My wife Amy and I are a part of a ministry in Novo called Prime. We help activate leaders in various expressions of prayer to see an outbreak of gospel movements happen around the world. But our main ministry happens in a city in the US where we’ve lived and worked among Muslims for the past two years. Here we’ve watched the Lord do many miracles, including healing people for whom we’ve prayed in Jesus’s name. Several Discovery Bible Studies have resulted for Muslim families to explore the person of Christ. We really love what we do in serving 11 nationalities of refugees (Afghan, Sudanese, Egyptian, etc.) in our area (read more of this story here)!
In Prime, we know that the good news of Jesus is more fruitful when people see God’s healing presence in action. That’s what Jesus did—he talked about the Kingdom while modeling it for people by going from town to town healing everyone who came to him (Luke 4:40). Today folks need to see that God has not changed; he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
I am occasionally invited to teach on physical healing. One of the things I often talk about is the difference between faith (believing God CAN do something) and expectation (believing God WILL do something). In my experience, both of these are important for physical healing to take place.
For example, imagine a chair. We may know a chair is there in front of us, and may even believe it will hold us. But it isn’t until we exercise faith by sitting down, expecting the chair to do what it was intended to do that we fully experience the chair itself. So it is with physical healing. When we believe the one who calls himself The God Who Heals (Exodus 15:26) can and will heal us, then expect something to happen, we start experiencing a fuller reality of God’s Kingdom. In essence, we come to trust who God says he is more than our own questions and doubts, including what we may have experienced in the past. And as we add expectation to our faith, we see more healing happen around us, which in turn causes our faith and expectation to grow, and so on.
Another helpful thing to understand is that praying for physical healing is never about “having enough faith”; it’s about placing the faith we do have in the person and character of God and what he says about himself. As we do that, we place ourselves in a posture of listening, waiting expectantly for God to lead us.
During a recent training I led on physical healing, I asked if anyone in the group was experiencing pain or wanted prayer. One woman indicated that she’d had pain in her shoulder for many years and was currently at a pain level of 8 on a scale of 1–10. I declared healing over her shoulder and told the pain to leave. Then I checked in to see how her shoulder felt and found that there had been no change. I prayed again, asking her to try to move her shoulder, and this time, as she slowly began to move it, she started crying because the pain was going away. As she kept moving it and I kept praying, she felt more healing in her shoulder. Eventually the pain was totally gone, and she reported later that she’d been able to sleep on her side for the first time in three years! Glory be to our great God!
At that same training, the Lord spoke to me through a word of knowledge, giving me the impression that he wanted to heal people who were suffering from neuropathy. After hearing that word, a man stood who hadn’t had feeling in his hands for some time. That night he received instantaneous healing! He told us after we prayed that for the first time in a long while he could feel the texture of his journal. We were all stunned! Months later at a follow-up meeting, he shared that before this prayer time he’d been taking seizure medication for the intense pain he was in. When God healed him, he‘d been able to get off the medication, and his personality had completely changed as a result. He was himself again!
Sometimes the Lord heals people all at once and sometimes healing is a process. But either way, we’ll take everything that God has to give!
On another night, a 16-year old boy came forward. He hadn’t wanted to be at the training, but his mom had insisted he come. When he saw healing happening around him, he realized that God was still alive and moving today, so he asked me to pray for his arm, which had been injured in sports. That night he was fully healed on the spot. As a result, his life has dramatically changed; now he’s reaching out to his friends with the good news of Jesus, and he and I have started a mentoring relationship!
This is what happens when people add expectation to their faith. Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth—in each city and neighborhood where we live—just as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). That is what we’re doing with joyous and grateful hearts and teaching others to do!
How Can You Pray for Healing?
In a normal day-to-day encounter with your neighbors, how might you begin to pray for healing? This very simple process of prayer has helped me step into greater faith.
I begin by asking God to lead me to a person with a need, whether it’s physical and obvious, or spiritually discerned. Once he’s led me to someone, I ask a few questions and then pray for them if they agree. In these encounters, I have rarely had anyone tell me, “No.” However, they are often surprised when they learn that I want to pray for them right on the spot. There’s usually an expectation that I will just throw up a prayer to God later on. Despite their reaction, people almost always say, “Yes,” allowing me to pray right then.
The process I’m outlining here is not a prescription, but a description of a normal healing prayer process. It usually looks like this:
1. Initiate: “Are you in pain now?” “May I pray for you?”
2. Clarify: “Where does it hurt?” “What would you like Jesus to do for you?”
3. Measure: “On a scale of 1–10, 10 being the worst, how bad is your pain right now?"
4. Engage: “Let’s pray!”
5. Check in and continue praying as needed: “How are you doing?” “After praying, do you feel a measurable difference on that scale?” “May I continue praying for you right now?”
6. Conclude: Post-prayer encouragement—seal and bless what God has done.
These steps are helpful to start praying for people. We can take steps of faith in boldness and trust God for healing. He is ultimately the Healer, but we are his hands and feet.
When I used to pray for people, I would be gripped with fear, asking, “What if they don’t get healed?” That would always hold me back from praying for people. But then I started asking different questions, like, “What if they do get healed? What would happen if God showed up as the Healer right now in this person’s life?” As I began to think about how that encounter might change their lives, their family, and maybe even the location where I was praying—even change our city through one little act of love—I started to step out more often with expectation, and I began seeing God move in people’s lives. All I needed to do was let his love replace my fear, and everything began to change.
I have seen God heal people over and over again when I take steps of faith. And even when he doesn’t heal, he always shows up with love for that person. Just as it says in Galatians 5:6, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
So what can you do this week?
Ask God if there is someone that he is leading you to pray for.
Be open to praying for someone throughout your day (while buying groceries, at the cash register, on your lunch break, or even while picking your kids up from school).
Initiate the six steps above and trust in who God is, not who you are or what you’ve personally experienced.
I’d love to hear stories of what God is doing, what risks you took, or what questions you have! Please send me an email any time!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen and his wife Amy serve a large Muslim refugee population in the US. They’ve started a local house of prayer and neighborhood community center which serves as a "third space" to meet the practical needs of Muslim neighbors and to catalyze discipleship. Stephen is part of the Prime Prophetic team. He's passionate about seeing the Church awakened to mission and walking in the power of the Spirit. On a regular day you can find him reading a book, drinking a great cup of coffee, or exploring new food spots in the area.