The Prayer of Faith

I received an email last week from someone who had been recently diagnosed with a debilitating disease.  He told me what he was trying with some alternative treatments and with learning to pray in a way that supposedly can command healing.  I don’t think he had read any of my blog, helping Alan and his wife deal with terminal cancer.  If you missed it too, you can read it here.
I know what a scary thing it is to receive a diagnosis like ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, or Alzheimer’s, or multiple sclerosis. I’ve had people close to me deal with all of these, and each of them was looking for the secret that would unlock their healing, be it medical, quasi-medical, nutrition, or faith. At times I’ve seen God miraculously heal some of these and know that he has the power to do so. However, that has not always mostly been the case, no matter how hard people tried to get him to do so. He wasn’t sure why he wrote to me, but I wrote him back to share some of my perspective on this. It may be a good summary of my lengthy exchange with Alan as to what people might do when they face something like this and what might James have been referring to when he wrote about “the prayer of faith” in his epistle.
Here was my response: 
I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with this condition. I’m touched that you wanted to share this with me and I will be praying for the unfolding of God’s grace and glory in your life. My heart broke as I read this, but I do know that God is greater still, and that all of your life is in his hands and he will be gracious to you as the days ahead unfold.  I’m not sure why you wrote to me either, but my brother had multiple sclerosis, and my father-in-law had Parkinson’s disease, so your email strikes close to home. I get at least a bit of what you’re facing.  I don’t know if you want my feedback here, but given what you shared I’d feel remiss in not offering some thoughts.
When someone has a debilitating condition like yours, it is easy for desperation to set in and to seek any solution possible, even if it might have less than a 1% hope of healing you or improving your life. Many unscrupulous people (and some well-intentioned ones) will prey on that desperation, with overseas clinics and teaching seminars or books that will try to profit by giving you hope, even if it is a false hope. Both my brother and my father-in-law went to great extremes on the promise of some new cure often at a great personal cost both financially and in pain and discomfort. Other than what appeared to be a small placebo effect that lasted only briefly, none of those attempts panned out. They both tirelessly sought healing at every revival, faith healer, or new healing technique they heard about, again to no effect. They spent most of those years in the frustrating pursuit of a healing that never came, and the disappointment that somehow God didn’t deem them worthy of the miracle they sought. Only toward the end of their lives did they come to rest and trust in the Father’s provision for them.
I do not say any of this to discourage you, so please hear me out. I believe in a God who heals. I’ve seen him heal incredible things and rejoice whenever he does. However, that healing is not in our hands; it’s in his. I don’t know why some are healed in this life and others are refined through their trying circumstances. I am convinced of this, though: we do not have the power to “believe enough” or to “command healing” in any way that will guarantee the outcome we seek. If so, then, in the end, our trust would only be in our own ability to work God enough to get him to give us what we want. I find that characterization of God now to be well beneath him. What kind of Father is that?
I have a Father now that I can trust with anything. The “prayer of faith” doesn’t arise from desperation, but from our growing security in the Father’s affection for us, with or without the disease. Otherwise, the disease over time will become the test of love. I’ve seen it happen to too many people I care about. “If he heals me, I know I’m loved; if not, I am left to question whether he really does.”
I’d rather see you put your trust in him and find your hope there. It’s a process, and he can show you how. He has a way through this for you. It may include healing it completely; it may be working through it to let his glory shine out of your weakness. I have no idea, but if I were you, I’d rather wake up every morning and put my whole life in his hands, asking him to teach me to trust him and to show me whatever his plans might be for me. Then I can watch to see how he works in my life as each day unfolds. Then there will be grace enough to endure what comes and to celebrate his life, however he makes himself known. By all means, do the medical things that are clear to do, but don’t get caught up in the lie that there is a certain process you need, a specific prayer to be prayed, a level of belief you have to reach that will turn the tide and finally get God to heal you. So many people waste their lives on such pursuits and miss what God is doing right in front of them today—the people he gives you to love, the wisdom he wants you to share with another, or the way he’s expressing his love to you.
If there is something he wants you to learn or a way to pray that will make a difference, trust him to show you and to guide you to it. You will best see that out of growing trust, not the desperation of “I have to do something, even if there’s a small chance it will work.” Or, the fear that if I don’t try something, it may have been the key that I needed.  These are fear-based and will have you chasing the false hope of a mirage on the horizon.
He loves you. That you can trust. You can learn to rest in that reality and trust him to lead you however he most desires your path to unfold, and in that space, you’ll be able to see more clearly how he is with you in this.
The prayer of faith arises from growing trust in God’s ability, in his plans even if I can’t see them, and in his care for me whether it be in healing or endurance. I’ve seen people powerfully transformed by both. That’s what trust does, instead of us having to find the key to make God do what we desire, we find the freedom to ride the current with him to whatever end best serves his purpose on the earth.
I used to say, “I trust you, God, to heal this or change that.” I don’t anymore. If I’m trusting God for an outcome, I’m not really trusting him. I can trust him without even knowing the outcome and live in the grace and leading he gives me day by day. I’m praying you do, too.

