Miraculous healing by traditional prayer vs. the use of authority and power

I have been reading The Elijah Challenge training manual and find it makes a good argument for authority and commanding.

May I ask a difficult question?  I know the approximate percentage of people that are healed by prayer, what is the percentage of people healed by commanding through authority”?

In providing a scriptural answer for you, let me begin by directing you to the primary context for miraculous healing according to the New Testament.

John 14:11  Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

Here the evidence being referred to clearly points to the miracles Jesus did that no man or god was capable of doing.

John 20:30  Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The primary purpose for which Jesus performed the miracles, the majority of which I believe were miraculous healings, was as a sign to the lost that he was the Messiah. When he gave the power and authority to his disciples and sent them out in the gospels and later in Acts, it was for the same purpose: as evidence of the truth of the gospel to be proclaimed to Jews and later especially the idol-worshiping gentiles who had never heard of Jesus Christ.

When the Lord’s power and authority over disease and demons is applied by disciples and missionaries today in the same context, that is, to idol-worshiping unbelievers especially in the Third World who have never heard of Jesus and the gospel, the miracles will be frequent and can be powerful. The result will be impressive numbers of Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists turning to Jesus as their Messiah. We are now seeing this especially in India through our trained indigenous co-workers. The frequent miracles in this context are directly related to God’s love for the lost as reflected in John 3:16. We do not have exact numbers or stats, but the results are not surprising and what you might expect from reading the gospels and Acts.

But when traditional healing prayer (“pray to God and then leave the results up to Him”) is offered, it is usually done on behalf of a Christian who knows Jesus. That is likely the context of your question. And as you probably know, the percentage of people miraculously healed immediately following traditional healing prayer is very low. (Even when traditional healing prayer is done on the mission field, there might be occasional results even though Jesus never taught traditional healing prayer. Why? Because God is gracious and wants the lost to believe in His Son Jesus! But such miracles will be the exception and not the rule—they will be few and far in between since traditional healing prayer is not taught or performed whether in the gospels and or in Acts where the context is proclaiming the Messiah. Keep reading for more on this.) 

First of all, believers should already be saved—which is God’s priority. Their physical healing is secondary in importance since they already have eternal life through faith in Christ. Even if a believer is not healed from cancer, they go to the Father’s House completely whole. But an unbeliever who dies of a sickness will have no hope at all. Therefore God’s “priority” to heal if you will is greater in the context of sharing the gospel to the lost than in the context of healing for a believer. Therefore the percentage of miraculous healings taking place through the use of power and authority will be far, far greater in the Third World when the gospel is being shared to those who never heard than back home in the US when we are praying for sick believers.

One complicating factor is that unbelievers in the West of in America already have the gospel available to them—churches on every corner, Christian TV and radio programs, Christian books, and Christian acquaintances. That makes them more accountable to God. That is one reason why miraculous healings when sharing the gospel in America will generally be less frequent than when a missionary or disciples shares the gospel in a gospel-resistant country on the mission field.

But there is one last factor which needs to be mentioned. The practice of traditional healing prayer is usually based on James 5:14-18. But if we examine those verses with a fine tooth comb, we can reasonably concluded that James actually did not teach traditional healing prayer, but rather the exercise of authority just as Jesus taught. For much more understanding on this, just click on Ministry to Sick Believers in the Context of the Body of Christ according to James 5.

So according to James 5 above there should be much hope even for sick believers who receive “prayer over” ministry from qualified elders; we have seen infirm believers healed in such meetings. But there is one important condition for believers to be healed that does not apply when ministering to unbelievers in the evangelistic context: believers must “confess (their) sins to one another” as a precondition for their healing. And that “difficult-to-fulfill” condition will cut down on the percentage of believers being healed.

In conclusion, we can say with confidence that when power and authority are applied for ministering healing—in whatever context—the percentage will be far greater than when traditional healing prayer is offered. Moreover, the miracles will not only be quicker, they will be greater. The primary, bottom-line reason for this?

The use of power and authority to heal the sick is heavily supported by the New Testament, while the practice of traditional healing prayer (“pray to God and then leave the results up to Him”) is not found in the New Testament.