In Matthew Chapter 8 – and in numerous other chapters in the gospels – Jesus is described as healing various people. First he heals a man suffering from leprosy, then a centurion’s paralysed servant, then Peter’s mother-in-law who had a fever, then various demon-possessed people. The idea of miraculous healings is a rather uncomfortable one to the contemporary western mind. Is it easy to believe that Jesus really did miraculously heal people? Yes, if you believe that God is powerful enough to have created the whole universe, it’s no great leap of faith to believe that he was able to heal a few people. Is it easy to believe that people are miraculously healed today? Well, no, not really.
One problem is the charlatans, the faith healers who produce fake healings just so that they can make money out of people. Another problem is the unpredictability of miracles. A guy I knew at university put on a healing miracles show one lunchtime. I was there with my sceptical friends. Sick people went forward and the guy prayed for them. There were no obvious signs of anyone being healed, and my sceptical friends remained sceptics. In fact, most Christians have experienced the disappointment of unanswered prayers for healing for someone they know. Another problem is the reality of death: no amount of healing miracles ultimately stop everyone from dying in this life.
On the other hand, there are many people alive today who have experienced what appears to be miraculous healing. I believe that God can and does provide miraculous healing, but it’s something which he controls, not something which we can control by following a particular ritual or saying a particular prayer. We pray in faith, and sometimes God produces a miracle, whereas other times he doesn’t.