‘WHAT SHOULD I PRAY FOR HEALING’? ‘When it comes to healing (for myself or others) what actually is the role of prayer’?
In my article ‘DO I COMMAND HEALING OR ASK FOR IT?’ I showed how in every account of healing in the book of Acts the COMMAND of HEALING was used rather than the REQUEST of HEALING (or ‘asking God to heal’ others). So this then raises some further questions, “What should I pray for healing?” “Is there any place for healing requests to be made in prayer for healing?”
When Jesus Promised us, “You may ask for anything in my name and I will do it” (John 14:14), what did he mean and what did that look like for the early church? As we’ve established throughout the book of Acts, the early believers were using the COMMAND to heal and restore – so what were they asking God or praying for?
THE PRAYER LIFE OF THE FIRST BELIEVERS
Prayer is the primary focus at the beginning of Acts as the followers of Jesus obey his instruction to “wait for the gift my Father promised” Acts 1:4 and so “They all joined together constantly in prayer...” Acts 1:14
I think it’s pretty clear that after Jesus had ascended to heaven all one hundred and twenty believers were praying (as best they could) for “the gift” that Jesus had promised – the Holy Spirit to come – and they were not disappointed!
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages) as the Spirit enabled them.” ACTS 2:2-3
The baptism of the Holy Spirit (and the subsequent in-fillings Eph 5:18) is for being an effective witness to Jesus, both personally (1 Cor 15:57) and publicly (living the Spirit empowered life). After all Jesus had promised them:
The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces — even to the remotest places on earth! Acts 1:8
So the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a necessary requirement if we are to be filled with power to be effective witnesses. This is specifically what Jesus was alluding to when he told his disciples in John 14:
“whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing” and “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Because “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”
So what Jesus is telling us (‘whoever believes in me’) is that we will be anointed (filled with the Spirit) and move in miracles and healing – just like he did:
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil” Acts 10:38
So what has that got to do with healing? EVERYTHING! The Holy Spirit is God (1 Cor 2:10-12) and all true healing comes from God (Psalm 103:2-3). If we are in need of a healing touch or we desire to minister in healing to others this has to be our number one prayer – THE BAPTISM And INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
And that’s one of the mysteries to healing and restoration in God’s Kingdom – forgetting about the NEED, or the LACK and focus our prayers entirely on THE source of all healing and wholeness – the LORD himself (1 Peter 2:24).
The result of this baptism in the Holy Spirit on those 120 believers was that they began to perform “many wonders and signs.” Acts 2:43 which, as we saw, was namely through the COMMAND of authority over sickness (see: ‘DO I COMMAND HEALING OR ASK FOR IT?‘).
So – what the early church pray for next:
“enable your servants to speak your word with GREAT BOLDNESS. Stretch out your hand to heal and PERFORM SIGNS AND WONDERS through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”” Acts 4:29-30
So PRAYER REQUEST NUMBER TWO is for more COURAGE
and NUMBER THREE: the power to DO MORE MIRACLES.
Faith takes courage. We have often observed that actually asking someone you just commanded healing for if anything has changed is perhaps even more challenging than praying in the first place! What if they say “Nothing?!” – It’s a risk. Courage isn’t the ability to feel NO fear. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Courage is feeling the doubts and nerves and doing it anyway. COURAGE often goes hand-in-hand with FAITH and is a brave thing to pray for!
So there is a picture emerging of a new way to focus and pray for healing. Its not a ‘needs-based’ focus but a Holy Spirit filling and faith-based focus.
