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      (3)  "HEALING:  INCLUSIVE OR EXCLUSIVE"          STUDY NO. 3

 

READING:      MATTHEW 17/14-21

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

Probably the greatest deterrent to Christians praying for the healing of others is the fear of failure.....the fear of having to ask (or answer) the question that the disciples asked Jesus, "Why couldn't we.....?" (Matthew 17/19).  Why do we see so few people healed?  Is it their fault?  Is it our fault?  Is it God's fault?!!! Might it not be anybody's fault? In other words, does the possibility and promise of healing include just a select few and exclude everyone else?  

 

In the face of that tension the easy option for many (most?) Christians is to avoid getting into the situation that might result in that question being asked.  i.e. we don't pray for healing - certainly not in its physical dimension. The closest we come to prayer for healing is to ask the Lord "to guide the surgeon's hands". As legitimate as that prayer may be, it seems to stop short of what might qualify as the 'prayer of faith' mentioned in James 5/15.   

 

There are a number of possible factors that bear upon our understanding of why we pray so little for healing and why we see so few healed or experience some measure of improvement. Dr. Jack Deere has gathered the following 10 factors that could have an influence on how we pray and the outcome of those prayers. Read and discuss each factor in turn and nominate any that, for you, are especially significant in their impact on our understanding and practice in the healing ministry.  

 

a. Lack of Prayer - conditioning over the years has discouraged prayer for healing. We have been so effected by our up-bringing, negative experiences and contrary teaching that we do not pray for healing.

 

b. Lack of Desire - some people don't want to be healed so they don't ask. They have "made friends" with their condition and would prefer to be sick rather than healed. Read John 5/6.  Why did Jesus ask the man, "Do you want to be made whole?" What kind of question is that?!!  Of course he wants to be made whole. Or does he?

 

c. Lack of Merit - people don't feel worthy or deserving of healing. "Why would God want to heal someone like me?"

 

d. Lack of Discernment - we pray for the symptom & not the cause. We do not really seek to get to the real issue.

 

e. Lack of Courage - we don't want the "pain" that can come with healing. There may be a cost involved. The fear of a dramatic change and a new beginning requires courage. Like the beggar in Acts 3/1-7, he could no longer count on his infirmity to secure money from others if he was healed.

 

f. Lack of Holiness - presence of sin in the life of the individual and/or the Church can quench the Spirit's power & activity

 

g. Lack of Perseverance - we recognise only "instant answers", not the process that is often involved in healing. We need to "ask and keep on asking". We believe in persevering prayer when it comes to other aspects of the Christian life, why not when it comes to healing?

 

h. Lack of Perspective - we will recognise only total healing.  Some Christians will not acknowledge improvement in one's physical condition as answered prayer because it is not total. That seems to be a narrow perspective.

 

i.  Lack of Definition - we often limit healing to just the physical realm; we can easily miss what may be happening to the person in the other dimensions - spiritual, relational and emotional.

 

j.  Lack of Time - this refers to the "sickness unto death"; that is, it's the person's time to die. (Psalm 139/16; Job 14/5)  

 

INTERACTION  

 

1.  Compare the parallel accounts of the deliverance of the demonised boy (Matthew 17/14-21 and Mark 9/14-29) and write down Jesus' answer to the question of the disciples, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"      ...........................................................................................................  

 

2.There was at least one occasion when Jesus found Himself limited in His healing ministry and unable to accomplish what He wanted to do.  Read Mark 6/1-6 and discuss together the dynamics that were operative and the results. ...............................................................................................................  

 

3.There are a number of instances in the Epistles where Christian workers were sick (physically) and were not immediately healed. (Whether or not they were subsequently healed we don't know). Read the following verses and comment on them as a group:-  

a)  Galatians 4/13,14....................................................................................

b)  Philippians 2/25-30...................................................................................

c)  1 Timothy 5/23.....................................................................................

d)  2 Timothy 4/20....................................................................................

 

4.  On the basis of the above verses, there are those who defend their unwillingness to pray for sick people and ask God to heal them.  In other words because the Bible mentions some who were sick, they don't pray for specific healing for any.  

a)  Is that a legitimate deduction?.................................................................  

b)  What can we legitimately conclude or deduce from such verses as we seek to develop and mature in our understanding and practice of healing?  ..................................................

 

5.  Since this is the third study in the present series, it might be helpful to pause and take a quick inventory on what is happening to our understanding and convictions on this subject as we progress through.   Can you detect any change in your attitude towards the ministry of healing or do you remain as you were in your thinking at the beginning of the series?      

a)  If you remain unchanged, summarise the conviction/s to which you hold. 

b)  If you have changed (be it ever so slightly!) briefly tell the group the nature of the change.  

 

FINALLY…   This study still leaves many unanswered questions. However, the intention is to help us wrestle with such questions so that we are at least moving forward as we attempt to mature and develop our understanding and practice of a healing/wholeness ministry.

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