Why Doesn't God Heal When We Ask? - Greg Boyd - ReKnew (2023)

If we are called to manifest what Jesus manifested and revolt against what Jesus revolted against, and Jesus carried out the kingdom through healing, then why doesn’t God heal those we pray for?

One of my personal kingdom heroes is a Vietnamese lady named Dr. Huyen Tranberg. She is a medical doctor who works with Vietnamese refugees living along the Mekong River in Cambodia.

Several years ago I went to Cambodia on a medical missions team. There I came to deeply love a nine-year-old disabled girl named Mai. This child had a personality and a smile that could light up a room. Her demeanor was all the more beautiful given her tragic circumstances. If there’s one thing worse than being an impoverished refugee in a third world country, it’s being a disabled child refugee in a third world country. Mai’s legs simply did not work.

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I encountered Mai several times over the next 10 days. Her family belongs to the church that functioned as our base. She spoke no English, and I spoke no Vietnamese, but somehow we managed to connect. Much of our interaction centered on teaching each other words for various things and then laughing at how badly we mispronounced each other’s language.

The day before our team returned home Mai gave me a note. Dr. Tranberg translated the note for us. Mai wanted us to take her home with us. “I know the doctors in America can make my legs work,” she wrote. “I want to be able to play like other kids and not have to get pushed around anymore. Please.” Since Mai was an illegal refugee and had no documentation whatsoever, we were told that getting her to the States would be impossible. And in this case Dr. Tranberg told us that Mai’s condition was such that there was nothing any doctor in any country could do for her.

So we gathered around Mai and prayed. I mean, we prayed! I don’t recall ever being as passionate about a prayer for healing in my life. We bombarded heaven with our cries. How I wish I could write that Mai suddenly had her legs stored. I would trade in the use of my own legs in a heartbeat if I could give this testimony. But I can’t. When we ended our prayers Mai’s legs were just as they had been.

Why wasn’t Mai healed? I hope it’s obvious that this is much more than an academic question for me. I never before laid my heart and faith on the line for healing like I did for this precious child, and something came close to dying in me when it didn’t happen. For a period of time afterwards, I felt it hard to passionately pray for anyone’s healing. It’s always easier to abandon hope than to be continually disappointed.

Now, I know there are some who would claim that Mai wasn’t healed because I and the others who prayed for her lacked faith. If we “really” believed, they say, Mai would have been healed. Others, of course, would say that it simply wasn’t God’s will for Mai to be healed. I don’t buy either explanation.

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While the New Testament indicates that God at times withholds healing for a higher purpose, the uniform pattern of Jesus’s ministry in the early church reveals God’s ideal is to free people of their infirmities. And while the Gospels reveal that faith is an important variable in determining whether someone gets healed or not, it never turns this into a magical formula by making it the only variable. Indeed the New Testament provides examples of people being healed and delivered in which faith seemingly played little or no role (Mark 5:41–42).

So, if we can’t explain Mai’s lack of healing on the basis of God’s will or lack of faith, then what explains it?

And now for my great theological revelation:I have no clue.

In fact, I’m quite certain the question simply is unanswerable for any finite human being. But it’s unanswerable not because God’s will is so mysterious, for God’s will was clearly revealed in Jesus Christ. God is against everything that is a byproduct of Satan’s oppressive regime, including sickness and disease. The question is unanswerable because the world is, for our finite human understanding, unfathomably complex. It would take literally limitless knowledge of world history to be able to explain these sorts of things, and only the omniscient one, God himself, is capable of this.

Follow me here. Behind any given event lies a line of influences that extends back to the beginning of time. Had any of these influences been slightly different, any given event might have occurred differently. To illustrate: right now it’s 10:59 AM on Friday. I just heard a car rush by (way over the speed limit) on the street beneath my window. So let’s ask, why did I hear a car rush by my window just now?

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The simple explanation, of course, is that I happened to be sitting in my room writing, while (let’s suppose) a guy named John who lives down the street happened to be rushing to the local pharmacy to get some Advil to relieve his terrible headache. But this really isn’t much of an explanation, is it? For the phrase “happened to” conceals a virtual infinitude of complexity.

