Prayer And Healing -- By: Glenn Saul
FM 7:2 (Spring 1990) p. 47
Prayer And Healing
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
Mill Valley, California
Some religious people believe strongly in the power of prayer to bring supernatural healing. They believe the inspirational testimonies of those who personally experienced healing and miracles explained as the power of God. But other, equally religious people, doubt all accounts of miraculous healing, especially cures which are claimed to be the result of prayer and faith. The truth may lie somewhere between the fiercely cynical view that doubts anything which cannot be explained by physical laws and the view which sees signs and miracles everywhere.
This article deals with some of the issues raised by Christian practices of prayer and healing. Attention will be given the healing ministries of some modern day electronic evangelists. We will look briefly at the experience of Fuller Seminary with a course entitled “The Miraculous and Church Growth.” Finally some suggestions will be made related to the ethics of prayer and healing ministries.
First of all, however, let me preface my remarks with some confessional observations which come from my own struggles to understand the ways of God in his creation. In my own life I have experienced the mystery of God’s power. It has come not through physical healing, but rather through hope, love, and grace. Physical healing could not have been a greater blessing than the healing power of forgiveness and the grace of acceptance; those were my primary needs. The fellowship of prayer and worship, and the healing power of friendship and support, have made me a witness to the miracle of God’s grace.
The ways of God, however, lie beyond my comprehension. I would in no way pretend to stipulate what God may or may not do. Neither would I presume to define the means that God may choose to accomplish his purposes. All healing is a mystery, and we must be open to its possibilities in all areas of our lives. To refute the possibility of divine physical healing is a position that I dare not take. Although physical healing has never been the primary concern for me, it may legitimately be for some Christians. To know Jesus Christ and to follow him in faith and obedience may unexpectedly include trying to follow him in “the valley of the shadow of death”—or constant pain.
Christians have always had to face the reality that no matter how strongly they believe in the power of prayer to heal, healing may not come. We all have watched dedicated, committed Christians die from cancer, heart disease, and leukemia. Some die in the prime of life and are denied the privilege of watching their children grow up or of seeing
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