18 June 2010

Question of the Week:
Why No Healing?

by Anne Lang Bundy

'Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
~ Deuteronomy 32:39 (NKJV)

: : :

[In praying for healing], should we really be demanding our way, thinking we know what is best? Or should we strive to learn whatever lessons are hidden in the sickness and trials we may be going through? [I’ve been] told that because healing was not granted, the prayers ... were not earnest, fervent, or persistent enough. ~ Hannah Meyer

The short answer? Ask in faith without presuming upon God's answer. But there's a mighty fine line between faith in God's perfect will and presumption of God's sovereign will.

It's been explained this way: Between God’s perfect will and God’s sovereign will is the place to exercise human free will.

If you ask ten theologians to explain the intersection between divine will and human free will, you'd likely get eleven answers. I won't pretend that I can best them or that I have all the answers. Today's question falls into the category of my adequate but imperfect understanding, and that's what I'll share.

Almighty God does not allow human will to trespass His sovereign will. But God’s perfect will requires our cooperation. If we walk closely with Him so that we understand His will in a situation, if we rely upon Him so that He empowers us, and if we are submitted to His Spirit so that He has His perfect will—then we will experience His best.

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ and a lot of yielding that must occur for us to obtain God’s perfect will in our lives. We are nonetheless assured that we will not fall short of His sovereign will and promises.

Prayer is an opportunity to cooperate with God’s perfect will and seek to obtain His best while still acknowledging His sovereign will.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
~ Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Those who belong to Jesus Christ are assured of healing. But we are not assured of when it will occur, or if it will occur at all before we are resurrected.

Jesus spoke of "sickness unto death" because death and therefore sickness are a continued part of our existence for now. If sickness is a means of testing or character building, it may be healed when those are achieved—or it may be the Lord's intent that it continue throughout life (as was the case with the apostle Paul). When injury or sickness exists as a direct result of our actions—whether spiritual, emotional or physical—perhaps it will be healed when those conditions cease. If sickness exists for the purpose of glorifying God, it may be that miraculous healing is ours for the asking.

For more information on the reasons for sickness, see "Your Healer."

A similar question was previously answered in the post "Why Pray."

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: sacredpursuit.com


  1. You've given me a lot to think about Anne. I've never had an inkling before about His perfect will and His sovereign will. What an amazing and important distinction. I might just lose an entire nights sleep trying to digest this. I'm thrilled to know this. Thank you for another awe inspiring post!

  2. T ~

    I've accepted and thoroughly studied this perspective for many years. Everything I know of Scripture and of our Lord upholds it.

    It is indeed a fascinating concept to believe that we really do have free will. I believe this is likely the most important component of being created in God's image.

    That He not only permits but actually invites our participation in His will through prayer should stir us to "pray without ceasing."

  3. Amen, we should always pray without ceasing sis, love you.

  4. What a wonderful post, Anne.

    Long before I was diagnosed with a mild to moderate chronic illness, my favorite verse was 2 Corinthians 12:9--"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Verse 8 tells about Paul pleading with the Lord three times to take his affliction from him.

    Though I pray for healing, I have learned so much about God through my illness--the miracle of daily grace, given like manna in a dry desert. I have learned that His mercies are new each morning. I have learned not to take a single work day for granted. Work--whether in or outside the home--is a gift to the healthy. I never understood that until I was too ill to work for a time.

    I no longer fret about when or whether healing is in my future. Today is enough. His grace is indeed sufficient for me, and His mercies are new each morning.

    God bless you, Anne--and Hannah.

  5. this is one of those "wrap your minds around this" posts. something more to chew on.

  6. This is one of those posts that you sorta have to read a couple times. I'm marking it unread in my google reader so I can come back and give you some honest thoughts after I've given it some time in my gray matter. :)

  7. That word cooperate lodged into my thoughts as I read this. It's hard to imagine sometimes that the Almighty God wants to cooperate with us...with me.

    But that He does...
    ~ Wendy

  8. Denise ~ To live in constant awareness of His continual presence makes possible "praying without ceasing."

    Gwen dearest ~ Today is indeed enough. I needed to hear that. Some days, we only need strength for the hour--for the minute.

