Does God Heal People Today?
"Therefore confess your sins [and faults] to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."1
When it comes to divine healing, there is never a shortage of quacks. There are faith-healers and there are fake-healers. And when it comes to some TV so-called evangelists, I sometimes wonder which ones are in the majority.
Among us ordinary people some claim that God still heals today. Others aren't sure. Some agree that God can heal but they don't believe he will heal them. Others say that if it's God's will, or if we have enough faith, God will heal us. And some say we are as sick as we choose to be. Personally, I like the saying I heard the other day: "Christians shouldn't be any sicker than they ought to be."
Regarding faith, as Jesus pointed out, we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to receive God's blessings. Furthermore, if I understand it correctly, the faith of the faith-healer is just as necessary (perhaps even more so) as that of the one being prayed for. With fake-healers when a person they pray for (often prey on) isn't healed, they pass the blame onto the sick person telling them they just didn't have enough faith. Yeah, right!
What James is saying is tremendously important in that to be healed of many ills, we need to first confess our sins and faults. What the Bible taught 3,000 years ago and what modern medical science has confirmed is that "A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones."2
When we fail to resolve past hurts, bitterness, guilt, anger, hostility, a critical spirit and so on, and bury, repress, and deny these negative emotions, we never bury them dead but very much alive. Either we confront and resolve these issues in a creative way or they will express themselves in a destructive way. This can be through any or all of the following ways: (1) emotionally in depression, anxiety, fears, stress, and/or through impaired relationships; (2) spiritually in our relationship to God, feeling that he is distant or we get angry at him; and/or (3) through a physical illness. Regarding the latter, what we often don't realize is that many of our ills are either caused by or greatly aggravated by these super-charged repressed negative emotions.
To be healed we need to follow God's instructions and confess and resolve all of our sins, our negative spirit, and all of our super-charged repressed negative emotions—the things that make us sick. As Peter said, "Get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing."3 Repressing these harmful emotions does not get rid of them.
Some illnesses are simply because we live in a sinful, broken world and are all affected. Other ills may be allowed by God to help us grow. The Apostle Paul had some ailment that he prayed three times for God to heal. God didn't. Through this, Paul learned the efficiency of God's grace which helped him to live with his problem.
Jesus said to those who were infirm, "Do you want to be made well?" As I've said before, wishes don't wash. We need to genuinely want to be made well and accept personal responsibility for doing our part in the healing process. God doesn't go against his own laws. We either resolve our sins and issues or suffer the natural consequences.
Speaking personally, in my youth I was taught that Christians should never be angry and that you can't trust your feelings—so I learned early in life to repress and deny my pent-up negative emotions. By the time I was in my early 30s I suffered from painful bursitis in both shoulders and miserable hay-fever. But when I got into recovery and resolved my anger, hurts, grief and fears, I was healed. I haven't suffered from either bursitis or hay-fever in years, for which I am very thankful.
Thus I believe it is true that "Christians shouldn't be any sicker than we ought to be."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in all of my problems, conflicts or ills, please help me to understand the nature of my issue so that I will know if there is anything that I can and need to do to be healed. Help me not to settle for anything less than what you have for me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 5:16 (NIV).
2. Proverbs 17:22 and 15:13 (NASB).
3. See 1 Peter 2:1-2 (NLT).