prayer for the sick

If you or someone you love is facing a difficult disease or illness, know that saying or requesting a prayer for the sick can help. Through prayer, God can work miracles and use us for His glory on Earth by healing us of our illnesses. As the New Testament tells us, we should lift up the sick and unwell in prayer so that the Lord may provide healing: “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15). However, we must remember, even when we pray for the sick, that God’s gift of healing us from illness will always be in accordance with His sovereign will.

What does it mean to say a prayer for the sick?

 Illness is a natural part of human life – at some point or another we will all be sick, though with varying degrees of seriousness. Just as likely, we all know someone who will fall ill – perhaps seriously so. When we say a prayer against sickness, we are asking for God to intercede on our behalf or on behalf of someone we love, and to heal us from our ailments. Of course, it may not always be possible to achieve complete healing, but part of saying a prayer for the sick may include asking for relief of aggravating symptoms, temporary respite from a chronic illness, or even that a loved one may be released from his or her suffering if the illness is too advanced to be cured.

Ultimately, when we say a prayer for the sick, we are requesting that the goodness of God prevail of the forces of evil. God did not create sickness, but He can heal it better and more completely than anyone else can. Healing from illness is a visible manifestation of God’s triumph over Satan. Though we may be asking for God’s healing intercession on behalf of ourselves or our loved ones, when we say a prayer for the sick we are also praying for the return of God’s kingdom on Earth.

When to say a prayer for the sick?

Have you been suffering from a routine or seasonal illness? Is someone you love suffering from a potentially life-threatening diagnosis? These are all reasons when we may say a prayer for the sick, or request a prayer in times when we feel too unwell to pray for ourselves or are unsure of what to pray for. Some of the reasons we might say a prayer for the sick include:

  • Healing a sick friend
  • Improving the health of the mind or body
  • Easing pain and suffering
  • Comfort for the friends and family of those dealing with prolonged or serious illness
  • For miraculous healing
  • For nurses, doctors, and all who support the medical profession, that they might be filled with skill and wisdom

God wants us to be whole – not just in our body, but in our mind and spirit as well. Wherever there is sickness, pain, or hurt, there is an opportunity for God’s glory through healing.

Does God always answer our prayers for the sick?

 Of course, the burden of healing always falls on God. Our Creator is the only one who can give the order to heal and rescue us from sickness. The Bible tells of miraculous healing from illnesses, and these kinds of miracles can only be achieved through prayer. However, the Bible also tells us that healing is a gift from God that is granted only if it is for the common good of the Church, and is in accordance with God’s sovereign will.

Though we may fervently desire it and pray for it, God does not always grant us immediate and complete healing from all of life’s ailments. The Bible instructs us to pray for the sick, but also to know that healing is never guaranteed. Though we are told to pray when someone is sick and this prayer for healing will make them well, the Bible reminds us that though King David prayed and fasted for seven days to save his dying child, he also recognized that this may not be the case: “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live” (2 Samuel 22). When God did not grant healing to King David’s son, King David continued to worship him anyway.

When saying a prayer for the sick, it’s important to remember the following things:

  • Healing miracles are rare: When we read the Bible, we see proof of God’s healing power through the miracles performed by Jesus. It seems like on every other page of the Bible we hear about Jesus healing the blind, deaf, lame, or leprous. However, the Bible covers 2,000 years of history – though Jesus did heal many people, there are many, many more that he did not heal. 
  • Healing may come gradually: Of course, it would be convenient to pray for healing and find ourselves healed and whole again all at once. But immediate healing is not always part of God’s plan for us; healing may be gradual. Perhaps this gradual healing means that your affliction is to be used for God’s glory. This can be hard, especially when it involves physical pain or mental anguish, but remember that sickness and pain – though God did not create these things – are still under His dominion. 
  • If you never ask, the answer is always no: It can be easy to become discouraged when our prayers for healing go unanswered. We may quit asking altogether – but that would be an error. Though it may be hard, healing will never come if you never ask for it – continue to pray and to have faith in the Lord.

 The most important thing to remember when saying a prayer for the sick is that prayers are demonstration of our continued faith in God. Let God speak to your pain and bring comfort and wisdom during this part of your life. Allow these afflictions to become part of your testimony and for the development of your own personal character, but continue to earnestly desire the gift of healing from God in your daily conversations with Him. Also remember that the ultimate healing is promised to all of those who live with faith in God.

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