Why Did God Not Answer My Prayer?

A couple of years ago I came across a televised “healing crusade” featuring a man who claimed to have the power of faith healing.  After preaching to a packed stadium full of people, he began to call out certain illnesses and ailments, declaring that people in attendance were being healed of these various health issues.  Then he invited those who had been healed to come forward.  Large numbers of people began streaming to the front of the platform, declaring that they had been healed through the ministry of this faith healer.

I will admit I was skeptical.  But I want to believe that God can and does perform miracles and sometimes even heal people through prayers prayed in faith.  This is what James tells us (James 5:13-16).  I have heard stories of miraculous healings that have taken place through prayers of faith and I believe that God answers prayers for healing.  But I have also experienced other occasions where, in spite of faithful prayers, an individual did not experience a miracle.  People die every day of various diseases and ailments. Many of them prayed for healing and believed that God could and would heal them. 

Here are 3 ways to reconcile the frequent promises of the Bible that God answers prayers for healing, with our recollection of times when healing did not seem to occur:

  1. We must accept the fact that not every prayer for healing is answered the way we would like.  This was true of ancient saints like the Apostle Paul, it is also true of modern saints as well.  For reasons we cannot understand in this life, God doesn’t always choose to grant every prayer for healing.
  2. We can come to appreciate the fact that physical death is a form of healing.  For the Christian, death is the ultimate healing.  When someone who has been very sick and is suffering from terminal illness is released from their body of sickness, this is an eternal form of healing.  We should not pursue suicide, we should not engage in euthanasia, but we can appreciate that when God receives someone into eternal glory, it is a form of healing and prayers for healing were actually answered.
  3. We should appreciate how God works through modern medicine to help heal people.  It is not a sign that we lack faith when we seek medical care for our illnesses, it is a way of trusting that God works in and through medical care to bring about healing.  Some would try to claim that if we really have faith, we won’t seek medical care, we should just pray and have faith that God will heal.  Let the “Great Physician” be your only physician.  But that is a false dichotomy. It should not be God versus modern medicine.  It should be “God working through modern medicine.” 

I must confess that the entire subject of healing prayer is a bit of a mystery for me.  But I pray for people to be healed, I have faith in a God who still does miracles, and I encourage people to seek medical care when they are struggling with illness.  And I trust that through it all, God is at work and I leave the outcome to His wisdom and goodness.   That probably won’t pack a stadium with people, but it helps me trust where I don’t fully understand.

Pastor Mark Miller

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