Are there conditions for healing in the Bible?

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By BibleAsk Team


Regarding conditions for healing, the apostle James wrote in his epistle, “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. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14,15). In this passage, the apostle James taught that the anointing of the oil and the lifting of the prayer, must be done in accordance to the will of the Lord. 

Will God Always Heal Supernaturally?   

Not all acts of healing was associated with prerequisite conditions for healing. The New Testament mentions stories of immediate supernatural recovery to health (Matthew 9:22; Mark 6:56; Acts 3:7; Acts 14:8–10). However, healing in answer to prayer could be instant or it could be a slow process. It may take place directly by God in a miraculous way or it may come as a result of using natural remedies (Isaiah 38:1,21; 2 Kings 20:7). The latter method is also a display of divine wisdom and love. For it is the Lord who actually does the miracle of healing regardless of the method (Psalm 103: 3).    

Also, there is a role for the Christian to do in their healing. The full experienced believer should know that God does not accomplish for him that which he can do for himself or what others can do for him. He should know that God’s wisdom may not make miraculous intervention for what can be done by natural or other means, for example, through the wise usage of known medical procedures. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he asked the people to remove the stone (John 11:39). Jesus could have removed the stone by a miracle. But this was something that people could do.  

Conditions for Healing

Faith as a Condition for Healing

In the Bible, when it comes to healing, we sometimes do see conditions associated with those cases. A common requirement was Faith. In many cases when Jesus would heal individuals, He would credit their faith:

Matthew 9:22: "But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour."
Mark 5:34: "And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.'"
Mark 10:52: "Then Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road."
Luke 8:48: "And He said to her, 'Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.'"

Resentment and Forgiveness as a Condition for Healing

Another common requirement associated with healing was repentance. While the Bible does not explicitly state repentance as a requirement for healing in every instance, there are several passages where repentance or a change of heart is closely linked to healing or restoration. Here are some verses that illustrate this connection:

Psalm 41:4: "I said, 'Lord, be merciful to me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.'"

This verse highlights the psalmist’s acknowledgment of sin and need for mercy. While it focuses on healing of the soul rather than physical healing, it underscores the importance of repentance and seeking God’s mercy for restoration.

2 Chronicles 7:14: "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Although this verse primarily addresses healing in the context of national restoration, it emphasizes the significance of repentance and turning from sinful ways as prerequisites or conditions for healing and restoration.

Prayer offered to the Lord means that a person is truly willing to obey all of God’s commandments. The Psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). Not acting in harmony to God’s will and His law negates any prayer. Therefore, the sick person cannot expect God’s healing apart from an honest plan to repent of acts that he knows are not in line with God’s will. Also, he should abandon harmful health practices which may, in part, have been the reason for his sickness, and from that point on to live in line with the laws of health.    

The Bible teaches, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).   

We should not forget that the miracles of restored health and the forgiveness of sin are to be done through the name of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:17; Acts 3:16).  For it is through Him that people can find access to God (1 Timothy 2:5).  

God’s Will Be Done  

In addition, prayers should be made in harmony with the will of God, for no man knows what is best for another. “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). Some of the most needed lessons for our spiritual growth are learned through pain and suffering (Hebrews 2:10). And it may be that, even though the Lord does not cause suffering (James 1:13), He may see best to allow it for some time in order to fulfill His good purpose.    

Appropriately, the prayer for the sick should be raised to God in faith and full submission to His will, for the wise heavenly Father knows what is best for His children. Therefore, the Christian will always add to his prayer the phrase, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10; James 4:15). It should be noted that, not every faithful child of God has been healed (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). Thus, James 5:15, can be understood as saying, “The prayer of faith shall restore the sick if the Lord deems it best for him.”   

Does God withhold healing? While God wants the world to be healed and live abundantly (John 10:10), there are examples in the Bible where we see healing being delayed or withheld.

The Example of Paul

One example of God potentially withholding healing for His will to be done is found in the Apostle Paul’s experience. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV), Paul recounts:

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

If anyone would meet the conditions for healing it would be Paul. However, in this passage, Paul describes a “thorn in the flesh,” which could be interpreted as a physical ailment or some other form of hardship. Despite Paul’s fervent prayers for healing, God’s response is not to remove the affliction but to assure Paul of His sufficient grace and strength, even in weakness. God’s purpose in allowing Paul’s affliction was to prevent him from becoming overly proud and to demonstrate His power through Paul’s weakness.

This example illustrates that sometimes God’s will involves allowing difficulties or afflictions to remain in our lives for purposes that may not be immediately apparent to us. In such cases, God’s grace and strength sustain us, even in the midst of our struggles, ultimately bringing glory to Him and accomplishing His divine purposes.

The Example of Lazarus

In the case of Lazarus, recorded in the New Testament in John 11:1-44, Jesus deliberately delayed going to Lazarus even after hearing of his illness. When Jesus eventually arrived, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, demonstrating his power over death and emphasizing the importance of trusting in him.

In John 11:4, Jesus explicitly states, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (NKJV). This statement suggests that Lazarus’ illness and subsequent death served a higher purpose—to bring glory to God through Jesus’ miraculous act of raising him from the dead.

While Lazarus’ illness and death may have seemed like a tragedy to his loved ones, Jesus’ delay and eventual resurrection of Lazarus illustrate that God’s timing and purposes are not always apparent to us. In this case, Lazarus’ temporary illness and death allowed for a greater manifestation of God’s power and glory through Jesus’ miraculous act of resurrection. Thus, it suggests that God might withhold healing or intervene in ways that seem contrary to our expectations in order to fulfill his divine will and bring about greater glory to himself.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the Bible contains numerous instances of miraculous healing, it also presents a nuanced perspective on conditions for healing. In scripture, we see that healing is not always guaranteed, and there are various factors at play. While God is undoubtedly capable of granting healing, the Bible suggests that healing may be contingent upon certain conditions.

Firstly, faith emerges as a significant condition for healing. Many healing miracles in the Bible are preceded or accompanied by expressions of faith, whether from the person seeking healing, their loved ones, or even the healer. Jesus often commends individuals for their faith before performing miracles, indicating the importance of believing in God’s power to heal.

Secondly, repentance and forgiveness are sometimes linked to being part of the conditions for healing. The Bible suggests that sin and spiritual blockages can hinder physical and emotional well-being. In some instances, healing is portrayed as a byproduct of repentance or the forgiveness of sins. This underscores the interconnectedness of physical, emotional, and spiritual health in the biblical worldview.

Additionally, God’s sovereignty and divine will play a crucial role in the healing process. While God desires the well-being and wholeness of humanity, His plans and purposes are ultimately beyond human comprehension. There are instances where healing may be withheld or delayed for reasons known only to God, such as for His glory, the fulfillment of His larger purposes, or the strengthening of faith.

Moreover, the Bible acknowledges the reality of suffering and acknowledges that healing may not always occur in this life. Despite our earnest prayers and petitions, God may choose not to intervene miraculously, allowing us to endure suffering and find solace in His presence and promises. This underscores the importance of trust and reliance on God’s goodness and sovereignty, even in the face of unanswered prayers for healing.

In essence, while the Bible affirms the possibility of miraculous healing, it also presents a complex and multifaceted perspective on the conditions for healing. Faith, repentance, forgiveness, and God’s sovereign will all intersect in the biblical narrative, shaping the dynamic relationship between prayer, healing, and divine intervention. Ultimately, the quest for healing is intricately woven into the fabric of human existence, prompting us to trust in God’s wisdom and goodness, even amidst life’s uncertainties and challenges.

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