Sickness and Prayer

If God does not answer our prayer after a reasonable wait, are we to believe that God does not wish to grant our request, bow in submission to His will, and discontinue praying about the matter? On the other hand, are we to conclude that God is testing us to see if we are really in earnest, and wants us to continue praying?


The answer to these questions depends upon several factors, and cannot be decided by a simple Yes or No. Let us consider some of the factors involved, particularly with reference to suffering and healing.


One who is afflicted should first of all attempt to ascertain if he is suffering because of transgressions of the law of health and life, and is reaping the results of what he has sown. If he finds himself guilty, he should immediately discontinue the practices that have brought on this condition. This is a must. We cannot expect God to save us from the results of our folly, if we refuse to mend our ways. Nor are we to change our ways merely for the sake of getting well. A higher principle should motivate us: that of doing right because it is right and not merely that we may benefit by it.


We know that God is love and does not want any to suffer needlessly. If He therefore hesitates in granting us healing, He has good reasons for doing so. One who keeps in close touch with God will know the reasons.


If a Christian thoroughly repents of his sins and of those things that have brought on his sickness, asking God for forgiveness and healing, and no healing comes, what is he to do next? He is to wait patiently-for God.


He is to remember that only under extraordinary circumstances does God interfere with the orderly processes of nature. The conditions that brought on the sickness were a long time developing, and the healing time may be lengthened proportionately. God always works along the lines He has laid down and in harmony with the laws He has ordained. Unless some emergency arises and God sees fit to perform a miracle, the ordinary laws of nature will be permitted to work.


Suffering and Repentance

It should be kept in mind that the results of transgression are not necessarily a direct punishment inflicted by God, but the natural results of man’s own acts. They are the wages of sin that he has earned. God does not kill a man because he drinks carbolic acid. The man kills himself. The punishment for violating the laws of health and of nature is inherent in the transgression and is not the result of a direct act of God. The man intent on suicide that pulls the trigger might pray God to prevent the bullet from entering his body, but such a prayer would be in vain. Yet, it would be no more inconsistent than to ask God to prevent the harvest from the seed sown. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7.


Can nothing be done for the man who realizes that he is suffering justly, for what he has done, but is repentant? Yes, much can be done. The very fact that he understands why he is afflicted is in itself a great gain. He sees the justice of God, and life takes on new meaning for him. He does not blame God; he blames himself. He is at peace with God and quietly asks God to begin the healing process in his body. He does not ask for exemption from punishment he has brought on himself; he asks for grace to bear it. He does not ask the surgeon to stop in the midst of an operation, but wants him to finish it and remove every trace of corruption that might bring on a new attack if not removed. He desires healing, but he wants the surgeon to do his work first. Therefore, he quietly waits upon God. God will give him grace, and the process of restoration will begin as soon as the man is ready for it. It may take time, but God is performing no less a miracle in the slow process of healing than in an instantaneous miracle. Wonderful is the body’s power of recuperation, and when a man co-operates with God, virtual miracles may be accomplished.


Let the man take courage. He may have brought on the sickness himself and may feel that he has amply deserved the affliction that has come to him. However, let him of good cheer. Let him pray – pray as never before. In addition, the Lord will hear. He has a way of accomplishing in a short time what ordinarily would take years; and when He can do this without violating His own laws, He will do it. However, He must have the co-operation of the sick and must make sure not to go too fast lest the lesson fail to make the impression that it should. In this way, the sick one may pass through an experience with God that amply repays him for the time spent on the sickbed. He will thank God for the affliction that brought him nearer to his Lord.


God hears and answers the prayers of those who suffer, even when they are suffering justly. He is reluctant to punish, and the moment one turns to Him, He receives him with open arms. The story of how the prodigal son’s father received the returning son is to the point. Luke 15: 20-24. God does not wait one moment to start the healing process after the man has repented.


The time of sickness and recovery is God’s opportunity to help and instruct the sick. In the night season, God can speak to him, and he begins to see the divine philosophy of affliction and healing. He understands that God is taking him in hand and is teaching him needed lessons, and he gladly accepts them. From a full heart he prays, “Lord, I am suffering justly. I have transgressed and done evil, and I am reaping what I have sown. I have no complaint to make; rather, I am thankful for being called while there is still hope. I ma happy that I have been permitted to know Thee and Thy ways better. I believe, Lord, I have learned my lesson, and that if Thou shouldest see best to heal me, Thy will be done. I am not asking for a speedy healing, Lord, unless it is Thy will. I am content; I am submissive. Moreover, if best that I remain on my sickbed, I am ready. I have faith in Thee. I resign myself willingly into Thy hands.”


Such a prayer God loves to hear. It gives Him a free hand. The sick one does not demand that God work a miracle; he humbly asks that God’s will be done, and promises to be satisfied whatever comes. God how has a man who has learned his lesson and who has sufficient faith to leave his case with God. Such is a man after God’s heart.


Thus far, our discussion has dealt with those who are conscious of sin and know they are suffering justly. However, there are other dear souls who have no such consciousness and are not aware of any sin that could have brought on their affliction. What are such to do when they find themselves afflicted?


The Lessons for Paul

It was not until Paul had prayed the third time for God to remove the thorn that he found the reason for his affliction. It was not because he had sinned; the thorn was a precautionary measure taken by God to keep him from threatening pride. Paul had a tendency towards pride, but did not fully recognize his danger until God revealed it to him. Then he saw and acknowledged it. He confessed that God had “given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” 2 Corinthians 12:7. He prayed no more to have the thorn removed, but thanked God for it and said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Verse 9.


This may explain why some people are afflicted, yet not conscious of any known sin. They may have a thorn in the flesh, and if so, they may ask God humbly for the reason. The thorn may be the means of their salvation; but, not being fully aware of their need, they chafe under the affliction and ask God to remove it. Let such seek the Lord with all their heart. God has promised, “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.


Should those who are afflicted and are not sure of the reason? Most assuredly. They are not necessarily to pray to have the affliction removed, but humbly to pray to learn its reason and the lesson, and thus in submission find God’s strength “made perfect in weakness.” It may be that they, with Paul, will find that they need the experience, and should not pray to have the affliction removed unless God clearly indicates that this is His will.


Memory Verse:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

1.   Can you see from this lesson, just how important faith really is? Explain.


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