And he looked up, and said, “I see men as trees, walking.” After that [Jesus] put his hands again upon his eyes and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
It was unusual for Jesus to lay his hands on someone a second time, as he did on the occasion when he healed a blind man at Bethsaida. (Mk 8:22-26) People had brought the blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him. In response Jesus led the man outside of the village to minister to him, first spitting and laying his hands on the man’s eyes which brought a partial healing and then laying his hands on the man’s eyes a second time to achieve total healing.
Many people request things from God and then look at their circumstances to see if God has answered their prayer. That is walking by sight, not by faith and it is frowned on in Scripture (2Cor 5:7). This is not the way Jesus taught us to pray and receive. We can be sure that Jesus did not lay hands on this man a second time because He thought His Father had not heard Him the first time! Because the man received partial sight – i.e. he had receive something of what he had asked Jesus for – it is evident that God’s healing power was at work in him.
DON’T FOCUS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES
Smith Wigglesworth was known as the Apostle of Faith and there are books full of the amazing miracles that Jesus worked through him. It has been recorded that he would only pray for something the once and then he’d leave it in God’s hands.
In the healing of the blind man, Jesus was aware that doubt was hindering a perfect manifestation of God’s power in this man. We might assume that it would have only been the blind man’s doubt causing the hindrance, but if we were to consider that Jesus had taken him outside the village to minister to him and then, once he had been healed, Jesus told him, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home,” we might also conclude that a corporate doubt may have been part of the problem too. People may have come into doubt because of their bad experiences with healing prayer, or they doubt the Scriptures or even God’s willingness to heal them. Jesus even had trouble in Nazareth, his home town and “did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief (doubt).” (Mt 13:58) Mind you, many today would be happy with “only a few miracles.”
Jesus taught – and it is repeated by others in the Bible – that we should pray in faith – believing, trusting and relying on God – without allowing doubt a place in our minds. The prayer of faith will move mountains (Mt 21:21), but, “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind… that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (Js 1:6-7)
When Peter stepped out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee, all the time he kept his eyes and attention on Jesus he managed to walk safely upon the water. But as soon as his eyes wavered away from Jesus and on to the wind and the waves, he began to sink. (Mt 14:22-33)
DO WE NEED MORE FAITH, THEN?
The very fact that someone has prayed for something is a sign that they do in fact have some faith in Jesus: in who he is, what he has done and what he can do. Logically, if someone has no faith at all, why would they even bother to pray?
But those who do pray may also have some doubt – and faith and doubt don’t mix.
When we are faced with something that we know we can’t deal with in our own strength, we tend to look at the problem – then we look at ourselves – then we give up. But, “with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26) and, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20) – without doubting, of course!
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2Co 5:7) Faith is a CHOICE, not a feeling. Peter made two choices; one good one and one bad one. By one he walked on the water; by the other he sank. We can either choose to trust Jesus to help us, or we can choose to believe the doubts. But we can be sure that God does not send the doubts.
OVERCOME THE DOUBTS
So, is it sin to doubt? Is it wrong to pray a second or third time for our healing? Well, no; of course not. Jesus told the parable of the Unjust Judge who is eventually worn down by the widow’s persistence to teach us to persist in our prayers for, “Won’t God do justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to help them? I tell you, He will quickly give them justice. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:7-8)
Evil forces will try to hinder us by throwing doubts at us, but we can choose to take up the shield called faith to quench those fiery arrows (Eph 6:16). The enemy cannot overcome someone who continues to first submit and humble themselves before God and then resist him (James 4:7). Believe and trust that you received something from God when you prayed. Press in to such a degree that you can stand against anything that is contrary to what you have asked for and overcome it. God is good. Perseverance in prayer is the key to overcoming the enemy.
COME OUTSIDE YOUR VILLAGE
Going back to the village, there are many congregations that do not “do” healing either and for exactly the same reason: corporate doubt. As Jesus led the blind man out of the village to get away from the corporate doubt and then would not let him return home through the village, if you have healing need then you may need to consider coming outside of your “village” for an evening and visit the Healing Rooms.