It’s easy to read the Gospels and conclude we should only follow Jesus when he teaches and disciples. Not when he heals and casts out demons. After all, what if we pray for healing and it doesn’t work? Or, what if we try to evict a demon and it doesn’t work?
I think those are fair questions. What if it doesn’t work? Wouldn’t that make God look disinterested and weak? And wouldn’t you look crazy or lacking faith? Nobody wants that to happen.
Perhaps that’s why most of us struggle praying with expectation for someone to be healed. Or, why most Christians have never kicked an evil spirit out of someone—that’s just too over the edge for most of us. That troubling question, what if it doesn’t work? creates fear.
I’m convinced there’s another more important question. One that builds faith. The question: What if it does work?
How would someone you prayed for be different if God supernaturally healed them? Or how would a person’s life be improved if they were liberated from an evil spirit because you took authority over the spirit and commanded it, in Jesus’ name, to leave the person?
To answer those questions, consider what happened after Jesus healed and liberated.
In Mark 1:40-45, after Jesus healed a man of leprosy, “He went out and began to proclaim it freely and spread the news” (Mk. 1:45)
In Mark 2:12-13, after Jesus healed the paralytic whose friends lowered him through the roof of a home in Capernaum we read, “And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this’” (Mark 1:12).
In Mark 1:23-28 Jesus liberated a man from a band of demons and here’s what happened: “They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And immediately the news about him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.”
In Mark 5:1-20 Jesus kicked out a “legion” of demons from a man. People had tried to subdue the demoniac with shackles and chains but he tore them apart. Constantly night and day, among the tombs, he cried out and gashed himself with stones. After Jesus encountered the man he kicked out the demons and sent them into a nearby herd of about 2,000 pigs, which ran into a lake and drowned.
After this we’re told, “The people came to see what happened. And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:14-15). Once liberated the man pleaded with Jesus that he might accompany him. Instead the Lord told him, “’Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone marveled” (Mark 5:19-20).
So what happened when the ministry of Jesus worked? People erupted with joy. The next time you feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for healing, pray with expectation. The next time you have a chance to minister freedom to someone, minister with expectation.
The next time doubt whispers in your ear, “What if it doesn’t work?” listen to the voice of faith and ask, “What if it does?”