No, You Cannot Pray for Me


“Can I pray for you?” It’s a question I am often asked. Just once I’d like to say “no”.

I preach and teach at a lot of different churches and there is always someone moved by the sight of my Parkinsons driven tremors to seek me out to pray with me. Some are very confident, others are very nervous. They have often just completed a course on healing prayer and their approach is an act of stepping out in faith. They always have the best intentions. We find a quiet place and they pray. Man, do they pray. Always for healing. Always with great conviction.

It’s quite touching and a lovely expression of faith. So I always try to receive it with the goodwill with which it is intended.

But I do wonder if people consider that it may be quite discouraging to have a continual stream of people praying fervently for your healing and to remain unhealed. I am pretty comfortable with the knowledge that God may heal me and that he may not, and that if probabilities are anything to go by it’s likely “not”. I am content with the knowledge that whether healed or not my condition  will be an opportunity for growth I would otherwise have missed out on. So I am not distressed by those who claim the authority to cast out my disease in the name of Jesus, but what about those who are?

So here’s my request. Pray for me. By all means pray for me. Approach me and ask if you can pray with me. I mean that. It’s a wonderful expression of care. But pray carefully. Please don’t command the disease to leave my body (it’s a cellular dysfunction – it can’t hear you or obey you). Please don’t claim God’s healing power over me (be honest about the fact that God rarely heals major diseases, although he does seem to be good with sore backs and necks). Rather pray for God’s grace to be manifest in my life, to make me more like Jesus. Acknowledge that you don’t know whether God will heal me this side of eternity, that it’d be great if he did, but that whether healed now or in the kingdom that I might know his goodness and strength to live the life he has called me to. And be aware that one day when you ask if you can pray with me I just might say no. It won’t be anything personal. Indeed I hope you will pray for me when you get home.  It will just be that I may grow weary of being prayed for all the time. Not very spiritual I know, but I am only human.


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13 Comments on "No, You Cannot Pray for Me"

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Beth Micklethwaite
Hi Scott Thanks for this post. It’s very similar to my journey after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes nearly 15 years ago. It was actually quite damaging to my faith for a while and I often rejected offers of healing prayer as I was too fragile to cope with other people’s expectations of healing. I really appreciate it when people pray for God to sustain me and emphasise his love, regardless of whether physical healing takes place or not. I don’t like it when people unintentionally create binary categories – God loves you and heals you or … he… Read more »
Anne Hyde

Bingo! Thank you for expressing so well what I struggle to communicate to others about my health. I have discovered for myself so often it born of the other person inability to sit with pain, disability and suffering. They are moved to respond to the distress they feel in their heart at my suffering but fail to listen to the Holy Spirit promptings for this situation and that is where they blunder. Knowing this helps but it still doesn’t stop my shields go up like a bank teller in a robbery.

Paul Avery

Amen, amen and amen. Thank you for this very refreshing, honest and candid blog. I do not question your spirituality and admire your humanness!
Thank you Scott.


Thanks paul

Thanks for putting this out there Scott. I have struggled recently with similar thoughts over some of the prayers, well meant, for my husband’s healing after a severe brain injury following a bike accident. God’s promise is Emmanuel, God WITH us. It is unfair to hold up expectations, as expressed by you and others above, that have someone hanging out for a miraculous (temporary – this life) restoration. When the reality is that getting through each day needs God WITH us to make it; with slurred speech, fuzzy thinking, poor memory recall, lack of recognition of places and faces etc… Read more »

Thanks for sharing your story. Very sorry to hear about your husband.

I suspect the value of prayerchains is the opportunity for people to join in supporting the person in need rather than greater efficacy because of greater numbers

Jeanette Mathews
Really appreciated this (saw Lucy’s share on facebook) – did you ever see the little reflection David wrote in a similar vein? I’ve taken the liberty of including it: LOVE AND PRAYER ”que tout ne soit pas amour, voila ce dont souffre l’amour” [that everything is not love – that is what love suffers from] Paul Ricoeur One of the privileged aspects of the last eighteen months experience of illness has been to know that I am loved – from the intimate love of my wife and family, through the encouragement of friends and colleagues, to the professional care of… Read more »

Hi jeanette
I hadn’t read David’s reflection before. Thanks for sharing it. I found it both Wise and moving.

Scott I also have a life changing rare blood disorder affecting my immune system. Researchers don’t even know how it is caused, let alone how to put it into remission. I have been diagnosed now for 6.5 years and God is yet to heal me. Every change of medication brought hope that maybe, just maybe it would go away. Not the case, indeed, many medications have done more damage than good! Couple this with a tendency towards depression and anxiety, that also has not been healed despite much prayer and I am left wondering? I have been to the best… Read more »

i understand. thank you for articulating this so well.

By Scott

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