Back to Core Concepts

Prayer and Healing

Core Concepts on Prayer

1) God only provides that which is redemptive (essential for our salvation - justification and healing).

2) God has brought every redemptive provision needed to the door of every man's heart/life (Revelation 3:20).

3) This means, there are no redemptive provisions which God holds back, waiting on us to prove our worthiness to him.

"If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men freely without judging his worthiness." - James 1:5

4) Asking God for what he does not provide is not prayer.

Many years ago, I sat with about 20 high school teens in a hamburger place. I was just having some fun at someone else's expense when I asked one of the teenage girls to go to the order counter and ask for a large carrot juice. She did and was told (of course) that they did not have carrot juice. I remembered that story recently to illustrate that asking God for what he does not provide is not prayer.

5) No amount of behavior to win God's favor will change his mind to provide it anyhow.

6) God provides every redemptive need we ask for. The Bible says so.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-11 (See also, John 16:24; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9; Romans 8:32, Revelation 3:20.)

7) Asking in prayer for God's provisions assumes receiving. It is the same as opening a door.

Asking in prayer is receiving. It is not begging or putting in a request for supplies. Rather, it is opening the door to receive God's provisions in the same way we open the door to receive Christ. Opening the door to Christ is the same as asking him to enter.

8) Asking/Receiving assumes we have faith a) to connect (open the door) and b) that God provisions are indeed available at the door.

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." - Mark 11:24

9) Asking/Receiving assumes obedience to connect for the answer.

Obedience, however, is not rule keeping to prove our loyalty to God. Rather, it is obedience to connect to God's resources through which his provisions come into our lives. For example, asking God for water is the same as obedience to drink it.

"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned (was certain) through that one man, how much more (certain) will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of (his) righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:17

10) The only sin that hinders receiving God's provisions is the sin of not connecting to God's resources through which they flow.

Sin, when defined as a behavior, is making a choice for meeting our needs with disregard to God's provisions for meeting them. James (1:6-7) and Jesus (Matthew 14:31; 21:21; Mark 11:23;) called this sin "doubt." Remember. sin is not behavior that makes us bad, or God mad, but that makes us sick.

11) Prayer is asking for self in behalf of others.

This means I do not pray for God to heal or provide a need across the world, across town, or across the room which does not involve me as a part of the answer. The only prayer I have confidence in is the prayer I pray for myself in behalf of others. That prayer would be, "Father, increase in me who you are so that I am enabled as a resource to serve as a vessel for the flow of your provisions into the lives of those you have called me to serve and who are connected to me." If I prayed for the lost to be saved, it would involve me going to where they are to present the message of salvation - or to support someone in some way for going in my stead. Also, if God used me to pray for the sick, I would seek his enablement to hold their hand (one expression of laying on of hands), look them in the eyes, assure them of my care for them, then investigate to know what provisions are missing in their lives so that I could support them for beginning to make the choices that would help lead to their recovery. That is exactly what the elders did in the early church who were called to the bedside of the sick (James 5:14-16).

Jesus taught exactly this in Luke 11:5-13 when he said to his disciples,

"Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' Then suppose he from inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness (persistence) he will get up and give him as much as he needs."

12) Answered prayer is not usually an event but is experienced as a developing outcome as we continue to ask/receive.

(from above text) .. 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread (a process, first one, then two and three for full measure of Christ - See Ephesians 4:13; John 1:16; Philippians 3:3-16; Colossians 1:28)'

"So I say to you: Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened (receive in full measure the provisions he needs). (Note: Sanctification and enablement is not an event but a process.) Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good (redemptive) gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit (or any redemptive provision) to those who continue to ask (stay connected to receive from) him!"

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10G02

The Miracle of Health 

Health Minister, David Williams stated to a small group this week that he had received a miracle. He explained that he did not mean an instant event as some understand miracles, but that the sowing and reaping outcome of the choices he has made for health during the past year has had a wonderful outcome.

"My health," he said, "is a miracle."

Of course it is human nature to want God to give us an instant "miracle" which we think will immediately change our circumstances. But from a grace perspective, we have a different understanding about miracles. 

1) God has provided every need we have for health. We experience healing when we receive his provisions. (“Asking in prayer” means “to receive.”)

2) This means, in the same way we can open our hearts to receive God’s provision of Christ's Life for holiness and happiness (the process of sanctification), we can also make appropriate choices for diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation with the timely outcome that they will produce in us the miracle of health.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10I15

Asking in Prayer: It is More Than a Request

1) God has made provisions for our good health. When we miss including them in our daily lives, we suffer brokenness. But God has also made provisions for our healing: They are the same provisions that support good health.

