Understanding Healing
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
September 17, 2006


Main Passage: James 5:13-16 (NLT)


Healing. It’s one of the most misunderstood topics within Christianity, and it swings from being unused to being misused and even abused.

Personally, I’ve tended to neglect this topic in the past. I’ve even avoided it. There have been so many scams done in the name of healing that I’ve shied away from even mentioning it for fear of being associated with some of those so-called faith healers.

Now to be sure, I am not qualified to speak about any of the faith healers that you might see on TV. I’ve never met any of them, I don’t know their hearts, I don’t know their motives, and I can’t speak of their relationship with Jesus. So I’m not here to judge them this morning… whether they’re the real thing or if they’re conmen. Because I just don’t know.

I do know that some of them come off as being pretty strange, but I also know that weirdness does not invalidate you for effective ministry. If it did, then I would have no business being here this morning. Hey, don’t laugh – neither would you.

So I can’t speak intelligently about any of them specifically. I do suspect some of them are sincere, and some of them are scammers. But you’ll have to ask God to give you the discernment to tell the difference.

But we don’t have to talk about them this morning because we don’t look to them for healing. We look to Jesus. We look to that God of Wonders we sang about earlier. He’s the indescribable King. He’s the Most high God, the Maker of all things. He put us together in the first place, and He knows how to fix us. He has the power and authority to do that.

Back in July, Shera and I attended Beulah Camp in New Brunswick. That’s our district’s annual family camp in Brown’s Flat on the other side of Saint John.

Many of you know about Beulah, and you know that for 10 days every July thousands of people descend on that campground along the Saint John River for an intensive time of Worship and Preaching. It really is an incredible time, and toward the end of the Camp meeting this year they reserved an evening for a Healing Service. And when the invitation was given for those who needed healing to come forward for prayer, hundreds of people responded.

Later on that night, Shera and I were out walking and I just said to her, “You know, we’ve never done this. We’ve never had a healing service at Sunrise, and there are people who need healing.” And so here we are two months later, and we’re going to take the rest of our time here this morning to talk about what healing is and to actually pray for healing for those of you who would like that done.

And I’d like to begin by giving you four facts about healing…


Four Facts about Healing:

1. It is never God’s will for His children to be ill.

Never. Now, you may have heard otherwise. I mean, you may have heard people say, “I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed, but God never healed me. It must be His will that I’m sick.” But that’s a mighty poor view of who God is. It is never God’s will for His children to be ill. If He did half of the things He’s accused of, He’d be guilty of child abuse! All good parents want their children to be well. That’s true for us; that’s true for God.

Often when we pray for healing we use the phrase, “if it’s Your will.” And on the surface, that can sound like a pretty good thing to pray. But the Bible makes it pretty clear that it is never God’s will for His children to be ill.

Certainly Jesus never hinted that our Heavenly Father might not want one of His children to be well. Quite the opposite. And so healing became an integral part of the ministry of Jesus. Here… look at this verse. Jesus said…

John 10:10 (NLT)
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”

So who is it that brings disease and loss and heartache and death? It’s the thief. And who’s the thief? Satan… the Devil. Jesus… God… brings life.

Now, you might be thinking of one verse that seems to say something different. But before we look at that, let me just say that the Bible is not always correct. There, that got your attention, didn’t it. But the Bible’s not always correct. It’s always accurate, but it’s not always correct. Let me give you an example.

Jesus was gaining quite a reputation as a healer, and the religious leaders felt threatened by Him. They certainly didn’t believe that He was the Son of God, and so they were trying to discredit Him. And so they concluded…

Matthew 9:34 (NLT)
“He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.”

Is that correct? Of course not! But it is accurate. That is what they said. Just because someone says something doesn’t mean that what they say is necessarily true.

So with that in mind, I want to show you a verse in the book of Job. You remember Job… the Bible identifies him as a good man. Not perfect, but good. He was righteous. Job was the richest man around, and he had a strong family.

But then calamity began to hit. He first lost all of his possessions and employees to raiders and fires. And on that same day, all of his children were killed when the house they were in collapsed. All of that happened in a single day. And later on the book, Job himself is afflicted with sores all over his body. And how did Job react to this? Well, early on in the book, Job reasoned…

Job 1:21 (NLT)
“The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”

Sound familiar? People use that verse all the time. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. We even have it in one of our songs here at Sunrise. But we’re going to drop that part of the song because that’s just poor theology.