More Holy Spirit
The FOURTH account of prayer in Acts is for OTHER BELIVERS to receive the Holy Spirit:
“When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,” Acts 8:15
So this baptism of fire and the empowerment to live as an effective witness begins to explode, not simply as a one-off event but as an infilling for all subsequent believers. No wonder then that it was said of them that: “They have turned the world upside down” Acts 17:6 KJV
So we see a clear picture emerging here of a Holy Spirit empowered PRAYER LIFE (A four step prayer model for healing and restoration!):
They prayed according to Acts:
- Fill us or baptise us with your HOLY SPIRIT. Acts 1:14
- Give us more COURAGE (to be your witnesses). Acts 4:29
- Show your POWER through us (to heal and restore). Acts 4:30
- And FILL OTHERS (with your Spirit) too so they may do the same. Acts 8:15
It’s clear that if we desire to see more miracles (including healing) that the Holy Spirit should be the focus of our prayer life too.
How prayer proceeds and covers faith action
And so as we read through the book of Acts we see prayer often proceeds miracles.
The next mention of prayer in Acts concerns the newly converted Saul. He is in Damascus and struck blind from his encounter with the Lord (his dramatic conversion) and naturally – he has been praying. It does not tell us what he was praying (we can only guess that he is experiencing amazing revelations of the Lord Jesus?) but the result of this prayer is that HE RECEIVES A VISION. And at the same time the Lord also speaks to a fellow believer called Ananias and tells him:
“[Saul] is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”” Acts 9:11-12
So here we see a HEALING comes through another Spirit filled believer who by divine revelation lays hands on Saul to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit.
As we continue to read through the book of Acts, PRAYER is often cited as precursor to restoration (including physical healing), prophetic guidance and commission. In this way we see that prayer is always an accompaniment to faith action.
Prayer focus in the book of ACTS
Here are some other mentions of prayer in Acts.
Before raising a woman from the dead Peter PRAYS first. What does he pray? We are not told, but my guess is for FAITH and POWER to say and do the right thing! Which he does as he commands her dead body to get up…
“Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.” Acts 9:40 NIV
In the same way Peters’ trance on the rooftop (when he experiences an open vision symbolising salvation for the gentiles) is proceeded by prayer. The result is a remarkable ACT of COURAGE (to break Jewish purity laws) and the baptism in the Holy Spirit for the Roman Centurion and his family (Acts 10).
Another distinct role of prayer in Acts is to pray for those who are being physically persecuted for their faith – arrested, beaten, imprisoned and worse.
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” Acts 12:5 NIV
Of course, they pray for his safety and release, but for what purpose? So that he (and they) may continue to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel (with courage and power).
So we see prayer proceeding healing, revelation, salvation and resurrection. Prayer first – then the act or word of faith
And so the prayers of the first believers go on to include: prayer before sending out missionaries (Paul and Barnabas), prayer for appointing elders (Acts 14:23), prayers when parting company (Acts 20:36), more prison breaks (Acts 16:25), and more prayer before commands of healing (Acts 28:8).
SO WHAT SHOULD I PRAY FOR HEALING?
In the early church, prayer was the essential ‘engine room’ or ‘spring board’ for the Spirit empowered life. Prayer proceeded baptism in the Holy Spirit (whether received directly or through the laying on of hands) and it proceeded and soaked all consequent acts of faith and courage for all kinds of healings and miracles.
So if you are in need of healing or you desire to be used to heal others – pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing! This is not an easy get-out or a pat answer to cover all difficult questions (although it does!) but the wisdom of God from whom all healing flows.
There is much more to be explored in prayer and many other scriptures that exhort us into the richness of a fully mature prayer life (thanksgiving, contemplation, worship, intercession, praying in the Spirit, and listening prayer to mention a few). But Jesus promise that “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do” was deeply rooted in His teaching (if you obey my commands of love) that we would receive the Holy Spirit and be one with Him and with each other. John chapters 14 to 17
As with all the blessings and manifestations of the Holy Spirit (including divine healing) they come by seeking first the Kingdom of God and King Jesus himself (who is in fact the Spirit 2 Corinthians 3:18). That’s why (particularly in regard to healing) our prayer life must be first and foremost about continually being filled with the Spirit but with an expectation to be used to heal others too. Then we can truly pray “Your Kingdom come and your will be done” in and through me today – for your glory.
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11