Health, Philanthropic, and Medical Missionary Work


Prayer for the Sick

This is a very delicate question, and to many minds, I fear, will not be satisfactorily settled. I have tried to act upon the light the Lord has given me, in the fear of God. PH066 52.1

I have been troubled over these things, and years ago took the position that if I had any duty to pray for the sick, I would come before the Lord with a petition of this kind: “Lord we can not read the heart of this sick one; but thou knowest whether it is for the good of his soul, and for the glory of thy name to raise him to health. In thy great goodness, compassionate this case, and let healthy action take place in the system. The work must be entirely thine own. We have done all that human skill can do; now, Lord, we lay this case at thy feet; work thou as only God can work; and if it be for thy glory, arrest the progress of disease and heal this sufferer.” PH066 52.2

After I have prayed earnestly for the sick, what then? Do I cease to do all that I can for their recovery?—No, I work all the more earnestly, that the Lord may bless the means which his own hand has provided, entreating that he may give a sanctified wisdom to co-operate with God in the recovery of the sick. PH066 52.3

In praying for the sick, it is essential to have faith; for it is in accordance with the word of God. “The fervent and effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” So we can not discard praying for the sick, and we should feel very sad if we could not have the privilege of approaching God, to lay before him all our weaknesses and our infirmities, to tell the compassionate Saviour all about these things, believing that he hears our petitions. Sometimes answers to our prayers come immediately: sometimes we have to wait patiently, and continue earnestly to plead for the things that we need, our cases being illustrated by the case of the importunate solicitor for bread. “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight,” etc. This lesson means more than we can imagine. We are to keep on asking, even if we do not realize the immediate response to our prayers. “I say unto you, Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” PH066 52.4

We need grace, we need divine enlightenment, that through the Spirit we may know how to ask for such things as we need. If our petitions are indited by the Lord, they will be answered. PH066 53.1

There are precious promises in the Scriptures to those who wait upon the Lord. We all desire an immediate answer to our prayers, and are tempted to become discouraged if our prayer is not immediately answered. Now my experience has taught me that this is a great mistake. The delay is for our special benefit. We have a chance to see whether our faith is true and sincere, or changeable like the waves of the sea. We must bind ourselves upon the altar with the strong cords of faith and love, and let patience have her perfect work. Faith strengthens through continual exercise. This waiting does not mean that because we ask the Lord to heal there is nothing for us to do. On the contrary, we are to make the very best use of the means which the Lord in his goodness has provided for us in our necessities. PH066 53.2

I have seen so much of carrying matters to extremes, in praying for the sick, that I have felt that this part of our experience requires much solid, sanctified thinking, lest we shall make movements that we may call faith, but which are really nothing less than presumption. Persons worn down with affliction need to be counseled wisely, that they may move discreetly; and while they place themselves before God to be prayed for that they may be healed, they are not to take the position that methods of restoration to health in accordance with nature's laws are to be neglected. PH066 54.1

If they take the position that in praying for healing they must not use the simple remedies provided by God to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work, lest it be a denial of faith, they are taking an unwise position. This is not a denial of faith; it is in strict harmony with the plans of God. When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard his servant, and worked a miracle in his behalf, sending him a message that fifteen years should be added to his life. Now one word from God, one touch of the divine finger, would have cured Hezekiah instantly, but special directions were given to take a fig and lay it upon the affected part, and Hezekiah was raised to life. In everything we need to move along the line of God's providence. PH066 54.2

The human agent should have faith, and should co-operate with the divine power, using every facility, taking advantage of everything that, according to his intelligence, is beneficial, working in harmony with natural laws; and in doing this he neither denies nor hinders faith. PH066 54.3