1. GOD IS OUR HEALER
In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself as Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals, to the Israelites as they crossed the Red Sea towards the Promised Land. God himself healed 3.5 million Israelites as they walked in the wilderness for 40 years.
Exodus 15:26 (NIV)
26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
When the nation of Israel was formed, God used the prophets to bring healing to the people. The God used the prophet Elijah to bring healing to the widow’s son in 1 King 17:17-24. The widow’s son became ill and then he stopped breathing. Elijah called upon God to heal the boy and God performed a miracle by raising the boy from the dead.
1 Kings 17:17-24 (NIV)
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” 19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”
God also used the prophet Elisha to bring healing to both Jews and Gentiles. Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Aram who had leprosy in 2 King 5:1-14. He came to Elisha to pray for healing of an incurable disease. Elisha instructed Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River. When Naaman obeyed the word of God through Elisha, his flesh was restored and made clean like a young boy.
2 Kings 5:8-14 (NIV)
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
In the book of Psalms, God also revealed Himself as the healer to the Israelites. God brings healing to the whole person. He heals people spiritually through forgiving their sins (Ps 103:3a). He heals people physically by taking away their pain and diseases (Ps 103:3a). He heals people emotionally by restoring their broken hearts.
Psalm 103:2-3 (NIV)
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
3 He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.
God’s ultimate plan of salvation and healing for humanity was to send His son Jesus Christ into the world and to die for the sins of humanity. The prophet Isaiah prophesied the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to bring salvation and healing to humanity (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
2. JESUS IS OUR HEALER
God sent His son Jesus Christ to humanity 2000 years ago through the virgin Mary. Jesus began his ministry at the age of 30 years for three years. Jesus went everywhere teaching, preaching and healing people to reveal the love and power of God and His divinity. Thus Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah spoken about 700 years before His arrival.
Matthew 8:16-17 (NIV)
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Apostle Peter who travelled with Jesus for three years and he witnessed many miracles of Jesus. Apostle Peter wrote how Jesus came to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah too (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus came to die on the cross for the sins of humanity and His death brought salvation and healing to all mankind.
1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)
24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
3. JESUS COMMISSIONED THE DISCIPLES TO PRAY FOR HEALING
God desired His disciples to continue the ministry of Jesus on earth when Jesus died, rose from the dead and returned to heaven. Jesus first gave His power and authority to the twelve disciples to heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2).
Luke 9:1-2 (NIV)
9 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
The twelve disciples went out to declare about the kingdom of God and healed the sick as Jesus commanded them (Mark 6:12-13).
Mark 6:12-13 (NIV)
12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Jesus also commissioned seventy-two disciples to preach about the kingdom of God and heal the sick (Luke 10:1, 9).
Luke 10:1 (NIV)
10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
Luke 10:9 (NIV)
9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
After Jesus was crucified on the cross and rose from the dead, He commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to all creation and lay hands to pray for the sick. Thus, the ministry of Jesus continued through His disciples. The disciples were able to perform miracles and healing because Jesus is alive and working through them (Mark 16:15-20).
Mark 16:15-20 (NIV)
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
4. THE EARLY CHURCH PRAYED FOR HEALING
The book of Acts is a written account of the history of the early church. The early church was found on the day of Pentecost when Apostle Peter filled with the Holy Spirit preached the gospel and about three thousand people believed in Jesus as the Messiah. The first recorded miracle in the early church was when God used Apostle Peter to heal a man crippled since birth (Acts 3:6-10).
Acts 3:6-10 (NIV)
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The early church continued to grow in number despite persecution from the religious leaders. The disciples fearlessly preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. Many people were healed of sickness and set free from impure spirits by God through the disciples (Acts 5:14-16).
Acts 5:14-16 (NIV)
14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
Praying for the sick was a common practice in the early church. Apostle James wrote to the churches and instructed them about the healing ministry in the local church. When Christians are sick, they should ask the elders of the church to pray over them. He also wrote that Christians should pray for one another so that they can be healed (James 5:14-16).
James 5:14-16 (NIV)
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.