2) But what about prayer? Doesn’t the Bible instruct us to ask God for healing?

Absolutely, but not in the sense of pleading, imploring, and crying out to God for a quick-fix restoration to health. Rather, it is in the sense that asking means to include in our daily lives God’s provisions for our healing and good health.

(The Bible meaning of words are sometimes expanded beyond our English understanding. For example, to believe that a boat is seaworthy means, in the Bible sense, more than just having an opinion about it; rather, it means to get on the boat.)

In counseling, I use water to illustrate. When we miss including water in our daily lives, we suffer thirst. But God has made provisions for our healing from thirst: It is to include water in our daily lives.

3) But can we not ask God for relief from our thirst?

Absolutely, but only in the sense of lifting up a bottle of water to our lips and drinking it. That’s because “asking” in the Bible sense means more than requesting a favor; it is opening the door to receive God's provisions for our health. That is why Jesus could promise, “Ask, and you will receive.” It is also (for illustration) what we could say about someone who passed a test because he studied hard, that he “got what he asked for.”

"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned (was certain) through that one man, how much more (certain) will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of (his) righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:17  

4) These provisions are biological (nutrition from the soil and atmosphere), psychological (supportive relationships in the home and church), and spiritual (Christ). Each is powerful (effectual and faithful) to accomplish the purpose for which God provided it.

5) But the most powerful, by far, is God’s provision of Christ.

His Life in us has power to support us in long-term health. That’s because he IS Life and the Giver and Sustainer of Life.

“Through him all things were made.” -John 1:3

“All things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:16b-17

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you." - Romans 8:11

6) Also, it is his Life in us which supports us for making wise choices to include the other of God’s provisions for our health.

It is the very presence of his Life in our hearts (mind, emotions, and will) which produces in us “who he is” – that is, his love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness (giving), meekness, faith, and temperance (support for perseverance) – which psychosomatically promotes in our bodies a healthy environment for healing, in the same way stress, anger, fear, anxiety, and tension promote the production of toxins in the body which sabotage our healing.

“For it is God who works in us both to desire and to do (i.e., to include in our lives his provisions for our health) according to his good will.” – Philippians 2:13

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10H19

A Grace Perspective on the Power of Prayer

Generally, grace counseling understands prayer as individuals connecting to God’s provisions, first for themselves, but also in behalf of specific others to whom they minister.

But sometimes, prayer in behalf of others is understood in a corporate sense. To illustrate: One candle (or light bulb) may adequately light a small office, but not provide sufficient light for a large warehouse. However, together with hundreds of candles the otherwise dark warehouse would be lighted. (Also, a portable heater could warm a small room, but not a large house in the way many portable heaters could.)

So while our separate prayers may be limited to benefit only a few, when we pray together with other members of the Body of Christ, the corporate presence of Light flowing through us is increased to prevail against the powers of darkness in the larger world.

This means: If the Body of Christ (believers) in our workplaces or communities are increased in number, but also through prayer to be lights in a dark world, the influences of evil which oppose, deceive, and call us away from God’s redemptive (healing) plan and provisions for our lives are hindered.

For an easy example, if I present the Gospel message to a gathering which includes a large number of believers who each have prayed and are filled with Light, I can minister more freely in that corporate Light without the otherwise hindrance of Satanic opposition. (It is also in this environment that we better hear God and have increased light for making wise decisions for health.) I believe this is part of the meaning of Paul’s words to the Corinthian church:

“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10-11

(This also gives some insight to Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that, in the home, the unbelieving wife is sanctified [influenced for godliness] by her husband, the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his wife, and the children are sanctified by their parents.)

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D12

Why Prayers Aren’t Answered: The Big Hoax

My friend asked me to pray for her, so I explained that my prayer to God for her will be for his enablement in my life to minister to her needs according to his redemptive plan, which meant that I would be instructing her concerning God’s provisions for her healing and also concerning his will for her life that she receive them.

But I knew that she was not actually thinking about receiving God’s redemptive plan for her health but only wanted me to help her talk God into providing her needs anyhow, maybe because she was nice to her neighbors and went to church last Sunday, or maybe on the merit that I was a minister speaking to God on her behalf. Or better yet, because he was a kind, gentle old soul who could be talked into giving her a pass on her stubborn, self-willed choices that had not worked out very well for her. 

