Have you ever wondered how to be healed by Jesus? Perhaps you’re suffering with a physical condition right now and have been begging God for relief. I want to offer you some practical advice about what to do next that I believe will lead to your healing.
In the last couple weeks, I’ve received close to 30 e-mails asking, “What am I doing wrong? Why am I not yet healed?” These dear people from all over the world tell me heartbreaking stories of all the things they’ve tried in their pursuit of physical healing. Some of them ask me to tell them more details of my own healing experiences, hoping to find a secret key that will unlock their own healing.
I get it. I’ve been there. And I don’t fault anyone for asking such things.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that while the actual event of healing happens in an instant, there is often a long journey to reach that place. Even when Jesus was physically walking the earth, there were some who merely reached out and touched His cloak while others had to shout past naysayers, travel from surrounding villages, hike around a lake when He sailed away, or even chase Him down. Every account is different, and there don’t appear to be any formulas for how to be healed by Jesus. The only common denominator — in every case — is Jesus Himself.
Before I continue, I want you to know that this article is going to tell you how to be healed by Jesus. But I also want to warn you: It may make you frustrated, and it may not produce instant results (I say “may,” though, because I have seen this work so many times).
First, a little encouragement…
I’m In This With You
Many people know the story of how the Lord directed me to minister healing to myself when I had scars all over my face from second-degree sunburn. What was medically impossible actually happened within only one month of contending for my own healing. That was back in 2002. Many also know about how I was healed of degenerative disc disease in 2011 after suffering with chronic (and sometimes crippling) back pain for 4 agonizing years. A few even know about the time around 2005 that Jesus came to me in a dream and both healed and restored my teeth that had been literally falling apart (probably the most painful month of my life).
I know what it is to suffer while believing for healing, and I know what it is to experience the miraculous relief that comes when Jesus finally receives what He purchased.
What many do not know is that a few months ago, I was diagnosed with yet another condition for which I am still seeking healing.
I’m sometimes stubborn about seeing a doctor, so I went a year suffering with progressively worse cramps and even bleeding in my digestive tract until finally seeing my physician about my condition. When all the tests were complete, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease — an inflammatory bowel disease that attacks (in my case) the colon and causes serious pain, cramping, ulcers, and malnutrition (among many other things).
Even though I’ve been healed of more things than I can recount, and even though in a few of those cases I was able to minister healing to myself, I obviously don’t have a “secret key” that will unlock a healing at-will. It just doesn’t work that way. But don’t let that discourage you because I do know what to do in order to be healed, and I’m actively practicing it every day, knowing that breakthrough is inevitable if I will persevere. And you can do this too!
The Healing is Found in the Healer
If I want to interact with my wife or receive a gift from her, there is no “secret key.” I don’t have to say a magic string of words like “pretty please with sugar on top” before she will bake me a cheesecake (which she did for Father’s Day, and it was spectacular!). I don’t have to beg her, kicking and screaming until she hears me and gives me something I want (like my 4-year-old has been doing for a Buzz Lightyear toy that may never materialize until he stops freaking out about it… A good father doesn’t let his kids benefit from that sort of behavior!).
My wife loves me. She wants to care for me. And she knows that I love her and want to care for her. The ways in which we communicate are not attempts at pushing the right button to make the other do what we want. In fact, if I always approached her in the same way just to use her for my own purposes, not only would it become annoying to her but it would indicate that I don’t really understand the relationship we have or how much she loves me.
In the same way, you don’t need to figure out a secret method to approaching God. He invites us to enter boldly to the throne of grace — not cautiously with a choreographed dance under fear of being rejected if it isn’t perfect.
Many have preached that “God is not a vending machine.” Many who say this are trying to say that sometimes God doesn’t want to heal us. To put it bluntly, that’s garbage that is easily debated from a New Testament perspective. But on the positive side, the larger point being made is that God is not an inanimate object that we can control. Whenever we try to control Him, He reminds us that He is God. He’s not a force to be manipulated. We can’t twist His arm. And accordingly, the “secret key” that most of us are looking for simply doesn’t exist.
What moves God’s heart is not the right amount of tears or complaints (not that He ignores such things). What moves His heart is when we connect with Him as children to a loving Father. Sometimes that may come with tears and frustration as we make known our complaint to the Lord, so don’t think I’m talking about a method of prayer. If we start talking methods, then we’ve missed the point again. He’s our heavenly Dad, and He truly is a good and loving Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.
Your healing is not a special gift locked away in a box until you perform the right action and receive it as a reward. That’s not a real gift. That’s not grace. Grace implies a free gift (Clarification: It’s free to you but was incredibly costly to Jesus).