Now to be fair to Job, the book of Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible. Job didn’t have any Scripture to look at. He was just doing his best to understand what was happening without having the advantage of looking to the Bible. And so from his perspective, it seemed like God was responsible for all of his troubles.

But who was responsible, really? Well, early in the first chapter of the book it makes it clear that Satan is the one who brought all the trouble Job’s way. It wasn’t God, it was Satan. In fact, near the end of the book when Job realizes that God’s not to blame, he regrets what he had said and repents.

It is never God’s will for His children to be ill. He’s the Giver of all good things. He restores us, He doesn’t destroy us. It is never God’s will for His children to be ill. Number two…


2. Jesus can and does heal

Matthew 9:35 (NIV)
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Underline the word “every”. He healed every disease and sickness. And as you read through the first four books of the New Testament you discover that Jesus healed the lame, the blind, the lepers, the epileptic; he even healed one of the soldiers who came to arrest him. Over and over again we see examples of Jesus healing. And He really didn’t seem to be selective about who he healed, and it didn’t matter the type of disease, the geographical area, the race of the person being healed, or the technique that he used.

He healed in Galilee, in Nazareth and in Jerusalem. He healed Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. Some people he touched, some he spoke to, some he made mud packs for their eyes. Some he didn’t even see but simply spoke the word from a distance and the healing happened.

And these are not metaphors, they are not allegories, these are actual events. Jesus healed. In fact, right at the beginning of His public ministry, He made it clear that healing was part of His mandate. Before anyone even knew who He was, we read…

Luke 4:16-21 (NLT)
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll containing the messages of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him, and he unrolled the scroll to the place where it says:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue stared at him intently. Then he said, “This Scripture has come true today before your very eyes!”

Jesus came to heal, and He has the power to do so.


3. Authority and power to heal was assigned to Jesus’ followers.

Matthew 9:35-10:1 (NLT)
Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.

Did you notice what happened there? Jesus was traveling around healing people… healing everyone He encountered. He was moved by His compassion for people. And He saw that there were so many people with so many problems and so many illnesses that it was time… it was time for Him to assign the authority and power to heal to His disciples, so that they could partner with Him and so that the healing ministry could be multiplied.

But it didn’t just stop with His disciples. After the day of Pentecost, it becomes apparent that the Holy Spirit continues to enable believers to heal people using the authority of Jesus, even today. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12…

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles…

And he goes on from there. But notice that the Holy Spirit is distributing the authority to heal to believers even today. Now, does that mean that every believer has that spiritual gift? Well, Paul answered that himself…

1 Corinthians 12:30 (NLT)
Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not.

So no, not everyone has the gift of healing. But I do believe that we all have the responsibility to pray for healing. And I believe that healing can happen even if you don’t have the specific gift of healing. I mean, Paul also identifies encouragement as being a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8). Does that mean that people who don’t have that gift shouldn’t encourage others? Of course not! But it does mean that some people will be more effective and will do it more often than others.

Same with praying for healing. Some people may see greater results, and they should be actively seeking opportunities to use that gift. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t pray as well. Notice that when James write about healing, he doesn’t even mention it as a gift…

James 5:14-15 (NLT)
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick…

So yes, Jesus has the ability to heal, and He has assigned that ability to his followers, including us today. And there are all kinds of modern day accounts of miraculous healings taking place. Even here at Sunrise, you may recall that Hannah before she was born and for months afterwards had all kinds of health issues. She even had an episode the night before we dedicated her here during our Worship Celebration. But when we dedicated her, we all joined together in prayer and prayed for her health, and she hasn’t had an episode like that since. Jesus still heals people today through the ministry of His followers.


4. Healing may be instantaneous, delayed, or progressive.

Most of the healings that Jesus performed were instantaneous. And when we pray for healing, that’s really what we’re hoping and praying for. But the truth is, sometimes a healing may be delayed.

[Mark 5:6-8 (NLT)
When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him. He ran to meet Jesus and fell down before him. He gave a terrible scream, shrieking, “Why are you bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”]

In Mark chapter 5, Jesus encountered a demon-possessed man. And he commanded the evil spirits to come out of the man. But the demons began negotiating with Jesus. And the deal they brokered was that Jesus would send them a nearby herd of pigs… about 2000 of them. So Jesus did that, and all the pigs stampeded over a steep cliff and fell into the water below where they were drowned.

