Effective Prayer for Healing
by: Tim Kelley
February 22, 2020
We know that Yahwey is our healer - after all, His name is “Yahwey Rophecha”, Yahwey your healer. Why then do we not see miraculous healing today? In the information age, maybe God's people are focusing on the wrong thing - Quantity of prayers rather than Quality of prayers. Maybe we should do as Yeshua's disciples and ask Him, "Lord, will you teach us to pray?
“Why don’t we see healings today like they did in “Biblical times” is the question that we began to answer in Part One of this message. In that part, we saw that when you exclude the three places where healing took place on a ‘corporate’ level (i.e. – after a plague brought on the people because of murmuring or lawlessness), and the number of places where a formerly barren woman was now able to have children, there were very few ‘miraculous’ healings in Old Testament times.
On the other hand, we found that there were many more ‘miraculous’ healings in New Testament times. Those healings were performed for the purpose of bringing attention to Yeshua and His disciples so as to substantiate their message, which of course was that Yeshua was the promised Messiah who the prophets had shown would bring healing in His ‘wings’
But are their miraculous healings today? Many believe there are not, especially since we are living in a time when a person can post the need for a specific healing on the Internet and within minutes have hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people praying for the person to be healed — only to see the person eventually die.
After pondering this question for the past couple of months, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe we are focusing on the wrong thing. Maybe we are focusing too much on getting a large number of people praying for the sick person, instead of focusing on having a few people praying effective prayers. Could it be that we should work more on the quality of our prayers than on the quantity of prayers. Maybe we need to do as Yeshua’s disciples did and ask Him to “teach us to pray”1 so that our prayers are more effective in reaching God’s ears.
Unfortunately, we do not have that direct contact with Yeshua as they did, but I do believe He has provided guidelines within the scripture that will help us in our petitions to God for healing.
In this message, I’m going to offer a number of suggestions on how to have effective prayer for those who are desperately in need of healing. Though I’m focusing on healing, these suggestions might also help your overall prayer life.
All Healing Comes from God
Before we go into some of the mechanics of effective prayer, I think it is important that we understand what we are praying about.
As was mentioned in Part One of this teaching, God is our healer. In Exodus 15:26 God calls Himself “YHVH Rophecha”, YHWH your healer, and like I said before, the Hebrew word for “heal” is “rapha”( רָפָא – Strong’s 7495) which literally means “to stitch together”. So when God heals us, it is as if He simply sewed us back together like a shirt that’s been ripped at the sleeve and then the sleeve was sewn back on. It might have a scar, but it works like new.
People seldom consider the fact that when you cut the tip of your finger with a knife, the body immediately begins to start the healing process. You don’t have to call a doctor or even pray about it — it just happens. That’s because God has made our bodies so that they attempt to heal themselves.
Sometimes the body needs a little assistance, so we clean the wound, put ointment on it, and attach a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding. By doing so, we did not heal the cut, but we did become our own “doctor”. Then there are times the cut is so deep that it requires a stitch to hold it together while the healing takes place. In these cases, we simply go to a more highly trained doctor.
No matter how deep the cut, once the skin has closed up and there is nothing left but a little scar, we say to ourselves “it’s all healed up”! In neither of these cases did we heal the wound, the wound healed itself, but only because God designed our bodies to do so.
So from a very early age, we understand that healing comes from God, and that in most cases, God ‘automatically’ heals us. We don’t doubt that it will heal; we don’t pray that God will heal it; we simply believe that it will heal. Why? Because it has always done so before.
In most cases, the only time we feel compelled to pray about healing is when we are faced with a situation where – despite all the assistance we or a doctor can give, the body does not appear to be healing itself. In that case, we want God to personally step in and take over the otherwise ‘automatic’ healing process. It is not a question of “if can God heal”, but rather “will God heal”, and our goal in prayer is to convince God to do so.
Convincing God to intervene on our behalf might seem to be an overwhelming task, but it does happen. Take the case of King Hezekiah, a man who was so sick, he was about to die –
ESV 2 Kings 20:1-6 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, ' Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'" 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3 "Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 "Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, 6 and I will add fifteen years to your life …”
Based on the text, it does not appear that Hezekiah prayed about healing at the onslaught of His illness. Only when he realized that he was dying did he reach out to God, and as a result of his prayer, God healed him within minutes.
Since we know that God can be convinced to heal , let’s begin to see what we can do to make our prayer for healing as effective an King Hezekiah’s.
Preparation for Prayer
Once we have decided that we need to convince God to step into our crisis, it is important that we prepare to pray. Prepare to pray? One might think that prayer is something that can be done anytime, anywhere - no preparation needed, and that is true; but what we’re talking about here is effective prayers, prayers for those who really need intervention; prayers where we really need God to consider our case. If we want our prayers to be effective, we need to prepare.