Your healing cannot be sought as a secret treasure to be unlocked. Your healing is found in Jesus. He’s the One who does the work–not you. He’s the One who unlocked your healing 2,000 years ago. You don’t need a secret key; you need Jesus. And if you’re a Christian, then you already have Him.
Time to Rest
Speaking as someone who has been healed of many “incurable” conditions yet is also presently suffering with one, I want to share with you the secret to my endurance, which has led to one breakthrough after the next. There’s a reason I can stand in front of scores of people a few times a month and proclaim with absolute certainty that God wants to heal them immediately while my own gut is still twisted in pain. There’s a reason I can walk through the grocery store with stomach cramps yet stop to boldly minister healing to a fellow shopper with a cane.
The secret to my perseverance is threefold:
(1) I refuse to give my physical condition more authority over my emotions than I give the Holy Spirit.
Your spirit and your flesh almost always want two different things. Christianity is all about choosing what the Holy Spirit has awakened your human spirit to desire versus what your flesh feels like saying, thinking, doing, or feeling. My life-circumstances do not have permission to dictate how I feel. The junk of life’s struggles may try as hard as possible to take me down, but I try as best as I can to only offer the Holy Spirit the authority to rule my emotions. Sure, I may slip from time to time and catch myself feeling discouraged or worn out, but the overall disposition of my life is one of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit–the three indicators of God’s rule and authority (Romans 14:17).
(2) I refuse to give my physical condition more influence over my theology than I give Jesus (as He is revealed in the Bible).
My back was healed in 2011, but I started operating in healing ministry more than a year and a half earlier in 2009. During all that time, I was ministering healing to other people — even watching other backs being healed in front of my own eyes — while I myself was still popping Vicodin and Ibuprofen every few hours to make it through the day. I was convinced of God’s will to heal — not because of how I felt but because of what I saw to be true in the Scriptures. From that time until now, I have refused to compromise the message of the Gospel for the sake of reconciling my own physical condition. And while I’m not yet healed of my current condition, my long-term observation has been that this is the right course of belief.
(3) I know that all my works and efforts are completely meaningless in achieving healing, and I simply need to rest in what Jesus has already done.
As mentioned already, healing comes by grace. It is a freely-given gift. If I start wondering what I’m doing wrong or what else I have to do to be healed, then I have lost sight of grace. I don’t have to pray enough, fast enough, cry enough, beg enough, shout enough, dance enough, or anything else enough. If I focus on all those things, not only will I exhaust myself, but I’ll be seeking healing from the wrong god–a god who dangles healing over my nose like a doggy-treat, not releasing it until I jump through the right hoop. I don’t need to perform for the true God. He already paid the price on my behalf. All I need is to touch Jesus.
Healing Comes from Touching Jesus
If there’s any secret key to how to be healed by Jesus, it’s actually no secret at all. It’s clearly shown throughout the Biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry. If you want to build your faith a little, read the following verses while observing the common element among them all:
Matthew 8:3 — Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. (NIV)
Matthew 8:15 — He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (NIV)
Matthew 20:34 — Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (NIV)
Mark 1:40-42 — A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (NIV)
Mark 6:56 — And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. (NIV)
Mark 7:33-35 — After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. (NIV)
Luke 8:44-46 — She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (NIV)
Luke 22:51 — But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Matthew 14:35-36 — And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. (NIV)
Luke 4:40 — At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. (NIV)
Luke 6:18b-19 — Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. (NIV)
Never once did Jesus turn someone away. Never did He say, “I’m sorry, but it’s not My Father’s will.” Never once did someone touch Him with expectancy and walk away unchanged. (For more things Jesus never said about healing, check out this video.)
In Jesus’ ministry, healing was a fact. If you touched Jesus, you were instantly and miraculously healed.
What You Do NOT Need to Do in Order to be Healed
Again, please note the place from which I am writing to you: I have been healed many times, but I’m still suffering with a condition that has not yet experienced the touch of Jesus. The advice I’m about to give you is not a magic wand that you simply wave over yourself to receive a healing. But it is the one and only biblical prescription for how to be healed.
Can healing come in other ways? Absolutely. Again, it’s not about a method. But what I’m about to share is the only biblical responsibility for a sick person.
Before I get to that, I want to make sure you know everything the Bible does NOT require a sick person to do:
(1) The Bible does not require you to have faith for your own healing
Only about a quarter of the time in the Biblical accounts did Jesus say, “Your faith has healed you.” Other times, people were healed by the faith of others (like the centurion’s servant or the Syrophoenecian woman’s daughter). Still other times, the only person who had faith in a situation was Jesus. For example, when the epileptic boy wasn’t healed, Jesus didn’t blame the little boy. He didn’t blame the little boy’s dad. He didn’t blame the surrounding crowd, even though He identified them as an “unbelieving and perverse generation.” Instead, He placed the responsibility squarely on the disciples who were there to minister in His name (Matthew 17:14-20).
