Chapter 22—Prayer for the Sick
Prayer Should Be Offered for the Sick With Calm Faith—I was shown that in case of sickness, where the way is clear for the offering up of prayer for the sick, the case should be committed to the Lord in calm faith, not with a storm of excitement. He alone is acquainted with the past life of the individual and knows what his future will be. He who is acquainted with the hearts of all men knows whether the person, if raised up, would glorify His name or dishonor Him by backsliding and apostasy. All that we are required to do is to ask God to raise the sick up if in accordance with His will, believing that He hears the reasons which we present and the fervent prayers offered. If the Lord sees it will best honor Him, He will answer our prayers. But to urge recovery without submission to His will is not right.—(Testimonies for the Church 2:147, 148.)
With all our treatments given to the sick, simple fervent prayer should be offered for the blessing of healing. We are to point the sick to the compassionate Saviour, and His power to forgive and to heal.—(Selected Messages 3:296).
Those who engage in house-to-house labor will find opportunities for ministry in many lines. They should pray for the sick and should do all in their power to relieve them from suffering.—(Testimonies for the Church 6:83, 84).
The Saviour would have us encourage the sick, the hopeless, the afflicted, to take hold upon His strength. Through faith and prayer the sickroom may be transformed into a Bethel.—(The Ministry of Healing, 226.)
If we are under infirmities of body, it is certainly consistent to trust the Lord, making supplications to our God in our own case, and if we feel inclined to ask others in whom we have confidence to unite with us in prayer to Jesus who is the Mighty Healer, help will surely come if we ask in faith.—(Medical Ministry, 16.)
We sent up our humble petitions for the sick and afflicted one, who was losing his hold on this life. As we presented this case before the Lord, we felt the assurance of the love of God even in this affliction.—(The Review and Herald, October 11, 1887.)
We anointed the child and prayed over it, believing that the Lord would give both mother and child peace. It was done. The cries of the child ceased, and we left them doing well.—(Spiritual Gifts 2:110, 111.)
The sick will be led to Christ by the patient attention of nurses who anticipate their wants, and who bow in prayer and ask the great Medical Missionary to look with compassion upon the sufferer and to let the soothing influence of His grace be felt and His restoring power be exercised.—(Medical Ministry, 191, 192.)
As missionary nurses care for the sick and relieve the distress of the poor, they will find many opportunities to pray with them, to read to them from God’s word, to speak of the Saviour....
They can bring a ray of hope into the lives of the defeated and disheartened.—(Medical Ministry, 246, 247.)
If more prayer were offered in our sanitariums for the healing of the sick, the mighty power of the Healer would be seen. Many more would be strengthened and blessed, and many more acute sicknesses would be healed.—(Selected Messages 3:295.)
I would come before the Lord with this petition: “Lord, we cannot read the heart of this sick one, but thou knowest whether it is for the good of his soul and for the glory of thy name to raise him to health. In thy great goodness, compassionate this case, and let healthy action take place in the system. The work must be entirely thine own.”(Healthful Living, 239).
Let the voice of prayer be heard in our institutions in behalf of the sick that they may place themselves where they can cooperate with Him who can save both soul and body.—(Manuscript Releases 6:379).
Before we were blessed with institutions where the sick could get help from suffering, by diligent treatment and earnest prayer in faith to God, we carried the most seemingly hopeless cases through successfully. Today the Lord invites the suffering ones to have faith in Him. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity.—(Selected Messages 3:295, 296).
All that can be done in praying for the sick is to earnestly importune God in their behalf, and in perfect confidence rest the matter in His hands. If we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us. He can do what He will with His own.—(Testimonies for the Church 2:148.)
It has often been my privilege to pray with the sick. We should do this much more often than we do.—(Selected Messages 3:295.)
It is our work to present the sick and suffering to Christ in the arms of our faith.... We should lay hold on His promise, and pray for the manifestation of His power. The very essence of the gospel is restoration, and the Saviour would have us bid the sick, the hopeless, and the afflicted take hold upon His strength.—(The Desire of Ages, 824, 825.)
Prayer for the Sick Is Too Important to Be Handled Carelessly—As to praying for the sick, it is too important a matter to be handled carelessly. I believe we should take everything to the Lord, and make known to God all our weaknesses and specify all our perplexities.—(Medical Ministry, 16.)
Prayer for the Sick is as Effective Today as in Bible Times—The divine Healer is present in the sick-room; He hears every word of the prayers offered to Him in the simplicity of true faith. His disciples today are to pray for the sick, as verily as did the disciples of old. And there will be recoveries; for “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.”(Gospel Workers, 215.)