At the Season of Our Joy Feast of Tabernacles in 2002, a young boy attended who was confined to a wheelchair. Never-the-less, the boy was always happy and upbeat and made many friends. Toward the end of the festival, about 20 men got together as a group to ask prayer for the boy, but as we were gathering, one of the men asked “Is everyone prepared to pray”? Not knowing what he was really asking, we all looked at him with dumb looks on our faces while he opened his Bible to Matthew 5:21 –
NKJ Matthew 5:21-24 " You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment … 23 "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
What the man was trying to get across was that if we want our prayer to be heard, we need to do some housecleaning first. In the Matthew passage, Yeshua was indicating that we need to work out our problems with our neighbors before entering into prayer. Does that mean we have to resolve all our problems with everyone before we pray? Not necessarily. What He said is that if we are angry with a brother, but have no cause to be angry, then we should work that out first. We should go to that brother and attempt to resolve the issue that is causing the anger.
Besides resolving issues with your brother, you should also work out any problems you might have with your spouse. In his letter to the believers in Asia Minor, Peter said –
NKJ 1 Peter 3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives … 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
These issues between brothers and mates can apparently hinder your relationship with God to the point that He simply cannot hear you. Peter’s statement is supported by the prophet Isaiah.
ESV Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Though we might think that husband and wife spats might not reach the point of being called an ‘iniquity’, it is interesting to note that a man being jealous of his wife (Numbers 5:31) or a woman making an improper vow (Numbers 30:15) are both classified as 'iniquities'.
The point is, how can we expect God to do some great work on our behalf if we are not willing to work out the problem we have with our brother. Resolving these problems helps bring us back in right standing with God – which is righteousness. James sums it up this way –
NIV James 5:16 … confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Go to Your Closet
Once you have done what you can do to remove anything that might block God from hearing you, go to your closet.
When praying to God to step in and save your life or the life of a friend or loved one, you need to have all your focus on Him, after all, you are wanting the King of the Universe to stop what He is doing to pay attention to your requests. This is not the time for distractions like answering your phone, letting the cat out, or even going to the bathroom. Nor is it the time to let inhibitions hold you back or let pride get in the way of being frank with God. Therefore Yeshua said to go to your closet when you pray –
ESV Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I believe that private prayer is the most effective prayer, and there are a number of reasons why I believe that way:.
- In private prayer you can avoid distractions. You can lock the door, turn off the phone, and close the blinds so that only you and God are in the room.
- Your prayer is between you and God alone. You do not have to be concerned about what others might think.
- In private prayer you can remind God of your good works without fear of appearing to be boastful.
- In private prayer you can do things that would otherwise draw attention to yourself if they were done in public. For instance, you can prostrate yourself before God and cry out to Him.
We have an example of such in the scripture where Yeshua, though not in a private room, but being some distance from His disciples, did just that –
Matthew 26:37-39 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed …
Sackcloth and Ashes
There are other things you can do in private that might enhance your prayers for the sick. David, as he laments to God about those who repay him evil for good, says –
ESV Psalm 35:13 But I, when they were sick- I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
Obviously, fasting is a great tool in bringing you closer to God, but praying to God wearing nothing but sackcloth and with ashes on your head appears to be another effective way of reaching God. It was widely mentioned in the Old Testament. Daniel gives us a good example when he prayed to God for understanding in regards to the prophecies of Judah’s return to the land –
ESV Daniel 9:2-4 ... in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession …
In this example, Daniel received his answer just as he was ending his prayer.
Much more could be said about private prayer, but suffice it to say that since there is so little (if anything) said in the scripture about public prayer, it appears that God prefers for us to pray as much as possible in private.
Make Your Case
In the judicial system, a “prayer” is what the plaintiff in a lawsuit asks of the court2. It is your specific requests for relief when you believe you have been harmed by another person or entity. Our prayers to God are much the same. We take our requests to the supreme Judge of the Universe, present our case – our reasons why the judge should rule in our favor – and await the judge’s decision. Our role in prayer is to act as the attorney. We take the law — in this case, the Torah, and combine it with various reasons why God should rule on our behalf. And like an attorney, we need to be prepared to make our case BEFORE we approach the judge.
If you are praying on another person’s behalf, it is important that you have done your “homework” so that you can present a convincing case to God. You might explain to God the family’s situation and how the loss of a mate would cause tremendous harm to the family. You could tell Him about the sick person’s responsibilities in the fellowship and how some programs would cease unless the person is healed. Remind God what the person has done in the past to promote God’s Kingdom work. And remind God that the person has always striven to walk in His way.
Going back to Hezekiah’s prayer, he said -
ESV Isaiah 38:3 … "Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight” …
You might also read God’s words back to Him, reminding God of the promises He has made - but be specific and make sure they fit the situation. This passage might be applicable -
ESV Exodus 15:26 "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer."
God is expecting you to make a case, so think out what you are going to say, write down your points, and deliver them in a convincing manner.
Pray According to God’s Will
The woman with the issue of blood believed that if indeed Yeshua was the Messiah, she could be healed by simply touching the hem of His garment. Why? Because she believed the prophecies about Him, and that it would be God’s desire for her to take advantage of the prophecy. The prophecy she believed was -
ESV Malachi 4:1-2 "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.
So when she realized Yeshua was coming into town, she positioned herself so that she could intercept Him as He was walking with the crowd –
ESV Mark 5:28 For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well."
