Christian prayer for healing
They were at that time incurable and most remain
Jesus almost never used physical means
The cures were immediate
Restoration was complete and therefore obvious
There were no recorded relapses
Miracles regularly elicited faith
These seven characteristics give us a New Testament gold standard for defining healing miracles. Contemporary claims for miraculous healing can be evaluated against this gold standard.
do healing miracles happen today?
Later in the book, 5 I describe an
objective approach for Christian doctors to use in evaluating claims for miraculous healing. First line questions include:
What was the medical version of the story?
What was the precise nature of the diagnosis?
At what time did recovery take place?
Were any treatments being given at the same time?
Depending on the answers to these, a second level of questions may be needed.
For example, concerning the diagnosis:
On what basis was the diagnosis made?
How reliable were the tests performed?
How reliable were the observers conducting the
Have experts checked the results?
Could there be other explanations for the results?
During controversies about healing miracles in the early 1990s, I was one of three CMF members (each then at different positions on the ‘charismatic’ spectrum) who reviewed current claims, and concluded ‘…between us, we did not find a single case that unequivocally satisfied our strict criteria for a…miracle of healing’. 6
But each of us had exciting personal stories of answers to prayer for healing (and the least ‘charismatic’ of us had the best stories!). We christened them ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ after a TV programme popular at the time, and they led us to conclude that, yes, Christians should pray for healing.
Before I turn to the question of how we do that, it will be
helpful to list some of the categories that account for the different interpretations that both medical and non-medical Christians may hold: 7
Was the diagnosis wrong?
Was there spontaneous remission?
Could the diagnosis have been hysteria or
Was there just a genuine misunderstanding?
Is it a case of exaggeration, half truth, or frank lie?
Christians pray for healing?
I stated above that although we longed to see a genuine New Testament, gold standard example of a healing miracle we had not done so. For me at least, five years later that remains true. But my response is not to assume therefore that God doesn’t do miracles today. One of the dangers there is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: God does not do healing miracles; therefore I will not pray for them; therefore exciting answers to prayer for healing (or even miracles) are less likely to happen; therefore my doubt is reinforced; therefore I will not pray…!
nucleus christmas ‘08
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