part 3: myth-busting divine healing: 10 shifts
This article is part 3 of a series. Part 1 &2 can be found here.
Written by Doug Balzer
In the past 6 years I have had the privilege of being present to well over 1000 experiences of divine healing, some complete healing and others partial. Most of these were within “the church” and some outside the church with people who did not yet know Jesus. Likely more than 95% of these healings were realized not under my hands but under the hands of God’s people who had rarely, if ever, seen God heal people. Yet these folks had chosen to make the necessary shifts away from myths and misbeliefs and towards God's truth regarding God’s heart to see people healed and restored. This blog series is devoted to busting the common myths I have observed surrounding the subject and would commend the intercessors and leadership teams of every church to consider these.
Myth #7: If at First You Don’t Succeed, Give Up!
For years I prayed for people. I would pray once for people. And if nothing ever happened (and it never did) I would give up, thinking that it wasn’t God’s will. Yet Jesus didn’t operate this way. Certainly, many of his healings occurred immediately but in Mark 8 we see a story of Jesus needing to release healing more than once. After making mud with his saliva and some dirt the blind man’s sight was only partially healed. Jesus then checked in with him, “Do you see anything?” The man had received partial healing that was not complete in round 1. He needed round 2.
One of the greatest areas of breakthrough in my ministry, and hundreds of others I have seen, is this matter of persisting in prayer. Frequently there is some sort of blockage that can often be discerned by asking, “Holy Spirit, is there anything that might be blocking what you wish to do in this person’s life today.” Then listen. Have the person you are praying for listen (if they are a believer). There may be nothing. But there may be some forgiveness that needs to be extended, a lie that needs to be renounced, the truth of the love of God for them that needs to be embraced, etc. It is my observation that most healings for believers are not just for their bodies but also for their sanctification, their deeper soul issues. God desires to not only bless people’s bodies, but their entire being. When praying for people for healing, watch for this larger and deeper dynamic.
When praying for people it can be useful to check in with them every couple of minutes. Some questions can be helpful. “How are you doing?” “Do you sense anything going on in your body or soul?” “If the pain (or effect of the illness) is ranked a 10 when we started to pray, and we are going for a zero, what number are you now at?” Any increased pain during prayer for healing almost always betrays demonic involvement. Some 40% of Jesus’ healings involved some form of deliverance so don’t be surprised by this. Many of the healings I have witnessed involved praying 2x, 4x, 10x! Whatever you do, don’t give up until one of two things happens. One, the healing effect is realized. Yet there are times when you may not see this (not everyone I pray for is healed). Also, some prayer for healing is impossible to know of its effect in the moment. Some medical conditions require further testing for confirmation. Therefore, the second reason to stop praying is when those ministering have a sense that they have fully cooperated with all the Spirit of Jesus wanted in that moment. Just don’t give up too soon!
Myth #8: Needed: Anointing Oil and Elders
Many churches seem to frame their view of ‘praying for the sick’ exclusively from James 5:13-16, which includes both church elders and anointing oil in its instruction. Certainly, there is much to be derived from James 5 however it specifically describes circumstances where sick people approach church leadership for healing prayer. In that context and as a general practice, church elders should use anointing oil. People who are ill and injured should have the freedom to initiate healing prayer, which is in itself, an act of faith. This is what James is getting at.
However, this depiction is not intended to be a model for expressions of healing for the larger church as it advances the Kingdom of God through proclamation, healing and deliverance, both inside and outside the church. Here our primary modelling ought to come from the life of Jesus and his disciples. There is no record of Jesus using healing oil. As stated earlier, Jesus customized his approach to each person as he listened to the promptings of his Father.
All believers in Christ, young and old, women and men, should feel the freedom to fully participate in advancing Christ’s Kingdom to the people around them, both inside the church and outside, without the need to have a church elder or healing oil present. There are likely many people in your current sphere of relationships where, as prompted by Holy Spirit, you are being invited by Jesus to release his healing presence upon their life. Don’t let the absence of a bottle of anointing oil get in the way of what Jesus may be assigning you to.
Myth #9: No Healing? Condemn the Person
I am so strongly repulsed when I hear stories of Christians condemning others when healing does not occur. After my infant daughter’s death, I had someone tell me that her death was my fault, that she had died because of sin in my own life. The Holy Spirit does bring conviction where necessary but only to bring a person to repentance and not towards condemnation.
It is my suspicion that those who are given to condemning people when healing is not realized are more deeply wrestling with their own insecurities and misplaced belief that they can heal people. And when it doesn’t happen, they resort to blaming. The truth is, they can’t heal people. We can’t either. Only Jesus can heal. Our part is extending his presence, giving his blessing away to others. As I stated above, not everyone I pray for receives healing. When healing is not realized our aim should be to reflect the heart of that person’s Heavenly Father. He loves them. They matter to him. They are precious to him. Instead of condemning, or even getting stuck in the ditch of trying to “explain why God didn’t heal,” simply bless them. Out loud. In Jesus’ name. Assure them of God’s love.
Myth #10: Healing – Only for the Church
In his book, Anointed for Business, Ed Silvoso notes that of the 40 observable miracles in the Book of Acts, 39 of them occurred outside religious environments. This statistic ought to wake the church up and look outside our windows. Certainly the heart of God is toward the sick in the church; James 5 is evidence of that. And yet, disproportionately, the heart of our Shepherd is towards those who have not yet tasted and seen that God is good. In a world where scepticism surrounding Christianity is high, the front door to faith for many may not be a cognitive, gospel-oriented message or argument, but a divine encounter with God’s love, experienced in their body or soul.
Jesus did not heal every person in 1st Century Palestine and therefore we should also not take on the burden of the entire planet. Yet I have learned that Jesus is highly desirous to show his love to people via healing who might otherwise not even have a random thought towards him. When Jesus gives me a quiet prompting to pray for healing of a not-yet-believer or to simply release God’s peace upon them, I have learned to not hesitate. There is more grace in these situations than in any other environment I have encountered! Whereas the healing of the believer is significantly for the person’s sanctification, healing for not-yet-believers is significantly for their salvation.
I dare you. I double-dog dare you to ask Jesus to give you a personalized, right-sized assignment of releasing his transforming presence to someone who is not yet part of his Kingdom. Then wait and listen for his promptings and respond obediently. It may happen in the next moment or in the next week. But it will happen! The divine demonstration of the gospel, proceeding the proclamation of the gospel, may well be one of the greatest opportunities for the church to realize in the post-Christendom West.
For a deeper dive on this subject matter check out Doug’s book, The Empowerment Pivot: How God is Redefining Our View of Normal.