Restoring the Ministry of Christian Healing Prayer
Three Classes presented at the

50th Annual Pepperdine University Bible Lectures

April 27-30, 1993



We live in a broken world. Does God see all this? Does he care? Is he uninterested in such “worldly” matters? Does the Bible offer any help? If so, do we — the church?

Through much of the past 2,000 years, the church has seemingly said “No.”

However, the Bible provides us with astounding good news! God does see and care — he does wish to be involved. And he invites our participation in the healing of his broken world!

Today, the Christian church is rediscovering some exhilarating, thrilling, biblical truths along these lines. We cannot possibly imagine all that God is able to do as we learn to think and act according to His Word.


I. God reveals himself throughout the Bible as the source of all life and health.

A. Modern, “scientific” man is far “too big for his britches.”

B. We need to ask some simple questions; grasp some fundamental realities.

C. God is our almighty Creator and constant sustainer. (This is not a “children’s story.”)

Genesis 2:7; Deut. 32:39; Psalms 104:27-30

Hosea 11:3; Acts 17:24-28; James 1:17

D. We are mortal creatures who depend on God every moment for strength and health.

Gen. 4:25-26; Ex. 4:6-8; Rom. 8:10

Gen. 30:1-2, 22; Deut. 34:7; 2 Cor. 4:11

II. God reveals himself throughout the Bible as desiring fellowship with his people in their wholeness.

A. Goal is positive, not negative; we desire wellness — not merely reversal of “dis-ease.” Ideal is “healing” — not merely “cure”; it is wholistic, not fragmentary.

1. This is the meaning of Israel’s creed, the Shema (Deut. 6:4-5; Matt. 22:37).

2. This is the sense of “shalom” in the Hebrew mind. (Wholeness, “peace,” in all aspects of life on earth.)

3. This is also the Christian’s prayer for well-being (3 John 2).

B. God endorses wholesome living and “preventative maintenance,” anticipating by millennia today’s most exciting “new frontiers” in health care.

III. God specifically reveals himself as his people’s healer.

A. The patriarchs knew God as healer. Where did they learn that?

Gen. 20:17-18; Gen. 25:21; Gen. 30:1-2, 22

B. God promised Israel the gift of health and healing. Does he offer us less than them?

Ex. 15:26; Deut. 7:12,15

Ex. 23:25,26; Deut. 32:39

C. David knew God as his healing Savior. Do we?

Psa. 103:1-3; Psa. 147:3

D. The prophets proclaimed God to be the healer of His people — past and future.

Hos. 11:3; Isa.33:20,21,24

IV. Throughout the world’s history, according to the Bible, God’s people have prayed for healing and God has answered those prayers.

A. The patriarchs prayed for healing and God answered (Gen. 20:17-18; Gen. 25:21; Gen. 30:1-2,22).

B. Early Israel prayed for healing and God answered (Num. 12:13; 1 Sam. 1:1-20).

C. Faithful Israelites prayed for healing and God answered throughout the period of the kings.

Psa. 30:2-3; 2 Chron. 7:13-14

2 Chron. 6:28-30; 2 Kings 20:5

Matt. 21:13,14

D. The New Testament explicitly teaches Christians to pray for healing and promises that God will hear such prayers.

1 Thess. 5:23; Phil. 2:25-30

3 John 2; James 5:14-18

2 Cor. 12:7-9

E. In fact, God is displeased when his people do not ask him for healing (2 Kings 1:2-4; 2 Chron. 16:12-13).

V. God provides a perspective for understanding the meaning of sin and disease, forgiveness and healing, weakness and death. This perspective takes into account such fundamental truths as God’s nature and character; man’s nature as creature; Creation; the Fall; the Atonement; the Holy Spirit; and Last Things.

A. Sin and disease resulted from the Fall (Rom. 5:12ff; 8:18-23). But now what? It is always difficult to find a proper balance and here we encounter attitudes at two extremes. Scripture shows us the right path through this maze of confusion.

B. Salvation involves the human creature in her/his entirety — healing for the body and forgiveness for the soul.

Jer. 17:12-14; Matt. 14:34-36

Isa. 33:20,21,24; James 5:14-18

C. Both healing and forgiveness flow from Jesus’ substitutionary, vicarious atonement and are signs and gifts of God’s sovereign grace.

Isa. 53:5; Matt. 8:16-17; Acts 4:8-12; 1 Peter 2:24,25

D. Sin and sickness will not be eradicated entirely until the Age to Come.

Acts 3:1-9, 12-26; 1 Thess. 5:23; Rev. 21:1,4; 22:1-3

E. However, in Jesus the coming kingdom is already present, with healing and forgiveness.

Matt. 4:23,24; 9:35; 11:2-5; 15:29-31; Lk. 9:11

F. Salvation and healing also accompany the advance of the Gospel. (This healing of those not yet believers is a kingdom “sign”, and is a different subject from the loving Father’s divine healing of his covenant people.)

Matt. 10:1,5,7,8; Lk. 10:1-2, 8-9; Mk. 16:17-18

G. When we know these things, every occasion of sickness can become an occasion for us to examine our hearts and lives, and every healing can draw us closer to the living God who loves us.

1. This is confirmed by the most modern research in health, psychiatry.

2. The body is a tangible, ever-present “parable” for our inner self, if we will recognize and “hear” what it tells us and pray accordingly.

3. It is also the ancient message of Scripture.

Job 2:7; 42:10; Isa. 58:8; 2 Cor. 4:11

Psa. 107:17-21; Jer. 33:5-6,8

Isa. 19:22; Hos. 5:15–6:1

4. Because God is sovereign and gracious, we may confidently entrust ourselves to his love and purpose even when he says “No” (now) to our request for healing. Perfect “healing” awaits us in the resurrection of immortality and eternal life (2 Cor. 12:7-9).

VI. How often would God say to us, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:2-3)?