9 thoughts on “The Prayer of Faith”

  1. Thankyou for this encouragement Wayne! It is very wise. My hubby has been battling cancer in his bones for several years now and though he endured chemotherapy and radiation treatment, nothing made any difference. He eventually decided to stop all ‘cures’and told his oncologist ‘I am ready to meet my Maker” when she indicated he would have only a short time to live if he did not have more treatment. Well, since he made that declaration he has surprised all the medicos by continuing to live on and over a year has passed since that time. He is failing physically and is quite weak, but has little pain. However the biggest change has been spiritual and mental. A once strong and proud man who would not accept help from anyone has matured into a gentle and accepting person, happy to ask for help. So, in my opinion his terminal illness has not been healed physically but the Lord has given him this time to grow! We pray only for the Lord to provide what is needful for that day and thank Him for the many little blessings that come our way each day- peace and appreciation for every little thing.

  2. Thank you for this and the exchange with Alan. So. Overwhelmingly. All I am dealing with and struggling through at this moment. Haven’t commented before but grappling with God and believing in His love through life’s challenges is tough. And your posts have been a lifeline.

  3. Hi again, Wayne. This all sorta reminds me of a great book I read a year ago: “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler. It is a GREAT book and she has wonderful personal insight. Plus, she’s funny! Stephanie B.

  4. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matt 4:23

  5. Insomnia tonight so I thought “I’ll read something from Wayne.” This was very good timing for me. I’ve been going through some struggles lately and a month ago, I would listen to the song It Is Well by Bethel Music, and when it got to the line that says “and this mountain that’s in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea” I would raise my hands in praise and say YES LORD! And then I got to thinking….. this mountain may never move. I may be staring at it for the rest of my life. So what am I gonna do? I realized that I must find my joy and peace in my Savior’s love. I can’t wait for mountains to move. I love your statement “If I’m trusting God for an outcome, I’m not really trusting him.” Yep. Thank you Wayne. Keep teaching me. I easily forget.

  6. Hello, my name is Sue and I have no idea how I came across this web site, it came up somewhere along the way over the past 6 months as I have been crying out to God, as more and more of my Christianity wasn’t making sense to me. I find myself drawn to Judaism, not to convert but to gain understanding.
    I had often stood with my bible in my hand and held it up to God crying “ There has to be more”.
    I have been following a Jewish Christian chaps blog over the past few months and have been so enlightened in what I have read and learned from his word for today. It has not, and still is not an easy road to walk when you are hungering and thirsting for righteousness and truth, but it has and still is worth it. I think I have had to unlearn more than I have actually learnt, but it has become so freeing and unfortunately very isolating. I have not attended Church for the past 3 months after having done so for over thirty years, which has caused much guilt and criticism but my heart is totally convicted and at this moment in time I just can’t do it. Standing on conviction is not easy but at times you just go with what is in your heart. Funnily enough the word I read for today just now is about Faith, and then Wayne’s letter came through. The gentleman’s word for today I have been reading is called Skip Moen, he used to have a blog like this but unfortunately due to overload of ministry commitments he had to shut it down from September 1st. I don’t often send comments but thought I would do so today. I find Wayne’s words very encouraging, and linked closely to Skips heart. When something stirs within us and we find a strong desire to begin to seek and search for truth, when we find it it is not always easy to open our hearts to accepting that a lot of what we have learned may possibly be wrong. I have opened up my heart my mind and my spirit to God, the LORD Yaweh… and unto Yeshua Christ the Messiah. I am beginning to unlearn and learn so much so many things now make sense, and today learning about what Faith really is has been yet another enlightenment. Thank you to Skip and to Wayne as I continue on my journey into truth.

  7. Thanks Wayne..fort this and for all..all I can say now is: “not what I want but what YOU want”I express my desire as Jesus did:”Father, if it’s possible not to.. But not My Will but YOUR WILL!!so hard to drop our Will,to accept HIS..for me,I finally understand that a little bit-one understands by practising-what Faith is..our answer to say to “HIM” I love you and I say to You:”YOUR WILL IS BETTER THAN MINE,YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING,..”you’re my friends IF you do what I teach you,”..yeah,really difficult ,especially among trials !!FAITH IS A LOVE STORY!!I go through, right now, and during more than 15 years ,moral harassement .. God teaches me what I could’nt have learnt without the trials:patience,forgiveness,enduring trials without losing my Faith in Him,humility,peace..compassion,training for a new job:
    .. mediation..and so on..Thank you Lord..Every thing is GRACE,even throughout suffering!!Amen

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