Prayer and the Gift of Healing

Of Jesus, it is written that He “went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23.  When He had selected the Twelve, “He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” Matthew 10:1. “And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” Mark 6:12,13. Jesus ‘gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.” “And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.” Luke 9:1,6.


These references show that healing is an integral part of the gospel. As Christ and the apostles preached repentance from sin, they also touched men’s bodies and made them whole. In doing this, Christ honored the body and taught men that religion is not confined to certain theological concepts, but is intended for the whole man, and that all might have healing of bodily infirmities as well as forgiveness of sin.


The gift of healing is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9,28), and is to be distinguished from prayer for healing. All Christians have the privilege to pray for healing; but the gift of healing is given to but a few to use in their ministry and is accompanied by the gift of discernment, which is necessary that they may know who is worthy of healing and who have the necessary faith.


As the disciples exercised this gift and people saw healing take place before their eyes, naturally, the news spread quickly, and multitudes assembled to see miracles being done. This provided an audience for the healer, which is one of the objects God has in mind in giving men the gift. 


 Christ used this method in His work. When He commissioned the seventy to go out, He sent them “into every city and place, whither He Himself would come.” Luke 10:1. They constituted an advance army, heralding the fact that Christ would soon come to their city, perhaps even announcing the time when He would come. They were to “heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Verse 9. As they came to a town, it is easy to imagine the stir their arrival would cause. They had power not only to heal the sick, but also to cast out devils, “to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” Verse 19. When they had healed the sick and drove out devils they did not take the honor to themselves for these miracles, but gladly acknowledged, “The devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” Verse 17. For every healing that took place, Christ was given credit, and thus the way was prepared for Him when He should shortly arrive. The people rightly wondered if the servants could do such wonderful miracles, what might not the Master do when He should come. With such an advertising vanguard, the multitudes were ready for Christ when He arrived.


God’s Purpose

The gift of healing served as a strong factor in spreading the news of the gospel to many who would not otherwise be attracted by an unknown preacher just passing through the town, and a means of restoring health. Furthermore, it served as a sign of God’s approval of the men He used, “God also bearing them witness, both signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:4. It was God’s testimony to the credentials of His servants; it was His seal placed upon the faithful laborer, giving him standing in the eyes of the people as approved of God. In Christ’s day, the work of the seventy was a vital factor in the success of the Master’s mission. It gave Him an enthusiastic and respectful hearing in many places where His visit of a day or two would otherwise have been insufficient to accomplish what He wished.


Prayer and Gift of Healing

Working as a healer, Christ did not pray publicly. In healing the centurion’s servant, we do not find Christ praying or saying anything to the centurion. But “they that were sent out, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.” Luke 7:10.


When Christ raised the widow’s son from death, He did not pray, but merely said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.” Verses 14,15.


When Christ met the man who was “full of leprosy” and who asked Christ to heal him, Jesus “put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.” Luke 5:12,13.


To the man sick of the palsy Christ said, “Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.” Verse 24. To the “spirit of an unclean devil” who possessed a man, Christ said, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” Luke 4:33-35. At another time Christ “rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child.” Luke 9:42. To the woman who ‘had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years,” He said, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” Luke 13:11,12. To the ten lepers He said, “Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” Luke 17:14.


The disciples followed the same practice. To the lame man at the temple gate, Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6. Paul, healing a “certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked…said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.” Acts 14:8-10.


To this custom of not praying at the time of healing, we find two exceptions: At the grave of Lazarus Jesus offered a brief prayer of thanks, stating that he did so on account of those who stood by. Then He cried, “Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.” John 11:43,44. After the death of Dorcas, Peter put all the people out of the chamber “and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Acts 9:40.


The common practice, therefore, seemed to be that whoever had the gift of healing spoke directly to the sick, and the person was healed. We can account for this on no other grounds that that the healer had such close contact with God that he could speak for God, knowing just what God wanted him to do. Moreover, that was what he proceeded to do. God reposed complete trust in him and gave him divine powers. He did not pray Thy will be done. He knew already what was God’s will, and God trusted him.


A study of the cases here mentioned shows that generally the healing had the effect of creating a widespread interest and that many were thus brought in close contact with the gospel by learning what it could do for men. The curiosity aroused was used by God to bring His message to the world. Thus, the healing of the blind man recorded in the ninth chapter of John served to stir up the interest of the people as well as of the scribes, Pharisees, and priests.


When Peter healed the man at the temple gate, “All the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s Acts 3:11. When Paul healed the lame man at Lystra, the people became so stirred up that they believed the gods had come down to them. Acts 14:11-18. God had means then of stirring up the people. He has means now.


False Miracles

We are told that Satan always attempts to imitate the work of God for the purpose of deceiving the people. When we, therefore, read that Satan will cause miracles to be wrought, and ‘the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed,” we know that this will be because God’s people will have received the power they should have had long ago. As Satan cannot imitate without having something to imitate, we know that God’s people will have the power promised the early church. See the Great Controversy, page 588. According we read: “Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers.” Ibid., p.612.


“God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:28.


Some churches claim the gift of healings, others of diversities of tongues, others of prophets, and others of apostles. We cannot believe that God intended that these gifts should be divided up among the different sects. Rather, God’s church should have all of these, and not one or two. It is not the time that God’s people awake and claim the powers God has for them.


The field is still open. While there are churches that claim to have certain gifts, it is doubtful that their claims will stand the test of investigation. And investigation there will surely be. When the time comes, God’s church should be ready to step in and “take over,” “God also bearing them witness, both signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:4.


It is too late in the day to make excuses to the world for the lack of power in the church. We need to make our confession to God, to “be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain” (Revelation 3:2, and God will yet “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25).


Memory Verse:

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Mark 6: 12,13.




1.   During the Great Tribulation, do you think you can tell the difference between God’s servants and the devils false prophets? Explain.



2.   Do you personally know what God’s will is for you today? Explain.



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