E. All Are Not Healed
Yet, after all is said and done, the cold fact remains that not all people are healed after prayer; many continue to be sick and suffer. Even those whom Jesus raised from the dead died again. In fact all people die, unless the Lord Jesus returns to earth before they die. How should we respond to this? Certainly it would be useless to pretend that we can isolate the reason for each individual failure. At the same time, the portion of Scripture, the Book of James, which tells us how to pray for the sick (5:14-16), also provides us with clues that may contribute to our understanding: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:1-10)
On the basis of this portion of Scripture and our concern for our failures when praying for the sick, may we offer the following comments:
1. From the Holy Bible we know that God created everything, that He created everything good, that He loves all people, that He is faithful and His Word is true. Jesus the Messiah, God's eternal Word, provides solid proof in this world of God's love and faithfulness.
2. We know that sin, sickness and death, which in past and present have characterized God's creation, are not creations of God. They are human intrusions into His creation; they are alien to God's creation and not the creations of God. They are intrusions to which you and I and all people contribute. God wants to overcome them and remove them. Again what better evidence to demonstrate this than the Messiah, His life, His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, as the Bible eloquently and emphatically represents this.
3. We know that God knows that we all are affected by sin, sickness and death, that we need salvation from them and from all their consequences, that God knows all our needs, including our sickness and suffering, even before we pray to Him about them, better than we ourselves know them, and that He knows and wants what is best for us.
4 At the same time, we know God requests each of us (as a dear father requests his child) to present our needs to Him in prayer freely and with abandonment (as a child jumps into the arms of a loving parent) – not carelessly, indiscriminately, without recognition of our precious relationship to Him. With His help we will resolve to submit ourselves, too, resolving also, as our Scripture text above suggests, to examine ourselves where we have failed to submit ourselves to Him. So we will check our personal relation with God, with our neighbours, with friend and enemy. We will ponder the condition of our hearts, our minds and our bodies. We will meditate upon our purposes and our priorities in life, our means for attaining our objectives, the purity of our intentions and our motives.
Should we also discern any difference between what we want and what God wants for us, i.e., what we really need? And, again, do our quarreling, our pride and our envy block God's healing for us? Yes, we are to pray for the sick, for others and ourselves, if need be with much patience and perseverance. Yes, we are to pray to God, heeding God's command to pray and to submit ourselves to Him, to His will and His purpose for us. To submit ourselves before Him and trust in Him: anything less is idolatry.