(Image courtesy of http://womeninthebible.net.)

Yesterday at church I was talking to a woman about healing and the power of God.  Healing is such a taboo subject, it seems, among people in the church.  We want to believe it, but somehow we can't.  We wish it would happen to us, but we're afraid to start asking for it because it might not happen.  Instead of seeking it, we avoid it.  "Leave that healing stuff to the snake-handlers - those Pentecostals," we utter with a bit of arrogance.

During my last semester of college, I did something I'd never done before: I dabbled in the Pentecostal church.  I went every Sunday to join a small body of believers that called themselves "Pentecostals."  The services were always upbeat and energetic.  Sometimes, people would speak in tongues, sometimes people would jog around the church.  There were always hands lifted in the air, and no shortage of "Amens" and "Hallelujahs" in the building.  I even went to a Pentecostal conference for a weekend in Rockford, Illinois.  I witnessed people being healed, sins being forgiven, and the Holy Spirit "taking people over."  I even had someone walk up to me and prophesy over me.  All in all, my time spent living my Christian life with Pentecostals opened my eyes up to something brand new.

I was questioned by some of my friends who knew me well for taking part in all of this.  "Do you really agree with all that, Jordan?"  I received a few downwards glances in my direction too.  I even questioned myself, wondering if what I was witnessing and partaking in was "good" and whether or not it was even from God.  In the end, I did end up going back to the church traditions I felt most comfortable in: church traditions that did not include loud shouting, miraculous healing, and uncomfortable Holy Spirit encounters.

But yesterday, as I listened to this woman from church talk about the many miracles God has performed through her (she was going to pray for someone after church, in fact, that they would be healed), my mind was re-awakened to this idea of the power of God.  Why is healing and prophesying and speaking in tongues looked down on by so many in the church today?

Perhaps it's because it makes us feel uncomfortable.  After all, for most people (myself included) shouting during church doesn't come naturally, much more the idea of laying hands on someone who has been crippled for half a century.

Perhaps it's because we don't believe God's Word to be completely true.  Indeed, Jesus says Himself that we will do even greater things than He did after He returns to the Father (John 14:12).  Furthermore, God says that He has already taken up our infirmities, our sicknesses, our diseases, and our sins - once and for all! - so that His power might be made known and that He would receive glory (Isaiah 53:4).

As I was studying this idea of healing and trying to figure out why it is such a touchy subject, I began reading through some of the miracles of Jesus.

Here are the startling conclusions I discovered:

First of all, it is God's will that everyone be healed.  There is never an instance where God does not desire that someone be healed.

When I have prayed for healing in the past, I used to pray very weakly: "Lord, if it's your will, please heal [insert person] from their sickness."  By praying like this, I am simply stating my doubt that God can heal in the first place.  It is an easy cop-out in case the person isn't healed.  "Well, I guess it wasn't God's will for you to be healed.  Sorry."  No!  Jesus is always willing!  "I am willing" (Luke 5:13).

We must, then, first trust the fact that God is always willing to heal and restore.

Secondly, in every miracle Jesus performed, He commanded the sickness, the disease, the condition, or even the evil spirit.  Never did He command God.

This is a fundamental principle when it comes to healing and miracles.  I have often prayed for miracles, both for myself and for others, but I always did so like this: "Jesus, heal my back.  In Your Name, I ask that my back be healed."  In praying like this, it is as if I am commanding Jesus to do something.  I always felt uncomfortable doing this, and rightly so, for, as A.W. Tozer writes in The Pursuit of God: "Every soul belongs to God and exists by His pleasure.  God being who and what He is, and we being who and what we are, the only thinkable relationship between us is one of full Lordship on His part and complete submission on ours."  Basically, we must know our place: God is first, we are second.

Jesus always commanded the condition, never His Father.  Jesus had power from the Father over all things (Matthew 28:18, John 13:3).  Likewise, we know also have that same power (Luke 10:19).  Therefore, we can command all sicknesses, diseases, conditions, and evil spirits.  Never, though, should we even entertain the idea of commanding God.

Finally, any act of healing must begin with faith: complete, undeterred faith in the God of the Bible.  This is really only a summation of the previous two points.  We must take God for who He is, not for who we think He should be or who our parents think He should be or even who our pastor thinks He should be.  God is God.  "I Am that I Am" (Exodus 3:14).  In order to begin living life confidently and courageously in the Spirit, we must first know the Spirit for who He is.  This comes from study, prayer, and meditation on the Word of God.

All in all, the purpose of healing and any other spiritual gift is to bring glory to God.  It is never for our own spirituality or for our own self-esteem.  We are but vessels, used by God to carry His message to the world.  Every time someone is healed in the Bible, great rejoicing and praise is given up to God.  "But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John 9:3).

Most assuredly, I will continue to rip myself from my comfort zone of my spiritual customs and traditions, and have my soul surgically altered by the Truth of God's Word.  I pray you will do the same.

"Which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?  But so you know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins...' and he said to the man, 'Get up!  Take your mat and go home.'" (Luke 5:24-25).