Healing Prayer & Fasting

"Who heals you of all your diseases..."

Mark 16: 15-18 “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

James 5: 13-16 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

I Cor. 11: 28-30 "But let a man examine hmself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep."

Why is prayer for healing so important?

“When you neglect to pray for the sick, you deprive them of great blessings; for angels of God are waiting to minister to these souls in response to your petitions....” Medical Ministry, Page 195

Does God desire to heal?

“It has often been my privilege to pray with the sick. We should do this much more often than we do. If more prayer were offered in our sanitariums for the healing of the sick, the mighty power of the Healer would be seen. Many more would be strengthened and blessed, and many more acute sicknesses would be healed." Selected Messages,” Volume 3, Page 295

Why Doesn’t God Always Answer?

Failure to believe...

“Our Lord has given us definite instruction, through the apostle James, as to our duty in case of sickness. When human help fails, God will be the helper of His people.... If the professed followers of Christ would, with purity of heart exercise as much faith in the promises of God as they repose in satanic agencies, they would realize, in soul and body, the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.....” Counsels on Health, Page 457

Not in person’s best interest...

All that can be done in praying for the sick is to earnestly importune God in their behalf, and rest their case in his hands, in perfect confidence..... When we come to him we should pray that we might enter into, and accomplish, his purpose, and that our desires and interests might be lost in his.... We have united in earnest prayer around the sick bed of men, women and children, and have felt in regard to our earnest prayers, they were given us back from the dead. In these prayers we thought we must be positive, and if we exercised faith, we must ask for nothing less than life. We dared not say, If it would glorify God, fearing it would admit a semblance of doubt. We have interestedly and anxiously watched these cases which have been given back, as it were, from the dead. We have seen some of these, especially youth, raised to health, and forget God, become dissolute in life, causing sorrow and anguish to parents and friends. They lived not to honor and glorify God, but to curse him with their life of vice, and a shame to those who feared to pray. If their life can glorify Thee, let them live, nevertheless not as we will, but as Thou wilt. We no longer mark out a way, nor seek to bring the Lord to our wishes. Our faith can be just as firm, and more reliable, by committing the desire to the all-wise God, and trusting, with unfeverish anxiety, all in perfect confidence with him. We have the promise. We know that he hears us if we ask according to his will.” Testimony for the Church at Battle Creek, Page 60

“About this time I repeatedly prayed with sick believers until they were restored. Unconditionally I asked the Lord for the blessing of bodily heatlh (a thing which I could not do now), and almost always had the petition answered.” George Müller, “Narratives”

Failure to follow some spiritual or natural law...

“Only as we live in obedience to His word can we claim the fulfillment of His promises. The psalmist says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18. If we render to Him only a partial, halfhearted obedience, His promises will not be fulfilled to us.... It is labor lost to teach people to look to God as a healer of their infirmities, unless they are taught also to lay aside unhealthful practices. In order to receive His blessing in answer to prayer, they must cease to do evil and learn to do well.” Ministry of Healing, Page 226

Failure to confess sin...

“To those who desire prayer for their restoration to health, it should be made plain that the violation of God’s law, either natural or spiritual, is sin, and that in order for them to receive His blessing, sin must be confessed and forsaken. “ Ministry of Healing Page 226

“In order for the child of God to receive divine healing, the following usually must take place: sin must be confessed and renounced, one must completely surrender to the Lord, self must be yielded up to be wholly in His hands, and that Jesus desires to take charge of the body must be firmly believed. Then, the healing becomes the commencement of a new life of intimate communion with the Lord.” Andrew Murray, “Divine Healing,” Page 52

It might lead to ungodly pride...

