I just got back from spending a week in northern New York where I interviewed my father-in-law, Ford Reynolds, so that I can write his biography. He’s 81-years-old, and has operated in the gift of healing since the day he received Christ under Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry in 1972. After interviewing him, I am freshly challenged to trust God for signs and wonders.

I have to confess, though I do pray for the sick, my passion to do so has dwindled in recent years, and this I can attribute to two things:

1) My growth in understanding God’s sovereignty

As I have received a baptism in the doctrines of grace (which some might called reformed theology), I have become thoroughly convinced of the sovereignty of God. Nothing and no one can shake me from the certainty I have that God is in control of every detail of my life. These truths have brought incredible confidence and comfort into my life as I no longer (unwittingly) belief in the sovereignty of man or Satan. Because I know God works all things for good, I am no longer anxious about anything, whether it goes well for me or not. Yes, I ask for His blessings, but my attitude is like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, who said, “Our God is able to deliver us, but even if He does not, we will not bow to your idol.” That said, I think the temptation is to drift into a form of fatalism that ceases to stand up and fight when trouble comes. I know God doesn’t want me to turn this doctrine into resignation.

2) Frustration

I have seen many great signs and wonders in my life and ministry, which I don’t have time to tell about right now. Even so, like many Christians, I have also known the frustration of unanswered prayers, of high hopes disappointed, and of watching the man who limped up to me for prayer limp away.

I remember several occasions when our ministry was a part of “healing services” and no one got healed. Once we did a week long series of meetings with my father-in-law, and to date, we are unaware of anyone getting healed. Another time, we did a massive region-wide “Prayer Fair” where people came in wheelchairs and cancer-stricken, and I heard of no great miracle. Situations like these hindered my enthusiasm to pray for the sick.

Further, I’ve been frustrated by the diversity of theological views on this topic. Dispensationalism (the idea that God doesn’t heal today), hyper-faith preaching (a teaching that makes you obsess about how much faith you do or don’t have), and confusing discussions about whether or not God heals every time (and if He doesn’t whose fault it is) have left me with “paralysis by analysis.” With all these experiences and theological conundrums, it’s easier just to stop asking than to keep having your hopes disappointed.

My father-in-law has never allowed these issues to hinder him. He has seen some of his own prayers go unanswered, heard the theological debates, and still keeps asking again and again and again and again for the sick to be healed. And he’s seen miracle after miracle. Dad quoted this verse to me:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues…they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16:17-18, NIV)

I guess what I’m coming to believe is that divine healing may not be a theological issue. It’s a prophecy and a command. It’s a prophecy in the sense that Jesus was simply telling us what would happen, and it’s a command because He told us to do it. We should evaluate it no more than we should evaluate church attendance. Just do it.

John Wimber (founder of Vineyard) once said to a church that was wrestling with the issue of divine healing, “We found this principle out in our churches: When we didn’t pray for anyone to be healed, no one got healed. But when we prayed for people to be healed, not everyone was, but a whole lot more were healed than when we weren’t praying!”

Come on, folks! Let’s stop the debates and dispose of the attitudes of resignation and pray for the sick! That’s what I learned from my father-in-law last week. I’m looking forward to finishing this book.

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