The relationship between faith and healing

The work continues on my book called, “Just How Good Is The Good News?”  The following is a small section from my chapter entitled, “Good News For the Sick – Jesus our Mighty Healer!”  Thanks for reading it and I would greatly appreciate receiving any feedback you might have regarding its substance, style or whatever!

The relationship between 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.  Concerning the importance of this ingredient, Mark records an incident that took place in Nazareth with the ministry of Jesus:  “He [Jesus] could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:5,6).  Jesus Himself was limited in what he desired to do for people by an environment of unbelief!

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.  Numerous times I have heard teachers exhort people to have greater faith.  We must move ahead very carefully at this point.  While faith is imperative for healing, it is never “faith in faith” that heals.  Unfortunately, many sick 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.  Over the years I have witnessed a number of “faith healers” vigorously praying for some kind of move of God, only to leave the poor person worse off than before they were “ministered” to.

Several years ago I found myself in such a situation.  I was at a conference when the opportunity was provided for the sick to be ministered to.  At one point I became a part of a ministry team that was going to pray for a dear woman in a wheelchair.  She had obviously been in that condition for most of her life.  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 their instructions.  With great effort, she tried to stand.  When it was clear that it was not going to happen, the small ministry team transitioned quickly with impersonal comments about her situation.  The final word one guy offered was, “You just need to have more faith.”  And then they left her barefoot in her chair.

I had to control my attention at this point.  Part of me wanted to have those dudes arrested for spiritual abuse.  I 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 how this was not the first time that this had happened to her.  Feeling very 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 real woman of faith and a warrior in the Kingdom.  Perhaps like the apostle Paul, who the Lord would require to live with a thorn in the flesh, this wounded disciple would serve her Lord from a wheelchair.

So while 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.  The fact is, the size or quality of one’s faith is not as significant as to whether one is exercising the faith that one has.  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 the reality of faith that is put into practice.  As Jesus put it, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move” (Matthew 17:20).  We are 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.  Faith then functions as the channel through which healing can flow from a loving, powerful God to a man or woman in need.  Again, it is not faith in faith, but rather faith in God that promotes the atmosphere for healing.

Perhaps an even greater issue with regard to faith and healing is the position and practice that teaches that we should not expect God today to heal the sick through the body of Christ.  A number of times through the years I have been confronted by people who are offended that I regularly encourage people to pray with expectation for the sick.  One woman recently told me that encouraging people to expect that they will be healed only sets them up for disappointment when it doesn’t happen.  And what then does that communicate about God?

That might be a legitimate question that deserves some prayerful thought.  In fact I will deal with this at length in a later chapter called, “Good News for the Suffering.”  Yet here’s another question to consider.  What might it say about God if divine healing does occur as a result of our praying for someone with expectation?  The Scriptures are certainly not silent on this point.

Clearly one’s faith or lack of faith in divine healing influences the manner in which prayer for the sick is offered, if offered at all.  I agree with Derek Morphew when he writes; “Dispensationalism and cessationism combine to reduce what people expect today when they pray.” [1]  Yet for most people the resistance to such prayer is not really theologically based so much as a simple issue of fear and pride.  It’s not ultimately about God, or even the person being prayed for.  It’s about me!  “I am afraid that nothing will happen if I pray specifically for the lump on my friend’s back to go away.”  And so prayer is not offered and healing does not happen.  But at least I don’t look stupid.

Bottom line, 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.

 Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!  Thanks.


[1] Morphew, Kingdom Breakthrough,  97

About Bill Randall

Director of Pioneering Initiatives with CRM (Church Resource Ministries) www.pioneeringinitiatives.org bill.randall@crmleaders.org
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16 Responses to The relationship between faith and healing

  1. Ed klose says:

    Dear Bill,
    What a great chapter! As always, solid biblical content and study with excellent writing. Everything that I would expect from one of the best pastors and teachers that I have had the privilege to work with! love you my friend!

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  2. Tom says:

    An appropriate response to those who claimed the woman did not have enough faith to be healed might be Mark 2:5 where apparently Jesus honored the faith of those that brought the paralytic to him to be healed. Maybe the men praying did not have enough faith? It seems the the Lord can take into account faith of the intercessor also.

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  3. Don Ostendorf says:

    I miss seeing you. Glad you are at work on your book. I feel today’s blog is right on. I have wondered about how not many were healed, because of a lack of faith. It seems to me that we don’t know exactly what was going on, but what I think is in order for healing to take place, don’t we have to make the approach. Maybe the lack of faith was the fact that people didn’t ask for any healing because they didn’t believe. It seems that most of the people healed by Jesus, had asked. Not all but most. Keep up the good work. Don

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  4. MP says:

    Bill, I like this section lots… especially because it is written with a great deal of sensitivity & ‘humanness’ through your examples — yet it boldly proclaims the truth that “without faith, it’s impossible to please God, for the one who comes to God must believe that He is, & that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”… for everything in the Kingdom, including healing!! Bless you, brother!

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  5. Glenn Hervieux says:

    Hi Bill. I’ll have to re-read what you wrote before going to far with comments. This whole topic of prayer and healing is one that is high up on my question list with God. Sometimes it has caused me to wonder about the efficacy of prayer in regards to healing…just being honest…What is involved with God deciding to heal people is such a mystery to me, but I know He does heal. I know that He is the one who acts. What small part we play is a mystery to me.