That was the real Bay of Pigs. It was also the very first mention of devilled ham.

But notice that once Jesus commanded the spirits to leave the man, there was a delay. The demons stayed in the man while they negotiated the deal.

And healing can be progressive. In John 4, there’s the account of a government official coming to Jesus and asking him to heal his son who was very sick and about to die. But Jesus didn’t even go with him. He simply told the man, “Go home and your son will live.”

So the man left and started home. And look what happened…

John 4:51-52 (NLT)
While he was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. He asked them when the boy had begun to feel better…

Did you see that? He asked when the boy had “begun” to feel better. He wasn’t immediately at 100%… but he was getting better. When Jesus proclaimed that he would be okay, the boy turned the corner and began to get better. I have no idea how long it took for a full recovery.

Or how about in Mark 8 when Jesus healed a blind man in two stages? We like healing to be instantaneous, but sometimes it’s a process or is delayed.

And the truth is, sometimes the healing never happens. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul told Timothy to drink some wine as a medication for his stomach problems, which were probably stress related. But why wasn’t he out-and-out healed?

Or how about Trophimus? In 2 Timothy 4:20, we discover that this associate of Paul’s had to be left behind on one occasion because he was sick, probably from exhaustion. But couldn’t God have simply restored his strength?

So the question is, why isn’t everyone healed? And this is where it gets a little bit dangerous. Because when a person’s not healed, it’s easy to cast the blame on someone or to start throwing around accusations. We’re looking for a reason why the healing didn’t happen, but the truth is, sometimes we just don’t know. There’s no reason that’s apparent to us, and we’re left with a big ol’ question mark for an answer. That doesn’t mean that there’s no reason; it just means that we don’t know the reason.

Okay? So you should never use a lack of healing as a basis for judging someone or accusing them. Where you need to look is within. If you’re the one that’s sick, is there something in your life that’s blocking the healing from happening? If you’re the one that’s praying for the person who’s sick, is there something in your life that’s preventing your prayers from being answered?

James Garlow is a Wesleyan pastor who wrote a book called “God Still Heals”. It’s a great book and I have my copy with me today if any of you wants to borrow it. And in this book he writes…

“Because we live in a fallen world, there are many cases in which we simply do not know why a person is not healed. Therefore, we should be extremely hesitant to identify blockages to healing in the lives of others. Yet understanding and removing blockages can be a key to experiencing divine healing in our own lives.”
~ James Garlow

Okay, so get your pens ready. In his book, Garlow identifies 18 blockages to divine healing. And that’s probably not a complete list; there could be more. These are just 18 things that may prevent a prayer for healing from being answered.


Blockages to Divine Healing:
(from “God Still Heals” by James Garlow)

  • Lack of prayer for healing.

    This is the obvious one. If you want a healing to take place, then pray for it.

  • Lack of persistence in prayer.

    Giving up too quickly. Remember that sometimes the healing can be delayed.

  • Lack of knowledge about how to pray for healing.

  • Lack of faith on the part of the sick person.

    Let’s rest here for a minute. Right at the beginning of this message I talked about the great variety in the healings Jesus performed. Different diseases, races, genders, locations, methods… the only common denominator seems to be faith. Healing requires faith; but faith does not guarantee healing. Did you get that? Let me say it again… Healing requires faith; but faith does not guarantee healing. A lack of healing cannot always be blamed on a lack of faith. That’s only one possibility among many.

    And besides, you don’t need a great deal of faith. You just need to have a little faith. When Jesus was talking with His disciples about healing, He told them that even faith the size of a mustard seed would be powerful enough to move mountains. You don’t need to have great faith, you just need to act on the faith you do have. (Matthew 17:14-21)

  • Lack of faith on the part of those praying for the sick.

    The faith of the healer is just as important if not more important than the faith of the healee.

  • Sin in the life of the sick person.

  • Sin in the life of those praying for the sick.

  • Lack of understanding about spiritual authority.

    When we pray for healing, we don’t rely on our own authority. Because we don’t have any authority of our own. We pray using the authority of Jesus. We pray in His name. And that’s the authority He has given to all Christians, even those who don’t feel like they have it.

