Part IX – Spiritual Power and Healing

We know from Daniel, that one of the most righteous, “prayed up” men on earth at the time had to waith three weeks for an answer due to warfare being waged over delivering the answer to his prayer. This gives us a unique window into what is really going on when we pray. It paints a more complex picture than we normally assume. We assume too quickly that when a prayer is not answered, it’s because it was “not God’s will.” In situations where God’s will is ambiguous that may be reasonable to expect, but what about cases where his will is unambiguous? I believe that if you were to build a theology of healing from Jesus’ ministry you find that healing is a case where God’s will is unambiguous, yes most churches don’t really believe that God wants all people healed, and those that do, don’t actually pursue it. We draw the wrong conclusions because we ignore the variables involved in getting a person healed. Let’s look at those variables with regard to healing as a test case for more general prayer issues:

  1. The degree faith required (FR). How much power is needed to get this job done? This is a combination of several factors: The amount of spiritual power placed in opposition to a person’s healing, how entrenched the spiritual power is which is causing the sickness, and more generally how significant is this miracle (i.e. are we curing headaches or creating limbs)
  2. The degree of faith in the person (FP). In various places in the Bible we see Jesus or an apostle pointing out someone’s “great faith.” When the recipient has great faith, then it is much easier to get them healed. A healer of “little faith” could get the job done. Likewise, a recipient of “little faith” is going to need a lot more faith on the part of the healer.
  3. The degree of faith in the healer (FH). Jesus also draws attention to the faith or lack of it on the part of his disciples. Now the amount of “faith” someone has is more than just a general belief, it is an aggregate of who they are and have become. Faith can be built. It is impacted by things like your track record of success, the amount of time you have spent with God, and your theology.

So I think if it were math it would look something like this if FP+FH > FR then the person is healed. Now I admit this is definitely a simplification, but what I’m pointing out is that the factors involved are quite different than we tend to think. We tend to think that the only thing that matters is “God’s will” since of course he is God and nothing is too hard for him. This equation is if GW > 0 then the person is healed. I’m sorry, but God’s will is not the variable! It’s a constant. God’s will may vary for where you should live, but it doesn’t vary about whether a person should get healed or repent at the minimum.

Now the Word of Faith people place all of the emphasis on FP, the Faith of the Person. Of course this is very problematic. Jesus never blamed a person for not getting healed. He just healed htem. In general, people who are sick tend to be in a state of very little faith, and so Jesus rebuked disciples when there was a problem. The primary variable then is FH. Now the key thing to recognize is that faith and the resulting spiritual power is like a muscle. Therefore if you really believed God for someone to grow their limb back, and it didn’t happen, that wouldn’t mean that either you had no faith, or that God didn’t want it. It probably just means that you’re not Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Spirit yet. Now don’t hear me as saying that anyone cannot see a great miracle if they have faith, because they can. We should never be disqualifying ourselves. But the point is that we shouldn’t be discouraged if it didn’t happen and we did everything we knew to do to make it happen. Instead put yourself on a spiritual training program to start building your faith, and soon you’ll be pushing back the prince of darkness.

Grasping the basic variables of healing helps us explain a lot of otherwise confusing situations. How is it that you could go to a meeting and see 5 people healed of illnesses while others are not? Any one of those variables could be in play. First, the healer may not have as great faith for heart problems as back problems, for example. Secondly, a given person’s condition may seem physically worse than it is spiritually. So someone with “cancer” seems like a really hard case to us, but maybe a heart murmur does not. However, the amount of spiritual power required for the heart murmur could be greater. Thirdly, I think it is often the case that a few people with a lot of faith are healed in a meeting. While at first this may seem condemning to the others, it should be a source of hope. If they weren’t healed just because God didn’t want them healed, then there isn’t much they can do about that except be bitter with God. Someone’s degree of faith can be changed. But again, we should never blame them, because Jesus didn’t do that, and it’s never that simple anyway.

In addition, a basic “power equation” helps explain progressive versus instantaneous healing. An instantaneous healing is when FP+FR is immediately greater than FR, but if this is not the case, multiple appliations of faith may be required. It also explains why Jesus always got people healed. Since he had perfect faith, a complete lack of faith on the part of the other person was never an issue, nor was the degree of healing that they needed.

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3 Comments

  1. Great post. I don’t know if you intended on it when you wrote this, but it does successfully shed light on the fact that just because it’s God’s will to heal, doesn’t automatically mean he makes it happen void of the recipients’ initiative, whether their faith is small or large.

    I too hate hearing people say “all it takes is faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains (out of context from what it actually says), because if that were true, we’d be moving a heck of a lot more mountains with our seeds, and woe to the devil if he ever came across someone who had a larger amount than just a seed!

    Again, excellent post, I’m sure I’ll link to it at the bottom of this podcast post of mine on faith: http://fireonyourhead.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/faith-and-healing/

  2. My only problem with what has been seen here is the removal of God sovereignty. If it is Gods will we should not be able to block it via our faith or actions.

    I am also unsure that it is Father’s will to heal all or all. There are examples in the word where people are not healed. In fact there is even a case of God deliberately injuring someone and that injury is not mentioned as being healed at a later date.

    We also hear about Timothy’s stomach problems. Surely if it had been a faith issue then Paul would have said build your faith ask the Father and you will be healed, rather than get some wine.

    No these are exceptions and I will accept that argument, but I often feel we place too much emphasis on our (healer / healee {new word I have just invented!}) faith.

    I ma NOT saying you are wrong I am just very cautious around this area. It can of course lead to misery and guilt rather than freedom and life if used the wrong way.

    Could be worse we could be bound up in cessationism. We are witnessing a growth in miraculous healings in our church. At our last meeting a student was healed and for the first time in many years stood and walked out of her wheelchair. We were praising Father and Jesus like a bunch of loons. She then attends her usual church where she was told that God no longer heals and that she is either

    a) deluded
    b) was not sick in the first place
    c) she has been not been healed
    d) or she has made it up

    Where are the ‘Sons of Thunder’ when you need them!

  3. I agree that there are some side incidents in the NT which raise questions like Timothy and Epaphroditis. I think though if we look at Jesus life as a model of God’s will on Earth, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than that God wants people healed. If Jesus had showed some more ambiguity, I’d lean more that way too.

    I think that leaves us with it’s God’s will but it doesn’t always happen for some reason. I don’t think that that undermines God’s sovereignty because I don’t see God’s sovereignty as meaning that he wills sin, and by extension I don’t see it as him willing sickness either.

    I think as long as we don’t create theologies which weigh people down with guilt we should be agressive opponents of sickness.

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