The Rev. Dr. Pam Morrison, addiction recovery minister, The Healing House, Kansas City:
One of the many stories of healing in Christian scripture concerns a man with leprosy who fell down before Jesus in reverence, and begged (we might say ‘prayed’), “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus’ response was to touch this man (a thing forbidden by religious law of the time — the man was ‘unclean’) and say, “I am willing — be clean!” The text then says, “And immediately the leprosy left him.” (Matthew 8:12-13)
What a grand story for establishing the heart of God to heal; the fact that impossible cases are covered too; and that our prayers for healing, like the leper’s, can be simple, heartfelt cries for help for ourselves or others. God is willing!
But, someone might say, “That was then and this is now. Even if I grant you that some healing took place around Jesus, can we pray today and expect that those same miracles will occur?” And some might say, “I did pray for a certain loved one and yet they were not cured. In fact, we lost them to death.”
I do believe in miraculous healings, as do many, and in fact, I have witnessed and been part of seeing many — in myself, my family, my church members and others, coincident with trusting, hope-filled prayer. Now, some might say this is only coincidence, but I would answer, “There have been too many times.” And what about the prayer that does not bring cure or even prolong life? Well, yes, sometimes we do not see the result we longed for, but was there peace? Restored relationships? Some other good outcome other than physical health?
And do you believe in life after death? I would argue that this is the greatest of healings — a gift that comes with faith.
— Send email to Pam Morrison at email@example.com.
The Rev. Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 North 1464 Road:
No — prayer cannot heal anyone. Prayer doesn’t heal because prayer is simply making a request. If a man prays to Polaris, Mount Olympus or the family dog, he will not be healed as a result. No woman will be healed if she prays to a dead ancestor or statue.
The God of the Bible is clear that such prayers are worthless. He said, “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are (idols), and they cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:5)
The key to prayer is the one to whom it is directed. Who are you asking? Jesus Christ healed many people — he gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cleansed lepers, even raised people from the dead — all in front of numerous eyewitnesses.
It’s also important to see that Jesus didn’t heal every sick person. In fact, He healed very few people when you consider how many diseased and injured people there must have been during His time on earth.
Jesus healed to make a point — to prove that He was who He claimed to be. That His message is true. And, He gave His first-century followers the ability to do miracles in order to authenticate their message, which is recorded in the New Testament. Simply put, this message is that Jesus is God and He came to save the world from the worst of diseases: sin.
We pray for physical healing because we believe that God can and does mercifully heal people sometimes. But, the Bible nowhere promises physical healing in this life. For every person who believes in Jesus Christ, the true promise of the Bible is for ultimate healing in the next life.
— Send email to Shaun LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org.