Think for a moment on all the decisions I made today and every day leading up to this one that influenced my decision to be writing in my room right now. Think also of all the decisions other people made every day leading up to this one that affected each of my decisions throughout my life that resulted in my “happening to” be writing in my room right now. Had any of these decisions been different, I might very well not be sitting here writing.

The same is true of John. Had he not had too much to drink the night before, he wouldn’t have woken with a terrible headache and wouldn’t be speeding to the pharmacy right now.

Now add to this complexity the innumerable decisions made by nonhuman agents throughout history that have influenced human decisions, and you begin to see that there is a virtual infinite and unfathomably complex web of influences that go into explaining why I happened to hear a car race past my window on this day. Had any of these decisions been different, this event might not have taken place.

And for the exact same reason, we can’t ever fully explain why anything happens the way it does. I therefore can’t explain why Mai wasn’t healed for the same reason I can’t explain why I heard the car race past my window. For the same reason, I don’t have to blame God or anyone’s lack of faith for the fact that Mai wasn’t healed.

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I’ve learned that many people refrain from passionately revolting against infirmities because they anticipate feeling awkward that the person isn’t healed. Behind this awkwardness lies a formulaic theology that sees God’s will or human faith as the only two variables affecting prayer. And it’s hard to tell a little girl like Mai that it either wasn’t God’s will to heal her, or that it was God’s will but she or those praying for her lack faith.

It’s time we free ourselves from this formulaic theology and simply accept that we don’t know why one person is healed while another is not. Yet, even as we confess our massive ignorance about why things happen the way they do, we must hold fast to what we do know. We know that God’s will and character is perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ always revolted against infirmities. Since our job is to imitate Jesus in all things, we must assume it’s our job to revolt against infirmities as well.

Image bysea turtlevia Flickr

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FAQs

What does the Bible say about being able to heal? ›

"Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." "And the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all." "'But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the Lord."

Does God still heal today? ›

Throughout the Bible it states that God does not change. In fact, Hebrews 13:8 states that he is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you can find one place where God has healed, then you know that he can and will do it again.

What did Jesus teach about healing? ›

Jesus explicitly instructs his followers to go out and heal the sick: And in whatever land you enter and in which you walk, if they receive you eat whatever is put before you, and heal the sick among them.

What verse says have faith and you will be healed? ›

The Lord promises that “he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48). Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ includes trusting him completely and submitting ourselves humbly to his will.

What is the most powerful prayer for healing? ›

Be near me in my time of weakness and pain; sustain me by your grace, that my strength and courage may not fail; heal me according to your will; and help me always to believe that what happens to me here is of little account if you hold me in eternal life, my Lord and my God. Amen.

How do I ask God to heal my body? ›

I come to You now asking that You would work a full recovery in my body - whatever is causing this persistent problem. I pray that You would, in Your mercy, give me back the health and strength I need. Guide me along the path that You have planned for me.

How do I ask God to heal my heart? ›

Heavenly Father, in Jesus' name, please heal my heart and fill me with joy again. You know I lost my joy because of the things that happened, but I have forgiven the people who hurt me. Now, Father, I need You to restore my heart. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, Father.

What heal means biblically? ›

Healing occurs through the integrating forces that restore, transform, sustain and nurture the whole person (body, mind, spirit) at each phase and in every dimension of life, and within relationships of the person to the creation, to other people, and to God.

What are the 2 aspects of Jesus healing? ›

Jesus' healings were subject to two factors: (1) the presence or absence of faith (Matt. 13:53-58; Mark 6:5-6; Matt. 13:53-58; 8:1-3), and (2) the purpose of his heavenly Father (John 5:19).

What are the four types of healing? ›

Types of wound healing: Primary, secondary, tertiary, and stages.

Does the Bible tell us to pray for healing? ›

It's the prayer of faith that heals the sick (James 5:15). One of the clearest biblical instructions is to have elders pray for the sick (James 5:14). Praying for healing is not the sole province of elders (1 Corinthians 12:8–9), but if you're an elder, praying for healing is definitely part of your ministry calling.