“God desires us to trust implicitly in Him, and if it is for our good and His name’s glory to do the work, it will be done. We are to wait. The power of the Lord is limitless. We poor mortals need to purify our souls, that when the Lord works for us, it will not ruin us. This is the reason that so few of the sick are healed. If they were [healed], men would be elevated in self-esteem. We must learn from Jesus to be meek and lowly of heart, and we shall find rest unto our souls.” The Upward Look, Page 375

“We are so weak that we cannot bear much spiritual prosperity, lest we should take the glory, and accredit goodness and righteousness to ourselves as the reason of the signal blessing of God, when it was all because of the great mercy and loving kindness of our compassionate Heavenly Father, and not because any good was found in us.” Testimony for the Church at Battle Creek, page 60

How should the person prayed for respond?

“Often there is danger of error here. Believing that they will be healed in answer to prayer, some fear to do anything that might seem to indicate a lack of faith. But they should not neglect to set their affairs in order as they would desire to do if they expected to be removed by death. Nor should they fear to utter words of encouragement or counsel which at the parting hour they wish to speak to their loved ones." Ministry of Healing, Page 231

“While we offer prayer for these sorrowful ones, we should encourage them to try to help those more needy than themselves. The darkness will be dispelled from their own hearts as they try to help others. As we seek to comfort others with the comfort wherewith we are comforted, the blessing comes back to us." Ministry Healing, Page 256

What about the use of other remedies?

“In regard to the matter of prayer for the sick, many confusing ideas are advanced. One says, ‘He who has been prayed for must walk out in faith, giving God the glory, and making use of no remedies. If he is at a health institute he should leave it at once.’ .... The path of faith lies close beside the path of presumption. Satan is ever seeking to lead us into false paths. He sees that a misunderstanding of what constitutes faith will confuse and disappoint. He is pleased when he can persuade men and women to reason from false premises.... It is no denial of faith to use rational remedies judiciously.” Manuscript 31, 1911.

“It is our privilege to use every God-appointed means in correspondence with our faith, and then trust in God, when we have urged the promise. If there is need of a surgical operation, and the physician is willing to undertake the case, it is not a denial of faith to have the operation performed. After the patient has committed his will to the will of God, let him trust, drawing nigh to the great Physician, the Mighty Healer, and giving himself up in perfect trust. The Lord will honor his faith in the very manner He sees is for His own name’s glory.” Manuscript Releases vol 1, Page 387

“In all cases of divine healing cited in this record it will be noted that God healed in answer to prayer either when the doctors had done all in their power and hope had been abandoned, or when we were out of reach of medical aid.” Rosalind Goforth, “How I Know God Answers Prayer,” Page 31


“…do not eat for three days…”

Reasons for Fasting

1. Deliverance From Enemies

Esther 4:3 “And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping and wailing. And many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”

2 Chronicles 20:3 “And Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the LORD, and called for a fast throughout all Judah.”

Esther 4:16 “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and do not eat nor drink three days, night or day. My maidservants and I will also fast in the same way. And so I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Jeremiah 36:9 “And it happened in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, they called a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem.”

“When Peter also was imprisoned, the entire church engaged in fasting and prayer.” Acts of the Apostles, p. 144.

2. Deliverance From Spiritual Enemies

Mark 9:29 “And He said to them, This kind can come out by nothing except by prayer and fasting.”

“Jesus answered that it was because of their unbelief, and the carelessness with which they regarded the sacred work that had been committed to them. They had not fitted themselves for their holy office by fasting and prayer. It was impossible for them to vanquish Satan except as they received power from God; they should go to him in humiliation and self-sacrifice and plead for strength to conquer the enemy of souls. Nothing but entire dependence upon God, and perfect consecration to the work, would insure their success. Jesus encouraged his disappointed followers in these words: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 2, p. 335

“Prayer is the reaching out after God and the unseen; fasting, the letting go of all that is of the seen and temporal.  While ordinary Christians imagine that all that is not positively forbidden and sinful is lawful to them, and seek to retain as much as possible of this world, with its property, its literature, its enjoyments, the truly consecrated soul is as the soldier who carries only what he needs for the warfare.  Laying aside every weight, as well as the easily besetting sin, afraid of entangling himself with the affairs of this life, he seeks to lead a Nazarite life, as one specially set apart for the Lord and His service.  Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer:  this kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer.” Andrew Murray

“When Christ was the most fiercely beset by temptation, He ate nothing. He committed Himself to God, and through earnest prayer, and perfect submission to the will of His Father, came off conqueror. Those who profess the truth for these last days, above every other class of professed Christians, should imitate the great Exemplar in prayer.” Counsel on Diet & Foods, p. 186.