If you’re healed, then someone had faith (maybe you, maybe someone else). But if you’re not healed, then no one had effective faith in that specific situation. While it’s not okay that you’re not yet healed, it is okay in that it was never your responsibility to have the faith for your own healing (nor is it your family’s responsibility, as noted above about the epileptic boy’s dad). The only person who needs to figure out where their faith was lacking is the non-family person who ministered to you. We — the Church — are still in the process of growing “into the whole measure of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Accordingly, we’re still collectively growing into the faith needed to see everyone healed like Jesus did.
If you do have faith for your own healing, awesome! But even in Jesus’ own ministry, that only happened a minority of the time. It’s great when it happens, but it’s not common, nor does Jesus require it. (In case you’re wondering, yes I am saying that I have yet to exercise faith for my own healing of Crohn’s disease, and I’m perfectly okay with that. It’s admittedly a lot easier for me to have faith for other people to be healed than it is for myself, and I know Jesus understands that and doesn’t fault me for it. It’s actually liberating knowing that I don’t have to figure out how to have faith for my own healing. When you’re presently the one feeling a symptom — especially a painful one — it’s hard to see that thing as tiny and conquerable by a simple touch or command of healing. That’s why we need others to minister to us.)
(2) The Bible does not require you to confess promises or quote Scriptures
Please understand my heart with this one: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with rehearsing the promises of God concerning healing. In fact, that’s a GREAT thing to do, and there are many testimonies of people being healed after a season of praying and proclaiming God’s Word concerning healing.
Nevertheless, I often receive questions asking, “What Scriptures am I supposed to be claiming?” or, “How many Scriptures do I need to memorize, and how often am I supposed to quote them in order to be healed?” These questions point to the underlying problem we’ve been addressing all along: You don’t need to twist God’s arm or perform for Him before He will heal you. Healing can’t be earned. Healing is a gift. It’s one thing to renew your mind and strengthen your faith with Biblical promises; it’s another thing to treat those promises like magical mantras that will somehow move God’s hand. So while this can be a good thing for you, it’s not something the Bible says you need to do in order to be healed. Feel free to do this, but check your motives. You can’t earn a healing, and Jesus never made someone quote a scripture before He would heal them.
(3) The Bible does not require you to uncover secret sins or spiritual roots to your condition
Something that often happens in Christianity is that we like to make practices out of experiences. For example, when we read that Jesus once spit in the dirt to make mud and then rubbed it into a blind man’s eyes to heal him, we now find ourselves wondering — as we lay hands on a blind person for healing — whether we should try the old mud trick to achieve a breakthrough. (I don’t recommend it. Try rubbing mud in your own eyes sometime and you’ll find out why!) We want to turn every testimony into a formula because we think it will produce repeatable results. So when we learn that someone was healed of cancer after repenting when the Lord revealed hidden bitterness in their heart from years earlier, we then assume that every case of cancer requires such a revelation before it can be healed.
We’re designed to look for and notice patterns. That’s great when we’re dealing with matters of science and the natural forces of the universe, but it’s nonsense when we’re dealing with a Person (anyone who has ever tried to figure out the opposite sex knows this!). Just because a specific thing led to God’s healing touch before doesn’t mean it necessarily will again.
As a matter of fact, James 5:15 indicates that when God heals a person, any sin in their life is automatically forgiven. Admittedly, verse 16 seems to present the opposite — confession first, followed by healing. In my observation both options are correct. I like to say that the blood of Jesus is messy: If you get a little on you for one thing, it’s there for the rest. Confess sin first and then be healed, or be healed first and then forgiven. Both are biblical, but neither is required.
Bottom line: Jesus never made someone confess a sin or figure out a root cause before He healed them. All He did was touch them or speak a word of command. And it always worked. You don’t need to figure out root causes in order to access your healing. If the Lord reveals something, great. If He doesn’t, then it isn’t necessary.
(4) The Bible does not require you to minister healing to yourself
This is perhaps the most important one. Again, I have ministered healing to myself, and I have seen many others successfully do so as well. But there is not a single passage in the Bible that prescribes such a thing. It’s not expected. All that is expected is that we touch Jesus.
How to Touch Jesus
The only consistent thing we can find throughout Jesus’ healings is that Jesus was involved. Technically speaking, He didn’t even need to have physical contact with a person for them to be healed — as the Centurion noted, He only needed to speak a word of authority (Matthew 8:8-9). But the most common method we see is physical contact with Jesus, or even the edge of His clothes.
Today, Jesus is physically in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. It would be impossible — apart from a miraculous appearance — for us to physically touch Him today.