Prayer is our opportunity to communicate with God in response to his communication to us by the Holy Spirit through the Scripture. He communicates to us concerning his love and care for us and our need for him. We communicate to him to confess our confidence in him and our brokenness and need for him, and to invite him into our hearts so that we can have his enablement for making the wise choices that establish us in health so that we can serve to support others for the choices they must make for their own health.

So we cannot help but grieve because of the shallow concept of prayer that represents it as a wish list to Santa Claus. Personally, I think it is a hoax from Hell to deceive the church. Never mind that the Bible clearly teaches that “according to your faith be it unto you” and that faith is more than holding on to a positive thought with our fingers crossed, but is our enablement to trust and respond to God in obedience to receive his provisions which meet our needs.

This means, all the begging, crying, fasting, and negotiating we do hoping to persuade God to meet our needs, but with disregard to his provisions for meeting them, will only leave us disappointed, frustrated, and exhausted.

The notion is foolish that we can leave God’s provisions out of our diets and lifestyles, especially to take time daily to be renewed by the filling of the Holy Spirit in our quiet time so that we can have his enablement for making wise choices for our lives, yet call on him (also enlist our friends to help us gang up on God) so that he will meet our needs in a way different than he has already provided.

To use our most simple illustration, it is the same as refusing to drink water, yet pleading with God to satisfy our thirst in a different way, never mind our arrogance and disobedience.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10F29

Possessing God’s Provisions for Our Lives Thru the Prayer of Obedience

Strictly understood, God did not bring into existence his provisions to meet our needs in answer to our prayers. His provisions to meet our needs have always been available at the door of our lives.

For example, it was not in answer to prayer that God created the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere and the soil, or the sun and the moon and the stars. They existed before we got here. It was not in answer to prayer that God gave the Scripture, the Holy Spirit, or supportive relationships and leadership in the home and church. It was not in answer to prayer that Christ came to earth to walk among man to teach, heal, and bless. It was not in answer to prayer that God gave his Son to die or resurrect him to life. These provisions of grace flowed from his mercy to every person impartially “without respect of persons” (1 Peter 1:17) and “without finding fault or judging worthiness” (James 1:5).

We possess God provisions for health through the prayer of faith.

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” – James 5:15

“If you (have faith to) believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." – Matthew 21:22

Faith is expressed by trust and obedience to receive.

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands (to receive his provisions) and do what pleases him (makes us useful in service to others – Vine).” – 1 John 3:21-22

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will (for our redemption), he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10G01

Praying in Behalf of Others: The Case of the Centurion’s Servant

Sometimes Matthew 8:5-13 is used as proof text that Christ will heal the sick based on the faith and prayers of their friends. Consider, however, that:

1. The servant was paralyzed and in terrible suffering and asked his centurion to express his request to Jesus. Actually, Luke (7:1-9) writes that the centurion sent messengers to make the request in behalf of both him and his servant, and then went himself as Jesus approached closer to his house. Everyone making the request was doing so in behalf of the prayer and faith of the servant.

2. This helps us to understand the promise Jesus gave that “If two of you will agree on earth concerning anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven” (Matthew 18:19).

3. This event occurred under the Old Covenant. Christ had not yet died and been resurrected so that the Holy Spirit could come as promised to indwell believers. Since Pentecost, Christ by the Holy Spirit is now resident in the spirit of every believer so that we do not need to travel or send someone in our behalf to express our open hearts to receive his provisions for our healing. The full measure of power which Christ possessed to heal during his journey on earth is resident in the spirit of every believer where he awaits entrance into our lives through the door of our hearts (the soul - mind, emotions, and will) which we open to him during our quiet times.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10G02

Quick-Fix Quackery: A False Hope for Healing

A week or so ago, I crammed my mouth full of walnuts and raisins and ate them with such enthusiasm that I strained my left jaw. I also (push mower) mowed for an hour, came in to get water, sat down for thirty minutes at my computer to respond to emails (without stretching for a cool down), returned to mow another hour and irritated my Achilles heel. Also, I sprained my wrist trying to carry a dozen plastic grocery bags into the house in one trip. So last week I had a lot of pain going on at the same time.

Since I had too much to do to be in pain, I began to think about solutions. Benny Hinn was not in town, so that option was out. Perhaps I could call on my friends to pray for God to heal me, maybe even lay hands on me. Then I thought about maybe praying for myself. Perhaps if I told God earnestly enough how much I loved him, and maybe gave an extra offering to the church, he would quick fix my problem. That would be nice. It would save me having to pull out Dr. Balch’s “Guide to Natural Healing” in order to review 1) the choices I could make that would support natural healing and also 2) how I might need to be more attentive to keeping my body conditioned if I wanted to make extreme demands of it.

