Healing, Creating a Culture of Prayer (4), Acts 9, May 22nd 2022

Healing, Creating a Culture of Prayer (4), Acts 9, May 22nd 2022

Healing, Creating a Culture of Prayer (4),  May 22nd 2022

Acts 9:32-end; John 5:1-9 (16).

‘Healing – in its various forms – is Jesus Christ meeting us at our point of need.’’

In 2000, the Church of England issued a report on the ministry of healing.

‘’Healing, we might say, is what the Church’s mission is all about.

Healing, wholeness, salvation – these words embrace what God has achieved through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The healing ministry in the church is visionary, because it beckons us towards the future and a glimpse of the consummated kingdom, the hope of creation renewed in perfect health and wholeness.

The healing ministry in the church is prophetic, because it calls us to reconsider our relationship with God, each other and the world, and to seek forgiveness and a new start in our lives.

The healing ministry in the church is dynamic , because Jesus is with us to the end of time; when we pray for his help, he comforts strengthens and heals us, according to our deepest need.’’ (From the Report ‘Time to Heal’, Church House Publishing 2000).

Our Gospel and Acts readings  are about healing.

What is healing?

There are four kinds of healing.

Physical – for problems caused by disease, accidents etc.

Emotional  – for problems causing mental pain, and any illness needing the healing of memories.

Spiritual – healing of the spirit, caused by being out of harmony with God.

The ultimate spiritual healing in rebirth, being born again, made alive.

Deliverance – for problems caused by the powers of darkness.

There can be an interaction between all four. For example, a lady in her 60s comes seeking prayer for her arthritis. She wants physical healing.

But as she is listened to, and shares, it becomes apparent that the arthritis flared up 6 months after the death of her husband. The way she talks, she needs to still work through her feelings of bereavement  – emotional healing.  That will not be a short process.

She also, when sharing, admits, she feels great bitterness towards her husband’s sister, who caused her husband much anquish during his life and who did not attend his funeral. She is deeply angry at this woman, causing bitterness and thus a disease of her spirit. She needs healing spiritually.

She also confides after her husband’s death, she went on  several occasions to a spiritualist and since then has been plagued by voices – powers of darkness she needs deliverance from.

As we can see – from this created example – prayer for healing can be fairly complex.

Healing and medical practice.

Medical science, as practiced today, has brought help and healing to millions. Good medical practice not only uses direct treatments, but will include health education, environmental, social, psychological issues.

Counselors, psychologists, doctors, they can be part of God’s healing work.

God, as part of his self revelation to his people in Exodus 15, God said: I am the Lord who heals you. God heals through medicine and medical practice, as through answered prayer, and it can be a combination of the two.

Raniero Cantalamessa,

who was the preacher to Pope, says:
‘Today we have two ways to face up

to the problem of ill health:

the way of human nature and the way of grace.

By human nature, in this sense, encompasses science and technology and all our resources — in short, all that we have received from God in creation,

 and all that we have developed from that by using our intelligence.

But then there’s this second way: grace, which indicates faith and the prayers by which, as
God may will, we sometimes obtain healings in a way that goes beyond the scope of
human resources.’

`Against disease and ill health,’ he writes, ‘a Christian cannot be satisfied to use only the
facilities of nature — to set up hospitals or work alongside with the structures of the state
to provide care and comfort.

Christians have a very special power of their own, given to them by Christ. He gave them authority to cure every disease and every sickness. It would be an omission to fail to have recourse to this power and so fail to hold out hope,  especially to those to whom science denies all hope.’’


Someone said: ‘The Christian ministry of healing is more about relationship than remedy.’

When we look at the Gospels, we often see physical and spiritual healing together – the sick person enters into a personal relationship with Jesus – there is spiritual healing. 

such as the blind man in John 9, the woman with internal bleeding in Mark 5, and the possessed man by the legion of demons in Mark and of course Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10.

 Our Gospel, John 5 is different from the other healing signs – John 4 officials son, John 9 blind man, John 11 raising of Lazarus – all these respond in belief in Jesus. John 5 – what does the man do in response…

In Acts, Aeneas and Tabitha are both believers, but we see people in Lydda and then in Joppa come to believe in Christ through the healings of these two believers.  Spiritual healing comes to others, through the physical healing of one.

Continuing the ministry of Jesus

In Acts 9, what strikes us, Peter, in the name of Jesus, is doing what Jesus did. The Paralysed man in Lydda, the paralysed man who was lowered on a mat.

