By: Mike Kelly
A group of physicians used in double-blind “drug” studies of the efficacy of Christian prayer on healing. Patients from the San Francisco General Medical Center were randomly divided into placebo and test groups.
Patients in the test group were prayed for by Christians; the placebo group received no prayer. There were no statistical differences between the placebo and the prayer groups before prayer was initiated.
The results demonstrated that patients who were prayed for suffered “less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently intubated and ventilated.” (Rich Deem, GodandScience.org)
The information here did not say by what percent people had fewer incidences but even if it was only a minor amount, it is pretty overwhelming anyway. I have also read studies that say prayer made no difference in medical outcomes.
So, with confusing data, why pray for healing? Well, why not? As a Christian can you imagine not praying? And not praying for healing?
I’ve met a number of Christians…dedicated believers…who prayed but not for healing. They prayed for comfort, for God’s will but not for healing. They didn’t actually think He heals today.
Yet, my traditions and background and even my experiences tell me to pray for healing. I can’t order God to heal someone but by praying, but I know that I have done what I am called to do…put my focus on Him.
Prayer is a complicated subject, and I am the first to admit that I know little about how it works. It doesn’t seem to me that God keeps a tally on something and after a certain number praying for it, he grants their pleas. Sort of like filling a cup with liquid until it spills over.
It also doesn’t seem to me that God measures my sincerity in prayer before answering. I don’t have to have prayed for so many hours or to have prayed with such intensity that I felt I could move a mountain.
And it doesn’t seem to me that my obedience is the issue either. I once felt an imperative to drive to the funeral home my stepfather was in and if I would do that and pray for his resurrection, God would do it. I did, but He didn’t.
So, if it’s not the amount of prayer, or the sincerity in prayer or the obedience to pray, what is it that moves God to heal?
Maybe I need to call the pastor and let him use anointing oil like we read about in James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.’
But, in all honesty, I’ve done that and seen few results but those I have seen are pretty remarkable. Oil, of course, is not really needed. It’s not a medicine like it might have been in the Biblical days. It’s more a point of contact as Oral Roberts would say. It’s a faith builder.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to pray for healing and leave the outcome to God. I don’t know if my prayers influence him or not like we see in some OT situations.
But I know that prayer keeps me focused on Him which is where I need to focus. And not just in emergencies but in daily life. I know that he is the originator of life and is active in our world all the time.
Prayer is the intimacy between us like conversations with my wife. We need them to keep our marriage strong. And we need prayer to keep our relationship with God strong.
Do I do everything my wife asks? No, not everything. I’d guess 95% but she might say 45%.
Does God do everything I ask? No. Do I do everything He asks? No. But we still love each other both my wife and God. I don’t need God to answer every prayer.
Of course, I’d like him to but just as in my human relations, we don’t always get what we want and in God’s case, he withholds some things because He knows they are not good for me.
Just like I did when our children were small. One piece of Halloween candy a day…not the whole bucket in one night.
I don’t fret when God doesn’t answer the way I want because every prayer I pray, no matter how fervent I want something, it must always end with ‘not my will but yours be done”.
Because as a believer, my whole life is dedicated to his will. I cannot withhold from him, and I know he will not withhold anything good from me.
Ps 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” and remember, that word blameless is in reference to our righteousness before God and by his will, we are totally righteous, pure, clean without guilt or sin, cleansed from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So, pray. Pray for healing. Pray believing in the power of God to change circumstances on earth. Pray knowing that God hears because you are His righteous child. Pray fervently. Pray consistently. Pray frequently.
But always pray knowing that your will is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Mike Kelly is the founding pastor of Bryan’s Grace Community Church (retired) and Board Chairman of Bryan’s Sanctuary Homeless Shelter and Williams County’s Compassion (free) Medical Clinic.