I Don't Get Discouraged When I Pray And Don't See Healing

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Whenever the topic of healing comes up, there are sure to be people in the room who wince, both from the vast array of bad teaching on the subject and, possibly, the painful experience of not seeing healing when they pleaded for God to heal them or a loved one in the past. The problem of pain is quite enmeshed into the topic of healing, and those who tout “Kingdom Here, Kingdom Now” speech sometimes lack the sensitivity due their listeners, especially when it comes to healing gifts. I feel as if I have at least some freedom to broach this topic, as I am among those who have been prayed for and have not seen healing. Yet, God, in his mercy has been revealing his heart to me in greater ways than I’ve ever experienced during this painful season, and I continue to yearn for an outpouring of his Spirit in my life and our community, more so than I ever have, as a result of what he is doing.

A few months ago I had reached the end of my rope with some vocal problems I was experiencing. After sharing my struggle on Facebook for the first time, I got a text from an old friend who lives in Nashville. He asked if he could call and pray for me, so we set up a time. As we began he said, “Before I pray for you I want to tell you a little bit of my story”. For the next 45 minutes he shared the things he’s been learning over the past 2-3 years, while the Holy Spirit lovingly lambasted my bad theology on not only healing, but also intimacy with God, and the reality of the Kingdom, available here and now.

-Throughout the Gospels we see a Jesus who is ready and willing to heal, over and over again. Not only that, he commands his disciples to do the same thing everywhere they go as part of the disciple-making process. “Heal the sick who are there, and tell them ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you’” Luke 10:9.

      o   In the Gospels healing is a given, part of the gospel-proclamation, disciple-making, loving-our-neighbor process.

- Then, before he ascends to be with the Father, in Matthew 25:18-19 Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

 -This seems to mean that Jesus wanted us to have all the resources his disciples had, and more through the Holy Spirit, because in John 16:7 he says, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

As my friend unpacked many of the stories about healing in the gospels and as he told his own testimonies of healing, I began to weep as I had the obvious realization: The Kingdom of God they talk about in the Bible is for me too. It’s for you, and it’s for us. Then my friend said something that will stick with me forever: “When I pray for someone and I don’t see healing right away, I don’t get discouraged anymore. I just remind myself that I am a disciple of Jesus and I have so much more to learn”. That sentence tells me everything I need to know about life with Jesus. It also clues me in on the bigger picture about anything to do with the Holy Spirit and the miraculous gifts: This is all about intimacy with the Father. Jesus did only what he saw the Father do. Everything the disciples did was a result of their relationship with Jesus. And when he ascended, Jesus sent his very Spirit to be with us so that we could experience this same type of intimacy. This is not about healing, prophecy, tongues…. It’s about intimacy, which is learning how to do what we see the Father do through the life of Jesus.

My friend, Josh then prayed for me. He spoke with authority and commanded the cyst to leave in the powerful name of Jesus. We also renounced any attack that the enemy had been launching on my identity. This was no prayer laced with caveats to protect his reputation, and he certainly wasn’t begging God for anything. This was a disciple of Jesus, using the authority he has as a son, speaking Kingdom life into what was broken… I was not healed physically, not that time or the 3-4 other times he called to pray, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t my throat that needed healing most that day; it was my heart. I had lost my hope, and I didn’t even know it. The Lord needed to restore something more important.

I spent the next couple of weeks asking God to renew my mind on the subject of healing. I repented for unknowingly living as a cessationist, not realizing all the ways I had shrunk the power of the gospel in my mind and unwittingly skirted opportunities to grow in intimacy with Jesus. I started asking myself, “If the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of me, then what?” Fill in the blank. For believers this should mean some pretty amazing things; it’s the good news we’ve been waiting for.

I began stepping out and asking friends and strangers if I could pray for them, especially in the area of physical healing. I saw migraines leave within minutes. A homeless Vietnam veteran with a badly crippled left foot felt electricity shoot all up and down his leg after several times of praying for it. As we walked to get coffee he admitted he was feeling much better than before and said “Don’t be surprised if you see me running and skipping all over the park”. On another occasion I felt led to ask a man I had shared the gospel with at a coffee shop if he was in any pain. His shoulder was hurting. After praying for him twice I felt a heat like I’ve never felt before move from my hand to his shoulder. He felt it too, and his shoulder immediately loosened up. In all of this, I’ve also prayed for many people and not seen immediate results, but in those scenarios I remind myself, I am a disciple of Jesus and I have so much more to learn from my teacher. 

Kevin Embleton