God is just as willing to restore the sick to health now as when the Holy Spirit spoke these words through the psalmist. And Christ is the same compassionate physician now that He was during His earthly ministry. In Him there is healing balm for every disease, restoring power for every infirmity. His disciples in this time are to pray for the sick as verily as the disciples of old prayed. And recoveries will follow; for “the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” We have the Holy Spirit’s power, the calm assurance of faith, that can claim God’s promises. The Lord’s promise, “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18), is just as trustworthy now as in the days of the apostles. It presents the privilege of God’s children, and our faith should lay hold of all that it embraces. Christ’s servants are the channel of His working, and through them He desires to exercise His healing power. It is our work to present the sick and suffering to God in the arms of our faith. We should teach them to believe in the Great Healer.—(The Ministry of Healing, 226.)
Prayer for the Sick Should Take Into Account God’s Will—In prayer for the sick it should be remembered that “we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” Romans 8:26. We do not know whether the blessing we desire will be best or not. Therefore our prayers should include this thought: “Lord, thou knowest every secret of the soul. Thou art acquainted with these persons. Jesus, their Advocate, gave His life for them. His love for them is greater than ours can possibly be. If, therefore, it is for Thy glory and the good of the afflicted ones, we ask, in the name of Jesus, that they may be restored to health. If it be not Thy will that they may be restored, we ask that Thy grace may comfort and Thy presence sustain them in their sufferings.”
God knows the end from the beginning. He is acquainted with the hearts of all men. He reads every secret of the soul. He knows whether those for whom prayer is offered would or would not be able to endure the trials that would come upon them should they live. He knows whether their lives would be a blessing or a curse to themselves and to the world. This is one reason why, while presenting our petitions with earnestness, we should say, “Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done.” Luke 22:42.—(Ministry of Healing, 229, 230.)
In praying for the sick, we are to pray that if it is God’s will that they may be raised to health; but if not that He will give them His grace to comfort, His presence to sustain them in their suffering. Many who should set their house in order, neglect to do it when they have hope that they will be raised to health in answer to prayer. Buoyed up by a false hope, they do not feel the need of giving words of exhortation and counsel to their children, parents, or friends, and it is a great misfortune. Accepting the assurance that they would be healed when prayed for, they dare not make a reference as to how their property shall be disposed of, how their family is to be cared for, or express any wish concerning matters of which they would speak if they thought they would be removed by death. In this way disasters are brought upon the family and friends; for many things that should be understood, are left unmentioned, because they fear expression on these points would be a denial of their faith. Believing they will be raised to health by prayer, they fail to use hygienic measures which are within their power to use, fearing it would be a denial of their faith.—(General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 26, 1897.)
We have united in earnest prayer around the sickbed of men, women, and children, and have felt that they were given back to us from the dead in answer to our earnest prayers. In these prayers we thought we must be positive, and if we exercised faith, that we must ask for nothing less than life. We dared not say, “If it will glorify God,” fearing it would admit a semblance of doubt. We have anxiously watched those who have been given back, as it were, from the dead. We have seen some of these, especially youth, raised to health, and they have forgotten God, become dissolute in life, causing sorrow and anguish to parents and friends, and have become a shame to those who feared to pray. They lived not to honor and glorify God, but to curse Him with their lives of vice.
We no longer mark out a way, nor seek to bring the Lord to our wishes. If the life of the sick can glorify Him, we pray that they may live, nevertheless, not as we will but as He will. Our faith can be just as firm, and more reliable, by committing the desire to the all-wise God and, without feverish anxiety, in perfect confidence trusting all to Him. We have the promise. We know that He hears us if we ask according to His will.—(Counsels on Health, 378, 379.)
God Answers Prayers for the Sick—No human power can save the sick, but, through the prayer of faith, the Mighty Healer has fulfilled His promise to those who have called upon His name.—(Selected Messages 3:295).
Let us do as Christ’s apostles did; let us offer prayer for the sick, for there are many who cannot have the advantages of our sanitariums. The Lord will remove infirmities in answer to prayer.—(Medical Ministry, 242.)
Persistence in Prayer is Necessary When Praying for the Sick—In praying for the sick, it is essential to have faith; for it is in accordance with the word of God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16. So we cannot discard praying for the sick, and we should feel very sad if we could not have the privilege of approaching God, to lay before Him all our weaknesses and our infirmities, to tell the compassionate Saviour all about these things, believing that He hears our petitions. Sometimes answers to our prayers come immediately; sometimes we have to wait patiently and continue earnestly to plead for the things that we need, our cases being illustrated by the case of the importunate solicitor for bread. “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight,” etc. This lesson means more than we can imagine. We are to keep on asking, even if we do not realize the immediate response to our prayers. “I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Luke 11:9, 10.
We need grace, we need divine enlightenment, that through the Spirit we may know how to ask for such things as we need. If our petitions are indited by the Lord they will be answered.—(Counsels on Health, 380.)
Sin Must Be Put Away if Prayer for Healing Is to Be Answered—To those who desire prayer for their restoration to health, it should be made plain that the violation of God’s law, either natural or spiritual, is sin, and that in order for them to receive His blessing, sin must be confessed and forsaken.