Jesus told him to take up his mat and go home; Peter says  – get up and tidy your mat – he was already in his home.  Peter is clear it is not his power, it is the working of Jesus – Jesus Christ heals you.

With Tabitha.  Again Peter copies what the Lord did with the healing of Jairus’ daughter. He puts the people out. In this case he prays – to the Lord, for wisdom, perhaps, as Jesus himself says in John 5, I only do what I see the Father doing – asking for guidance. 

The Early Church saw itself as having a ministry, which includes seeking to do the same works as Jesus – to preach the good news, and to do the works of the kingdom, which included healing in its various forms.


Nicky Gumbel tells a story. He was at HTB, leading Alpha. He saw a woman come in, whom he did not recognize. It was a woman in her sixties. Her name was Jean Smith. Jean told her story. She said.

 ‘Sixteen and a half years ago, I went blind. I had a disease in the retinas of my eyes, and it was inoperable.’

Nicky summarises. The doctors told her that she would never see again. She went totally blind. She had a white stick. She had a guide dog, called Tina. And she went on an Alpha course in Wales. And she didn’t really want to go on Alpha, because they were doing it by DVD, and she thought, ‘I’m not even going to be able to see the DVDs.’

But she went nevertheless,

and then she went on the Alpha Weekend, where there is teaching on the Holy Spirit and opportunity to be prayed with.

And on that Weekend she had an experience of the Holy Spirit. And she’d been in a lot of pain with her eyes, and the pain went. And she was so thankful to God that on the Sunday evening – after returning from the weekend –  she went to church, and she wanted to thank God for taking away the pain.

And the minister came and he anointed her with oil as a sign of the healing that had taken place. And as she wiped away the oil, she could see the communion table in front of her.

And, as Nicky finished,  she went home that night and she saw her husband for the first time in sixteen and a half years. ‘She said she couldn’t believe how white he’d gone! She’d never seen her daughter-in-law. She’d never seen her six-and-a-half-year-old grandson. Her six-and-a-half-year-old grandson used to lead her around the puddles. And when he saw that she could see, he said to her: ‘Who done that, Gran?’ And she said, ‘Jesus has made me better.’ He said, ‘Did you thank him for it, Gran?’ She said, ‘I have never stopped thanking him.’

But not everyone is healed. Many of us have personal examples, of people for whom we have prayed.

Jesus demonstrated God’s rule and reign – the kingdom. But it was inaugurated – it was breaking in. But that full consummated kingdom is to come, as Revelation 21-22 and other places beautifully describes. When there will be no more sickness, suffering or death.

The rule and reign of God – we get foretastes – where healing whether physically, emotionally or spiritually occurs. I guess an example could be last year, we were in Valkenburg, it was end of February – and the weather was amazing – it was warm enough to feel like summer beginning. Yet it wasn’t summer – it was a foretaste. Maybe a week or two later, it was wet, windy and all those sayings about March.

And when somebody’s healed – when that lady Jean Smith was healed of her blindness – that’s a foretaste. What it tells you is that’s what it’s going to be like in the future, and we look forward to all of it. But right now we don’t experience total healing. Death is usually an outworking of sickness – and in the early church we hear of believers – ‘falling asleep’ dying – prayers were not answered as hoped, not everyone was healed.

Healing has different forms.

Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Deliverance from the Powers of Darkness.

The last one, we return to next week. We have mentioned physical.

Spiritual Healing

we have shared a little about. Ephesians 2, uses language that we were dead in our sins. To believe and trust in Christ, leads to spiritual resurrection. There is reconciliation with God, our relationship with God is healed – we are his child, his Spirit comes to permanently live in us, God is for us and not against us. That is what Christ desire for every person. And so evangelism is about seeking to bring healing into lives.

There are more aspects to spiritual healing within Christians and we will return to that next week.

Emotional Healing

When we consider the teachings of the New Testament, we see various examples of emotional healing.  Three examples.

The Fruit of the Spirit

When Paul describes the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – he describes the workings of the Spirit to grow these within us. With it, is a promise, that where we may have wounds within us, that would stop part of this fruit, the Spirit can – perhaps over a short time, or a longer time – bring healing so the fruit can grow. For these are all emotional characteristics, part of character.  So joy can be restored, gentleness can return, peace can rule.