What is the most powerful healing scripture in the Bible? ›

We are confident that healing is for everyone as Exodus 15:26 tells us that God is 'the Lord who heals us'. Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 8:17 and 1 Peter 2:24 tell us that Jesus, on the Cross, bore our sicknesses and carried our pains, in order to remove them from us and 'by His stripes we have been healed'.

What does the Bible say about surgery? ›

The only surgical operations mentioned in the Bible are circumcision and castration, the former being mandatory – a covenant made with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11), and the latter being forbidden (Deuteronomy 23:2).

What is the prayer of faith that will heal the sick? ›

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.

How do you pray for miracle healing? ›

Miracle Prayer – Miracle Healing Prayer

Father, let Your divine power wash through all the nooks and crannies in my body and fill it up in The Name of Jesus. Make me whole and a walking testament of Your power, so I may dance in joy to Your name. I uplift Your name for the favor and In Jesus Name. Amen.

How do you tap into healing? ›

We thought some of the answers might be useful for you too, so we'd like to share them here.
  1. Taking a cold shower. ...
  2. Emotional resilience. ...
  3. Breathe through your nose. ...
  4. Intermittent fasting. ...
  5. A good night's sleep. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Take care of yourself!
7 Apr 2020

Is there a spiritual gift of healing? ›

In Christian theology, the Gifts of healing are among the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. As an extraordinary charism, gifts of healing are supernatural enablements given to a believer to minister various kinds of healing and restoration to individuals through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Can prayer heal a person? ›

Religious practices have been associated with healing for millennia. People pray for good health and for relief from illness. Prayer may result in health and healing through one or more of several mechanisms. We briefly consider these mechanisms.

Does prayer of healing take an action? ›

You can't use Prayer of Healing in combat, while Mass Healing Word can prevent a total party kill if multiple party members hit 0 HP. The main difference other than hit points healed is that prayer of healing has a 10 minute casting time while mass healing word has a bonus action casting time.

What is the most powerful prayer to God? ›

The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13): “'Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

What is the most powerful prayer for a miracle? ›

Lord Jesus, I come before you, just as I am, I am sorry for my sins, I repent of my sins, please forgive me. In your Name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I renounce Satan, the evil spirits and all their works.

What does God say about physical healing? ›

Jeremiah 33:6 - God brings healing

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. Although we are aware that complete physical healing may not occur in this lifetime, we also know that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

Can God heal all things? ›

God has the power to heal at any time. The gospel accounts of Jesus' life and ministry (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) mention countless times when Jesus healed people. His miraculous healings are a foretaste of what is to come—and someday, when he comes again, he will indeed heal all our diseases (Revelation 21:4).

Does God change my heart if I ask him? ›

God tells us that he can change our hearts, and he promises that he will. There is marvelous hope here! Think about what Christ offers you in the gospel.

How does God fix a broken heart? ›

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The Good News: Though you may feel defeated, God is closer than you realize. He is always with you and can heal your heart. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

How do you know God is working on your heart? ›

You pray and pray and hear nothing … not even crickets. During times like this, it's common to question if God is even listening.
...
5 ways to know that God is working in your life
  • Your prayer is answered. ...
  • You see positive signs. ...
  • You see negative signs. ...
  • Nothing changes. ...
  • Open the Bible!
30 Apr 2021

What methods did Jesus use to heal? ›

Jesus exercised the ministry of healing, and the gospels are littered with examples of him curing the sick: “At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them” (Lk 4:40).

What is Gods name for healing? ›

“Jesus stated, 'I am willing, be healed! ' This statement emphatically declares that healing is the will of God, Jehovah-Rapha is His name.

What is the purpose of healing? ›

Our bodies become lighter, our minds sharper, and our spirits lifted. When we undergo healing, we are more equipped to help others heal since we are going through the process. We can speak from places of love and light more fully instead of just places of trauma and despair.

