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:
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.