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Why has God answered others' prayers for healing, but not mine?

Q. Why has God answered others' prayers for healing, but not mine?

A. This is a complicated and tender question. Right now I'm praying for a close family friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer five years ago. Two years later, he was "healed" (if you talked to his Christian friends), or in an "unexpected remission" (if you talked to his doctors). Today his cancer has returned and is unrelenting. He probably has two months to live. His Christian friends are confused, and his physicians are recommending hospice care.

Based on our own experience, there's so much we don't know about healing and prayer. Here's what we do know based on Scripture.

We're instructed to pray, but healing isn't guaranteed. James 5:14-15 tells us to respond in prayer when someone is sick; "the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well." But we also know from Scripture this isn't a guarantee. In 2 Samuel 12, it says King David fasted and prayed for seven days for God to spare his dying child. In verse 22, David said, "Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live." When that wasn't the case, David got up and worshiped God anyway.

Healing miracles are relatively rare. In the Bible, healing miracles seem like they occur on every page. But when you consider the Bible covers more than 2,000 years of history, that's a relatively small amount of people who experienced direct physical healing. During his three and a half years of ministry, Jesus healed perhaps hundreds of deaf, blind, lame, and leprous people, but there were many more he didn't heal.

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May 25

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