The Scripture bids us, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” James 5:16. To the one asking for prayer, let thoughts like these be presented: “We cannot read the heart, or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and to God. If you repent of your sins, it is your duty to make confession of them.”(The Ministry of Healing, 228.)
Presumption Lies Close to Faith in Praying for the Sick—I have seen so much of carrying matters to extremes, in praying for the sick, that I have felt that this part of our experience requires much solid, sanctified thinking, lest we shall make movements that we may call faith, but which are really nothing less than presumption. Persons worn down with affliction need to be counseled wisely, that they may move discretely; and while they place themselves before God to be prayed for that they may be healed, they are not to take the position that methods of restoration to health in accordance with nature’s laws are to be neglected.
If they take the position that in praying for healing they must not use the simple remedies provided by God to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work, lest it be a denial of faith, they are taking an unwise position. This is not a denial of faith; it is in strict harmony with the plans of God. When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard His servant and worked a miracle in his behalf, sending him a message that fifteen years should be added to his life. Now, one word from God, one touch of the divine finger, would have cured Hezekiah instantly, but special directions were given to take a fig and lay it upon the affected part, and Hezekiah was raised to life. In everything we need to move along the line of God’s providence.
The human agent should have faith and should cooperate with the divine power, using every facility, taking advantage of everything that, according to his intelligence, is beneficial, working in harmony with natural laws; and in doing this he neither denies nor hinders faith.—(Counsels on Health, 381, 382.)
In the word of God we have instruction relative to special prayer for the recovery of the sick. But the offering of such prayer is a most solemn act, and should not be entered upon without careful consideration. In many cases of prayer for the healing of the sick, that which is called faith is nothing less than presumption.
Many persons bring disease upon themselves by their self-indulgence. They have not lived in accordance with natural law or the principles of strict purity. Others have disregarded the laws of health in their habits of eating and drinking, dressing, or working. Often some form of vice is the cause of feebleness of mind or body. Should these persons gain the blessing of health, many of them would continue to pursue the same course of heedless transgression of God’s natural and spiritual laws, reasoning that if God heals them in answer to prayer, they are at liberty to continue their unhealthful practices and to indulge perverted appetite without restraint. If God were to work a miracle in restoring these persons to health, He would be encouraging sin.
It is labor lost to teach people to look to God as a healer of their infirmities, unless they are taught also to lay aside unhealthful practices. In order to receive His blessing in answer to prayer, they must cease to do evil and learn to do well. Their surroundings must be sanitary, their habits of life correct. They must live in harmony with the law of God, both natural and spiritual.—(The Ministry of Healing, 227, 228.)
Prayer for Miraculous Healing Can Lead to Fanaticism—“Why,” asks one and another, “is not prayer offered for the miraculous healing of the sick, instead of so many sanitariums being established?” Should this be done, great fanaticism would arise in our ranks. Those who have much self-confidence would start into action.—(Evangelism, 594, 595.)
Taking Proper Measures Is Not a Denial of Faith in Prayer for Healing—Many who seek the Lord’s healing mercy think that they must have a direct and immediate answer to their prayers or their faith is defective. For this reason, those who are weakened by disease need to be counseled wisely, that they may act with discretion. They should not disregard their duty to the friends who may survive them, or neglect to employ nature’s agencies for the restoration of health.
Often there is danger of error here. Believing that they will be healed in answer to prayer, some fear to do anything that might seem to indicate a lack of faith. But they should not neglect to set their affairs in order as they would desire to do if they expected to be removed by death. Nor should they fear to utter words of encouragement or counsel which at the parting hour they wish to speak to their loved ones.—(The Ministry of Healing, 231.)
But after I have prayed earnestly for the sick what then? Do I cease to do all I can for their recovery?—No, I work all the more earnestly, with much prayer that the Lord may bless the means which His own hand has provided; that He may give sanctified wisdom to co-operate with Him in the recovery of the sick.—(Healthful Living, 240, [1897, 1898]).
Medical Treatments to Be Used Along With Prayer for Healing—Those who seek healing by prayer should not neglect to make use of the remedial agencies within their reach. It is not a denial of faith to use such remedies as God has provided to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work of restoration. It is no denial of faith to co-operate with God, and to place themselves in the condition most favorable to recovery. God has put it in our power to obtain a knowledge of the laws of life. This knowledge has been placed within our reach for use. We should employ every facility for the restoration of health, taking every advantage possible, working in harmony with natural laws. When we have prayed for the recovery of the sick, we can work with all the more energy, thanking God that we have the privilege of co-operating with Him, and asking His blessing on the means which He Himself has provided.—(The Ministry of Healing, 231, 232.)
Trust God Whatever the Outcome of Prayer—When we have prayed for the recovery of the sick, whatever the outcome of the case, let us not lose faith in God. If we are called upon to meet bereavement, let us accept the bitter cup, remembering that a Father’s hand holds it to our lips. But should health be restored, it should not be forgotten that the recipient of healing mercy is placed under renewed obligation to the Creator.—(The Ministry of Healing, 233.)