Does God still miraculously heal people’s health problems like He did in the Bible? Yes, absolutely! Our Great Physician can diagnose and heal any and all health problems. And He’s doing it every day around the world, at no charge and with no negative side effects!
God even joyfully defines Himself as He “who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3). In fact, in Exodus 15:26, God’s name in Hebrew is Yhwh-raphah. The English Standard Version translates it as “the Lord, your healer.” And Jesus’ commission to His Church in Mark 16:15-18 includes this sign: “They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
God loves to heal us so He loves for us to ask for His healing. Healings bring glory to God and great relief and joy to people. And healing enables God’s people to better carry out His work!
Of course our primary goal should always be the ultimate healing and ultimate victory—the resurrection from death to life.
Does God Always Heal Us When We Ask Him To?
You can be sure that God is always sympathetic regarding our suffering (Hebrews 4:14-16). But He does not always remove the suffering. Does a responsible parent give his child everything he asks for? Of course not. Likewise, our Heavenly Father considers many factors in deciding when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” God considers countless options. For example, God might heal only the acute problem (an asthma attack), or He might heal the chronic problem (asthma).
Obviously, if God always healed us in this lifetime, we would never die!
When God decides to heal, it is not always immediate. Sometimes God wants to first test our attitudes, faith and patience (James 1:2-4).
If you ask for healing and do not receive it, please don’t feel rejected, disillusioned or unloved. Beloved disciples of God who have great faith are often not healed. When God has a choice as to what is best for you spiritually versus what is best for you physically, He definitely will choose what is best for you spiritually.
Numerous Bible scriptures tell us that personal trials and suffering often “work together for good” by helping us to learn lessons and to grow spiritually in various ways (see Romans 8:28; 5:3-5; Philippians 1:12-14; 1 Peter 1:6-9). For example, God denied Paul’s request for healing to help keep him humble (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
Divine (Supernatural) Healing Versus Natural Healing
In this article, “natural healing” refers to what the body with its amazingly complex immune system is doing 24/7 to maintain, protect and heal itself, thanks to God’s design! When people get sick or injured, they often get well without any intervention by God. God even provided this for animals and plants! When animals and plants get injured or sick, they often heal!
So what is a “miracle?” It is when God causes an exception to what would “naturally” happen by interceding with the power of His Holy Spirit. For example, every answered prayer is a miracle.
People often think of miraculous healing as immediate, total and spectacular because of the accounts of healings by Christ and the apostles. However, God caused those public and dramatic healings as a way to draw crowds of listeners, to prove Christ’s divinity, to demonstrate His compassion and to get the Church started. See Matthew 4:23-25; 9:35-36; 14:14; 15:30-31; 10:1-8; Acts 8:5-8. But most miracles are not spectacular or even obvious.
We cannot assist God with divine healing, but we can and should do physical things to assist our bodies with natural healing. Our bodies and minds belong to God so we must be good stewards to protect, preserve and provide for them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
For example, when we maintain good health habits including a nutritious diet, exercise, sufficient sleep and a positive attitude, we are supporting the body’s natural biological healing mechanisms so they will continue to function well. In addition, today we have a seemingly infinite variety of options for diagnosing and treating health problems. We refer to most of those options as “healthcare” or “medical.”
"We cannot assist God with divine healing, but we can and should do physical things to assist our bodies with natural healing."
This article is not about how to make healthcare decisions. Those decisions are very personal. Each person should pray for God’s guidance, do research and consult with competent professionals to make the wisest decisions that he can financially afford. “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).
The Bible never speaks negatively about doctors and medicine. Paul referred to Luke as “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). See also Luke 5:31; 10:34; Proverbs 17:22; Isaiah 1:6; Jeremiah 8:22; 30:13; 51:8; Ezekiel 34:4. Of course a person should seek reputable care when choosing a physician or healthcare provider.
Divine Healing Is a Vital Part of God’s Plan for Humanity
Every effect has a cause (Proverbs 26:2), and health problems are often the consequence of mistakes and mishaps—committed by the person who is sick or by others or by both. The mistakes sometimes include sins and sometimes do not include sins. (The Bible defines sin as the breaking of God’s Ten Commandments and other spiritual laws—1 John 3:4; 5:2-3.) The causes of maladies can be a mystery because maladies often result from a combination of causes of which we are mostly unaware.