Today, I can give testimony that as surely as God is faithful, my jaw, heel, and wrist are all healed.

As it turned out, God had already made provisions for my healing in creation. All I needed to do was include them in my life (the same as I would drink water to meet my need for hydration - which illustrates the grace concept of prayer) and then give them time to work.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10G19

How God Healed My Hearing

For about a week or so recently, I lost hearing in my left ear. I am possessed with the temperament disposition that has a high need to see and hear everything clearly. I am intolerant to missing anything. (For that reason, I probably began using reading glasses before I really needed to. But I wanted to see, and to see perfectly.) So the hearing loss truly frustrated me.

The problem seemed to have begun with the pollen season. I run often on a wooded trail and suck in a lot of pollen, but have also started using cotton balls to plug my ears, thinking that might help. So when my ear began to pain, and then to lose hearing, I was surprised. Going to a medical doctor was not my first choice. Instead, I tried sweet oil and also an over-the-counter homeopathic product, but neither helped. After several days, I began to think the problem may be serious, so I took it up with God.

“What’s going on here?” I inquired. “I hope this is not your plan for me, because it is not supportive but rather very distracting, especially for the counseling I do and also for hearing my wife. That is, of course, unless you are allowing a problem for a greater purpose than for me to be able to hear.”

“However, I do expect you to heal me!” I added.

But this healing, I knew, would not likely be a divine touch from above in the mystical, hocus-pocus sense others seem to understand it. I did consider, however, that healing could come by merit of my experience to be renewed each day in my quiet time “to the measure of the fullness of Christ,” consistent with Romans 8:11 (“…he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies by his Spirit who lives in you”) and John 1:4 ("In him was life and that life was the light of men"). This dynamic for healing ("who Christ is" renewed in us daily) can be illustrated by, and, in fact, is not unlike the power of light to support health and also dissipate darkness. In other words, the healing has a cause and effect explanation for it, and is not an act of God which disregards our receiving/including his provisions in our lives (Revelation 3:20), all of which have power to heal and support life.

On about the tenth day, I woke up heavily burdened having suffered through my counseling and speaking appointments on the day before.

I prayed, “Lord, fill me with your presence today so that I can either experience the healing power of the Holy Spirit which raised you from the dead or have your mind to know the choices I should make which will result in a solution to this problem.”

Just as quickly, the Lord impressed me to fill a medicine dropper with warm water (I had never thought about that before!), tilt my head to the side, insert the tube, and irrigate my ear. After a few moments, a small cotton ball came out of my ear and my hearing was instantly restored.

I have thought again about Billionaire J.R. Simplot who died recently at age 99. He rejected religion, he said, on the basis that he was "a fact man."

"If it doesn't add up," he said, "I don't buy it; I don't believe in hocus pocus.”

And then, just today, I heard a report celebrating a large ministry group that gathers to pray for the healing needs of people who send them their requests. In whatever way God responds to all that, I do not think he gets talked into providing anything that is not consistent with his redemptive plan to meet health needs according to the laws of sowing and reaping which he ordained in the beginning to govern his creation.

This means we can give, pray and fast, or stand on our heads all day long, but God can not be talked into providing anything that he has not already provided and brought to the door of our lives for us to freely receive.

Again, for summary: For healing, we can expect that our experience of Christ renewed in us daily by the Holy Spirit through his Word will be effectual to heal our brokenness in the way light heals and dissipates darkness, or to generate in us his wisdom and enablement for making wise choices that effectually recover our health.

If I had called for the elders of the first century church (James 5:14-16), they would have manifested Christ in my room which would have called me to a renewed relationship with him and supported me for making appropriate choices for my health, or they would have investigated my health needs and instructed me to irrigate my ear.

I agree with J.R. Simplot: “I don’t believe in hocus-pocus.”

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10D28

Healing: A Cause and Effect Outcome of Choices

1. Healing is the assured sowing and reaping, cause and effect outcome of including God’s provisions in our lives.

2. These provisions flow to us through resources in creation (soil and atmosphere), community (leadership support in the home and church), and especially Christ.

3. Healing is not an event, but a process, sometimes long and slow...

4. as we remain connected to the resources through which God's provisions flow (John 15:4-5; Galatians 6:9).