“Whenever it is necessary for the advancement of the cause of truth and the glory of God, that an opponent be met, how carefully, and with what humility, should they [The advocates of truth] go into the conflict. With heart searching, confession of sin, and earnest prayer, and often fasting for a time, they should entreat that God would especially help them, and give His saving, precious truth a glorious victory, that error might appear in its true deformity, and its advocates be completely discomfited.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 624.

3. Seeking After God

Psalms 69:10 “When I humbled my soul with fasting, it turned to my reproach”

Daniel 6:18 “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. And diversions were not brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.”

Daniel 9:3 “And I set my face toward the Lord God, to seek by prayer and holy desires, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.”

Ezra 8:21 “Then I called a fast there at the river Ahava, so that we might humble ourselves before our God, in order to seek from Him a right way for us and for our little ones, and for all our goods.”

Joel 1:14 “Set apart a fast; call a solemn gathering; gather the elders and all the people of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry to the Lord….”

Joel 2:12 “Yet even now, says the LORD, turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”

Joel 2:15 “Blow a trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn gathering.”

Jonah 3:5 “And the people of Nineveh believed God. And they called a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”

“For certain things fasting and prayer are recommended and appropriate. In the hand of God they are a means of cleansing the heart and promoting a receptive frame of mind. We obtain answers to our prayers because we humble our souls before God.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 20, p. 105.

4. Seeking Wisdom

Daniel 9:3 “And I set my face toward the Lord God, to seek by prayer and holy desires, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.”

Acts 10:30 “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour. And at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.”

“Spread every plan before God with fasting, {and} with the humbling of the soul before the Lord Jesus, and commit thy ways unto the Lord. The sure promise is, He will direct thy paths. He is infinite in resources. The Holy One of Israel, who calls the host of heaven by name, and holds the stars of heaven in position, has you individually in His keeping. . . .” Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 364

“God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God, so that when the testing time shall come, and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith, they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear.” Colporteur Workers, p. 40

“If you cannot all see alike on every subject, do not allow hard feelings to arise. When the cause was young, if there was one who did not view some point of truth as the body viewed it, a day of fasting and prayer was observed. We did not then try to see how far apart we could get; but we prayed, and searched the Scriptures until the light of truth illuminated the darkened mind, and all could see eye to eye.” Historical Sketches of Foreign Missions, p. 125

“The Scriptures were opened with a sense of awe. Often we fasted, that we might be better fitted to understand the truth.” Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 187.

“The spirit of true fasting and prayer is the spirit which yields mind, heart, and will to God.” Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 189.

5. Seeking God’s Power for Ministry

“Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands.” Acts of the Apostles, p. 160.

“Before the power of the Holy Ghost rested upon the disciples, they spent ten days before God in prayer and fasting and confession of sin. After they had come into unity, the heavens were opened, the glory of God was revealed, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Then they went forth to proclaim the gospel with power, and under the influence of the Spirit five thousand were converted in one day.” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, p. 33

“A wonderful blessing was represented to me as falling upon a congregation who were seeking the Lord with fasting and prayer. Their countenances were lighted up with the glory of God, and angels were passing from one to another, ministering to them. That is what we wish to see here in Mountain View. We wish to see it in the meetings that shall be held in Oakland and San Francisco. These cities are just as needy as are other mission fields. Many in them are as great sinners as can be found in any part of the world. If they are properly approached, many of them will be saved. They do not know what the Bible says, nor what it means.” Manuscript Releases, p. 75

6. Following God’s Work in Heavenly Sanctuary

Leviticus 23:27 “Also, on the tenth of this seventh month, this is a day of atonement. It shall be a holy convocation to you. And you shall afflict your souls and offer a fire offering to the LORD.”