If Yeshua was going to be able to convince His disciples that he was indeed the promised Messiah, He was going to have to show them that He was the one who could fulfill the prophies about the Messiah. Therefore, He needed sick people to come up to Him and touch the hem of His garment. By knowing God’s will, and by being willing to be a part of it, the woman with the issue of blood helped fulfill God’s will.
Finally, we need to be persistent with our prayers. Though we don’t clearly understand the mind of God, Yeshua seemed to indicate that one might change God’s mind by simply flooding Him with the same petition. He gave this parable –
ESV Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'" 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?, Will he delay long over them?
In this parable, Yeshua is not promoting the idea of having a large number of individuals praying for the same thing. Rather, He is talking about the same person bringing the same petition, but adding to it each time.
In court, you don’t win the case by making the same argument over and over. You win by providing more and more evidence to support your case. Do you think the woman in this parable came back to the judge repeating the same words each time, or is it more likely that she came back with additional reasons why the judge should act on her behalf? I believe it is the latter – she came with more evidence.
I believe that when we come to God for healing, we should restate our case each time, adding additional information and better reasons why He should act on our behalf. For example - maybe you heard a story of how the sick person had done something kind for another person; maybe you found another scripture by which you can remind God of His promises; maybe the sick person’s condition has become more desperate.
The point is, come to God often, each time building a bigger and better case.
Seek Godly People to Pray
I’ve given five points that can help us to have more effective prayers, but this last point has more to do with who you ask to pray for you than it does ‘how to pray’.
I started out talking about how in today’s “information age” we are able communicate a person’s health situation and their need for prayers to hundreds or thousands of people in a matter of a few minutes. Today it takes very little effort to solicit help in a time of need. But it has not always been that way. When the Shunammite woman’s son died, she did not simply send out a text to everyone on her contact list asking them to pray, instead she saddled her donkey and went to Elisha, the man of God.
In many examples of Biblical healing, we find that the person who needed healing sought out the healer. Such was the case with the Shunammite woman, Naaman the Syrian leper, Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, the Centurion, and many others. All of these people either went to, or sent someone to the healer and asked Him to come heal their loved one.
James, the brother of Yeshua, believed that this was the protocol that should be followed when someone is sick. He said -
ESV James 5:14-15 "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. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
The New Testament is replete with examples of people being actively involved in the healing of their sick. For instance, people living in the area of the Galilee would actually pick up the beds of those whose sickness caused them to be bedridden, and they would carry them to the place where they knew Yeshua would be in hope that they might touch the hem of His garment as He walked by (Matt. 14:34).
Later, people would do the same for their bedridden sick, taking them out into the street so that the shadow of Peter might fall on them (Acts 5:15). Years later, persons would go to Paul, seeking a piece of his clothing with the hope that by touching their sick loved one with that clothing, he might be healed (Acts 19:12).
In each of the examples, the persons who needed healing went to the ‘man of God’. Though we don’t necessarily have anyone today who might fill that role, we do have ‘godly men’ who we can go to. When we recognize someone as a ‘godly man’ or a ‘godly woman’, that usually implies that we have a relationship with them, and they are somewhat close to you. These are the persons who would likely know the person needing prayer, would be more familiar with the situation, and would be more likely to pray earnestly for that person than would a person you only know on Facebook.
When you take the effort to have verbal communication with that person and personally ask him or her to pray on your behalf, that means a lot more than just being a recipient of an email that was sent out to hundreds of people.
Unfortunately, the information age has caused many to be ignorant in regards to social graces and personal communication, and people have lost the realization that it means a lot more to a person when you go to them and speak face-to-face than it does to send a letter, text, or even make a phone call. That’s why we “visit” grandma on Thanksgiving Day instead of just giving her a call.
The prayers of a few close, godly friends and relatives are, in my opinion, more likely to move God to act on our behalf than thousands of prayers where the name of the infirmed is mixed in with many others that are on a person’s prayer list. When it comes to personally asking a godly person to pray for you, Peter says this -
"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer …" ESV 1st Peter 3:12
I’m going to close by reiterating what I said at the close of the previous message. Though it is not widespread nor is it in the headlines, I believe God still performs miraculous healings. I believe there are people being healed today as a result of the prayers of their godly friends, family members, and aquaintenances.
The time is coming when God will again do a great work on earth. As He begins to call his people back, they will be coming from the four corners of the earth. They will bring with them the “diseases of Egypt” that were put on them because of their rebellion against God and His way. At that time there will be a huge need for people who can pray for them that their diseases will be removed. Hopefully those people will have reached out to God and asked Him – “Lord, teach us how to pray”, so that they – like the disciples of Yeshua - can perform miraculous public healings.
May that time come quickly and in our day!
1 Luke 11:1;
2 “What the plaintiff in a lawsuit asks of the court -- for example, monetary damages, an injunction to make the defendant stop a certain activity, or both. The plaintiff usually makes a "special prayer" for specific relief (for example, a monetary amount to recover for an injury), and then follows with an unspecific "general prayer" to recover any additional amount not specified that a court decides is appropriate.” - https://www.nolo.com/dictionary/prayer-for-relief-term.html;