First of all, I'm going to explain the fundamental components of praying for a sick person. There are two:
1. The Name of Jesus
2. Faith in that Name
Don't let anybody fool you into thinking that there is more to it than this. In Acts 3:16 we find Peter and John give this answer to the bewildered crowd:
"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see."
1. The Name of Jesus
This shouldn't be difficult to understand. When we ask the Father for anything we always ask for it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the gospel of John alone, Jesus tells his disciples over and over again to ask the Father for anything in His name and it shall be given:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." - John 14:12-14
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." - John 15:16
"And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." - John 16:23-24
Simply put: Christ is our mediator between us and the Father. The Father responds to the name of His Son so that He may be glorified through His Son. I don't need to go any further in to this.
2. Faith in that Name
Now this is the critical part, but is not complicated. At the outset, I'll say that this issue of faith is the cause of much misunderstanding and discouragement, but this is uncalled for. Many times, in talking of praying for a person, we hear people say: "Just have faith." Or if a person is prayed for and nothing happens, the answer is: "Not enough faith." Before we can conclude anything from this, we need to understand WHAT we are having faith in. Here are some common mistakes:
-Have faith that the person can get well
-Have faith that our prayers are heard
-Have faith that God will heal
-and others like these...
These are what I call 'faith diverters'. This is not where we are suppose to put our faith! We know God can make the sick person well, and we know that God listens to our prayers, we know that God can heal and do anything (move mountains if He wanted to, etc...). We know all this.
Here is the secret to faith healing: Our faith must lie in the fact that there is power in the Name of Jesus Christ. We can pray for someone all day and all night, knowing that God CAN heal them... the problem is we need faith that at the Name of Jesus God WILL heal them.
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Philippians 2:9-11
Hallelujah! Even writing this my eyes are moved to tears! Oh, the Name of Jesus! Read the book of Acts and see how much the Name of Jesus is said... there is such power in that Name, we must lay hold of it!
How I could write on about this, but I'm going to leave it here with the two basic principles of praying for the sick (or any miracle at that). What I'll do now is answer some frequently asked questions about the faith healing subject that I hear all the time:
Q: Does you heart condition have anything to do with failed prayer?
A: Yes, the Bible says one of the reasons we do not receive what we ask for is because we ask falsely, wanting to "consume it upon our lusts", or to build our own reputation and pride (James 4:3). The Bible also says in 1 John 3:22: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." It is the effective prayer of a righteous man that is answered.
Q: Where does God's will come into the picture of faith healing?
A: This is a very common expression: "Lord, if it is your will", or, "I guess it wasn't the Lord's will." I want to say first of all that I believe these expressions are used as security, safety and excuses because of lack of faith. I have often found that people who say these things have very little faith, thus they need to say them. Men of faith will not speak like this but believe God for all things. Smith Wigglesworth said: "Fear looks, faith jumps."
However, there are indeed times when a person is not healed regardless of faith, but I have always found that the Lord will always inform you either before or after of the reason or cause of it. Unless otherwise informed, there is no excuse to tell the Lord it was not His will.
Q: What would be a reason or cause for the Lord not to heal someone, regardless of faith and pure motives?
A: I believe there are only two reasons why the Lord would not heal someone:
-First, it is His will for the person to go on in the illness, to benefit and protect either the person or others (but as I have said, this will always be confirmed)
-And second, the Lord is testing your faith: seeing whether you will believe on the Word or deny due to circumstances. This test, I have found, is usually tested when you first begin to pray for healings. Rees Howells referred to this process as 'giving the Lord the first-fruits'. After failing at the beginning and then prevailing through it, the Lord sees your faith and the second, third and onward supplications are blessed.
Q: Do you have to have the gift of healing in order to pray for the sick?
A: No. The Bible says in Mark 16:17: "And these signs shall follow them that believe..." Notice here the only requisite is to believe, or have faith. The gift of healing is referring to someone who is called to this specific ministry, the same as a teacher or preacher, even though we are all exhorted to encourage one another through the Word.
Q: My faith is so small. How do I increase my faith?
A: The best way to increase your faith is to read the Bible and believe what it says: "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17) The Bible also says to "...build yourself up in your most holy faith..." (Jude 1:20). There are many ways you can do this:
-interestingly, immediately following this in Jude 20 it says to pray in the Holy Ghost. This means either praying as led by the Spirit or specifically praying in tongues.
-separate yourself from this world. The world feeds on unbelief, and the more closely knit to the world you are, the less faith you will have. Sanctification always leads to great power!
-seek men and women of God who have faith. There is nothing worse than to be around Christians who do not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.
-spend time with Jesus so that it can be said of you and your faith: "...They took note they had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)
-someone once said: "You don't pray to maintain your Christian life... you maintain your Christian life to pray."
If anyone has any questions please write them in a comment and I will do my best to give a Biblically sound answer from the Word and my own experiences. I want to open this post up to all so that we may remove all confusion from this subject in our minds. May this be a blessing and a help to someone!