    I will say that the last paragraph is the one in the whole writing that captures the heart, I think, of what you are trying to say. It’s said so well, with do few words. The second to last paragraph is the other paragraph that resonates for me. I’ve told friends that if I was seriously ill, the first place I’d want to go is to the Prayer Rooms at Bethel, because I felt there was a culture of faith/belief in God as the Healer. There certainly is something to the corporate belief that affects the movement of God. (Mark 6:5) Why the anointing of God there vs. somewhere else? IDK…but the environment there in the prayer rooms is one that engenders faith. Well, that’s all for now.

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  6. Tim Kayser says:

    Hey Bill, really good. I like the distinction between “divine healing” and “faith healing”. I also like the emphasis on keeping the attention on God, not ourselves. I agree, this is probably behind a lot of people’s hesitation to pray with faith and expectation: how will I look when God doesn’t do what I’m asking him to do?

    A point I think I’ve heard you make when teaching on this (and maybe this is in the chapter and you just didn’t include it in the blog post) is that while faith always has to be present for healing, James 5:15 indicates this can be the faith of the person praying (not just the person being prayed for). I wonder how the people who were praying for that women in the wheelchair would apply James 5:15 in their situation? If “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well”, and this sick person wasn’t made well, what does that say about their faith? Obviously, the point of saying that faith is necessary for healing isn’t so we can figure out whom to blame if the healing doesn’t happen. I like the way you put it at the beginning of this section – it’s one of the ingredients that’s necessary.

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  7. Isaac Draper says:

    Bill,

    Great material, and I think it is vital to correct the toxic teachings regarding healing. I always felt the mention of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2 was a great rebuttal for those who think God has to heal according to our itinerary, You don’t see the apostles questioning this brother’s faith.

    Having faith for healing without having enough faith left over that allows someone to continue trusting in our Father’s character when He doesn’t heal us, is a faith that lacks maturity, a faith that acts like a toddler throwing a tantrum when the parents don’t drop everything to accommodate the child’s whims. Any good parent would not respond to such a demanding child, so why should our Father? God is into healing, that is a fact, but he is also into growing our faith into something that will endure through the situations that don’t make sense.

    May the Lord continue to guide you in this work He has set you to accomplish.

    Love you brother,

    Isaac Draper

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  8. This is so well presented Bill. I truly enjoyed reading this, and think others will be blessed with the understanding and truth you have written.

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  9. Susan Guiton says:

    Pastor Bill, I am praying for you and Jill daily… I am excited at the sweet anticipation of what God has in store next for both of you. Faith…I think of the woman who reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak and was healed…(Luke 8:40-48) no big show, no fancy words, no one told her how to feel or even what to do next. Jesus said “Who touched me?” by faith in the Lord she simply reached out and touched His garment knowing He was the King of Kings and He was her hope. Your description of Faith brings clarity for all who want to reach out to Him and be healed. Blessing to you both.BYW Good things are happening.

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  10. Elizabeth May says:

    After attending Redigging the Wells of Supernatural Healing in the Alliance in February and getting “booster” training via Dr. Ron & Wanda Walborn’s Holy Spirit Week 2011 videos at the Ormond Beach Alliance Church Bible Study/Prayer Meeting, I read a book about the evangelist Finney and his prayer warrior Nash. Then the Holy Spirit put it on my heart to pray for my 15-year-old daughter’s friend Nick on the 4th of July. I started praying as I watched the two of them just hanging out. About an hour later, my daugther Hannah prayed with me for his heart murmur…for a new heart. That led to the gospel message, prayer for salvation, and baptism right there in the Atlantic Ocean. Glory to God! I pray this encourages you that there is good fruit from your teachings happening here in Florida outside the walls of the church. Please pray with us for Nick to be surrounded by encouraging Christians and that the Lord put someone in his life that will disciple him according to God’s will.

    God has put his heart’s desire into me to take the City of Ormond Beach for his glory. Please pray with us for God to call the watchmen to the walls to bathe the entire city in prayer for softened hearts. We’re asking God to add pages to his Book of Life as the fire spreads throughout Volusia county, Floriida, the United States and world until Christ’s return, in Jesus’ name.

    Grace and peace to you,
    Elizabeth May of New Smyrna Beach, FL

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  11. Steve Canavan says:

    So good. So balanced. I think it will help some people find a place to land with this issue and landing is so much better than just falling out of the sky.

    I struggled with one work because my brain thought it should be a different word. The sentence in paragraph 4, “I had to control my attention at this point.” Seems like it should read “… control my impulses …” but maybe I am just re-interpreting or moving the flow away from your intention. Think about it.

    Great work … I look forward to reading more!

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  12. beauty says:

    That was a good one. Am bless with it.God bless u.

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  13. Mary C. Worsham says:

    I am doing a study for my sunday school class concerning the correlation between faith and healing. There have been questions concerning this issue. Your article has been most helpful. I am team teaching with a medical doctor who is also very interested in the whys and wherefores when some are healed and others are not. We love the Lord and want to draw closer to Him. Thanks so much
    MCWorsham, Oklahoma

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    • bill4jc says:

      I apologize for not responding to your comment. I took a bit of a leave from this blog but will start posting again soon. In a few days the chapter on physical healing from my new book called “The Life Jesus Made Possible” will be available on my website. Right now only the introduction is available for free download. May the Lord bless you in all you are doing to bring Jesus glory!

      http://www.centeredsetministries.com

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  14. Debbie says:

    Great stuff, Bill! I love the emphasis on God, not on us, to be careful and gentle with the sick, and the admonition to be bold in asking. The last paragraph was a super conclusion!

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