    Wendy ~ It is amazing that God cares enough to ask our cooperation rather than merely dictate His will. That is the essence of relationship. That is love.

  9. Bud ~
    Duane ~
    I just received a mental picture I've never had before, that brings this home for me. Think of God's sovereign will as a big circle. Think of His perfect will as the bull's eye. He won't let us miss the target. But how closely we stray toward that edge or how closely we come to the mark is a measure of how much we rely upon His power--how much we cooperate with His Spirit. I believe those things take practice. The more often we yield to Him, the closer we'll get to His perfect will and His greatest blessing.

  10. the picture He gave you really helped me understand this!:) nice to think He won't let me miss the target too!

    thank You, Lord!

  11. Anne, I'm SO glad I came back. That bulls eye visual offers great clarity!

  12. MAN, you hit one of the toughest topics on the face of the earth. I've prayed for some and they've experienced healing IMMEDIATELY ... blew my mind. I've prayed for others for, OH, 40 years and seen very few results. I've been prayed for by some and been healed amazingly and very quickly. Other times.... well, you know how this would go. When I get to heaven, I'm sure I will finally understand. In the meantime, this is one of the biggest struggles. The main thing I hold onto is that we don't know where all the ripples go. For instance, 3 years ago when a few people prayed over my leg, which had a torn ligament, it healed quickly... I was driving from Susie's to Omaha, and before I reached home a few hours later, the pain was gone and it's never been a problem. I found out later that the folks who prayed for me at their church had just been taught about healing before I walked in with my serious need. This gave them the encouragement they needed to go forward. So, from what I know I was healed to teach them. But the side-effect was that I was healed. So... ain't no easy answers. Especially with our "brainy" culture.

  13. AnonymousJune 27, 2010

    God revealed in His word that it is Always His Will (both perfect and sovereign) to heal. (Isa 53:5; Ps 103:3; 1 Pet 2:24). If Christ already bought our health and forgiveness for us on the Cross 2000 years ago, then how can I suddenly turn around and say that what He paid wasn't a great enough price for someone's healing? I cannot take one of the absolutes of the nature of God that He has given us in His Word (that He is our Healer) and take that and sacrifice it on the altar of my own reason? How can I afford to trod on the cross of Christ and say that His murder wasn't enough to buy the healing for everyone? Its already done, accomplished, finnished...the price was already paid. Its too late... God already out of His Will to love us, decided to send His only forgotten son to heal our diseases and forgive our sins. Both healing and forgiveness are part of deliverance from the work of sin.
    If its not God's will to heal, then its not God's will to forgive. Healing and forgiveness go hand in hand...
    Bill Johnson, in a video sermon says that it is blasphemy to attribute to God the work of the devil. One of my friends says in a sligthly less polite manner that anyone who defends the work of the devil is probably one of his kids...

    and also

    Another thing is Jesus said Mark 16:17-18 that in His name (authority), healing by the laying on of hands would happen... for those who BELIEVE... so faith has a big part of healing. In James 5:15 it says that the prayer offered in FAITH will make the sick person well...
    To quote Bill Johnson again, "Faith ACTUALIZES what it REALIZES." So when we realize that God already healed the sick person 2000 years ago because he beat the devil, and now we got a sword in our hands to fight against the devil and his works and have been commissioned and authorized and empowered to fight the good fight against the devil and his power....this includes sickness... which is why everytime Jesus and his disciples entered a city, one of the goals was to heal all of the sick.

