Thoughts on Healing Prayer

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

I don’t know why we had not thought of it sooner, but it’s been an incredible blessing in which to participate. On the first and third Thursday of every month, my dear friend Father Jon Davis (The Abbey Mission of Oviedo) and I lead a healing prayer service at our local hospital. Go figure — the church is praying for healing where there are sick people! This service is for patients, staff and even the public.

I believe in miracles. Yes, I’m one of those who even believes in signs and wonders — I’ve experienced such things first hand and witnessed the kingdom fruit that resulted. I’ve prayed for people and seen more than one migraine sufferer healed, tumors disappear, blood sugar regulate and more. So what I’m about to offer is not just “theological,” but immensely practical (and frankly, if our theology isn’t practical, then we’re probably in the wrong business anyway). This past week, it was my turn to bring the reflection on the gospel passage during our gathering at the hospital. I had prayerfully chosen the account of Jesus healing the official’s son from John 4:43-54. I’ve been encouraged to share that reflection with you.

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

54 This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Jn 4:43–54). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

I think there are a number of things we can take away from this passage that help us when we find ourselves either in need of healing prayer or offering it for another person. First, there was an expectation of Jesus’ miraculous power (v. 45). They had seen it before. Some had been at the wedding in Cana where he’d turned water into wine. Others had been in Jerusalem with him for the Passover. Clearly they were anticipating his arrival now. This idea of expectation is important — it believes and anticipates that Jesus really does want to answer our prayers.

Second, there was a dire need (vv. 46-47). This may go without saying, but healing prayer requires an object — an illness or injury to be healed, a stronghold or addiction from which to be delivered — and desperation tends to intensify our desire for Jesus to move. The Royal Official had come to meet Jesus. We don’t really know if he was a Jew or Gentile. It doesn’t matter. He was there. His son was dying. And he pled with Jesus to intervene.

Third, there was an invitation (v. 49). Jew or Gentile, the official was wide open to having Jesus come into his home and heal his son. He pleads, “Come before he dies!” Healing prayer is more than just religious activity, it is a response to an invitation. Its not that God needs our permission, but that he desires the “welcome” to come in and do what is needed.

Fourth, there was Jesus’ exercise of kingdom authority (v. 50). Jesus is the King of all kings. At this moment, he is literally the embodiment of the words, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” There is no authority higher. Incidentally, that authority is delegated to us through the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and we exercise it in this world as his commissioned ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus does not even have to touch the boy — he simply exercises his authority and the boy is healed.

Fifth, the official accepts Jesus’ prayer (v. 50). He has met the Rabbi. The Rabbi has declared the healing. That is enough. The official didn’t ask for any tokens or additional actions — he took Jesus’ at his word.

Sixth, there is verification (v. 51). Proof. Independent corroboration. The official’s servants meet him on the way home and tell of the miracle — and even confirm the exact time when it took place. Recall that Jesus often told those healed (especially of serious illness) to go and seek verification from the priests. We know of one miraculous healing of a brain tumor in our area that was independently confirmed by multiple doctors. This is important because it ties us back to our first point. Expectation grows when there is a stream of confirmed miracles.

Finally, there is a faith response (v. 53). Not only was the son healed, but the official and his whole household surrendered to Jesus. The miracle was a demonstration of Christ’s authority, love and grace. They could not help but believe.

I think this encounter is instructive for us when we pray for healing and deliverance. Perhaps there are some questions we should process before or while we pray:

  1. Have you come with expectation?
  2. Have you come with a need only Jesus can address?
  3. Are you willing to invite Jesus fully into your life to meet that need (and to address any root causes)?
  4. Will you fully accept (by faith) Jesus’ kingdom authority to meet your need?
  5. Will you leave the time of prayer looking for eventual proof of his power, love and grace?
  6. Will you respond in overall faith, surrendering to him in a covenant relationship?

If the answer to any of these questions is no or even hesitation, it may be best to deal with that first.

I hope this reflection on John 4:43-54 is a blessing to you. I further hope that King Jesus will demonstrate his power, love and grace to and through you!