5. Measures of our broken health may be generational sowing and reaping – that is, inherited or rooted in the missed choices of our parents for diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation.

6. There are conditions which are not reversible - for a simple example, a lost arm or leg. I suspect there are other conditions which no diet, exercise, lifestyle, or supplementation regimen would reverse.

7. Compliance to God's redemptive plan for healing might be so radical that some would not consider it practical or realistic.

8. Sickness and health must be understood in terms of cause and effect outcomes which have a scientific explanation, and not in terms of God pounding on (punishing) our misbehavior or blessing our performance to make him smile.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10B03

Considering the Elders’ Prayer for Themselves in Behalf of the Sick

Our grace message concerning prayer and healing is sometimes a hard sell even to my closest conservative, evangelical friends. They seem quite certain that their best chance for healing is their faithfulness to pray, fast, and turn from bad behavior (their understanding of it), in hopes maybe of catching God in a benevolent mood – which means they miss making the connection between good health and the choices we make.

This week a young man was less than enthusiastic about the concepts for health that I presented in my talk to his group. He confessed that he did not care much for water, or raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, or exercise, or supplements. Nor did he understand experiencing Christ through Scripture reading, confession of need, prayer, and quiet time worship. But he did seem enthusiastic about miracles, especially of healing, and insisted that when he is sick, he should call for the elders of the church per James 5: 14-16 to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing.

I asked him to consider that

1. The ministry of the elders to the sick in the early church was to
  • instruct the sick concerning God’s provisions for their health,
  • anoint them with oil in order to teach the power of the Holy Spirit to renew their inner man, the soul (mind, emotions, and will),
  • provide whatever additional practical support they could, including medicinally, and then surely
  • give testimony to the reason for their own health.
2. Their prayer for the sick was actually for themselves in behalf of (rather than strictly “for”) the sick – which means they prayed for God’s enablement in their own lives to support their ministry to the sick.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10G22

Prayer for a Pass from God: A Failed Plan for Healing

I encouraged my minister friend to make good choices daily for his health including eating seeds and nuts, whole grains, 5-7 servings of raw fruits and vegetables, drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily, exercise to get his heart rate up for a sustained 20-30 minutes, supplementations (at least a multi-vitamin/mineral, 1–3 grams Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, Omega 3,6,9, probiotics, MSM, raw apple cider vinegar, etc.), scheduled 7-8 hours sleep, and especially reading the Scripture in order to hear and experience God in quiet time worship.

He said he did not have enough money and was too busy really to make some of those choices, also that he did not like raw vegetables or water, and thought that supplements were a scam which only made somebody rich.

I asked him what his plan was for health. He said he did not really have one. But in an email from him recently I learned that he did have an emergency, back-up plan. In it he wrote, “I am sick, please pray for me.” His hope, it seemed, was that God would “miraculously” heal him, never mind his choices.

And so it goes. The concept that God has made provisions for our health is a hard sell. Jesus said,

“You refuse to come to me (to receive my provisions for your healing) so that you may have life.” – John 5:40

It is also a hard sell that, by definition, asking in prayer means to open the door of our lives to receive God’s provisions. A hard sell, also, that the Scripture instructs those who are sick to call for the elders of the church who will “pray over him” (for God’s wisdom concerning his redemptive plan for healing) and to provide counseling that supports and guides wise choices that recover health. See James 5:13-20.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10J12

The Prayer of Compliance: God’s Redemptive Plan for Healing

God only answers the prayer of faith.

Jesus said to the blind man, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” – Matthew 9:29

He said, also, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it (trust/receive that God has provided for it), and it will be yours.”

But this faith is not just that God is able to heal, or that he wants to heal, or that he will heal. Rather, it is faith that is expressed in obedience to receive God’s provisions for our healing. This is the message of

1 John 3:21-22:

"If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him (concerning his redemptive plan for our healing). And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ (trust/receive who he is), and to love one another as he commanded us (pray for healing in behalf of effectual ministry to others)."

Mark 11:22-25:

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive (minister to) him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." - v.25

Romans 6:11-23:

“Thanks be to God that, though you once were slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching which was entrusted to you. Now you have been set free from (the control/contamination of) sin and have become slaves (vessels) to righteousness (to manifest God’s character).” – vs. 17-18

James 1:6-7:

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt (disobey or make other choices), because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.”

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10J11

"Don, pray for me!"