“The whole ceremony was designed to impress the Israelites with the holiness of God and his abhorrence of sin; and, further, to show them that they could not come in contact with sin without becoming polluted. Every man was required to afflict his soul while this work of atonement was going forward. All business was to be laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel were to spend the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.” Great Controversy, p. 419

“Every follower of Christ should earnestly inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, with fasting and prayer, and to meditate much upon his Word, especially upon the scenes of the Judgment. We should now seek a deep and living experience in the things of God. We have not a moment to lose. Events of vital importance are taking place around us; we are on Satan's enchanted ground. Sleep not, sentinels of God; the foe is lurking near, ready at any moment, should you become lax and drowsy, to spring upon you and make you his prey.” Great Controversy, p. 601

Various Acceptable Fasts

Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed ones go free, and that you break every yoke?”

Matthew 6:16-18 “And when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, of a sad face. For they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to fast, but to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.”

“The true fasting which should be recommended to all, is abstinence from every stimulating kind of food, and the proper use of wholesome, simple food, which God has provided in abundance.” Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 90.

“Our brethren would receive a blessing in dispensing with or deferring one meal of the day, if necessary, in order that an hour or more might be devoted to testimony meeting. We used often to make the Sabbath a day of fasting and prayer, and we were greatly blessed in our worship.” Manuscript Releases, p. 96

Unacceptable Fasts

Isaiah 58:5,6 “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast and a day pleasing to the LORD?”

Zechariah 7:5-7 “Speak to all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years, did you truly fast to Me, even to Me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?”

“This man had gone so far he seemed to be left of God. He would go into the woods and spend days and nights in fasting and prayer that he might overcome this great sin, and then would return to his old habits. God did not hear his prayers. He asked God to do for him what had been in his power to do for himself.” P. 28

“All the fasting in the world will not take the place of simple trust in the word of God. "Ask," He says, "and ye shall receive." ... You are not called upon to fast forty days. The Lord bore that fast for you in the wilderness of temptation. There would be no virtue in such a fast; but there is virtue in the blood of Christ.” Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 189.

“Fasting and prayer will accomplish nothing while the heart is estranged from God by a wrong course of action. Read Isaiah 58:6, 7, 9-11.” Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 377.

“Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.” Desire of Ages, p. 280

Unhealthy Fasts

“I have been informed that you have taken but one meal a day for a period of time; but I know it to be wrong in your case, for I have been shown that you needed a nutritious diet, and that you were in danger of being too abstemious. Your strength would not admit of your severe discipline. . . . I think that you have erred in fasting two days. God did not require it of you. I beg of you to be cautious and eat freely good, wholesome food twice a day. You will surely decrease in strength and your mind become unbalanced unless you change your course of abstemious diet.” Counsels on Diet & Foods, p. 191.

“It is true that there are unbalanced minds that impose upon themselves fasting which the Scriptures do not teach, and prayers and privation of rest and sleep which God has never required. Such are not prospered and sustained in their voluntary acts of righteousness. They have a pharisaical religion which is not of Christ, but of themselves. They trust in their good works for salvation, vainly hoping to earn heaven by their meritorious works instead of relying, as every sinner should, upon the merits of a crucified, risen, and exalted Saviour. These are almost sure to become sickly. But Christ and true godliness are health to the body and strength to the soul.”  Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 556

“Moses' Fasting Not Like Christ's.--In the wilderness of temptation Christ was without food forty days. Moses had, on especial occasions, been thus long without food. But he felt not the pangs of hunger. He was not tempted and harassed by a vile and powerful foe, as was the Son of God. He was elevated above the human. He was especially sustained by the glory of God which enshrouded him.” Signs of the Times, June 11, 1874

All quotations are taken from books in the public domain, or used with permission. All rights reserved. Many of these books are available at your local Christian bookstore, or online at www.ccel.org. Compiled by Dan Augsburger (path2prayer@yahoo.com) Commercial use is prohibited. 5/17/02;1/12/04