  • Lack of exercising spiritual authority.

    You’ve been given authority; now use it.

  • Lack of knowing the Word.

  • Lack of speaking the Word.

  • Lack of fasting.

  • Lack of faithful participation in worship, personal devotions, or the Lord’s Supper.

    “There is a connection between our spiritual vitality and our ability to pray effectively for healing.”
    ~ James Garlow

  • Living an unhealthy lifestyle.

    You can’t live an unhealthy lifestyle and expect to be healthy.

  • Not seeing what the Father is doing.

    Garlow wrote in his book, “Our job is not to heal everyone. It’s to see what the Father is doing and join Him in it.” That does not mean that God doesn’t want everyone to be well, but it does mean that we need to trust Him and trust His timing. We join Him in His healing; we don’t direct His healing.

  • Inability to identify the need for inner healing.

    One of the things that Jesus often did before he would heal someone of their illness was he’d tell them, “Your sins are forgiven.” He’d address the need for an inner, spiritual healing before He dealt with the physical healing. That inner healing is much more important, anyway. Or perhaps there some kind of an emotional pain that must be healed first. The inner healing comes first.

  • Inability to identify familial spirits.

    Now, there’s an interesting term. This would be kind of a curse that’s passed through the generations. We don’t normally think about things like that here in Western society. We tend to focus on individual responsibility. But there is a corporate responsibility, too, and we can inherit some forms of spiritual bondage. The Old Testament talks about blessings and curses that can be passed down through the generations. (Exodus 34, Number 14, Deuteronomy 7)

  • Inability to identify demonic activity.

    Again, something we tend to overlook in our society. We might even look at a belief in demons as being superstitious. But Jesus regarded demons to be very real. He acknowledged that there is a spiritual world that exists alongside this physical world, and they do interact. Now, the danger is looking for a demon under ever rock. We don’t want to go to that extreme. But demons do exist, and they do cause problems for us even today. The can oppress and afflict, and in a worst-case scenario, even possess. And so sometimes a prayer for deliverance is necessary.


Okay, so those are several reasons why healing might not occur. And sometimes healing may not occur and we’ll never know why. There’s no explanation that’s available to us. That’s when you need to keep trusting in God’s wisdom and His mercy.

Isaiah 57:1-2 (NLT)
The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For the godly who die will rest in peace.

Understand, God never causes death. Death is brought on by the Enemy and is the result of living in a broken, fallen world. But God does allow death. The Bible teaches that everyone will die at some point and will enter into eternity. And for the righteous, that’s a good thing. We don’t look forward to death, but we look forward to what’s beyond death. Because that’s where our healing will be full and complete.

Okay, so there are a myriad of reasons why healing may not take place. But I believe God wants to heal much more than we give Him credit for. I believe we miss out on His blessings and sometimes people die unnecessarily because we neglect to pray for healing. I believe God heals, and I believe there are people here who need healing. Perhaps you need some…

• physical healing,
• perhaps some spiritual healing,
• or sexual healing,
• or emotional healing,
• or healing and deliverance from some sort of oppression or addiction.

And if that’s you, then we want to pray for you this morning. Take another look at these verses…

James 5:14-15 (NLT)
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

Notice that the person who is sick is the one who asks for prayer. If you need healing, then you need to acknowledge it. So if you need prayer, I’m going to ask you in a minute to step to the side of the room. I’ve asked Kim and Chris, who head up our prayer ministry, to meet you there. Just following what it says in these verses, they have a couple of vials of oil. Now, the oil has no special powers in itself. But in the Bible, oil is often used to symbolize the presence of God. And so they’re going to anoint you with the oil by putting a little bit on their finger and placing it on your forehead. You can talk with them… confidentially… about what you want prayer for, and they’ll pray. And I’ll be praying for you, too.

That’s what we’re going to do in just a minute. But I want to give you a few moments of silence first. Perhaps you need to review that list of blockages and reflect on your own life. Is there anything you need to take care of… between you and God… before we pray for healing?

[Silent prayer and reflection]

Okay, if you need healing, then step out and come to the side of the room. And if there’s someone you’d like to bring with you to pray with you, then bring them along.

For the rest of you, I’d ask that you sit quietly and pray where you’re at.





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