In thinking about healing prayer I read the two stories from the Bible where the person had to be prayed for twice to receive their healing.
The first was a demon-possessed boy whom the disciples tried to deliver while Jesus was absent. The other was a man who was blind. Jesus prayed for him and he apparently received a partial healing, for he saw people very indistinctly – like trees walking around. Jesus prayed again and he was healed.
I find I can relate to both. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the boy Jesus linked it, in different versions, to two things: faith and prayer and fasting. In my experience the two are pretty well linked. There have been times in my life when I have drifted so far from an intimate relationship – usually from lack of discipline, or a tough time of trial – that I have been too intimidated even to pray for my patients, let alone believe that God will come through. Yet at other times, when I am spending time with God I sense His presence and it becomes a lot easier – more natural – to ask Him for things like healing and believe that He will answer. It has been so natural for me to pray for my patients in ICU then and expect Him to come through.
And when Jesus had to pray a second time, it points to the power of persistent prayer when we don’t see results straight away. Some of the patients in God in the ICU had miraculous healing over a long period with people praying persistently. I know God is God and He can do anything any way, but He does seem to delight in our participation, especially when we persevere.