But I have good news for you: While His physical body is in heaven, He has another Body here on earth.
Romans 12:4-5 — For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:27 — Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)
Ephesians 4:15-16 — Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV)
Something we don’t often realize is that in that quarter of cases where Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you,” He wasn’t talking about the person’s perfect faith in God. If that were the case, then the person could have been healed without coming to Jesus. Remember, most people didn’t realize Jesus was God-in-the-flesh while He walked among us. To them He was often seen as little more than a teacher or prophet who consistently ministered healing.
So whenever Jesus praised someone for their faith, it was actually their faith in Him as a minister to consistently supply healing on behalf of the Father. Again, if it was their faith in God, then they wouldn’t have needed Jesus (who, in their eyes, was at most the Messiah but still a mere man).
I don’t know a single sick Christian who doesn’t have faith that if they physically touched Jesus, they’d be healed. The problem is that we don’t have that faith in each other as the Body of Christ. We don’t actually believe that “if I touch you, I’m going to touch Jesus.” We’re not convinced that the person in front of us can deliver.
We might say that’s not true, but why, then, do we hunt down faith-healers and people with big ministries and lots of testimonies? Why to we chase them like celebrities and try to receive prayer from them? On the surface, it’s because we see their results and believe that they can help us too. But beneath the surface, it’s because we’re more enamored with them than we are with the Body of Jesus. We don’t believe the socially-awkward guy in our church who got saved a couple weeks ago has anything to offer. We don’t believe that the four-year-old in the nursery who loves Jesus has anything to offer. We don’t believe that the sweet old lady with the walker and too much perfume has anything to offer. We don’t even think our pastor has anything to offer! We’re looking for Jesus everywhere else than our own home church. We don’t actually believe that the Christians around us are the Body of Christ.
But where does James say to go?
James 5:14-15 — Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders [mature Christians] of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. (NIV, clarification added)
Jesus said that signs like “healing the sick” would be found among “those who believe” (Mark 16:17-18). He said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Healing is a ministry of EVERY Christian. (As a side note, I believe the only reason James specified “elders” is because he knew that those who have a mature walk with the Lord are more likely to contend for healing without giving up or compromising their theology to explain away a lack of results. And the reason he sends us to our own local church is because these are the people who know us and care enough about us to persevere until we’re whole.)
A misunderstanding of healing ministry has led us into a subtle form of idolatry as we look for special faith-healers to fix us in the place of Jesus. We look for famous ministers from somewhere else rather than obeying the biblical mandate to simply touch the Body of Christ, which He has placed locally and within our reach.
Biblically speaking, the only prescription for a sick Christian is to have local mature believers minister to him or her. You don’t need to have perfect faith. You don’t have to eliminate all doubt. You don’t have to confess the right promises or quote the right scriptures. You don’t have to uncover secret sins or figure out spiritual roots. You don’t have to hunt down a faith-healer. You don’t have to perform. And you certainly don’t have to figure out how to minister to yourself (although there’s nothing wrong with trying). All these things are nice if they happen, but none of them are Biblical responsibilities of a sick person.
The only thing you need to do is touch Jesus, and He’s right there in the nearest Christian.
If you need healing right now, I want you to find the nearest Christian and simply touch even the edge of their clothing. Maybe even just their shadow (Acts 5:15). Or perhaps even just something they have touched (Acts 19:11-12). Recognize that he or she is a part of Jesus’ body, and expect that when you touch that person, you are touching Jesus Himself.
Then immediately test out your condition. Try to do something you couldn’t do. If you’re healed, I want to hear a testimony, so please comment below!
But if — like me — you’re not yet healed, then I want you to keep seeking out ministry from those around you. You don’t need to chase down a big-name minister. All you need is the Body of Christ, and that can be found in nearly every city in America and also all over the world. Keep reaching out to other Christians in faith, knowing that they are physical extensions of Jesus standing right in front of you. Let people pray for you and even ask them to command your sickness to leave in the name of Jesus.
Christians are always growing. And that’s great news because it means every time someone ministers to you in Jesus’ name, they’re more like Jesus than they were last time; and that makes the healing more likely to happen! The process of experiencing healing is just as much about our own perseverance as it is about the continual growth of the Church as we are all conformed to “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” We’re not fully there yet, but we’re on our way, and more people are being healed every single day.
I’m believing with you that you and I will both be healed in no time at all.
Never give up.
UPDATE: When I posted this article to my email list, many readers wrote back with words of authority, telling my digestive system to be healed and telling Crohn’s Disease to leave in Jesus’ name. Overnight the symptoms became about 80% better, and by the end of the month they were completely gone.
I write this update 3 years later in June of 2018, and I can report that I have been symptom-free ever since. Jesus wins again!