  14. AnonymousJune 27, 2010

    Yeah, We are in a Spirit War and we gotta fight.
    I went into a trance the yesterday where I was walking with Jesus through a dark forest of deformed, vile looking trees that emitted a horrible stench...and when I looked closer, there were people locked up in the roots of the trees (sort of like in the book of Lord of the Rings in the forest with the Ents...where the trees like to "swallow" people with their roots) and Jesus was like, I want to establish my Kingdom here... I want to free these people and plant a garden here... but the trees gotta be chopped down that have people in bondage... and He pointed and there were axes all strewn all over the forest floor that nobody was using... and there were also a lot of lumberjacks sprawled out all over the ground snoring... and I asked what this meant... and he said that the trees represented bondage and footholds of the devil... un-forgiveness, disease, addictions... works of Satan that trap people and hold them captive... about the axes, he was like, that's the authority I gave you... my word.. my spirit.. my life.. my name... my nature... my glory... my power...my truth.. and he was like, the lumberjacks are my followers, but they don't want to work. They gotta be woken up...but most of their hearts are blind..and their spiritual eyes of faith gotta be reopened... they gotta see this... but most can't... they gotta have their minds renewed, but most of them think they've already got that..
    ...it was kind of weird.. I looked at the trees and they were different kinds... and the roots had names on them, like.. the trees of 'bipolar disorder' and 'fibromialgia' had the word 'trauma' written on them...etc.. He said that if the root was chopped down, then the people would be freed.
    And some of the trees were small and skinny and others were huge and thick like redwoods, meaning that some of them would be chopped down with one blow, the others would take a lot of persistent whacking...through prayers and declarations of faith, and profecies where the chopping down of the tree is FORTHtold.. I also saw one guy whacking away at one of the trees, but there was a poor guy trapped and locked up in its roots who cried out and begged him to stop, because the tree was his comfort and because he was becoming a better person locked away in there... he had fallen in love with his tree and he spoke, begging the lumberjack to stop, and explaining why he needed the tree for his strength, that the tree was God's loving arms wrapping themselves around him, and as he said that, the tree began to grow super thick, new branches shot out, and the roots began to wrap themselves around him, and bind him more and more...the man's words gave the thing power. That was really weird.

  15. The Lord does promise those who are His will receive shalom healing--full healing of soul, heart, mind, and body. We know it will not be complete before the resurrection. Every body in every grave attests to the fact that our bodies will not be free of physical death (and the sickness included in death) before the day the Lord restores our bodies. The resurrection of body exists for now in our spirits.

    The Jews rejected Jesus because they looked for a physical kingdo,m and they missed out on the spiritual one. Those who insist we are to possess full and immediate physical healing in every circumstance, without taking into account the Lord's timing, are likewise exalting the physical above the spiritiual.

  16. AnonymousJune 27, 2010

    Thanks Anne, I agree with you that we shouldn't exalt the physical...or the physical above the spiritual.. but I don't really think we should exalt the spiritual either... I think God is the only one worthy of being exalted. And I think I agree with you that many of the Jews were looking for a regular earthly kingdom, rather than looking for a kingdom not of this earth where the supernatural invaded the natural and brought it into alignment with Heaven.

    I'm kinda confused though..so how do we know that full healing won't be complete before the resurrection?
    So then, maybe its not also one of the believer's jobs to raise the dead? Should we leave them in their graves?

    I guess I don't really understand...what did Jesus mean when He taught us to pray for the Spiritual Kingdom of Heaven to come and invade earth and for God's will to be done here on earth (now/today) as it is done in Heaven (the spiritual realm/kindgom of God)? Maybe Jesus didn't mean that God's kingdom is supposed to be extended now from the heaven to earth; initiating from the spiritual, for God's kingdom to extend into the physical; for the supernatural to invade the natural?
    How can I know for sure that the Lord's timing for full healing and restoration and salvation isn't now/today (2 Cor 6:2)
    How can I discern which people/situations/timings don't apply to the instructions given in James 5:14-16?
    How should Mark 16:17-18 be read and lived?

  17. Anonymous Guest ~

    If it wasn't clear, I'll clarify that while Jesus' first coming was to first establish His spiritual kingdom in our hearts, He will establish His physical kingdom and throne on the earth at His second coming.

    I'll address the questions related to specific Scriptures:

    How can I know for sure that the Lord's timing for full healing and restoration and salvation isn't now/today?
    2 Corinthians 6:2 refers to calling out for salvation. God certainly does not delay answering that specific prayer.

    How can I discern which people/situations/timings don't apply to the instructions given in James 5:14-16?
    I would apply the instructions for any situation of needed healing. But I would neither presume what God wills to heal first—soul, heart, mind, body—nor would I assume that some form of healing has not taken place simply because physical healing has been delayed.

