Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases (Psalm 103v 2-3)

Healing – a part of atonement

Healing as a spiritual gift appears early in the Bible (Gen 20) when Abraham prays for Abimelech, (and his wife and female slaves) and carries on all the way through to Rev 22v 2. Healing was a big part of Jesus’ ministry. There are 25 accounts of healing miracles in the gospels. Jesus never sent his disciples out to preach without commissioning them to heal the sick (Matt 10, Luke 9&10, Mark 6). Healing was a sign of the Kingdom of God, appropriately there are seven healing miracles in Acts.

It’s a provocative fact that Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to pray for the sick, or pray to the father to heal  them, but simply commanded them to heal the sick. I have seen God heal and I have prayed for countless people who haven’t been healed yet! I would love to have a better record, but I am convinced healing is a part of the atonement. This speaks powerfully of God’s heart to reach into our broken humanity and bring wholeness. Healing is not an end in itself, but points to the greater reality of God’s Kingdom advancing.

Strong emotions

The topic of healing rouses strong emotions in many Christians. Beyond theological objections to the current use of this gift, most of us have a painful story of how someone we loved and prayed for earnestly died of a horrific disease. Maybe we held tenaciously to prophetic words that this person would be gloriously healed. We prayed our hearts out, fasted, and performed spiritual contortionism to persuade God to heal them, but it didn’t happen. There are unhelpful platitudes, ‘well they received emotional healing’, or ‘they’re perfectly healed in heaven’, which fudge the issue. This is NOT what we were praying for, and this approach lacks the integrity needed to process the burning questions we wrestle with after such a disappointment.

Such episodes are hard to explain, and sometimes God seems silent. Often the unspoken message or even open condemnation of other Christians is that if we had exercised more faith, and prayed harder, we would have received the answer. We’re left hurt, bewildered, grieving and if we don’t process this well with God we’ll  submerge all our feelings about this (because they’re uncomfortable and unpalatable) to fester in our subconscious. The danger is that over time we’ll become hard, cynical, and unlikely to pray boldly for healing. Our theology will start to mutate as well because we’ll seek validation for unbelief in the word of God.

I met an area wide hospital prayer coordinatoron mission. She and her prayer group were given details of Christians who had been referred to the hospital with serious illness. She stridently informed me ‘We never pray for healing, oh no, that’s entirely up to God. We only pray for safe journeys, and for people to avoid traffic jams and for the doctors.’ These were clearly nice people praying nice prayers but a million miles from Biblical Christianity, and quite self-satisfied about it too!

they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16v 18b)

The pressure from the world, the flesh and the devil is ever to lower our faith from Biblical Christianity. Memory is the enemy of faith, and if we are not continually renewing our minds with the word of God our historical disappointments will curtail our current boldness. Although the quotation below is out of context, it articulates where we end up if we rest on experience rather than raising our faith to the level of the word of God. To heal the sick was Jesus’ command to his disciples not an optional extra for the super-committed or fanatics.

“You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! (Mark 7v 9)

Physical healing is spiritually contested because it is a powerful sign of the Kingdom, more of this in the next article. However, there are other types of healing which we will explore, all equally supernatural and characteristic of a God who wants to break every bondage over our lives. If we are to make other people whole, we must first embrace healing for ourselves. Interestingly the Greek word for salvation, Sozo, is much wider than forgiveness and an eternity in heaven. It denotes wholeness for our whole being; physical, spiritual and emotional. The gift of healing can operate in all these ways,

Psychological healing

Most, if not all our battles originate from our minds, or more specifically, our un-renewed minds. To renew the mind is a process and there may be many strongholds to pull down (2 Cor 10v 3-5). There is a scourge of mental illness in our society, no doubt directly proportionate to how far we have strayed from God’s word in the church, let alone in society.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12v 2)

We need prayer to support us in this journey of renewal, and some of us may have such embedded lies (strongholds) from which we need deliverance. Feeding on the Word of God is essential because it heals our minds and replaces toxic lies with life-giving truth.

I have a lot of faith for healing in this arena of the mind and mental well-being. When I pray for someone, I am convinced that something will shift for the better. This being so I do not denigrate psychiatry or psychology (except where it contradicts the Bible) and I would NEVER recommend someone stop taking medication, always looking to Jesus as the ultimate healer.

Emotional healing

Many wounds reside in the soul (the mind, the intellect, the will and the emotions) and some aren’t automatically healed when we become a Christian.You will know this all too well if you have spent any time in churches. Have you heard this adage, ‘hurting people hurt people, healed people heal people’. The soul is the place which we must bring under the rulership of the spirit, for it is where the enemy will seek to gain access through unhealed wounds and sin.

I regularly pray for people in this area of emotional healing, as much as physical healing, and in fact the two are connected. Often, I find myself praying for God to ‘father’ someone; this is a major lack in our Western culture, and perhaps in every culture. Being fathered by God is tremendously healing for the soul.

Spiritual healing/deliverance

So closely are deliverance and healing connected in the gospels that occasionally they seem synonymous (Matt 8v 16). Every time Jesus sent his disciples out he gave them power to cast out demons. Often with a chronic illness, discernment of spiritual oppression and deliverance can release physical symptoms.

How would the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5) be diagnosed today? An assortment of syndromes, dissociative disorders, schizophrenia? Western medicine would scream blue murder if there was a suggestion of demonization. Derek Prince once responded to doubts about deliverance ministry, and he was anointed in this area, ‘If you want to call it a syndrome, call it a syndrome, but after deliverance the syndrome is gone!’ Surely this is another form of healing, and much needed in our day. One wonders how many disciples are confident or competent? Prepare us Lord!

Relational healing

Sometimes the fissures of misunderstanding and brokenness in a relationship are so deep and so infested with lies, that reconciliation is a healing miracle. This can be in a Christian relationship or a marriage or with non-believers or any combination of these. Have you lived through any church splits? It’s a miracle of healing for reconciliation to be found.

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women (Phil 4v 2-3)

Financial healing

Broken lives, greed, and let’s call it what it is, sin, lead to chaotic finances, insufficiency, debts and bankruptcies. This puts a stress on everything else. My wife and I are far from perfect, but all our married lives we’ve tithed and given offerings. Sometimes we earned a fraction of what our non-Christian and Christian friends were, and yet they were using credit cards and getting into debt. A little with God’s blessing goes a lot further than riches without (Matt 6v 33). Not that there’s no problem with riches, but provided we steward them in a Godly way God will bless even our finances.

As we bring our lives into line -through simple obedience – with the Word of God, healing can occur in our finances. Is ‘healing’ too strong a word to use? Not if you witness what debt does to people.The charity CAP (Christians Against Poverty) has had enormous success in helping people out of debt using Biblical principles. Often these people are so grateful they come to Christ.

There may be cases where our finances are under a curse. This can stem from corruption (ours or someone else’s), theft, not giving when God asks us to, or withholding money from those we owe it to. We need prayer but also to make recompense wherever possible like a certain tax-collector (Luke 19). I am convinced that our finances are the surest indicator of our values, priorities and devotion to God. As Martin Luther pithily observed (brackets mine)

People go through three conversions (healings?); the conversion of their head, their heart and their pocket book.


Daniel Holland is a UK missionary with Through Faith Missions. He wrote “Through The Tunnel – Free at Last” published by PUSH Publishing, as his personal testimony. His second book “Prophetic Evangelism – Kingdom Exploits in the Risk Zone” was published last year via Christian Publications International:

Daniel has also written two booklets on “Caring For New Christians” And “Growing as a New Christian”. Details via the Christian Publications International website.