A wise man once said "faithful are the wounds of a friend." I need to tell you something that may hurt a little, because I care about you as a friend.
I think it's wise to seek prayer from friends for our problems, whether they're health-related, relational or whether they fall into some other category. Prayer is a powerful thing. But there are problems that cannot be resolved by the prayers of our friends alone.
I have many friends who suffer from chronic aches, pains and illnesses and I have other friends whose relationships have been blown to pieces. When everything seems to be falling apart, there's a temptation to cry out to friends to pray for our problems to be fixed once and for all. Let me reiterate that I am not against prayer, because what I'm about to say next could be misinterpreted as that.
Many of us have not yet learned how to stand against the enemy in our battle against recurring sickness and most of us are responsible for our own recurring relationship problems. Let's take a look at sickness first.
The battle against recurring sickness is something like how we might deal with a criminal who repeatedly breaks into our home. Jesus used this illustration when teaching about how and why demons return to a person after being cast out of them in Luke chapter eleven. (See Luke 11:21-26)
When a burglar breaks into our home, we have a couple of ways in which we can respond. One option is to stand by helplessly and let them take our property and beat us senseless while waiting for the police to show up. An untrained and ill-equipped believer who relies on friends or the anointed "man of God" to pray for them is like a defenseless homeowner at the mercy of a burglar.
Evil spirits are opportunistic, just like burglars. They size up their potential victims and evaluate their defenses. A burglar looks for signs of vulnerability. They look for alarm systems, ease of access, unlocked doors and windows, the absence of a dog, and the likelihood that the homeowner will be armed. They look for homeowners that are the least likely to fight back. Demons do the same thing. They look for points of entry into our lives, through things such as anger, unforgiveness, pride etc.
The first part is allowing the Holy Spirit to remove the things in your life that allow the enemy to have access and influence over you. The second part is to learn how to go on the offensive against intruders when they come around. People who refuse to be trained in spiritual warfare or who never learn how to exercise their authority over the enemy are like homeowners who refuse to secure their homes or fight back against an intruder. They make themselves easy targets for evil spirits and once word gets out in the demonic community that they're an easy target—they can expect to be harassed by even more evil spirits. That's the message Jesus illustrated in His teaching in Luke chapter eleven.
When it comes to healing, many of us are content to let someone else deal with the bad guys. It's easier to find the anointed man of God to pray for us than it is to learn how to withstand the attacks of enemy ourselves. The problem is that Jesus gave every believer the power and authority they need to defeat the enemy, without going to someone else for help. Recurring problems with sickness and disease are the result of us refusing to take our responsibilities seriously.
You can plead with your friends to pray for your healing all you want, but if you never learn to exercise the authority God has given you over sickness, you're never going to remain healed. The spirits that bring sickness will continue to assault you until you learn to take authority over them yourself.
I have a friend who once asked the Holy Spirit "How do you see cancer?"
The Holy Spirit replied, "I can't see cancer because it's under my feet. I want it to be under your feet."
The enemy is going to continue to beat us up until we learn to put him under our feet once and for all. I'm preaching to myself here as my wife and I don't always do this ourselves, but we're learning.
My wife was recently healed of back pain when she finally understood that the things she thought about herself , about her symptoms, and about God's desire to heal her were allowing the enemy to continue to attack her and keep her in pain.
The first problem was that she couldn't bring herself to believe she was healed as long as she still felt pain. This is a bit of a murky problem because sometimes people feel pain in response to a physical problem, while other times the sensation of pain is due only to the presence of a spirit. To further complicate things—she had an MRI that showed two herniated discs. You might think that as long as she has herniated discs, she must resign herself to living with the pain, but we know of people who have MRIs showing herniated discs but they had no symptoms of the injury. My wife began to ask, "If some people have herniated discs and don't have pain, why can't I be one of them?"
She also wasn't completely sure at that point that God wanted to heal her. One day she decided to believe that God really did want to heal her and she entertained the idea that perhaps she was already healed. She accepted the fact that it was her beliefs and not God's reluctance to heal her that was the problem. So she chose to believe that she was healed. She also chose to see the pain she was experiencing as a lie from the enemy. Once she got her thinking straightened out, it removed the power the enemy had over her and the pain immediately left.
One of the major lessons we've learned is that the enemy only has the power over us that we allow him to have. Being healed and keeping the symptoms from returning is a battle. Most of the warfare is done on the six inch battlefield between our ears. Now let's take a look at problems with relationships.
Many of us cry out to our friends or to God to have our relationship problems fixed, rather than take an honest look at ourselves and admit that we're the ones responsible for our problems. God is not going to take away the consequences of our bad decisions. As we sow, we shall also reap, and many of us are reaping the consequences of manipulation, co-dependency, selfishness, immaturity and a failure to walk in our God-given identity.
Relationship problems are cyclical. The habits we've developed over our lifetime create the same dynamics (for good or bad) in all our relationships. When the same problems arise repeatedly, instead of blaming others or crying out to God to fix the other person, we need to look at why we are bearing bad fruit. The fruit of our relationships is determined by the condition of our heart. It is only by changing the way in which we relate to others that the cycle of relationship problems will end. It's a sign of spiritual immaturity to blame others for our problems or to expect someone else to fix them. We must be the one who makes the change.
Most of us have a lot of growing up to do. It's time to take the training wheels off and learn how to live as mature children of God.