I carry your burdens in my heart and welcome the opportunity to pray for you. Remember, though, that:

1. God normatively only answers our prayers for others in a way that involves us as a vessel through which he answers those prayers. That means, my prayer for you is more accurately for myself in your behalf - that is, for God to fill me with "who he is" so that I can be useful as a resource to you according to his redemptive plan for the relationship you and I have. This principle also guides your prayers for your wife and children.

2. Also, with regard to resource relationships, you do well to stay connected (John 15:1:8) to the support resources God brings into your life. Your family gets to see you do that, which will build confidence in them that you understand your responsibility to get what you need from God, and then to be a resource for the flow of his support into their lives. Also, it will model for them their need to connect to you, and especially to Christ.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 10J20

Sincere Praying Not a Substitute for Preparation: Strategy Support for Tebow

I enjoy the favorable outcomes Tim Tebow and the Broncos have, and hurt for them when they are disappointed. Any success they have, however, will not be the result of Tim’s earnest praying during the game. Rather, it will be the outcome of their hard work to prepare during the week, actually, throughout their lives. On game day, the score will be consistent with God’s law of sowing and reaping which he ordained to govern his creation. No amount of earnest pleading, even with bitter tears, will alter that outcome.

Remember Esau?

“You know that after he made poor choices for his future, on the day when he wanted his father's blessing (inheritance), he was rejected. It was too late for repentance (a change of mind/values leading to wise choices), even though he begged with bitter tears.” – Hebrew 12:17

For this reason, I think I would enjoy (be inspired) more paying to watch the conditioning workouts during the week of preparation than the performance on game day.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12A02

How God Meets Needs: Understanding the Meaning of Prayer

The Scripture does not support the notion that prayer means to petition/requisition God to supply a need for ourselves or others – for example for finances, or healing, or strength.

That’s because, God has already provided for every possible need every person has - physically, psychologically, and spiritually. And he brings those provisions to the door of our hearts.

Prayer, then, means to open the door to receive his provisions. 

To illustrate: God has provided water to meet our need for hydration. But we are not hydrated because we petition/requisition God to hydrate us; rather, we are hydrated because we open the door of our mouths to receive his provision for meeting that need.

Also, others are not hydrated because we petition/requisition God to hydrate them. We can “pray” for it, and they can “pray” for it, and a whole church or nation of people can “pray” for it, even with earnest pleadings, fasting, and tears, all day and night for 20 years, but they will not be hydrated until they open their mouths to receive God’s provision of water.

Praying for others, then, can only be understood in the sense of our praying in their behalf – that is, to receive into our lives God’s provisions which 1) meet our needs and 2) enable us, in turn, to support others for opening the door of their hearts to also receive them.

Again, we do not “pray” for (petition/requisition) God to save others, give them peace and joy, fill them with his Spirit, heal their bodies and souls, or in any other way meet their needs. Instead, we receive God’s provisions for meeting those needs in our own lives which enable us to support others for receiving those provisions also.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 12I26

“Don, please explain what you mean by this: ‘...we do not really pray for others, but pray for ourselves in behalf of others.’”

In the organic context, asking in prayer means to receive in the sense of opening a door. It does not mean to ask in the sense of making a request to God for provisions we think he may or may not provide (depending upon his mood for the day or whether we have his favor).

That's because, every support God has provided to mankind flows freely to every person without consideration of their worth - but it only flows to the door of our hearts/lives. Prayer is "receiving those provisions." So, we have, not because we "ask" (in the common understanding of the word), but because we receive. Otherwise, Jesus misspoke when he said, "Ask and you shall receive" and “Everyone who asks receives” if he did not mean "Receive and you shall have."

With regard to praying for others, no one experiences God's provisions in their lives because of the requests we or a thousand, million people make to God for them, but only the provisions they receive for themselves. However, we can receive for ourselves God's provisions which meet our needs and then support us for providing ministry to others that meets their needs (for information, affection, decision-making [essentially the ministry provided by the elders in the first century church according to James 5:14-16], and even for food and finances). So we pray (receive) for ourselves in behalf of our service to meet the redemptive needs of others.

Whatever was true in the Old Testament - for example, when Elijah prayed for rain, and Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still, or any other of the miracles God gave in response to requests, they were with regard to matters over which we do not have control. Normatively, however, God allows his law of sowing and reaping to govern his creation. No amount of pleading with God changes that – again, with the exception that, at times, God apparently provides needs through changing the course of the weather, protecting us from, and limiting the adversity of, elements in the world over which we have no control, including beasts and demonic powers (which means, by the way, our words have no power against Satan).