    How should Mark 16:17-18 be read and lived?
    Jesus did not say all signs would follow all believers, to be demonstrated at will. He also said that I could move a mountain with the faith of a mustard seed. Before I would command a mountain to move, I would first ascertain that to be the Lord's will, so that He moves it at my command. (I am a speaker who can project my voice well without amplification—but not enough to move mountains or knock down walls!) Human action must cooperate with divine will and power.

  18. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    thanks Anne~
    I know that Heaven gets established in our hearts, and that that was one of the reasons for Christ's first coming. But was the Kingdom of Heaven to just stay in our hearts now? I thought the followers of Jesus supposed to spread the kingdom of God all around the physical earth and that we were authorized and commissioned to do everything that Jesus did and even greater things? If Jesus healed everybody (Acts 10:38) and I am a follower of Him, aren't the things He did things that I should follow in?
    I am in total agreement with your comment on James 5. So you're basically saying that the prayer offered in faith WILL save him who is sick/make the sick person well, right? (even if not right away, that it WILL happen? or maybe not?)

    In 2 Cor 6:2, doesn't salvation mean salvation from anything of the enemy that keeps you in bondage? Salvation from illness for example?
    About Mark 16:17-18, if this is Jesus already speaking his will about these issues, then isn't His instruction here enough to indicate what His Will is about this issue of healing for example? I agree with you that Human action must cooperate with divine will and power, but my question is more like, 'don't we already know what His Will is about the issue?'(Acts 10:38; Mat 10:8) If that is so, then all that is left is human action to cooperate with it, right?
    You brought up moving a mountain...(Mark 11:21-24)...and said that you would first ascertain that to be the Lord's Will...so, but if you must first ascertain His Will, then there must be still doubt in your mind about God's Will about the issue.. Is it possible to pray in faith if you don't know God's will? But yeah, I think you're right the idea that first we gotta know His will... I'm just wondering, if He gave us that authority and told us to go use it, then don't we already know for sure that it is His will to use it?

    ~Thanks Anne so much for discussing this with me, by the way! I'm just really interested in this right now...I've just really been having the sick, hurting, and diseased on my heart really strongly right now... And had the really strong conviction (but maybe my conviction is misplaced?) that as a believer, to the extent that I believe, Jesus gave me all the authority and direction of His Will that I need to pray for the sick and to see them restored to complete health... so since about 3 months ago everywhere I go, I've been just keeping my ears and eyes open for any diseased or injured that I can pray for and almost always they are healed right away... some of them I've been praying for several months and they still haven't had much breakthrough, but almost all of them have gotten healed right away... and I met a lady who died and then a week after later came to life when some people prayed for her... so that's maybe why I'm kinda convinced that God still wants to do this stuff nowdays...

  19. Anonymous Guest ~

    My heart sings to see you earnestly seeking truth. I wish I could address everything here in detail. My time is limited, so allow me to simply say this.

    We know that our understanding is imperfect. Even in doing this Q&A, I admit to excellent Bible knowledge and a broad base of understanding many things about Christianity and about the Lord—without pretending that I know everything.

    I know this. Jesus' worked signs to display His authority. In many parts of the world today, Christians are used by God to perform His miracles in demonstration of His authority where He needs to be made known. American Christians more often ask for a miracle of healing to avoid pain or inconvenience than to magnify the Lord. We want to "name it and claim it" without taking the time to ask if there's a good reason we don't have "it" in the first place. We live in abundance, and think we need more of some thing for our joy because we've not found it already complete in our God.

    The kingdom Jesus sent us to proclaim throughout a physical earth is of His spiritual reign in our hearts. When He entrusts to us health, wealth, or the gift of healing, He makes us stewards of a blessing intended to further that kingdom and exalt Him. If He withholds these, perhaps we've not proven ourselves faithful stewards of what we've already received—or perhaps He intends for us to live less in physical realms and more in the spiritual ones.

    Among my favorite quotes is this:
    "Wealth consists not in the abundance of our possessions, but in the fewness of our wants." (~ Unknown)

    When He gives so many gifts, both physical and spiritual, but withholds others (for whatever perfect purpose), is the Giver still not more than enough?