What is the best healing that Jesus Do? ›

Cures
  • The man with a withered hand.
  • Cleansing a leper.
  • Cleansing ten lepers.
  • Healing a man with dropsy.
  • Healing the bleeding woman.
  • Healing the paralytic at Capernaum.
  • Healing in Gennesaret.
  • Two blind men.

What it means to be healed by Jesus? ›

Apart from bodily cure, the people Jesus heals experience healing socially, relationally, spiritually, and in many other ways. It is a whole life transformation, including transformation of how people perceive them.

Is there an unpardonable sin? ›

The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy includes ridicule and attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the devil.

What are the signs of healing? ›

Signs of Healing
  • Scabs. Your general cuts and puncture wounds go through three stages of healing: bleeding, clotting, and scabbing. ...
  • Swelling. Swelling is a sign that your immune system is repairing your wound. ...
  • Tissue Growth. ...
  • Scarring.

What parts of the body heal the best? ›

Which Part of the Body Heals the Fastest? Muscles and tendons generally heal the fastest. These parts of the body recover more quickly thanks to an ample blood supply. The circulatory system provides muscles with plenty of nutrients and oxygen needed for healing.

What does the Bible say about doctors and medicine? ›

He replied, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick' (Matthew 9:12). Jesus recognised that sick people need doctors. He did not condemn using doctors and 'earthly remedies'. Yes, Jesus performed many healing miracles while he was on Earth.

Why do we pray in Jesus name amen? ›

Amen,” (Galatians 6:18). The word means “truth” or “it is true.” (That is the reason some people say Amen during the sermon at church). In Revelation 3:17 Jesus himself is called “The Amen.” He is the embodiment of truth.

What does the Bible say about medicine and healing? ›

There are several places in the Bible, where faith alone is accounted for the healing of the people. But there is no place in the Bible that forbids the use of drugs, especially for someone who is ill. Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”—Matthew 9:12.

Which psalms is good for healing? ›

Psalms for Healing and Recovery
  • Psalm 31:9, 14-15. "Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief." "But I trust in you, Lord; I say, 'You are my God. ...
  • Psalm 147:3. ...
  • Psalm 6:2-4. ...
  • Psalm 107:19-20. ...
  • Psalm 73:26. ...
  • Psalm 34: 19-20. ...
  • Psalm 16: 1-2. ...
  • Psalm 41: 4.
25 Apr 2022

What does God say about taking care of your health? ›

To summarize, the Bible instructs us to take care of our bodies, not overindulge in food or drink, and seek spiritual health through being kind to others and praying.

Who heals you of all your diseases? ›

Psalm 103:3-5 King James Version (KJV)

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Does the Bible say the doctor needs healthy? ›

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: `I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

What is the most healing prayer in the Bible? ›

Loving Father, touch me now with Your healing hands, for I believe that Your will is for me to be well in mind, body, soul and spirit. Cover me with the Most Precious Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Cast anything that should not be in me.

How do I ask God to heal anxiety? ›

Loving God, please grant me peace of mind and calm my troubled heart. My soul is like a turbulent sea. I can't seem to find my balance so I stumble and worry constantly. Give me the strength and clarity of mind to find my purpose and walk the path you've laid out for me.

What is a good Bible verse for the sick? ›

James 5:14-16 (KJV) Is any sick among you? 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: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

What does the Bible say about physical health and healing? ›

To summarize, the Bible instructs us to take care of our bodies, not overindulge in food or drink, and seek spiritual health through being kind to others and praying.

What does God say about illness? ›

Jeremiah 33:6 - God brings healing

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. Although we are aware that complete physical healing may not occur in this lifetime, we also know that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

How do you pray for healing sickness? ›

Prayer for the Sick

Dear God, we place our worries in your hands. We place our sick under your care and humbly ask that you restore your servant to health again. Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge your will and know that whatever you do, you do for the love of us. Amen.

Does God care about physical health? ›

To many this may come as a surprise&emdash;God considers our physical health just as important as our spiritual health! Many have the impression that God is concerned only with the salvation of the soul, but this is a distortion. His interest involves every aspect of our being.

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