This means, in the same sense we do not need to ask God to cause the sun to shine or the morning to come, we also do not need to pray for God to provide support to meet our health needs - that's because, he provides what he provides and does not provide what he does not provide, even if we seek it with tears every day for a lifetime. And if he provides it, our response is not to ask for it, but to receive it.

Well, I was just going to refer you to the information I have already provided on our website, but I am passionate about this subject, so it was easy for me to launch into this. I also grieve because of the misunderstanding I had personally for so many years that we can somehow talk God into circumventing the outcome of the foolish, even misinformed, and often rebellious choices we have made that left us broken in health - for example, to heal our bodies or finances.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13B06

Our Experience of Prayer: What You Can Expect

In our time of prayer (communicating to God), as the Holy Spirit directs and enables it, we can expect to

1) express/grieve/confess to God our brokenness (fears, anger, sinfulness), as the Holy Spirit gives conviction concerning them, not because God requires it in order for him to release his provisions, but for clarification in our own minds of our needs;

2) confess/rejoice in

  • God’s goodness (God's provisions),
  • unconditional love for us,
  • power to heal and renew, and
  • faithfulness to do as he as promised;
3) express our grief for 
  • a lost, dying world and
  • specific people who are hurting and broken;
4)  give thanks – that is, we give ourselves to God, in confidence and confession concerning who he is and our need for him, expressed by opening the door of our hearts to receive the flow of his Life into us (worship).

This is not necessarily a formula or pattern for praying, but will be the experience we have as the Holy Spirit guides it.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13I23

“If It Is Your Will!” A MisNotion About Prayer

The radio minister asked God to grant his requests. “If it is your will” and “if you can” he pleaded. It was with the hope he was deserving or that he might catch God in a benevolent mood. But his notion about prayer missed understanding that  

  • God has already provided every redemptive/support need we have,
  • it was his will (predetermination) in eternity to do so,
  • we do not need to ask him (in the sense of making a request) for his provisions and support but
  • we need only to connect to his resources (in Creation, Community, and especially Christ) through which they flow - in order to simply receive them.
DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13I20

The Miracle of Lifting Heavy Weights: A Theology of Prayer That Makes Scientific Sense 

Prayer is not asking God to do for us something he has not already made provisions for or that he has not already done, or that he would not otherwise provide if we did not ask; rather, it is receiving from God his provisions which make possible our redemptive needs being met.

To help illustrate this concept, I sometimes ask groups to pause with me a moment while I ask God to help me lift the piano off the floor. I follow through to bow my head and make my request to God. Sometimes, I ask if others will join with me in that request. And then, I attempt to lift the piano which, of course, I cannot do. Then I ask the group to help me determine the reason. Is it because of a lack of faith? Are some things too hard for God to do? Do I need to pray longer or more fervently, or perhaps to fast in order to demonstrate my sincerity?

No, the reason I cannot lift the piano is because God has ordained that outcomes are the result of the choices we make to include his provisions in our lives which make those outcomes possible according to the scientific law of sowing and reaping (cause and effect) – in this case, the choice to do conditioning exercises which increase strength for lifting heavy weights. This is called “training effect” and it is one of the miraculous ways God created our bodies to work.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13I04

Understanding Prayer for Others from the Organic Perspective

We can minister to others only the support we ourselves have received. 

How can we pray for the healing of another if we are not in health, or teach a lesson we have not learned, or provide directions we don’t know? 

This is the reason  

  • our praying for others can only be understood in the context of us praying for ourselves in their behalf and that
  • prayer is receiving from God his provisions so that we can support others for doing the same.
So, when Paul prayed, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16), we understand from the organic context of the New Covenant Scripture that he was praying (receiving) for himself in their behalf – that is, he was opening the door of his heart to receive (which is the meaning of prayer) strength from God

  • for his own experience of him, but also
  • in behalf of his ministry to others to support their doing the same in behalf of themselves and also of others.
DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13H22

Teachings About Prayer That Don’t Make Sense: Why Scientific Minds Reject Hocus-Pocus Christianity 

The notion we can ask God for an outcome without receiving the provisions that make the outcome possible doesn’t make sense. It is the same as asking God to provide a harvest we don’t sow for, or to pass a test, run a race, or accomplish a task we don’t prepare for, or to hydrate us without drinking water. But that seems to be exactly the prevailing notion taught especially in the charismatic church concerning prayer – that, never mind including in our lives the elements that support health, if we are sick, we can ask (petition) God, and especially if are successful to meet his standards for good behavior (to go and give, sacrifice, say nice things to him, etc.), he will supernaturally grant our wishes, Santa Claus style.

