Believe Without a Doubt
James taught that if you lack wisdom, you should ask God. He wrote:
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (Jam 1:5-8)
If you have not begun to feel better in answer to prayer, and you don't know why, then you need wisdom from God to know the reason for the delay. This passage applies to you. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom on your health condition, and believe without a doubt that He will give you what you've asked for. If your double-minded about it, then don't expect to receive anything from the Lord, and that includes your healing. You must believe it is God's will to heal you.
Sin Can Cause Sickness
James also taught that if any disciple of Christ is sick, he should call upon the elders to pray for him and anoint him with oil (Jam 5:14). The prayer of faith will make the sick person well. And James goes on to say that if the sick person has sinned, he will be forgiven (Jam 5:15)
If you get angry and slam your fist through a wall, your sin will probably cause a health problem in the form of a swollen or possibly broken hand. If you get drunk and have some kind of accident while walking or driving, you may end up with broken bones. If you get drunk often enough, you may also end up with liver problems and more. My point is that any sin can certainly cause sickness, not just anger or drunkenness.
One sin that keeps so many people from getting healed is unforgiveness. This is when you refuse to forgive someone who has hurt or offended you. Jesus said that if you don't forgive others, God cannot forgive you. Jesus said, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." (Mat 6:14-15) Since there is a connection between forgiveness and healing, you can delay your own healing until you forgive. Once you completely release the person who offended you, then you can receive forgiveness for your sins from God, and your healing will come.
When we follow God's instructions outlined in James, and we confess our sins to one another, we will be forgiven and healed. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (Jam 5:16)
Warning: Sin Can Be Fatal!
Let me add just a few comments about death. Cigarette boxes now have ominous warnings to consumers that smoking can cause diseases like emphysema and lung cancer, and even lead to death. Similarly the Bible has warnings like that about sin.
James explained that “when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (Jam 1:15). So sin can ultimately lead to death. The apostle John qualified that for us when he wrote, “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.” (1Jo 5:17) This is an important clarification, because it means there is a sin that does not lead to death.
In the same passage, John taught us to pray for our brother in Christ, if we see him committing such a sin. “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.” (1Jo 5:16). I think this is very important.
Notice John added a caveat here, when he said that there is a sin leading to death. And he did not teach us to pray for a brother or sister committing such a sin. A couple examples would be lying to the Holy Spirit and blaspheming Him. You can read about a couple of first-century believers, named Ananias and Saphira, in Acts 5, whose sin of lying to the Holy Spirit resulted in their death. The apostles did not pray for them or extend mercy to them.
Jesus said that all the sins and blasphemies of men can be forgiven, except the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. "Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" (Mar 3:28-29). Sin can be fatal! It doesn’t get more serious than that! We should consider ourselves adequately warned.
Now let's look at two quick examples of people who were not healed, and it was not because of sin or doubting.
Timothy's Chronic Stomach Problems
We know that Timothy, a pastor during the first century, had frequent stomach problems. Since the apostle Paul worked closely with him, and God used Paul to perform many miraculous healings, we would expect that God could have healed him when Paul prayed for him. But that didn’t happen. Therefore, Paul’s instruction for him was to use a little wine with his water. He wrote, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” (1Ti 5:23)
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks about his illness. He says, "But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself." (Gal 4:13-14). Apparently Paul initially preached the gospel to the Galatians because of his illness, so his illness was the reason for his first visit to them.
Some believe this illness was in his eyes, since he told the Galatians, "Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." (Gal 4:15). The Galatians initially felt blessed to have Paul visit them, and even though his illness was a trial to them, they did not despise him. They received him like an angel of God, or as if Jesus Himself were visiting them. In fact, he says that they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to Paul, if they thought that would help him.
He ends his letter saying, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." (Gal 6:11). In doing this, he seems to be drawing their attention to his handwriting with large letters due to his poor eyesight. Most likely it was a way of authenticating that it was really him writing, and not an imposter. So it is quite possible it was an eye ailment. But whatever it was, we know Paul had an illness for some indefinite period, and there is no reason to believe it was due to any sin on Paul's part.
Lastly, let me just say that sometimes there are practical reasons why you are not healed in answer to a prayer of faith. For example, you may not be eating a proper diet. I recall one man telling me that when he received prayer for healing, the answer to prayer was the revelation that he had not been eating his vegetables. Once he started eating them, he felt better.
Most westerners eat a diet that is loaded with toxins, which make the body sick. But they have no idea that these things are contributing to their illness. In another post, I will cover the four White Poisons. These are just four of the most popular poisons westerners eat, but there are many more.
Another practical area is exercise. Some people experience many of their aches and pains because they do not stretch or exercise their muscles. I will discuss this more thoroughly in another post on physical exercise. But suffice it to say for now that if your healing has been delayed, and the Lord has not shown you a spiritual reason for it, you should consider lack of exercise as a possible culprit.
The last practical area I'll mention is rest. In our western culture, we generally don't get enough rest. With electricity, we have light twenty-four hours a day, so we can go to bed as late as we want to. Many people stay up late and get up early, not giving their bodies time to rest, which is necessary for your cells to rebuild. It's often times not until some people get sick with a fever that they finally rest, but only out of necessity.
My wife says that usually if she feels like her immunity is becoming run down or she is beginning to feel ill, she'll try to get some rest, and when she does so, she feels much better. I know someone else who had a back injury due to the way she had slept on her bed. She took pain medication for her back pain, and tried to keep going with her normal routine of housekeeping and home school teaching. But unless she kept taking the pain killers, the pain persisted. The injury was not healing. Finally she took a week off from everything and just laid in bed. Her husband cared for the children and did the cooking and cleaning during that week. And that was all she needed. After that, her back was completely healed.
If your healing has been delayed after receiving prayer, please consider whether you are getting proper rest. That includes your daily rest and your weekly rest. What I mean is that the Lord commands us to give to Him one day each week on which we do no work. On that day, we are to rest, worship Him, pray, fellowship, and do good. It's called a Sabbath rest and is one of the ten commandments. The Lord commanded: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." (Exo 20:8-11). Neglecting this commandment has physical, as well as spiritual and emotional consequences. For more on this topic, I highly encourage you to see my blog on Resting from Work.
Putting it All Together
I believe, the norm is for the Lord to heal us all in response to the prayer of faith. But when you don't feel immediate results, you need to hold onto your faith in God's promise. As believers in Jesus Christ, we walk by faith and not by sight or feelings. You should also pray for wisdom.
If you are walking in idolatry or some other area of direct disobedience to God, then this can be the reason you are still sick. Confess your sins to God, repent of them, ask forgiveness in Jesus name and produce the fruit of repentance. He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9). It may even be that the Lord wants to show us how to eat properly or exercise through this unpleasant experience. It could be a signal that we are not getting proper rest or that we are neglecting the Sabbath.
When you ask Him for wisdom regarding your health condition, believe that He will grant it and He will. Ultimately our healing is in His hands, not ours, and so is the timing of it.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.
Author's note: This post is part of a series. If you enjoyed it, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar, such as Healing is in the Atonement , The Role of Demons, and The Power of God to Heal. I also recommend my daughter's poem, Faith Should Not Depend on Feeling, which she wrote the same day she received a divine healing in her body. You may also access my blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.