My Miraculous Hangup
Generally, when Christians pray to God for the healing of a sick friend or loved one, they do not ask for a miraculous healing. Christians usually ask God for a quick recovery or for God to guide the hands and skill of the surgeon, in the case of a serious illness. They rarely ever pray for an actual miraculous intervention of the supernatural.
However, all the healing miracles recorded in the Bible were instantaneous healings with the exception of only one that I can think of – where Jesus needed two tries to fully heal a blind man. There is no prayer in Scripture, that I know of, that asks to help the faithful do well on tests, help with a speedy recovery from a broken bone, or healing of a bad head cold. No, prayer in Scripture is almost always answered by Miraculous Divine Intervention. And Jesus promised his disciples that God would heal through them, and perform any number of miracles. Consider these words of Jesus:
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. – Matt 17:20 (NKJV)
For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. – Mark 11:23 (NKJV)
This is just a sampling from the top of my head. There are many other examples, especially from Jesus’ Great Commission and the Book of Acts. Christians, as true believers in Jesus Christ, if they have sufficient faith, are promised miracles from God. Instantaneous healing of the sick was the most common type of miracle performed by Jesus and his disciples. Peter and Paul performed about 30 miraculous healings in the Book of Acts, everything form raising the dead, curing people with the touch of a handkerchief, or merely passing over the sick with their shadow.
And yet, in most churches, bible studies, prayer meetings and home devotional groups, Christian believers rarely ever ask for miraculous healing. In my old home study, we had a couple with a teenage boy who was mildly autistic. Even though they loved their boy, he was a real strain on them emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. And while we prayed for guidance with dealing with this boy, we never once asked God to heal him. When was the last time you heard your church prayer leader ask God for a healing of a girl with Down syndrome, a young sufferer of cystic fibrosis or any other devastating genetic disorder? Why not use mustard seed faith for the healing of any form of severe mental retardation? We never once asked God to remove the horrific effects of Alzheimer’s disease, so our elderly loved ones can die in peace.
I type this knowing full well I may be offending many Christians out there. These terrible disorders are not at all uncommon, we all know people who suffer, and I have no doubt that they have received prayer. I mean no offense, but I am just writing what I observe and what I have lived through.
If we continually and fervently ask God for a truly miraculous healing in our prayer meetings, we know deep down that God will not answer these types of prayers, and God and our faith will be put up for ridicule. I suspect that Christians rarely ask God to perform the miraculous because, deep down, even though they are afraid to admit it, they know that the miraculous, supernatural healing of God never occurs. As a result, Christians pray only for those things that require absolutely no faith in to be answered.
Here is an experiment. The next time your church congregation is asked to report some answered prayers, listen to the responses. They usually include things like, “I managed to get a new job” or “my mother is recovering slowly – keep praying”. These are all well and good. However, when your turn comes up, tell the congregation that an amputee that you met at the VA hospital desperately asked for prayer. His arm had been blown off while in combat. So you prayed with great faith and fervor, and what do you know, his arm grew back!! Right there in front of your eyes, a true miracle from God! He stood up, thanked God, the doctors were aghast with wonder and amazement because no natural cause could be found for this divine intervention, and many came to Jesus Christ that day. Hallelujah!
Guess what? No one in the congregation will believe you. Why not? We are talking about GOD here, aren’t we? However, they still would not believe you.
I know because that very thing happened to me once at Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque. I was at a Thursday night service some 15 years ago, and Pastor Skip asked the congregation for Praise Reports. A man stood up and said that exact thing. He watched, with his very eyes, a man’s amputated forearm grow back. After his testimony, I politely said “praise God”, but I have to admit, I did not believe him, and a few around me were a little uncomfortable and a little embarrassed. Even Pastor Skip chuckled a little, humored him, and he abruptly ceased asking for Praise Reports.
Why did nobody believe him? Because deep down, I think Christians know even though are afraid to admit, miracles do not happen. Christians have demoted God to be the omnipotent healer of common colds and runny noses. If you start telling people that you saw an amputee grow his arm back then people, even believing Christians, will think you are a bit nuts. So instead of believing in the truly miraculous, Chrisitans are willing to accept God granting people jobs and slowly recovering from illnesses that happen at the same rate as the heathen who never acknowledge God for anything.
The other day I was listening to a woman praying on our local Christian radio station. She asked God to ease the suffering of her radio audience. “O God, we know you are the great healer! O God, you are the one who heals headaches and backaches.” Headaches and backaches? Is God Almighty, He who called Heaven and Earth into existence, now no better than a pair of aspirin? Why are Christians willing to excuse their God of this kind of divine impotence? Why continue to fear this transcendent being who pales in comparison to mere antibiotics?
The truly faithful will remind me that God will only answer prayer when it falls into accord to his Divine Will. Taking the Biblical texts as strictly as I can, the above passages never reference the Will of God. They are practically carte blanche statements. But on a more practical level, if God never performs miracles, then healing people of truly horrific illnesses must never be in his Will. Can you imagine the uproar in a hospital ward if a patient slowly dying of AIDS suddenly leapt from bed, instantaneously and unquestionably healed of all illness after prayer in the name of Jesus Christ? How many in that hospital ward who witnessed the event do you think would come to Jesus after a true healing like that described in the Book of Acts? And coming to Jesus, well, I thought ultimately that was God’s Will.
How much harder is it for God to heal a sufferer of multiple sclerosis than for him to heal a sufferer of a common cold? Is it really more of a challenge for God to separate co-joined twins than it is for him to find you a job? A believing Christian will readily assert that nothing is too hard for God. However, we all know he never performs anything requiring the truly miraculous, so how do we know he is actually healing that simple common cold? If God will not heal the amputee, why do we think he actually heals anyone of any disease? For that matter, what reason is there to think God answers any prayer, of any kind, from anyone at all?
In over 35 years lived as a Christian, I have never seen a miracle. I also do not know anyone who has seen a miracle. Chances are, if you are honest, you have never seen one miracle even if you are a Christian, nor have any of your Christian friends. If God exists, what objective reason is there for not believing God/Jesus ignores each and every one of the Christians’ faithful prayers? And why continue to make excuses for God/Jesus when his promises never materialize?