If that was all I was knew to consider about God and how he provides for us, I would be an atheist. Scientists and other “thinking” people typically reject Christianity because they are asked to believe in a hocus-pocus god who works magic. The silliness of it is an assault on even average intelligence. 

But I have found that, with the exception of the most hostile minds against God (bound by their addictions), even the strongest minds will consider a God who normatively works organically in the lives of people, consistent with the laws of cause and effect, according to principles that make scientific sense.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13H15

Don, what does Paul mean when he writes “as you help us with your prayers”? 

This is a text  

“On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us with your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:10b-11 NIV)  

sometimes used to support the notion that God, if we ask him to (especially if we fast or join with others to form a coalition of prayer warriors), will work in the lives of others (including ministers/missionaries) to bless them in some specific or general way, and in a way he would not otherwise do.

But consider that Paul is writing (to paraphrase verses 10-11 in context),
  • our confident expectation is that
  • God will continue to use us –
  • that is, many will open the door of their hearts (‘give thanks’) to receive the support we have received from him (that makes us competent and effectual in our ministry to others), 
  • helped/encouraged/motivated by (not only the support we have received from him, but) the support you have also received from him (that makes you competent and effectual in your ministry to others).”  
Again, whatever the meaning of “as you help us with your prayers” is, the result is many will give thanks (“Then many will give thanks.”). 

This goes to the meaning of “giving thanks” or “thanksgiving.” Unless we want to limit our understanding of “giving thanks” to a polite, superficial expression of appreciation (a typical “Thank you!”) to God (motivated maybe by our hope to make him happy or, at least, to not offend him), then, “giving thanks” to God means to “receive” from him. (When do you say “thank you”? When you give or when you receive?) 

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 13H14

Receiving from God: How I Pray for Others

An elderly neighbor said to me recently that she was going to pray for God to bless me extra special. I smiled but know that God does not bless us because someone “prays” for us - not in the sense praying is usually understood (to request/ask/petition).

God has already blessed us. He did that long ago when he made provision through his resources in creation, community, and especially Christ (his Blood/death and Resurrected Life) to recover us from the curse that came upon the human race when Adam and Eve disobeyed in the Garden of Eden. We experience those blessings when we connect to the resources through which those provisions flow into our lives (which is the Scriptural meaning of praying).

Scripturally, the only way we can pray for others is to take time each day to receive from God the support we need so that we can be enabled as a resource to provide the support others need.

For example, I can’t “pray” for God to meet the needs of my neighbors, but I can pray for myself in their behalf – that is to receive from God his provisions of grace which enable/equip me so that I am made useful as a vessel and resource through which God meets their needs.

DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 15H10

Did You Know:

  • The New Testament word “prayer” (proseux) is a noun. By definition, it means “a place of exchange.” It is the place we go (where the Holy Spirit takes us) to exchange our will for God’s Will.
  • God’s Will for us begins with us opening he door of our hearts to receive his
    • Blood/death on the cross (for our justification/reconciliation) so that we can go to Heaven and
    • Resurrected Life (for our sanctification) so that we can be healed from our brokenness (Romans 5:10).
  • Refusing to make this exchange is disobedience (sin).
  • “The person who disobeys is double-minded and unstable; he doesn’t even need to think he will receive anything from the Lord” (from James 1:5-8) – not even if he prays all day or for a year, with tears and fasting, and is joined by billions of others. See also: John 15:7; Romans 8:26-28; Hebrews 12:17; 1 John 3:21-24; 5:14.
  • This means, we cannot ask God to provide for, save, or heal others, but we can receive him into our lives at the place of exchange so that he can make us competent as ministers to support them per 2 Corinthians 3:6 and James 5:14-15 for doing the same so that they can be provided for, saved, and healed.
  • God does not provide anything to us that does not accomplish his redemptive purpose (James 4:2-3). 
  • Satan, “the god of this world” and “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14) has power in this present age to produce outcomes, provide carnal desires, and work wonders – the same as he did in past ages and will do during the coming Tribulation Period (Matthew 24:24).
  • God is not standing by waiting for us to find a way to persuade him to provide for our needs, but has already provided every need we have and brought them to the door of our hearts for us to receive (Romans 5:17). 
DonLoy Whisnant/The Grace Perspective 16G07

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