When Healing Does Not Happen1
The man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
- Acts 4:22
Forty years is a long time to go without walking. How often must this man and his family prayed for his healing? The passage doesn’t tell us, but it’s not difficult to imagine this man’s mother crying out to God and offering sacrifices in the Temple asking God to help her son walk and jump with joy.
All you have to do is live long enough and pray often enough and you will encounter unanswered prayers.
Some have tried to explain this: God doesn’t answer your prayers because …
You don’t have enough faith
You aren’t worthy / holy enough
You didn’t do it right
These answers ring hollow to us. God can heal whether we have faith or not (even the passages cited to make the “enough faith” case show Jesus healing people). None of us are holy enough to demand anything from God. The biblical healing miracles follow no discernable formula.
Let’s avoid hollow and unhelpful answers.
When it comes to praying for healing we bump into great mysteries. God tells us to pray, but doesn’t make us magicians. Magicians pretend to bend the forces of the world around their will through the right words. Jesus calls us instead to a real-time relationship with a God who is never manipulated but who instead invites us to come to him with our heart’s desires.
Sometimes our requests for healing are granted through doctors or medicines or direct miraculous intervention. Sometimes those desires are not granted at all. And sometimes we don’t understand why.
And so we’re invited into the mystery of a God who loves us (we’re sure of that because he sent us Jesus) and a God that we cannot control. We can only ask. Or we can stop asking because we’re afraid of the “no.” But the clear invitation from the Scriptures is to ask, to trust that we are heard and that our request is seriously considered.
If you’re struggling to hold on to hope as you pray for healing, call a friend and ask them to pray alongside you and with you. If you have a friend who you know is praying in the midst of a hard situation, pray for them and let them know that you’re praying. As Jesus’ people, we can tangibly demonstrate his real presence to each other. Would you take a few minutes to do this today?