One of the reasons Jesus suffered so terribly was to pay the penalties for all those human mistakes and sins. When God heals someone, He is accepting the suffering of Christ in place of our suffering. 1 Peter 2:24 (New Living Translation) says: “By His wounds you are healed.” This chapter is referring primarily to spiritual healing but also to the healing of health problems.
Peter is quoting Isaiah 53:5, so look at Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah 53:12. That section is a prophecy of the torture and crucifixion of Christ. Verse 4 says: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” The Hebrew word translated “griefs” (in this verse and the previous verse) also has the meaning of sicknesses. The Hebrew word translated “sorrows” (in this verse and the previous verse) also has the meaning of pains. This is evident in several Bible translations.
Now compare with Matthew 8:16-17—“When evening had come, they brought to Him [Christ] many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’”
Matthew is quoting Isaiah 53:4, which proves that one of the purposes for Christ’s excruciating suffering was to take our infirmities and sicknesses upon Himself so they can be removed from us! He “suffered for us!” (1 Peter 2:21). Further evidence of this is seen in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30.
The Steps to Take to Receive God’s Healing
In James 5:14, we read: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” We believe James meant “any of the elders,” so calling one elder is sufficient.
The drop of olive oil is symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit, the power by which God heals. The anointing involves the laying on of hands by the minister and that follows the example of Jesus (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40; 13:13).
When the prayer is “in the name of the Lord,” Christ is authorizing the minister to act on His behalf.
Then James 5:15 says: “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” The Greek word for “save” is sozo, which can mean deliver, make whole, preserve, heal. “Raise him up” refers to being made well.
Notice that it says “if he has committed sins,” so sin is not always involved. Therefore when we ask for healing, that implies that we are also asking God to forgive us of any sins that were partly to blame for the sickness. God may or may not heal us at that time but He will always forgive us. So when He forgives and heals, we have a double blessing!
Then verse 16 says: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” God is very pleased with loving intercessory prayers! This verse implies humility, honesty and openness, but it does not mean that sins need to be confessed to another human being. This may be a suggestion that when you ask others to pray for you, you should be somewhat open about whatever mistakes you made that caused the sickness.
The Option of an Anointed Cloth
If it is impractical for the elder to come to you right away, there is another option. In Acts 19:11-12, we read: “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.”
Following Paul’s example (1 Corinthians 11:1), the elder anoints a piece of cloth with oil, lays his hands on it, prays for the person’s healing, and mails the cloth to the person, often with a letter that gives some explanation and instruction.
Does God sometimes heal when a person has not called an elder for anointing? Yes, He does. God holds people accountable according to the degree of their understanding (see Luke 12:47-48; Romans 3:20; 7:7; 14:23; James 4:17). Therefore, when people pray in faith for healing but are unaware of the instructions in James 5 and Acts 19, God often heals them.
Now to summarize. If you are suffering a health problem that is serious enough to interfere with your responsibilities like work or school, and you are not rapidly improving in spite of your initial remedies, God wants you to seek His healing. Then while you are hoping and waiting for God’s miraculous healing, seek a diagnosis and treatment plan that will likely assist the natural healing.
Conditions for Answered Prayers and Healings
What are some biblical conditions we should understand regarding healing?
First, we must have faith in God as Creator and Healer. Faith in God and love for God are demonstrated by our obedience to His Commandments (1 John 3:22; 5:3). To increase one’s faith, reading God’s Word is essential. Regarding faith for healing, read the scriptures that tell of the countless miraculous healings (see Matthew 4:24; 9:35-36; 10:1, 8; 15:30).
Faith for God’s healing means that we know that God loves us, He is able to heal us, and He will heal us if and when it is His will to do so. We should ask for God’s will to be done just as Jesus Christ expressed in Luke 22:42.
There are other conditions. They include praying in the name of Jesus Christ (John 14:12-14; 16:23-24) and continuing to pray with perseverance, and sometimes with fasting (Matthew 6:5-18; 7:7; Luke 18:1-8; Romans 8:25; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:11; Psalm 35:13).
God loves all people as His children, and His offer of miraculous healing is one of His greatest blessings, often regarded as second only to His offer of salvation!
When you ask God for healing, you have put the matter in His hands and trust Him to make the best decisions. God will bless you spiritually whether or not He blesses you physically at that time.
When God blesses you with divine healing, it certainly is a time of relief and joy and a time to thank and praise “the LORD, your healer.” And you can be grateful that you have had a part in bringing added glory to God!