What are some reasons for "the church's" reluctance to engage in healing prayer on a more widespread basis?
1. Most of us have been disappointed in prayer. We ask God for something and He does not seem to hear us, or care. At an early age we begged God for something. Sometimes silly ("please let my team win") and other times not ("please let my momma live"). There did not seem to be a strong correlation between our prayer and the outcome we desired. So we wonder if healing prayer works.
2. Sick people, broken people, needy people are difficult. They drain us. They remind us that we are not okay either. They challenge us to be compassionate and often times require an emotional commitment and time commitment. Many folks avoid those in need because it just makes life easier. We pray "for" them in the comfort of our private prayer life, but do not want to be drawn into a lot of initimate time together (especially if we are not too sure it will work).
3. Admitting one is sick, broken, needy is not easy. Some people feel unworthy of God's interest. They were taught to "suck it up" and "to accept our cross," so it never occured to thems that God might intervene. They might be embarassed, or even too proud to ask for help. So the people who are in need are also unwilling to engage this ministry.
4. Lots of churches teach that healing is no longer an option. They say Jesus healed but that gift dried up with the apostles. Or, that salvation is about souls so it is best to focus there, not on the (sinful) flesh. Or, it is selfish to desire healing. (Nothing like a little guilt to make the suffering worse, right?)
There are no doubt more reasons, but I think we see where this is headed. There are serious reasons to doubt that we should even engage in healing prayer. There are even strong reasons to not seek healing. And even if, in our secret place, we long to be made whole, we doubt it is a real option.
And I am leaving out one huge problems: the charlatans. We know about the fakes. We have seen those theatrical and flamboyant folks on televison and have heard that they are frauds. There are even movies and tv news shows which associate healing and the worst kind of religious abuses. Too many of us are too hurt to set ourselves up to be misled. Too fragile to deal with the disappointment. So we just refuse to hope.
Why are so few parishes a place where a thriving healing ministry takes place? There are genuine struggles with the place of a healing ministry in the modern setting is probably a big issue. Doubt, fear, indifference are all contributing factors. I never rule out sin and disobedience! Most churches are not mission driven. So there are lots of reasons why healing is not an important ministry in so many churches. But what if it were? Would the world be worse or better if more churches focused on healing and saving the whole person?