the elder’s decision, He can answer one of their prayers!
So what if one person refuses to “sign the petition” because in his judgment this person has not learned their lesson? What if that’s EXACTLY the motivation this sinner needs to rethink their life? We’re here to help people. Not always by making their life easier – but by making their life better. And the only way to really do that is to find sin and eradicate it.
John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Find the will of God. Show the person who needs help the will of God; then ask according to the will of God, and you WILL be heard.