Faith or Fake Healers
"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world."1
"I don't need to get into a recovery group and deal with my past," my good friend Graham said, "I had special prayer and God has healed me from all that."
However, his constant gut-level coughing bothered me, but what could I say? God had healed him—those who prayed for him told him so! However, not too long afterward Graham came down with cancer. Again he was prayed for and a year later told me how grateful to God he was because he had been totally healed—those who prayed for him told him so!
Exactly one week later he was back in the hospital. His body was riddled with cancer. The hospital did what they could but after a few weeks sent him home to die.
The reality was that Graham had a very dysfunctional upbringing. His so-called-sister was actually his mother. As a teen she had a child out of wedlock and her mother adopted this child, and brought the two of them up as brother and sister. As an adult Graham covered the pain caused by his dysfunctional family background by becoming a super workaholic. As long as he kept super busy, he didn't feel or face the pain. However, in "deadening" the pain he very likely contributed to his own demise.
Very often it's the buried pain from the past—supercharged repressed negative emotions such as envy, resentment, guilt (real or false), anger, hurt, grief, fear, anxiety and/or hatred and so on that make us ill. These "sins of the spirit," if not resolved, can be lethal.
When we bury these emotions we never bury them dead but very much alive and, as John Powell says, "When we bury our emotions our stomach keeps score." To put this another way, and pardon the language, the stuff we stuff damages up our lives—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and/or relationally. These negative emotions are like an emotional cancer and we either get the "cancer" or the "cancer" gets us.
This is why gut-level confession is absolutely essential for healing. Without which, prayer is like putting a Band-Aid over a deep wound without cleaning out the pus. It just drives the wound deeper and increases the infection.
Certainly, not all sickness is caused by unresolved personal issues, but if it is, God isn't going to heal me any more than he will heal me if my sickness is caused by my living in sin or in an unhealthy manner and refusing to change my ways. God's way is to deal with issues that make us sick so healing can follow. If I smoke, eat unhealthy foods, or fail to exercise, I will suffer the natural consequences. Healthy living requires a healthy lifestyle—physically, emotionally, relationally, as well as spiritually.
So beware of faith healers who ignore the principle of genuine confession which is essential for healing. As God's word says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, about these constant 'headaches' (or whatever … name the specific sickness) I'm experiencing—please help me to face, deal with, and resolve any unresolved personal issue that may be causing or affecting my sickness in any way. Please lead me to the help I need to see and resolve these issues. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 John 4:1 (NLT).
2. James 5:16 (NIV).