|Recently it was reported in the news that a man was sentenced to prison for following his faith and looking for healing from God for his daughter. On the internet the story can be found under the title “Praying man let his daughter die” There are two issues here that need to be discussed and the first one is, do not be surprised when the unbelieving world does not agree with scriptural practices.
The unregenerate world does not grasp nor comprehend the spiritual world or its duties. The Bible is very clear on this thus doing not expect those charged with public order to sanction such activities blindly or readily. They do not understand the why’s of such decisions; they react according to their own understanding, their own ideas and are under the influence of evil which leads them to attack anything of God.
“Defined broadly, faith healing is the attempt to use religious or spiritual means such as prayer to prevent illness, cure disease, or simply improve health. Proponents claim that prayers, mental practices, spiritual insights, or other techniques can summon divine or supernatural interventions on behalf of the ill. According to the varied beliefs of those who practice it, faith healing may be said to afford gradual relief from pain or sickness or to bring about a sudden “miracle cure”, and it may be used in place of, or in tandem with, conventional medical techniques for alleviating or curing diseases. Faith healing has been criticized on the grounds that those who use it may delay seeking potentially curative conventional medical care. This is particularly problematic when parents use faith healing techniques on children” (Faith Healing Psychology wiki)
That is not to say that all ‘faith healers’ are of God but that those who do practice their beliefs seriously will not be given honor but looked at as criminals. This also does not mean that every step towards faith healing is the right move and that one must forgo seeing a doctor. There is a comment made by the father that is disturbing as it shows some misguided belief on his part and a failure to understand God and how he acts. He said:
“If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God,” he said. “I am not believing what he said he would do.”
Really? Let’s take a closer look at this situation. First, at no time did God, Jesus or the disciples command that doctors be ignored. There is no verse which says do not go to a doctor but seek faith healing all the time. Asa got in trouble “not because he went to a doctor but because he did not consult God first” (source not found).
Second, we have no evidence that God directed the parents to pray only nor do we have evidence that He told them NOT to go to a doctor. The father would not be ‘putting the doctor before God’ simply because he did not have instructions to stay away, he would not be disobeying God because he took his sick daughter to a doctor.
Third, there is no disbelief if one takes their child to a doctor unless God specifically said, ‘do not go’. It is this misguided faith that gets so many believers in trouble. They assume something and without careful study of the scriptures and sincere prayer they act foolishly. God has His ways of doing things, and they must be consistent with Him and who He is, a person seeking healing by faith must adhere to God’s ways not their own ideas of those ways.
Fourth, going to a doctor is not a lack of faith. If one consults God first and asks what they should do and which doctor they should go to, God will lead them to the right person. Having faith doesn’t mean God is limited to one avenue of healing, He has many ways to accomplish answering prayer but they used when He gets the glory and the petitioner realizes it was only God who did it.
Finally, the sad part, be prepared for an answer of ‘no’. Not everyone will be healed, God has said ‘it is appointed unto man once to die…’ we cannot escape death no matter the age of the person who is ill. Death happens and it must be accepted, for that is the way of life. God did not guarantee longevity to all people, no one has the promise of long life outside of scriptural parameters and it is not unjust or unfair of God to allow some to die later than others. God has His purpose, His reasons and the servant of God must be ready to accept that fact and that each day is a gift to be used wisely and for Him.
What this man’s actions demonstrate is that he does not grasp the Biblical teachings and that his pastor should have been more active (considering the little we now of the situation) in stopping these parents from their actions. proper instruction from the church leadership is important and it seems that it is lacking here as the parents and those gathered to pray were not fully apprised of how faith works or what was the correct procedure in this case.
it is not wrong to seek healing from God miraculously, it is not wrong to ask God to lead you to the right doctor, it is wrong to not consult God first and see what direction He wants you to use. I do not agree with the judgement of the court because they do not grasp all of the teachings about faith or God. The parents are only guilty of making a mistake. They did not withhold treatment from their daughter, they just chose the wrong one to use for that situation and they paid for it with the death of their daughter.
There is so much we do not know about this case, the strength of the parent’s faith, the beliefs they followed, and so much more but we do know what the Bible says, we have the examples of faith healing in both the old testament and the new, we know that Jesus usually required a physical act to demonstrate the petitioner’s faith- go to the pool and wash your eyes, show yourself to the priests, rise up and walk, the touching of His garment and so on. The roman centurion provided his own physical act when He said he was not worthy to have Jesus come to his house but that if Jesus just spoke the words he knew his servant would be healed.
We see no physical demonstration of faith by the parents which showed that they believed without doubt that God would heal their daughter. Believers when looking to the Bible for direction, need to read all the details, get all of the story to make sure they are acting according to what God said and not assume that if they do something without proper direction they will be granted their request.
There are parameters and criteria that must be met and one must seek God to make sure they know which ones they are to meet before acting.
For further reading:
1. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics
2. The Collected Writings of W.E.Vine
3. Nelson’s New Illust. Bible Dict.
4. Nelson’s Topical Bible Index