Identity in Christ

Secondly. A number of years ago, I came across the writings of Neil Anderson. In his books, he had gathered all the statements relating to our identity in Christ – nearly all of them from the NT. What it is possible to do, is when we encounter these statements, because they are in ‘you’ language or ‘we’ language, we can subciously not apply them to ourselves. But what Anderson did, was he turned it into I language. So Romans 15 – ‘accept one another as Christ has accepted you.’ This sentence became ‘I am accepted by Christ’.

The bible verses are gathered under three headings – I am accepted, I am secure, I am significant. It is about believing what Christ and the Bible says about you, through what he has done. The core idea is – you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. So for some of us, to soak in the truths of who we are, can bring that emotional healing, from struggles with self esteem.  As we meditate upon them, we grow in our confidence that we are secure, significant, accepted…


The third example is listening. Christ listened. He listened to the Samaritan woman as she began to share pain; he listened to Mary as she shared her grief on Easter Sunday; he listened to the Emmaus Road disciples as they talked of their confusion, he listened on a busy road, with crowds around him, to the woman with internal bleeding as she told the whole story – despite the pressures upon him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935, formed a community of vicars, who would share life together in a community. He warned the young clergy: ‘’Christians (especially ministers) so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. ‘’

Bonhoeffer adds: ‘’Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share.’’ 

Gerard Hughes wrote: ‘’The gift of being a good listener, a gift which requires constant practice is perhaps the most healing gift anyone could possess. It doesn’t judge or advise the other, but communicates support at a level deeper than words.’’

Making space for people, is a healing activity, as another writer has put it, and listening is a vital ingredient in this.

The story of Job is known well. There are chapters of advice, from the friends. But it all begins with after his experiences, it says : then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No-one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.’  The friends started the right way – they sat, they listened, empathized with the tormented grieving Jo for as long as was necessary.

Putting into Practice

It is important to try to put things into practice.

Emotionally : Do you know scriptures that affirm who your identity in Christ  – secure, significant, accepted? To help these truths take hold, it can be necessary to read them each day for perhaps up to 6 weeks. As we believe them, there may be times, it will be appropriate to share those scriptures with others.

I will share examples in the app later.

To Listen. To make space for people. To really listen. It is important people are seen – Jesus had never seen that lady before yet he was present to her – she was seen – so even someone you do not know well – to listen can be a great gift.  How can you grow in listening?

Physical healing.

I’d like to invite each of you to join in with praying for healing.

At this stage, no I am not suggesting you join the prayer ministry team.

I’d suggest that when you go home, to create a prayer list. A short list  – 5 people, who need God’s healing grace at this time.  

These are people you know

and are in some regular contact with.

Do it prayerfully. So set aside time.

Ask the Lord to bring people to mind, whom he would like you to intercede for.

Write the list on your phone or in your bible.

Ideally write the person’s name and the need: eg John – freedom from pain and a new knowledge of Jesus as his Lord and Saviour; or Jane – for safe outcome from her operation, and complete recovery; for Tim – for strength as he stays clean from drugs and to be protected from any unhelpful temptations. 

And then include them in your personal prayers.

You do not need long prayers when you pray for them. An old archbishop helpfully said: ‘Intercession is being in the presence of God with people on your heart.’

It can be enough to say ‘Jesus, I hold John before you, for healing and a new knowledge of you…’

This is a prayer list to use in the coming weeks.

Hold them in prayer regularly during your week.

And try to touchbase to hear how they are doing.


Healing covers four areas – physically, emotionally, spiritually and deliverance. In the fully consummated kingdom we will all experience full healing in all dimensions. Between now and then we are all in different situations, and it can be said, we all need healing in one or more areas. I believe the ministry of Jesus Christ, in whose footsteps we follow and whose message we live out and proclaim, is about healing.

Healing, we might say, is what the Church’s mission is all about. Healing, wholeness, salvation – these words embrace what God has achieved through the incarnation, cross, resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It becomes part of our ministry, our personal love of neighbour and fellow believer, part of our prayers for others and with others.


Eternal God,
whose Son went among the crowds
and brought healing with his touch:
help us to show his love,
in your Church as we gather together,
and by our lives as they are transformed into the image of Christ our Lord.

Lord, our lives are laid open before you:
rescue us from the chaos of sin
and through the death of your Son
bring us healing and make us whole;
in  and through Christ.

In your son’s name. Amen.