Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Based on this Scripture, in some streams of the Church we are taught that after an infirm believer prays to God asking him for healing, he or she first believes that the healing has already take place. If this condition is satisfied, than the believer will in fact be healed in reality. But if the healing fails to materialize—and it often does—it is therefore attributed to the believer’s lack of faith. The blame is laid at the feet of the sick person.

How should we evaluate this?

Since the subject is miraculous healing, we need to know what the New Testament teaches about the healing of physical infirmities. After an examination of the Scriptures, we see that the New Testament never taught traditional healing prayer, that is, we pray and ask God for the healing and then leave the results up to Him. Jesus never taught his disciples to pray and ask God to heal the sick as is done traditionally in the Church today. Rather he taught them to heal the sick using the power and authority he had given them (Luke 9:1-2). Even James in his Chapter 5 did not teach traditional prayer for the sick. Instead he taught elders to “pray over” the sick, which upon critical analysis is not the same as to “pray for” the sick. What James taught in his Chapter 5 rightly follows what Jesus taught, that is, healing the sick with power and authority.

What James taught

Moreover, although Jesus did commend some believers who had received miraculous healing from him because of their faith, he never told anyone that they were not healed because they lacked faith. Although faith is indeed important (although not always necessary) in being healed, Jesus never taught that a lack of healing is due to a lack of faith.

Scripturally speaking therefore, Mark 11:24 should not be applied to the context of healing—an area where traditional prayer to God is not a primary factor but rather the exercise of power and authority by believers over the disease.

That is why when Mark 11:24 is applied for healing it often does not work. Nevertheless, believers are taught to continue believing and confessing that they are healed. Everyday they confess that they are and have been healed despite the persistent symptoms of the infirmity. (In some sense, they are to be commended for their clinging to what they have been taught, albeit erroneously, from the Word of God despite the harsh reality of their symptoms.)

But sadly as we have seen, what they have been taught based on Mark 11:24 is not clearly supported by the overall context of Scripture. Their persistence therefore in believing and confessing and claiming that they are already healed can at times amount to little more than denial of reality.

If the Church, however, studies the New Testament Scriptures closely to learn how to minister to the sick, many more infirm believers will be healed than we see now.

Self-Deception in the Church?